Then we had a baby.
At first I thought it was just me. Since we moved here, we've been on the prowl for a little friend and his mommy to sit at playgrounds with. But I'm starting to get the feeling that every new mom around here is out on mission to find a friendly matchup for herself and her baby.
After a long, pleasemakeherlikeme poolside convo this afternoon with a random chick who had a toddler Carter's age, she popped the question. Do you play date?
I've never heard anyone put it that way before, but literally, I may as well have just been asked out by a boy. Do I 'play date'? Yes! Well, no. I mean, we want to. Ugh, I can tell I'm already a play dater on the verge of getting dumped.
(My mom used to hate when we used that word.)
There's a reason we're all calling them play dates ... because really, I'm feeling those same social stressors I had in high school. Requirements for a match? I'm not sure exactly. Here's the gist I'm getting from the parental dating world:
*Both moms should have similar styles. There are the highly makeup'd, girlie ones (ahem, me). There are the ones who don't comb their hair. There are lots of in betweens. There has to be a slight possibility that you'd be friends in life, had you no babies. Ideally, you can have long conversations that don't include child-raising topics.
*Must live within 10-15 minutes driving distance of each other.
*Moms should approve of each other. One mom might see a general attitude/parenting style she doesn't like, so she won't make a love connection. Other moms (like me) just want to be liked and don't care so much about whether she nursed her baby for a year or has her kid diligently working on manners.
*Toddlers should be close in age. Moms are almost always giddy about meeting another baby within a month or two of her own baby's age. Birthdays within a couple days of each other? Golden. We were meant for each other. Other matchup discrepancies can be overlooked.
*Bonus for same sex babies.
*Friendly toddler/baby interaction during all of the above judgy-judgy, sizing up business is nice, but not usually important. Baffling, I know.
*Husbands meet? No idea. I've never gotten that far.
I've had tons of fails. You know a fail when you're talking to another mom during a playgroup/social situation, and you just can't push the conversation past the babies' ages, where you live, and another two or so general questions. Someone grows disinterested, or silence might even hit. That girl's wearing too much makeup. (Seriously, I know what they're thinking about me.) Nope, we won't be asking for each other's numbers.
Poolside chick and I exchanged numbers and made playground plans for later this week. This is the first time I've ever witnessed a successful play date set up with a complete stranger.
Ooh. And with me.
Carter went to sleep tonight, probably with no recollection of the same-sized, blonde friend he shared his ball with this afternoon. But me? My day was made.
blogs need dates, too.
Forget unpacking! I needed some pretty things in my empty space. I toted Carter to Michael's and got a little crazy in the white & green flower sections.
Try as we may, Carter just can't get a hang of the word Pretty. Unless ... he doesn't think these are pretty?
I'm still on a daily mission to get new rugs, curtains, side tables and whatever else pops out and asks me to bring it home. It's not easy with a
low no patience Carter pattering destructively around the stores. I shouldn't really complain though, he listens really well in public. It's only a matter of time until he realizes that not listening is on his list of options.
We have a hurricane on its way tonight; it's even cloudy and windy right now. Luckily, we're near the center of the state, so it won't hit our brand new, justbuiltfiveminutesago house too hard. I hope.
A post needs some posting.
We've been in our new house 11 days. It's awesome, but it's weird in a lot of ways, too. I feel like a teenager living in an adult's house. As in, we're house-sitting and I'm nervous to touch anything; it's humbling to be able to call this ours. You know that wave of cleanness and relaxation that hits you when you walk in those chic home decor stores like Pier 1 or Crate & Barrel? That's the feeling I get every time I walk in this house.
It's pristine. I've been working so hard to keep it this way; wiping surfaces, organizing, sweeping and folding have turned into obsessions. Ahem. Exhausting obsessions.
I wasn't quite expecting the lonely emptiness that hit me on my first day alone here. I was so sure busy happiness would constantly and magically fill the space, that all we needed was our dream house, and daily life's routine, in its perfection, would fall around us, sort of puppeting me with where to go and what to do. As it turns out, big house or not, you still have to work at creating happiness for yourself.
Carter is blatantly happy, though. He's got so much space and stays busy, exploring different rooms all day. When we're not working around the house, we're out in the yard getting eaten by mosquitos or helping Daddy grill. He's sleeping better than he's ever slept. I'm not going to lie though. We still have little control-issue fits every 30 minutes or so.
I mean, sometimes they're little.
He's big on making friends
around the neighborhood every single friggin' place we go. He waves and greets Hi and/or Bye bye to people walking past. Trucks that roll by. Cars. Jeeps. Trees. Dogs. Mailboxes. You name it, it deserves a greeting. This is one of those instances where I try to take a step back and remind myself that I'd be better for learning the art of joyful, pure friendliness from my child. What a great feeling, to be boundary free.
This wave? For a fence.
Our back yard spills into a retention area with cattails and some pretty, wind blown greenery. Carter & I like to sit back there, throw rocks and look at our house.
Ok, so it sounds a little lame, but I promise, everything's fun when you see your baby do it for the first time.
We've been busy with other things, too.
Carter's Grandpop and
uncle BFF came from Pennsylvania to help us move.
Matt's company had a family day with free barbeque, games, face painting and other children's activities. Carter got to see where his daddy works.
I've been really behind without internet - rather than try to use my phone (in conjunction with my terrible eyesight) to keep up with email, Facebook, YouTube & such, I just dropped it all and focused on unpacking. If you've messaged me, be assured I'm on my way to a reply sometime this week!
eek. and we dropped.
We were hanging with celebrities on Saturday. Not that I mean to brag, but how can you not?
Being honest here - I thought Carter would be (typically) scared. But me? I was dying to meet Brobee, so we were taking the chance. Toys R Us was packed. There was face painting, balloon animals, Geoffrey the Giraffe and other free stuff ... each of which had its own line of waiting parents and their kids wrapping around aisles.
Have you ever attempted standing in line with a toddler? How about in the middle of a toy store? Toddlers don't believe in lines. Matt & I took turns standing in line while the other one played in the aisles with Carter. When I finally reached the front, I called Matt's phone, and we wrestled him back into the line. I anticipated the worst; we're scared of so many things (this, this and this).
But his body tightened up, and his face grew a huge smile. We even managed some high fives.
I guess when you recognize a huge, furry, green monster from TV, he doesn't qualify as scary like Easter bunnies, oceans and a jolly man with a fluffy, white beard.
Today my ultrasound happened upon one tiny follicle. It was so tiny, in fact, that the doctor avoided talking about it. It's possible he was saving face from his embarrassing three follicle miscalculation the other day. But it's even more possible that its size was too small to ever amount to any significance. It's the estrogen that matters, he said. He'd call me later with the estrogen results.
I go home to a regular day. I rummage cabinets for Carter's picky eating habits. I'm pricked with IVF shots. I search under couches and in bags for a missing Toby the Tram. I assemble cups and pour milks. I finally get the phone call with major medical news about my family's future. I read Carter a book and bargain him into a nap. I tote him to humid playgrounds. Change sogging diapers. Wipe toddler tears when I sip my coke and refuse to share the cup.
At night, sitting in the silence, I can now process my thoughts about that phone call. My estrogen went up a little, but it's still incredibly unresponsive. I was told we have to cancel this cycle.
I am okay. I quietly told myself this, because the doctor didn't seem to care.
Here's where I get complicated. I feel guilty for feeling sad about this fail. When we were devastating ourselves over the need to have Carter, I said repeatedly to the sky above, Please, just let us have one, and I'll never want anything more in my life.
And then I was given my one.
I'm supposed to be putting every fiber of my being into loving and raising him - because I said I would. Worrying about shots and diverting dreams to a little being that isn't Carter has had me tinkering with a kind of awful feeling in the back of my heart. While it's true that I want this sibling to help fulfill Carter's life, I'd be lying if I didn't say I want it for myself, too.
There's still hope; we plan to move forward next month with another IVF cycle or two until we've exhausted our insurance benefits. But for now, my conscience is relieved to shift my focus back into the simplicity and oblivion that radiates around my ever-deserving, miraculous son.
I know, in time, that oblivion will absorb my sadness.
So. I practically did backflips out of the fertility clinic today, scrambling for my phone and shifting into the mindset that I had amazing news to share. Yep, my brain was practically pregnant, I just had to wait for the belly part to catch up.
But I just got off the phone with a doctor, who told me that based on blood results, things are actually the opposite of amazing.
I'll start from the beginning of the day. This morning I went to have the first ultrasound where we get a look at how my ovaries are responding to the shots. I was floored watching the doctor, as he casually measured three, beautifully round follicles. THREE?! My eyes welled up. I couldn't believe there was a single one, let alone three. I was so proud of my little body.
The doctor snapped off his gloves and told me that, compared to my cycle two years ago, we had a night and day situation. He said I was impressively way ahead of schedule and could possibly be preparing for the egg retrieval this weekend. He bet that my eggs would easily create embryos, since - 1. I'm young (29, twice) and 2. I had one single egg that created Carter.
I went to have my blood taken for an estrogen measurement before I floated on fluffy clouds out of the office. Next week I'll probably be pregnant.
I reported to Matt and my mom, then I took Carter out on a little lunch date to celebrate.
An hour ago, the same doctor called me, his voice saturated in complete, apologetic tone. Based on my super low estrogen level results, it's as if my body hasn't responded to the drugs. Like, at all. He said that, with estrogen like this, there was no way what we'd seen this morning were follicles. They're cysts. Very happily growing, deceptive, fluid-filled cysts. By this point, I started to actually process what he was apologizing for - There were zero follicles.
Listening to him, I felt eerily amused. Maybe because I've conquered this monster of disappointment before, and now I've mastered the art of shrugging the monster off. I drifted off to a numbness devised by knowledge that I've had worse news. And many times, at that. He continued with explanations, and my mind kept whispering the phrase Of course. Of course.
My case is always puzzling doctors. I hate that they attempt apologies, and I have to do the reassuring, because I'm used to fertility failures. He went on to tell me I really should count my blessings, that it's unbelievable Carter exists. Believe me, I'm the last person you need to say that to. I feel completely humbled even requesting that the universe gift us with another child. I have no functioning reproductive parts.
I was offered two options:
1. We can quit this cycle altogether and try again another month, with the possibility that my ovaries would respond differently.
2. We can double the medication to an unheard of dosage, shoot a hail mary, and see if a follicle shows its face in another ultrasound on Friday morning.
I chose the second option, even though it means squandering the $300 we spent on meds. When I hung up the phone, my pokerface fell to the floor, and emotion hit me pretty hard. It looks like we can't have another baby. Then I looked down at Carter's face, playing alone, obliviously with his trains, and it hit even harder. I feel downright mad on his behalf.
My doctors in Pennsylvania had warned us that as time passed, my ovaries would be less apt to respond, and they were right. A lot of women wait until their late twenties and early thirties to have a baby. My husband pushed for us to start trying early, and had he settled for me to let one single day more pass, my body may not have been able to produce Carter's egg. When I think of that, I feel time stand still and the room spin around me.
Husbands were meant to win some battles. I love my husband.
I can't sit and explore this anymore tonight, because my mind's exhausted itself with highs and lows today. As I stand now, my feeling is this: You can't have everything in life. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try anyway.