Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas update

Our family had a lovely, low-key Christmas this year. Little Miss Magpie is still confusing the concept of Santa and snowmen, but I am guessing by next year she will have the two 100% sorted out. Here she is at a family member's house, hugging their nutcracker who is taller than she is! I'm enjoying this time where she doesn't have any expectations of a materialistic Christmas. Hopefully we can keep it that way, with the focus on family time and traditions, but I expect it will be harder as she is exposed to more media and older kids.

Her caregiver gave her a Baby Alive for Christmas, which I think was her favorite gift this year. They took the new doll in the doll stroller to the American Natural History Museum, and Magpie showed the doll the animals at one of the exhibits, bending down to catch the doll's eyes and pointing to each animal model in turn, saying, "See! Look!" She is very thrilled for her new doll and working hard to be a good toddler mama.

Magpie is talking more and more - and more frequently in complete sentences now for the past couple of weeks, which is still new enough I whip my head around in surprise every time. Her vocabulary is growing and she's at that stage where she's picking up new words every day and putting them together in fantastic novel constructions that often really convey the idea she's trying to get across. It's a joy to watch her learn and for her to be able to communicate her ideas with us. She's talking well in both Spanish and English and has become very directive (or said more plainly, bossy), telling us where to sit, what to hold, etc. I'm guessing it's developmentally part of her growing autonomy (also hoping that she can learn some nuance with this as time goes by or we'll have a little dictator on our hands!).

She vacillates from being a joy to be around - fun, engaging, interactive - to succumbing to hard-to-witness meltdowns, and her mood can sometimes change quite quickly. Small things frustrate her and she doesn't yet know how to calm herself down (and we can't always predict what might be the thing that is too much, although when she's tired or hungry, her fuse is even shorter than usual). So when she gets set off, she is still sometimes apt to throw something out of sheer frustration or to begin wailing. We're working on it.  It seems like her disposition is a happy one but that she has an emotional intensity that will take her some time to learn to handle. It appears hard to be two.

She's definitely developing a sense of humor. Sometimes when we're looking at a book and I point to a picture of an animal she's familiar with and ask her what that is she will look up into my eyes, smile, and announce, "pizza!" Oh dear. She loves pretend play now: cooking at her play kitchen, feeding her baby doll and then putting her on the potty, "reading." This morning she commanded me and her baby doll to go to sleep on her bedroom floor and then went over and grabbed a book that makes an elephant trumpeting noise and while we were "sleeping" blasted us with the elephant noise, giggling mightily at herself. Ah, two year old humor!

Magpie continues to be busy, busy, busy, always on the go from the moment she awakens until naptime or bedtime. Someday this energy will serve her well, I imagine. In the meantime, I picture future education needing to occur on a treadmill because I can't imagine this young lady sitting still long enough to learn in a classroom! And in trying to keep up with her, I sometimes muse to myself that this is why people have children when they are young (well, energy level and better fertility) - my goodness she keeps us on the go!

We've spent the fall in the midst of the New York preschool admissions process (at some point I will post on the ludicrousness of this process). After submitting her applications (complete with multiple essays...seriously!?) we've attended open houses and play-date interviews (oh, New York, you slay me!). She's behaved well at the interviews, thankfully, and I think we've managed not to appear as freakish parents, so hopefully she'll have some options come next year.

Magpie is still a tiny little thing, only 23 pounds now at 25 months, which is the 5th percentile. She's 25% for height. She will try almost anything to eat that she is offered, which makes my mama heart very happy, but eats such a tiny volume and hates to sit still for long enough to actually get much food in. She has learned now to tell us when she is hungry or thirsty, which is great to see her learn to read her own body cues and be able to express them. She eats a lot of what we eat, and enjoys hummus, polenta, chicken of various types, broccoli, carrots, and cheese. She loves fruits of all kinds, and last night ate a bunch of dates, which surprised me. I am very happy with her range but would love to see her be able to increase the volume!

We had our first trip to the ER two weeks ago, when an upper respiratory virus developed from a minor ailment in the morning to a 106.5 degree calamity by the afternoon. She ended up responding to a combo of Tylenol and Advil and was monitored for several hours. Verdict was that she is a kid who may spike high fevers fairly easily. We were much relieved nothing more serious was going on.

Standing on this side of the trenches, parenting someone who is no longer a baby and more and more a little girl, I am so thrilled. I still can't believe I get to be her mama. Feeling very happy and so, so fortunate. Ok, tired too, and sometimes de-skilled at her toddler-ness, but very very happy.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a New Year that brings all that you wish for.

Magpie on the swing with her new doll

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sippy cup question

Just a quick query out to you guys...'cause you know, I parent by internet consenus.

At what age did your child stop using a sippy cup? Magpie uses one in the stroller or carseat (we use carseat only a couple times a month because we live in Manhattan). We don't use sippy cups in the crib, and Magpie is really always in motion, so she's not reclining back and drinking unless strapped down in some way, like in the stroller (and really, not so much even then). She uses a cup at mealtimes and knows how to drink that way, or will ask for sips of water from our cups (our water of course is magically better than hers, although identical). Unfortunately, she often still enjoys turning her own water cup upside town toward the end of the meal just for kicks (drives us crazy). We have a few straw cups but these seem to spill/leak often, which is frustrating and seems to defeat the purpose...

So anyway, now that she's two, do I need to get her off the sippy because of potential dental or speech issues? We don't seem to have any...but you know, I read, and I from time to time, I worry.

If it matters, all of her sippy cups are the soft nipple kind. I know those are meant for smaller kiddos, but it's what we still have and she doesn't bite them, so it hasn't caused any kind of problem, so far at least. But in case it matters, wanted to put that out there too...

Is the continued use of a sippy such a big problem? I've been thinking if she can talk, has clean teeth, and is learning how to use a cup at mealtimes that's all that matters...but maybe I'm fooling myself?

Thanks for your candid thoughts.


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Thursday, October 30, 2014


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Infertility still hurts but definitely less than it used to

I went to get a pelvic ultrasound last week because I've been having acute ovarian pain for a while. Pain that is bad enough that it burns and pinches and radiates through to my lower back. Pain that is bad enough it wakes me up at night and makes it hard to fall back asleep. Bad enough that three ibuprofen do not nullify it.

It turns out I have a pretty large hemorrhagic cyst on my left ovary. The radiologist who read my ultrasound (who is super cool and double boarded in OB/GYN and radiology) also thought that the degree and duration of pain might indicate my endometriosis has recurred. Which would be a bummer and would probably require another laparoscopy to confirm and potentially treat. Pooh on that.

When I arrived for the exam, the receptionist handed me a form to fill out. It's the first time I've been faced with having to write anything about my reproductive or medical history in awhile.

I tend to think I'm over the past. Magpie is here. Yes, it was a challenge to get her (understatement), but here we are (and thank you but let's not dwell in the past).

But when I had to actually answer the question: "How many pregnancies have you had?" and write "7" and then "How many live births?" and write "1," things came somewhat rushing back. I have to say it is HUGE to get to write "1" instead of "0," which is all I ever thought I'd get to write. But it still was hard to acknowledge that WOW, that was me. I was pregnant 7 times to get to Ms. Magpie. I used to live in a land of what felt like almost unbearable pain over it. Wow. And now, miraculously, I'm over here on the other side, with an amazing almost two-year-old and a large hemorrhagic cyst.

I had similar sense of unreality writing my and my family's cancer history. Can one's immediate and second-degree relatives have THAT many instances of cancer? Hard to believe...Oh boy we are not genetically favored in the cancer risk department.

So physical and lingering emotional pain aside, all is well. My history still looks like a train wreck and it still hurts to have to answer questions that acknowledge it. But it hurts a heck of a lot less than it used to.

For any of you still in the trenches, I wish the same for you.


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

The end of the pacifier era

When Magpie was 21 months old, we began thinking about reducing or eliminating the pacifier. We'd already cut her down to using it just during naps and overnights, with occasional use in the car (living in NYC, we don't use the car much) and on planes. Despite being consistent with this, Magpie would ask for the pacifier often, especially when upset. For some reason, she'd grown to call it "bottle" around the time we cut out bottles, and so when she was tired or unsettled, she'd start the litany: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle." It almost seemed that the bottle...erm...I mean the pacifier...was making her more anxious rather than less.

Magpie has a lovey she has grown very attached to (see "Lambie" in vacation sleeping photo below). I picked Lambie as a lovey for Magpie when she was about 6 or 7 months old, and we actually have three of them that we rotate. Magpie looooves Lambie, shares food with Lambie, kisses Lambie, talks to Lambie, changes Lambie's diaper, etc. Lambie is a true friend. We hoped Lambie's presence would help with the transitioning out of the pacifier. 

Naptime in portable crib on vacation, with Lambie

But I struggled with it. I didn't want to be cruel or take away something that Magpie relied on for soothing. And I worried that she had become so used to going to sleep with the pacifier that she wouldn't be able to go to sleep without it, particularly at naptime. Truth be told, I was concerned that sans pacifier, MY CHILD MIGHT NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. Realistic? In hindsight probably not. But sleep has become an irrationally important and precious commodity for me, so I'll cut myself some slack.

On the other hand, the kid would need to move beyond the pacifier at some point. And the fact that she would launch into this perseverative request, "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle..." was annoying. (Poor kid...if she could have just quietly used the pacifier at the appropriate times and not made such a big deal out of it, she probably could have eked out another year with the pacifier.)

Let me start by saying I don't recommend our pacifier weaning strategy. But it's how it ended up happening, and we're all still alive, so I wanted to share.

One Saturday during Magpie's 21st month, we were driving to NJ and we forgot the pacifier (OMG!). She asked for it.

Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle..."

Mama: "I'm sorry sweetie, we don't have the bottle today."

Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!"

Mama: "I know. You want the bottle. But I don't have it."

Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, BOTTLE!!!!!!!"

Mama: "Let's sing a song together!! A,B,C,D..."

Magpie: "No! No! No! Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle..."

Mama: "Hmmm... The itsy bitsy spider crawled up..."

Magpie: "No! No! No! Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Mama: "I don't have it, hon. Would you like a snack?"

Magpie: "No! No! No! NO!!! Bottle, bottle, bottle..."

Mama: "How about some milk?"


Mama: "Do you want to hold mama's hand?"


You get the idea. But eventually, my girl drifted off to sleep as we continued to drive. Having no pacifier with me, I couldn't cave, which I would have done at our home. And I learned in the process that Magpie could get to sleep without the pacifier.

We were out all day. Magpie had a few short naps in the car, not her typical 2.5 hour nap, but maybe three shorter naps (in hindsight, I'd frame it as her getting to practice falling asleep three times without the pacifier...and me having the opportunity three times to learn that she could).

By the end of the car ride, Will and I were thinking...WOW. We're on a roll...maybe we should just not offer the pacifier tonight and see if we can all make it through this. It's a Saturday night, so if it's terrible, we can retreat from the plan and all recover tomorrow night before the week starts.

When we got home, I ran ahead into the apartment while Will and Magpie parked the car. In breakneck speed, I purged our apartment of pacifiers. We usually kept them in a cup on a shelf in her room. I left the cup, but emptied out the pacifiers. I also searched the diaper bag, behind the crib, in the kitchen drawers and on the drying rack, and every other place I thought there might be one. God forbid our poor girl saw one (seemed akin to me having to see a chocolate cake in the house while on a diet. Unfair to the highest degree). I didn't throw them away, but stored them out of sight.

We'd bought Magpie a Dora the Explorer pajama set while we were out, which she loved, and so we introduced it into the narrative. These were her new pajamas - new big girl pajamas that she would wear instead of using the pacifier. She was excited about the pajamas. She REALLY wanted to wear those pajamas. She was not thrilled about the no pacifier part.

That night, because she hadn't had her full-length nap, she was tired. We kept her up later than usual to make sure she was very tired. When we read her her bedtime story in the rocking chair, she started up again, "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!" and I told her I didn't have it (so hard to lie...). I got the cup down from the shelf and together we looked in it. It was empty. (Again, so hard to pull this slight dishonesty with her, but she seemed to accept the lack of pacifiers once she saw the empty cup). After awhile she asked to be put in her crib (she typically tells me when she's ready to be put down in the bed), so I put her in, and I sat pensively in the rocking chair in her darkened room waiting to see what would happen.

And you wouldn't believe it, but SHE FELL ASLEEP! Not only that but, she slept through the night just the same as usual.

So we decided to do the same thing the next nap and nighttime. (I also quickly ordered a few more PJ sets). And it went a bit easier than before. Within a couple of days, Magpie would ask a bit wistfully, "Bottle?" and I'd explain that we didn't have those anymore, and she'd nod.

Within a couple of weeks, she was totally over the pacifier. We have survived numerous car trips, and even two plane flights since then, and everyone has survived ok, mom and dad included.

I had no idea it would be so easy. So now we have only pictures to show us the memory of my girl using the pacifier...

With big sister Moxie

At hotel after my sister's wedding this summer, looking a bit goth
First plane ride

Rare stroller nap last winter
Sleeping perpendicularly


Big Girl in her Dora pajamas!
And instead we now have this amazing young lady who proudly wears Dora PJs and falls asleep on her own.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

An orphan no more

After six long years, my friend Suzanne walked out of the orphanage in Kyrgyzstan today with her daughter Diana by her side. Suzanne was matched with Diana when she was five weeks old and expected to take her home when she was just a few months old. But there was delay after delay, and then all adoptions were put on indefinite hold.

Suzanne and Diana at age 22 months (Magpie's age now) 

Suzanne never gave up. She went back to Kyrgyzstan to visit Diana twice. She lobbied U.S. Congress. She wrote and produced an advertising campaign video to gather local support in the Kyrgyz community.  And more recently when things were looking the most promising they have in years, she set out with friends to make a bunch of quilts to raise money to so that she and her four year old (adopted domestically while she was waiting for Diana) could spend several weeks visiting at the orphanage, and then hopefully get to take Diana home. 

With your help, Suzanne raised more than $10,000, funding both her own trip and that of several other waiting families. 

Here's what you helped make happen:

Mom and daughter, finally together forever

Leaving the orphanage for the last time, forever.
Diana is beautiful. And she remembered her mama from her mama's last visit to Kyrgyzstan two years ago. She will face many challenges from spending her first years in an orphanage, but what a wonderful day today marks - to have a family and a home, to have a family of her own, finally after all of this time.Thank you all again for your help - for your support of my friend Suzanne.

And Suzanne, your indomitable spirit - never giving up in what seemed like such hopeless circumstances - has just saved the life, and drastically changed the future, of a beautiful little girl. I am just bursting with happiness for you, for your family of three. What a turning point today marks. Diana is so so lucky to have you as her mom.


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Monday, August 18, 2014

The quick and dirty, comic and tragic: A catch-up post

I owe you all a major catch-up post. There's no way to cover all that has happened, but we are all intact, and Magpie is doing great.

The most challenging aspect of things the past several months is that my mom was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer (non-small cell adenocarcinoma,  which unfortunately is pretty scary news even in the early stages). After her diagnosis, she spent a month in the hospital after having a major post-procedure complication. It was so hard to see her so sick and really difficult to juggle my desire to be physically present with her, to parent Magpie, to maintain my marriage to some degree, and to function professionally. Fortunately for me, although my mom lives across the country, she happened to be here when she was diagnosed and therefore underwent her much-more-complicated-than-expected procedure here, so at least physically I could see her daily and offer my love and support. She is doing much better now and has been discharged home on oxygen. The goal of the procedure was to ablate the cancer, but the doctors are not sure and won't know for months whether it was successful. My mom has significant other health issues, so I am not sure what options remain if she still has residual tumor. It's been a tough time, and I am definitely concerned that I will be losing my mom, and Magpie her grandma, much, much  sooner than I would wish.

To give a whirlwind update on the rest of the immediate and extended family that I sometimes blog about, Will is doing well at work and health-wise. My sister got married to a wonderful man (yay!). She got pregnant almost immediately (double yay! Especially given our worries on that score). Unfortunately, she then suffered a mid-first-trimester miscarriage (major ugh and lots of sadness and tears shed by all). Incredibly, she seems to be taking it in stride, which is impressive, and she is hopeful to try again in the coming months. My friend S. who has been in the midst of long LONG-term adoption efforts internationally, whom many of you helped in her fundraising effort and quilt raffle, is less than a month away from hopefully having her daughter finally home after six long years of waiting. I can't post more details about it now, at her request and out of an abundance of caution. But amazing things are underway on that front, so please send all positive thoughts her way. I will post a much bigger update on this when I get the all-clear to do so. Life in academic medicine is continuing apace, and the good news there is that I'm getting promoted. Not to leave out the animal kingdom in this post, our boxer dog Moxie celebrated her fifth birthday this summer. Yay for boxer dogs! She is amazing and such a good "boxer sister" to Ms. Magpie.

And Ms. Magpie herself? She has been doing great. She's 21 months now and is talking up a storm, eating well, running, jumping, starting to engage in imaginary play. She is still tiny - I put her in 6-12 month Gap jeans the other day...and they fell down around her knees! Yikes! She weighs 22 pounds-ish I think, but is very slender... She is more and more fun each day - it is a joy to watch her and to interact with her, even though she is an intense little creature. She's also sometimes now demonstrating some of the "terrible twos" behavior, even though she isn't yet two. I'll do a whole post on her development in the next few days if I can. Other Magpie developments in the works: We are in the first few days of unexpected pacifier weaning. I will do an entire post on this shortly, so stay tuned on that. ... We are also in the preparation phases for potty training...mostly gathering books on the subject for Magpie and potty chairs and even a Potty Time Elmo that will be presented at the appropriate time (who ever would have thought such a thing existed?). As part of the psych-ops preparations for potty training, I am spending much more time talking about pee and poop than I ever imagined. Seriously, in my wildest dreams...

More soon. I promise.


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Monday, June 9, 2014

Little talker

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Can you help?

I have a friend who is in her mid-thirties and has high-ish FSH and diminished ovarian reserve. She went through egg retrieval at the famed top clinic in Colorado, but only had 4 mature eggs retrieved.

Can any of you point me toward any blogs with similar IVF results that led to success? Nobody in the blog world is coming to mind, and I have never focused on those kinds of details because we always had quantity in terms of eggs, just major quality and implantation problems. She is feeling very downhearted at the moment, and I'd love to let her know hope isn't lost yet.

Much appreciated!


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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

And...fantasy over

It was fun while it lasted, but my body let me know today, with the onset of my period, that I am decidedly not pregnant.

Maybe next month. Most likely not, but hey, you never know.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What if?

I've been finding myself at times lately wishing to be pregnant again. It's not even a wish exactly, more of a fantasy I engage in from time to time.

This morning I woke up early, around 4:30am, and felt some uterine tugging feelings. I noticed I felt a bit queasy too, highly unusual for me. I let my mind wander, imagining that I was in the early stages of the first trimester.

I thought back to my last period, but strangely, I was blanking on when it was exactly. Definitely more than two weeks ago. But was it three? Four weeks ago? Five even? I looked back through my calendar to try to jog my memory, but no dice.

In a strange way, I was almost enjoying lying there musing. Because of Magpie's miraculous existence, it was a somewhat pleasurable musing, not the painstaking longing I used to feel when I feared I would never be a mom. This morning I just found myself slightly smiling and wondering, What if?

I put my hand on my lower abdomen, and I thought that I could check with an hpt, but I don't really want to. Because if I were to check, I'm 99% certain I would find out that I am not pregnant, and the fantasy would be over. I'm 42.5 years old, and I had 110 eggs retrieved to get to the magical Ms. Magpie. And we've tried naturally every month around the right time since Magpie was about 6 weeks old. And well...Magpie is 19 months well, I'm not exactly fecund over here, not that this is news. Plus there's the fact that I'm decidedly content with our family as it is. It is really nice, the three of us.

But I also loved being pregnant with Magpie, in the moments I wasn't absolutely petrified that something terrible was about to happen. It was a singular peak experience in my life. I would be pleased for Magpie to have a sibling to share the world with, and oh so curious to see who another new individual in our family would be, should one ever decide to turn up in our lives. Many of our mom friends with kids Magpie's age are pregnant now with number two, which is undoubtedly part of what has brought these thoughts to the fore.

We have three remaining frozen embryos in Colorado as well. All poor quality but chromosomally normal. It's been on my mind that we should start that process. "We're not getting any younger," Will said recently. Along with, "I don't think it will get any easier than it is now." So to move that process along would require Colorado's one day work up and then three months of the absolutely dreaded depot lupron. Plus potentially endometriosis laparoscopy again - when I had the lap in early 2009, I was stage 3. 2009 seems like a long time ago, lots of time for the endometriosis to flourish? But I actually don't know if they tend to repeat that surgery or not. I've talked myself out of starting the frozen embryo process many times. It seems like such a slog, with such low likelihood of success. But soon, I suppose. It's worth a single plane flight, the work up, and at least a conversation with Dr. Schl. about our chances.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my fantasy pregnancy. The one that doesn't require IVF or shots or anxious monitoring. The one that comes the way other people's pregnancies appear to - effortless, unexpected. So easy that it's hard to believe it's real.


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