Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Not Like My Toes Are Even Pretty

I have heard about three pregnancies in the last 24 hours. First, Angelina. Next, one of my students who wanted to explain why she's been MIA for some required exercises (she was vomiting in various bathrooms around the hospital, poor thing). Finally, one of my colleagues.

I have long noticed that some pregnancy announcements make me wince a little, and some do not. Angelina's, now, I feel irrationally happy over, maybe just because it's cool to think of two such gorgeous people combining genes, and maybe because she's certainly paid some dues (albeit with a fat checkbook). My student's, well, a tiny bit. Because I didn't have a guy who was willing to undertake parenthood with me at that stage in my life, even though I was already getting slightly long in the tooth (and I knew I couldn't do it alone).

My colleague's announcement was pretty hard to take. She's my age, and she sees outpatients in the same office as I do. She got married when I was in year three of my fertility quest, and she wasn't worried in the least about whether she could get pregnant — she used birth control for a while, even. Then of course she got pregnant two weeks after I finally did. (Which meant that we were out on maternity leave at almost exactly the same time, which just about shut down the practice — despite ample advance notice, none of the higher ups seemed to grasp what kind of problem this would be — but I digress). Recently I asked her if she thought she wanted another, and she said, maybe, sort of ... then she stopped her birth control again and had sex exactly ONCE, and now she's pregnant again.

I hate this evil finger of jealousy scratching at my back. I don't begrudge her this pregnancy, and I know she has a lot more to deal with than I do in life — she has a chronic medical condition that leaves her in pain and fatigued, her husband does almost nothing to help with their son or the house, and she's a really kind, generous person who has helped me often. And, I already have a fantastic (though hell-bent) baby myself, which a lot of people probably begrudge me. But it's hard to shake this ugly feeling. Jo wrote about it much more eloquently than I a little while ago.

It also makes me do something I hate to do, which is face up to my own desires and motivations. I have not made an appointment with my RE, despite knowing full well that time may have run out for me. I have not weaned HellBoy, despite knowing full well that nursing is probably interfering with any chance at fertility I might otherwise have. I become very adolescent about the whole issue. I'm still pissed off that I don't have the luxury of deciding how many biological children I want. I want to be able to ponder when would be a good time to have a second baby, without the incessant noise of the clock winding down making it hard to think. I'm finding this whole gig pretty overwhelming at times, and the thought of adding another baby to the mix sometimes seems outrageous. Not to mention the hideousness of infertility treatment. It would be nice to know that I could wait a couple more years to catch my breath.

I have a slightly ridiculous reason for wanting a second biological child: HellBoy looks almost nothing like me. He's got exact replicas of his father's cleft chin, distinctive nose, big brown eyes, even his long flat feet. The things that may have come from me are all pretty generic — straight fine hair, smallness, maybe his mouth? Probably his eyebrows? I mean, we're grasping at straws here. I joke sometimes that at the IVF center they finally got fed up working with my tough old eggs and just borrowed one from a nice young woman who resembled me. There's no easy way to prove this isn't true.* I coached my cousin's wife at the birth of their first child, and I was the first person to hold and dress the baby. I noticed right away that she had my cousin's toes, which are unmistakeable, and which I also have (maybe I'll post a picture sometime, but for now you'll have to trust me, these toes are better than DNA testing for tracking family connections). And I thought that was the coolest thing.

I want a baby with my toes.

So that's a pretty stupid reason, and yes, I realize that even if I had a second biological child it could be mini-TrophyHusband #2. I need to appreciate my incredibly good fortune in having HB at all (which I do, I do). I need to decide whether I want to get my butt to my RE and let them tell me if the door is really closed, because until I know that it's all rhetorical anyway. And then I probably need to wait a little while and talk some more with TH about what would be the best adoption scenario for us.

OK. Enough about me and my whining. Let's talk about lurkers, shall we? Because for de-lurking week, this blog is kind of a bust. Hundreds and hundreds of you, yet only one de-lurker ... why so shy? (You still out there, E?) Well, really, I'm not going to harangue anyone. I always hated my creative writing workshops where we were required to make comments. Some stuff was just crap, and the less said about it the better, and some days I felt like crap and didn't think I should impose that on the author either.

So forget I even brought it up. Carry on.

*No, of course I don't really believe this. Because they wouldn't give those nice fresh eggs out for free, now would they?


Anonymous said...

okay, I'm a lurker coming out of the shadows. It has nothing to do with "Delurking Week", though. It's the subject matter of having a child who doesn't look like you. I've got a boy, eighteen years old, my biological child. All along I knew I would only have one, so he was it. He looks NOTHING like me and every bit of his father. It was really strange when he was younger; people would even ask if he was mine. Well, he's as handsome as his father, but I have definitely influenced him in so many ways. The kid wouldn't be into politics or know how to crochet if I wasn't his mother!

I look forward to hearing what others have to say on this subject.


Anonymous said...

Alright, I'm out. Love your writing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I've ever delurked here or not. Hi!

Jess (AKA moobabe)

Anonymous said...

I can't comment usually. I mostly read at work, and for some reason, I can't even view the comments there. Must be something in our firewall. I rarely have time at the internet at home, but for you, I've made time just to delurk. Nice to meet you.

And, my daughter looks just like me. My husband used to be disappointed until we found out she has his ears. Horrible horrible ear-infections. Now, he's just carful what he wishes for

Anonymous said...

Oh, DM. I feel for you. I feel you on the not-being-able-to-pick-how-man-kids-you-have, because that was me with my endometriosis and preterm labor issues; I wanted four or five and decided with great regret that it was better to stop torturing myself TTC/tempting fate to send me a micro-preemie after two. I feel bad for having gotten accidentally knocked up after trying to shut the door and blabbing about it on my blog where you probably read it and thought "bitch." And I even feel bad that I have such crappy genetics, because I would offer you my eggs in a heartbeat but you probably don't want a neurotic, reflux-y baby with autoimmune issues and an overly generous ass. I'm hardly a lurker, more like a stalker, but that is my comment for the day and as a fellow veteran of countless workshops, I would never write "this was very good" at the end of your draft and sit around during the discussion saying nothing. said...

Dang... my sympathies. I can't even imagine what it must be like to feel the sadness and pressure that these kinds of fertility choices cause.

MFA Mama: I've been thinking about that, actually. I've got a ton of fresh, grade-A eggs and a gently-used, top-quality womb. If I knew it wouldn't adversely impact my future fertility (and that my husband wouldn't mind having a bitchy, bloated egg hatchery/incubator around), I'd seriously consider lending out my reproductive bits. I was one of the first generation of ART babies, after all. I feel like maybe I should give back.

J.Q. looks exactly like his daddy. EXACTLY. He even has a tiny, fuzzy patch of back hair. Every time I see it, I'm not sure whether to shudder or smile.

NOBODY de-lurked for me! Two pipin' hot new posts this week, and THREE comments between them. A pox on you, internet!

Anonymous said...

Delurking from Oak Park, IL (no, I don't live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home). I just delurked over at MFA's last night, so I'll copy and paste.

Got here from reading your comments in one of the "infertility blogs." Stayed because seeing new entries from you makes my black bitter heart go pitter patter. And because you make me laugh (descriptions of HB/AB, the amazing nose resetting)--and damn, do I need it. After losing my second son to a stillbirth in July 04 due to uterine rupture (when my firstborn was 22 months old), 6 months of waiting to be allowed to try again, followed by 13 months of TTC with no luck, and gaining the delightful label of "infertile--secondary, unexplained"....well let's just say that if it wasn't for intelligent, bitter, smart assed women like you, Jo, Julie, Tertia, etc., I'd have lost more of my mind sooner. I had started reading many of the infertility blogs before Zach died, and after he died they gave me comfort, seeing how these women went through their losses with passion, anger, love, etc. Now I benefit from their infertility information as well.

I also enjoy reading about people who don't view pregnancy, birth, and parenting as some rosy colored. Disneyfied piece of pablum. Women who can fully identify with that urge to leave your offspring by the side of the road and just keep driving (hey, just every once in a while). When I read your post about your nose, I knew exactly what you meant. Kevin has never broken my nose but I've had at least 3 nosebleeds and more bloody lips than I can count because of that child's amazingly hard head.

Mignon said...

Doc, I don't think you should feel bad about your reaction to your colleague's news. I don't personally know any doctors that aren't incredibly competitive and driven towards success. Your drive seems to have leaked over into your woman parts, is all.
When both my children were born they looked exactly like their dad, which is also to say, exactly like my MIL. Can you imagine nursing your MIL? But now my daughter is 4 and looks just like me. So about HB - perhaps he'll grow into his DocMom features?
And I don't really lurk, I'm the kid in class frantically waving my arm and blurting stuff out to try to impress the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Delurking from Marin County, CA. At birth, our first son looked exactly like my husband, down to the wrinkly earlobes. My only genetic contribution appeared to be his straight hair. Now he's 9, and looks like a miniature version of me at the same age. So perhaps HB's looks will change over time? Our second son looks like my late FIL, but has my personality, down to the ADD. Poor thing.

cmm said...

Though I've enjoyed lurking, and plan to continue, I thought I'd say hi. My son is 4-1/2 months, still fluffy and squishy, but damn if he doesn't look just like his papa. My only claim is a fine set of unattached earlobes.
My fear is that if my husband gets the outer-parts, then I get the inner: poor thing will have no musical, math or people skills to speak of. Tant pis!

DoctorMama said...

Thanks for all the words of sympathy & delurking.

MFA Mama -- actually I never thought "bitch" about your fortuitous fertility -- maybe more like "crazy"? And the ample butt and neuroses are not a problem, but the G-tube issue might be, I'll admit. Stalking -- ha! Thanks.

TS -- An ART baby giving back? I like that idea. I'll tell HB early on that he's expected to be a sperm donor! If anyone wants a hellion of their own, that is. And btw, HB has back hair too! Aggh! As for your blog -- hmph! You may not have had quantity thus far, but you've got some mighty fancy-pants quality comments there ... I don't know as you should be whining, missy.

stephanie -- thanks. I'm not sure I'd have made it through that stuff intact -- you must be made of strong stock. I hope things look up soon. And isn't it weird how you can think "god I can't take this motherhood shit one more minute" AND "god I hope I get pregnant again" in the same moment?

mignon -- and others who said HB might look like me eventually -- I read a theory once that it's evolutionarily advantageous for infants to start life looking like their fathers, since paternity can often be in question, and that the maternal genes start asserting themselves later. I'm not sure how this could work, but they've done studies showing that on average, newborns are easier to match with their fathers by facial features than their mothers. So I'll wait and see. But the toes are DEFINITELY not mine.

As for competitive fertility -- hmm, that might be a useful way of thinking about it. One thing that I didn't mention is that we have a third partner in my office who is currently going through IVF and it's not going well at all. She doesn't have any kids yet. She's the one who really needs sympathy, I realize, and I'll need to figure out how to offer it.

cmm -- lurk as much as you like -- but you write well, I'd love to hear more! And I know -- I was hoping for a baby who looked like me but had my husband's personality. I fear I have the exact opposite (I was HellGirl).

B.E.C.K. said...

I've also read that theory about babies' resembling their fathers at birth. That certainly was the case when my kiddo was born. However, every single person who held our newborn could see his resemblance to his father...except his father himself. Of course, the kiddo's dad had some doubts as to his paternity, despite my 156 assurances. The kiddo was an "oops" after his dad returned from Nepal (where he went for a MONTH immediately after our messy breakup). In fact, his dad asked me yet again on the way home from the hospital what the date of my last period had been, and I blew up: "DO NOT TELL ME WE ARE DISCUSSING THIS AGAIN, BECAUSE WE ARE *NOT*!!" He wisely dropped the subject and promised never to bring it up again (and has kept his word). ;^) But I digress.

The kiddo had his dad's nose, toes (everyone noticed this one), eyes and everything at birth. I didn't mind too much, although I thought it would've been nice to see some maternal resemblance, seeing as I'd done most of the work. Ahem. ;^) Now, though, my mom says the kiddo is starting to look like my childhood photos, so that's nice (although his toes will always be the same as his dad's -- long and skinny -- andn he has definitely inherited his dad's height potential, which I like way more than is politically correct). I do admit I enjoy seeing myself in my son, although if the truth be known, he has a LOT of my personality, and that's much more important to me. I doubt this would be as important to me the second time around, seeing as I'll likely have to adopt by the time I'm in an economic position to have more kids.

On the subject of back fuzz -- my son's got that. He had it as an infant, and I thought perhaps it would go away as he got older, but he's turning five soon and still has it. Very odd, but what can I say? He's one cuddly little monkey. ;^)

I, too, feel that desire for a second kid, quite often, and I feel a little guilty that I'm not just content with the beautiful kid I already have. I feel greedy, but I can't help but wish that I had more kids for the kiddo to play with every day, and for me to love, and to fill the house with noisy joy, and for the kiddo to complain to when I'm laying down the law. ;^) That sort of stuff. Someday, though, one way or another. The kiddo's siblings will be biologically related, or step-siblings, or adopted, or symbolic (very good friends), but he will have them. I'm determined. It's a soul-searching journey, though, and I do wish you all the best with it.

Anonymous said...

Heh, go figure, I was an ART baby, too. Here's to thwarting natural selection. L'chaim!

Anonymous said...

Not really a lurker since I do comment from time to time but since you asked :-)

I have 3 kids and two of them look incredibly like their father and one looks just like I did at her age but they all have their father's ski feet - can you say quadruple A width?? When my first daughter was born our nurse practitioner took one look at her feet and loudly predicted size 10AAA - glad she was wrong about the size 10 anyway (kid is 16 and done growing)

Orange said...

I'm always surprised when someone I know becomes pregnant when planned. It seems the height of arrogance to announce (as my cousin did last summer) "we'd like to have a baby next August or September" and actually get pregnant in December, doesn't it? I always assume infertility or pregnancy loss will hit everyone, and somehow it doesn't.

My friend C. is planning to try to get pregnant using donor sperm (her partner's a woman). She's avoided telling mutual friend A. so far because it'll be so hard for A.—a single woman who has always craved a child of her own—to hear of pregnancy plans in someone so close to her. Another pregnancy is out of the question for me, but my friend's plans don't distress me—in this case, I'm just excited somebody else I know will be doing insems (like my husband and I did). And, of course, I fear she won't get pregnant and will have to deal with infertility trauma, because I always suspect infertility.

DoctorMama, get yourself to the RE and get your hormone levels checked, will ya? (Blood draw on day 3 of your period.) Find out if your ovaries are kaput or not, just to know what your options are.

Anonymous said...

Another lurker checking in to say "Hi!". I've just recently started reading, but I really enjoy your blog.

DoctorMama said...

MWDB -- the main thing that bugs me with the easily fertile people -- and I think this is common -- is smugness, and I think just by your sensitivity about it you can't be guilty of that. Smugness kind of broadcasts inability to be sympathetic to those who are less fortunate.

MJB & beck -- I'm sometimes guilty of forgetting that there's such a thing as economic infertility, too.

Orange, here's the rub: No period yet! They may be dried up little husks already. How come it's out of the question for you?

moxie -- I gave it a shot, but it's definitely not my oeuvre. MFA Mama is probably a better pediatrician than I, after all she's been through ... said...

"Economic infertility"? Damn, I LOVE that term. I'm going to invoke it straightaways when my family starts pressuring me to produce another infant for them to spoil rotten. They're perpetually claiming that "you'd find a way to get by!" Um, no. I'd lose my house, you dips! Whew, I feel better now.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Economic Infertility. That was a large part of our decision to quit at two and now that #3 is here anyway and so damn sick and ohhhhh fuck the co-payments...Husband is getting a second job, the kids and I never see him, I have no help around here most of the time, and it's a mess. I'm still glad we went through with pregnancy #3 and you DO find a way to get by if you don't have a choice (and yeah blah blah there's always a choice I know but after having some fertility issues of my own I just could NOT 86 a perfectly good implanted embryo for economic reasons) but it's BRUTAL.
And DM, there still must be something the RE could do to determine if they're all dried up husks, and you know it. Don't act as if your lack of a period (and, um, you're still breastfeeding so...duh...) gets you off the hook. If you just don't want to go because you are DONE then don't, but if you do want to go then stop making lame excuses. From the Department of Drive-by Assvice, Dr. MFA Mama (pediatrician and sometime OBGYN/RE dabbler, HAHAHA)

Anonymous said...

Hi! De-lurking from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Nice to meet you..

punchberry said...

Hi Dr.Mama: I like lurking on your blog. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I'm not exactly a lurker, have commented in the past, but wanted you to feel warm and fuzzy all over so I thought I'd say hi. Uh, HI!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, planned fertility drives me crazy. I worked with a guy who made the comment that he would "never want to have a baby so close to Christmas" (my son's due date was December 19th) and that his mom had planned things perfectly so that he and his sister were born at the very beginning of the summer before it got hot, so she didn't have to be pregnant during the summer. The only thing I could think of to say was "It's not always that easy for everyone." And it drives me nuts when my mom says that the 2.5 years between my sister and I is perfect, the 3.5 between my brother and sister is a little too long, and we should certainly try to make sure that our kids are closer in age than that. And she knows that we tried for a long time for our son!

Oh, and my son looked a lot like me at birth, just like my husband from about 4 months until his second birthday, and is now starting to look more like me as his hair darkens. Since I dreamed for years of having a little blond-haired boy who looks just like his daddy, I'm actually a little sad to see him looking more like me now. But it's also really cool to look at him and see my own eyes looking back at me. So I can completely understand why you want that.

I'll stop hijacking your blog now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm just Delurking all over.

Either way,

What you said about children looking like their father early on and then the mother's genetics asserting themselves later is really interesting RE my eldest daughter (2 1/2).

When she was born people would STARE at her and her father and be just simply AGHAST and say "OH MY GOD...she looks JUST like her DAD!" I got a little tired of hearing it (my response ended up being "yeah but anything that makes her cute comes from me").

NOW though I have a picture of myself at her age and except for lighter blond hair it's practically like looking at the same child. She even says it's her when she looks at the picture.

In the case of anyone who looks at her big brown eyes and wants to tell me she looks like daddy I whip the picture out and they are stunned.

JenP said...

Delurking: Jen P, mum to Sophie
after 39 cycles and 2 m/c
1 functional ovary with pcos

I don't think there's ever going to be a moment when I won't feel those pangs of jealousy over a new pregnancy announcement.

Especially of the sister-in-law variety. Seems my 3rd SIL had to look at my BIL once, on her freaking birthday no less, and POOF! Baby in June!

I don't know what it is about already having joy and still feeling the bitterness. I guess it's because no matter how much I want another baby or not nothing is ever going to rememdy the infertility.

Lots of luck to you guys.

Anonymous said...

De-lurking commences:

I love your writing as I find it to be truthful and humorous. Who am I? A thirty something academic vaguely connected to the study of medicine via IT with a 4 year old son. We live in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Anonymous said...

De-lurking here to say that I am a regular reader and enjoy your writing and always look forward to reading about HB’s antics.

I am 40+, been trying to become a mom for 7 years and have been through a disappointing divorce during this time. I’m still optimistic this it will happen even though I have recently come to accept that my child will not be biologically connected to me. It will happen for me and I will be a working single mom to boot – it will be an adventure!

Anonymous said...

33 comments. Not bad.

There are too many things in this post to, yeah. Right! The waiting and being irrational thing, I gotcha there. (I have economic infertility of sorts.) The wanting another one, one that looks like me, that would be cool! I love the genetic roulette.

Mostly, I identify with the intense desire for one more, at least one more. For whatever reason. Do we need a reason?

Chiquita looks exactly like her papi. I don't think I was in the room when she was conceived. She has a tinge of my craziness--high intensity, bossiness, etc. though, so I feel enough of the flavor of me to not worry about her maternity. Alas, I was hoping she'd have his temperament, my immune system. Other way round.

Looks aren't everything.

I'm pushing it big time by waiting and sometimes it makes me sad my idiot career deprived my chiquite of that one full bio sib to compare notes with. I am afraid of being a laggard, and then not afraid, then afraid again. The times I'm not afraid are based on the fact that there are just so many damn ways to get babies, it seems--technology, adoption, etc., so I think it would be fine to adopt an embryo/use donor eggs, and/or adopt a baby. Not that I can afford most of these. On the other hand, I'm shocked to find--as implied in these comments--that you can just go to the doctor and get your blood tested and find out your fate. So obviously, there are some things I don't know here. would insert a little reality into my egg-swapping-castle-in-the-clouds.

I'll go if you go.

Anonymous said...

Sort of delurking. The thing about the toes...yeah, I hear ya.

Anonymous said...

uh oh!
I am caught!!!
I guess I am the de-lurker...even though I don't think I get exactly what this word means
I just had lunch with a very unidirectional manner: I took 15 min to hide in my office and eat lunch while reading your blog and catch up with your life, since I've been a neglecting friend in the past weeks :-( and this also should tell you how GOOD your blog is :-)
I was going to email you anyway to tell you about our lunch date - although I'm pretty sure you would have found out - but now, I could not NOT leave a comment.