Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Random bullets of frozen embryo transfer

  • Waiting for my appointment is much more enjoyable - well, less annoying anyway - with an iPod. How I made it through the initial IVF without an MP3 player of any kind is a mystery to me.
  • Speaking of waiting, how is it that although I appeared to be the first appointment of the morning - I mean, the lights were not even on in the waiting room yet and both doors to Dr L's inner sanctum were open - I still had to wait?
  • But I didn't have to wait long.
  • Dr L was efficient as ever.
  • No matter how long I live in Switzerland, I will never get used to taking off my pants and delicates in that corner of the room and casually strolling naked from the waist down over to the examination table in this corner of the room. While Dr L waits on his little stool.
  • Which reminds me that one day I must blog the culture shock of a Swiss OB/GYN appointment.
  • But I must say, trans-vaginal ultrasounds are so not a big deal after the whole giving birth thing.
  • Once again Dr L did not tell me what my lining measured at, but I read the monitor clearly this time:7.78 mm
  • No, that's not really the kind of number I wanted to see.
  • I do, however, have a triple stripe.
  • Dr L seemed amused when I asked if I was triple-striped.
  • You crazy Americans, he was probably thinking, always wanting all these details.
  • But he humoured me and showed me the layers on the ultrasound monitor and explained what was where.
  • He also said my uterus was excellently shaped.
  • Yeah, that's a direct quote. I have an "excellently shaped" uterus. I think I'll put it on my CV.
  • We'll pretend to forget that he was positively delighted with my uterus last time, too.
  • Because we all know how that worked out.
  • Now since 7.78mm is not really the kind of number we wanted to see, and because 17 days of this are not boring enough, we're sneaking in three extra days of Progynova before transfer to help boost my lining.
  • Woo hoo.
  • I need more time on the Progynova because my lining isn't as thick as it was at this point in the cycle last time.
  • And we all know how how last time worked out.
  • Wait.
  • I'm supposed to be thinking postive.
  • That's all right! That's okay! I'm gonna get knocked up one day!
  • Erhum. Yes. Well. Moving on.
  • Transfer will be on Feb 8th instead of the 5th.
  • (Because my body isn't quite ready yet.)
  • On the upside, it means R won't be out of town for the transfer as he might have been on the 5th.
  • On the downside, it means I'm not responding all that well to the Progynova.
  • I'm thinking I'm going to be on the wrong side of 20%.
  • Again.
  • You know, it is incredibly difficult to conceal from a two year old boy the fact that you are eating cake. It can be done, but the furtive nature of the enterprise seriously minimizes the pleasure one can derive from the cake.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Birthday balloons

Look at what the nice people at Microsoft organized for Small Boy's second birthday today!

20,000 balloons on a beautiful day!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Caffeine, anyone?

Hmmm. Based on the number of coffee creamers no longer in the fridge, it would seem that R and I consumed 19 cups of coffee between 11am Friday and right now, 11 am on Monday. Gah! It's possible that Small Boy drank a few creamers over the weekend- when he sees us pouring creamers into our coffee he likes to get a creamer in his milk - drawing the total number of cups of coffee down to perhaps 15, but still. Gah!

And I'm supposed to go caffeine-free soon?


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Sunday, January 28, 2007


Misschrisc is right, FETs are dead boring. Really. I can report that I'm now taking Progynova twice a day, for a total of 4mg, and I have an appointment for an ultrasound to measure my lining on Wednesday. If things look good on Wednesday there will probably be a transfer on Monday (Feb 5). Once again we'll transfer a single frozen embryo because I am not prepared in any way for the possibility of twins. And yes, one can have twins from a single embryo but come on. As long as we're talking about what is theoretically possible, one could also run away with George Clooney. But come on.

So here I am, taking my Progynova and feeling fairly hopeless about it all. Twenty percent chance of success and what. But I'll do what Dr L says, and we'll see in mid- to late-February how this all turns out.

But twenty percent. We're not holding our collective breath over here.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally! Snow!

Snow has finallly come to the Bernese Oberland. It's not a massive storm but it's a good respectable snow and it's finally starting to look like proper winter around here. I walked around town with my camera this afternoon - this is something I'm really trying to do when Small Boy is at The Farm - but the low heavy sky and the grey light made for fairly flat pictures.

Close-ups of something colorful - berries on the holly bush, graffiti - worked better.

But there it is, actual snow.


Monday, January 22, 2007

What's for lunch?

Help! Help me, parents of toddlers! What do you feed your two-year old for lunch? I am tired of making Small Boy hot lunches. When can I stop giving him hot lunches? And I'm not looking for the Swiss answer to that question, because the Swiss answer to that question would be "When he marries a good woman (at which point he may or may not move out of the house) who will take over the cooking of hot lunches." Seriously. What do you feed your little ones at lunch time?


Sunday, January 21, 2007

To the person searching for the Clint Eastwood movie with the Swiss Alp in the title:

it's The Eiger Sanction.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

CD3 redux

I popped my first Progynova this morning. Trying another frozen embryo transfer. And after the whole yelling melt down thing, even. Hope is a hardy weed. Or a fool. Either way, it's what I choose to have today.

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After I posted on Wednesday, I rallied. I opened the blinds. I got dressed in one of my nicer outfits. I went out to lunch (Thai food) and took a slow walk through the city with my camera. I found a set of stairs leading from the Old Town down to the Matte (the neighborhood along the river which flooded in April '05) that I have somehow never seen before; it's a covered set of wooden stairs layered in graffiti. It has become my new photography project, getting on the camera what I saw when I turned the corner for the first time and was hit with a riot of color. I walked along the river and avoided a rainshower. I drank a latte and read a book.

Thank you everybody who commented. Phantom pretty much hit the nail on the head when she commented that those of us who grew up with "less than ideal childhoods" are hyper-vigilant and critical about our own parenting behavior in ways that other parents probably aren't. I'm always on the watch for the first step down the road that is going to turn me into my mother. That I know in my honest moments I'm doing just fine is beside the point; the shadow of my childhood hangs like cobwebs in the high corners of the room. One of the most vivid memories of my childhood - and I have a dearth of childhood memories, so the fact that this one stands out really says something - is of my mother standing in the kitchen screaming in my face because I ate a piece of cheese she wanted to put on hamburgers that night. I might have been 12; twenty-five years later it is one of the clearest images of my childhood. The thought of Small Boy remembering something like that so perfectly so many years from now terrifies me. In my honest moments, I'm not worried about it; he has already had such a different childhood than I did. In my honest moments, I think he will think of me with wild affection. But we all know how irrational our own childhoods make us. As Carlos Ruis Zafon put it in The Shadow of the Wind, "One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are too deep."

There's a German term Geborgenheit; it translates as security. But it's not like airport security or national security - that would be Sicherheit . I've only ever seen Geborgenheit used in parenting books - perhaps it has a wider usage I'm not familiar with - and it's used in the sense of "the most important thing a parent can do is give your child a sense of security." Geborgenheit makes me think of being in a warm sturdy cabin with a fire going and a cup of cocao, curled up under a blanket with a good book and loving arms around me. In my honest moments, I know that R and I have built a life for Small Boy that is grounded in Geborgenheit and that a little bit of yelling now and then will never change that. I also know that my childhood lacked anything resembling Geborgenheit and that is why it's so easy to throw me off balance. In my honest moments I know that I am not my mother; that I never will be. I know I'm a good parent, and I know my son's affection for me is limitless. I know yelling at him doesn't undo in reality or in his mind the childhood we've built for him. In my honest moments I see our home as a place of Geborgenheit.

But sometimes the wounds of the heart are too deep.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Great moments in parenting

R is in military service this week, so I'm on my own with the Small Boy.

Day 1 of single parenting went great! I dropped him off at The Farm at 10:00 am and returned at about 5:30pm. Small Boy and I ate dinner with R's parents and by the time we got home there was just enough time to put him to bed. Not bad, huh?

Day 2 of single parenting, um, not so much. By dinner time I had taken him on a drive, walk and bus ride to get him to take a nap (all to no avail); yelled at him; yelled at him to shut up (there are exactly two things I swore I would never do: hit my child, and tell him to shut up. Yeah.); and bribed him into eating dinner by letting him watch cartoons on my laptop at the table while I slid food into his inattentive mouth. Excellent. Oh, and I also called R at work in the Army - R who is a Lieutenant-Colonel and probably has better things to do during his military service* - and held the phone to Small Boy's screaming mouth, on the logic that if I have to listen to this, R does too. Then I yelled at R for a bunch of stuff that was totally out of his control, hung up on him, and, shrew that I am, unplugged the phone so he couldn't call me back. As if he would have wanted to. Not exactly one of my finer moments. Not exactly five or six of my finer moments, but who's counting?

To nobody's surprise and everybody's (well, my) relief, Small Boy is at The Farm again today. Let us all praise in-laws who live ten minutes away and who love their grandson more than all the stars in the sky. Amen.

Small Boy seems to have forgiven me. After dinner I apologized for yelling at him and asked if he would forgive me and he said "Yeah!" and leaned up agains me on the couch and patted my head. Bath-time was a laugh-riot of blowing soap bubbles onto Mama's head; at bed-time there were many hugs and kisses; and this morning all seems to be forgotten. By him, at least. I, on the other hand, can't let it go and I hate myself and I can't think of his sweet little face without starting to cry. I'm sitting here in the apartment in my sweats with the shades down, hiding my shame from the neighbors but it's clearly visible to me. I told my son to shut up. My sweet beautiful boy who was only crying and whining because it was 6pm and he hadn't slept all day and he was desperate and exhausted. And I yelled at him. He's fine and happy having fun at The Farm but I'm sitting in the dark crying and thinking about what a horrible parent I am.

Why is it at these moment we replay the thing we did wrong over and over and never remind ourselves of the thousands of things we've done right. When Small Boy dropped a glass Christmas ornament on the floor and broke it, I didn't even raise my voice. I made sure he stayed away from the glass until R cleaned it all up, and then I explained to him that the ornament was broken and couldn't be fixed and that's why we have to be careful. Then I showed him exactly what careful meant: I showed him how to hold the ornament with both hands and how to walk slowly with it and how to hand it to Dada. Then I found the nicest, prettiest best breakable ornament we had left and I made a big deal about how special it was, and then I gave it to Small Boy to show him that I believed in him. That night as I was going to bed I was so happy with how I reacted, so pleased that I didn't even raise my voice (my mother would have yelled), so proud of how I gave Small Boy another fragile ornament after he had accidently broken one. I'm not bad at this, I'm really not. And then a day like yesterday comes along and I do everything wrong.

I told Small Boy to shut up. I'm so ashamed of myself. He's so sweet, and I'm such a rotten person for doing that and he's clearly let it go and I can't.

* Insert joke about the higher your rank the less you actually have to do here.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Random bullets of weekend

  • After a week-long "Zitterpartie," (everybody was a nervous wreck) the men's downhill on the Lauberhorn - the longest downhill run on the FIS schedule - took place on Saturday, global warming notwithstanding.
  • Winner Bode Miller actually used the phrase "balls out," as in "I was skiing balls out," in a live interview with Swiss Television.
  • I washed R's business shirts from the week and all five of them were blue. How Swiss.
  • We finally ordered a new bed and, for the price we paid, I expect never to experience a moment's sleeplessness for the rest of my life.
  • This (link auf Deutsch) was the hockey experience of the season. (For those who don't read German - an outdoor ice rink was built inside the new soccer stadium. About 30,000 tickets were sold, and our home team won.)
  • R is an early-adapter techy geek-head, so I want it on the record that we owned this nightlight/clock/sleep trainer before it appeared on Shiny Shiny. No, it's not really working.
  • We also now own this. Be afraid, be very afraid.
  • Small Boy seems to be showing a preference for Swiss over English. I wonder if Swiss is easier - at least in R's dialekt it's very common to lop the endings off of words, so Mann (man) becomes Ma, for example. It's probably easier for a Small Boy to get the words right when they're so indistinct. Either that or he's gender identifying with R, speaking what speaks? Whatever: at least he's finally starting to talk even though his collection of words is truly truly random.
  • This book is simply amazing.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Memory and meaning

I have been thinking a lot about memory and meaning; it all started when I ordered this book Christina blogged about. As often happens when I’m on the trail of something, clues appear everywhere and I find myself now with a small notebook filling up with quotes about memory, food for thought. I’m currently chewing on something I read in The Shadow of the Wind: “Few things are more deceptive than memory.” If our own memories are not to be trusted – and I think all of us have some experience in remembering in perfect detail something our partner, brother, or grandmother remembers quite differently – and third-hand information, about others or ourselves, is suspect, (“ ‘But that means we can’t be sure of anything. Everything we know is, as you say, third- or even fourth-hand,’” says a character in The Shadow of the Wind) how do we tell the story of our lives? Even those of us who journal obsessively and perhaps think we have an advantage in reconstructing the past might be surprised: I’ve been keeping journals since I was ten years old, and sometimes they are illuminating and sometimes they are remarkably useless.

For years I’ve known that my brother and I led different lives even while sitting in the same room, even while taking the same vacations. He remembers meals I swear I’ve never eaten, hotels I swear I’ve never stayed at, condos I swear I haven’t seen. He played games with me that I have no knowledge of. For example, my family used to rent a cabin at Henry’s Lake in Idaho. Across a field from the cabins stood an old abandoned barn where my brother and I used to play. To reach the barn we’d walk to the end of the gravel road and then cut across the field in which cattle sometimes grazed. I remember the barn. I remember the field. I remember the cattle. I remember being afraid of them and staying close to the stray black dog that shadowed us everywhere that summer. I remember how once we reached the barn we fashioned a ramp to the hay loft with a long wooden plank and I remember how the plank bowed beneath my weight as I hurried across the mid-way point. I remember how the dog followed us up into the loft, her claws splayed, her belly low as she inched up that plank, her inexplicable loyalty to us conquering her certainty that she was doing what no dog ought to do. I remember the cool shaded space of the hay loft, the speckled sunlight, the dust motes.

I do not remember jumping the twelve feet back to the ground, which is what my brother says we did over and over again.

He is sure that we did this. I have no memory of it at all but in the face of his memory I am unwilling to say that I wasn’t there, or that I just watched as he jumped. In the face of my blank slate I accept his version of the story, slotting one of his memories into my life story. But if I don’t remember jumping, does it matter if I did? Patricia Hampl writes that “we store in memory only images of value.” What then am I to make of all the things I don’t remember but have been told happened? Do I care? Are they part of my life story at all? What if my brother is wrong? What, aside from claiming the memory, makes him a more reliable witness than me and my lack of memory? It must mean something that I don’t remember it; I have to believe that there is a qualitative difference between memories we formed as children and information about ourselves we obtained second- or third-hand.

If Hampl is right, if we store images only of value, then our memories, our genuine personal memories, tell the true story of our lives – not merely what happened to us, but what formed us. What we valued. What we chose. Just as the holes in our memory might tell us a great deal about ourselves as well: what we chose to discard. Out of the forest of memory, this tree stands out because it meant something to me and that tree recedes into the background because it didn’t.

I remember the barn. I remember the loft. I remember the dog and her mysterious devotion to us. I don’t remember jumping. Twelve feet as a seven year old, you’d think I’d remember the fear I must have felt, or the exhilaration, if nothing else. But I don’t. I do however have a perfect image, as perfect as a photograph, of my mother giving that dog a pork chop bone on the front porch of our vacation cabin. I don’t remember jumping out of that loft, but I remember that small moment.

So did I jump? And if I did, which event holds more meaning, the jumping or the forgetting?

(The forgetting, of course.)


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Come out come out wherever you are!

Via Mausi, I see it's De-Lurking Week. I am a horrible lurker - typing my first comment is like introducing myself to a stanger at a cocktail party, which generally fills me with fear and trepidation. But I'll play if you play.


Attack of the 50 foot baby!!

Lately Small Boy has been obsessed with riding his little construction truck around the apartment. He's going to crush it one of these days and it'll break his little heart. But until then, it's killer cute.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Great. I'm raising a literalist

Tonight in our apartment:

Swissmiss: Small Boy, be careful about those boxes.

Small Boy drives tractor into boxes.

R: Hey, hat Mama nit vorsichtig gesagt? [Hey, didn't Mama just say be careful?]

Small Boy, shaking his head: Uh-uh

R: Hat Mama "careful" gesagt?

Small Boy: Yah!

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Three Kings Day/Dreikönigstag

Today is Three Kings Day (it is also the 12th day of Christmas), also known as The Epiphany. Three Kings Day commemorates the Biblical story of the three kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child.

In Switzerland, Three Kings Day is celbrated with a Dreikönigsküchen.

Baked into one of the six outer buns is a tiny plastic king.

Whoever picks the bun with the king wins the crown and gets to be king for a day. According to R there's a trick to finding the king: because the plastic king is inserted into the cake before baking, the dough falls a little bit, so it's usually the smallest of the six outer buns that holds the king. I personally use this knowledge to avoid the king, because whoever wins the crown is supposed to wear the crown and I try to avoid being the center of attention even in such silly circumstances.

Fortunately Small Boy suffers from no such false modesty.

The cake is mildly sweet, with raisins and almond shavings, and Small Boy seemed to like it. It's one of R's favorites.

[Apparantly they have an entirely different cake in French Switzerland, which doesn't surprise me because French Swiss and German Swiss go out of their way to distinguish themselves from one another (unless they are about to be confused with actual French or actual Germans, in which case they all Swiss up pretty fast, the German-speaking Swiss especially).]


Thursday, January 04, 2007

There's social justice and then there's social justice, I guess

Some of you might recall that I almost went into cardiac arrest upon paying our final 2004 tax bill, though if you read that entire post you might also recall that I am more or less on board with actually paying to ensure that we live in a society that takes - or tries to take - social justice a little seriously. I'm more or less on board with the fact that although we pay waaaaaaaay more than we get back on a personal level, we live in a society that I can feel pretty good about most days. I'm more or less on board with the fact that because R and I have more than we need, we pay more than we "should." If I'm going to spout off about social justice, it seems to me that I should put my money where my mouth is.

So you can probably imagine how much stuff like this steams me.


Happy New Year

I'm a resolution-maker in spite of my better judgment. I can't help it; it fits so well with being a list-maker and a calendar-carrier. I'm also, unfortunately, usually a resolution-breaker. I am the woman who lived in Washington, D.C, for a decade and never managed to run the Marine Corps Marathon, after all. And me the daughter of a Marine, no less! And yet I can't help it. The new year rolls around and I hang a fresh new calendar and the empty pages are so full of promise and hope I just can't help it. I make lists, I make plans, I set goals, I bite off more than I can chew.

Over the years I have at least learned to be gentle with myself over the inevitable falling short, perhaps even philosophical about falling short. Better to fall short than to fail to strive at all, right? On the other hand, I miss the person I was in college when I was a competitive athlete (I raced The Little 500 three years running). I miss practicing time trials out on Flat Bottom Road. I miss those horrid spinning drills my coach set for us. I miss finishing a work out drenched in sweat and wondering if I'd be able to walk to classes the next day. I miss demanding more of myself than my body felt comfortable giving. I had a teammate in those days who was naturally talented, and worked hard to boot. But above all she had that natural flair. I never did; I improved by the force of sheer will. I want to do something like that again, to feel that degree of accomplishment, but looking at the structure of my life right now I know I don't have the time to dedicate to marathon training or climbing the Col d’Aubisque. But I miss that part of my life. I miss finishing a time trial, pulling over to the curb and throwing up from the effort of it. Truly odd as it sound, I miss training until I puke.

I was making my list of goals for the year, and it looked something like this:
  1. Get back into a German class (my German has deteriorated markedly since I stopped going to classes)
  2. Find a yoga class
  3. Work out/lose weight (the perennial, no?)
  4. Learn a new crafting hobby

A fine, reasonable list; manageable, given the circumstances of my life (1 Small Boy, 0 day care). But a boring list, an uninspired list. Not a list that is going to force me outside of my comfort zone, to demand more of myself than comes easily. Not the sort of list I imagine Lance Armstrong making.

I think I'm getting ready to do something hard. I don't know what yet, but I feel the need to do something hard, to climb something steep, to carry something heavy. Steeper than I'm used to, heavier than is comfortable. I don't know what yet, but I think I'm casting about for a physical challenge.