Monthly Archives: August 2006

advice about advice

down in the daisies, Canon Digital Rebel

So I felt a bit bad that several of you, after my post detailing some of the advice I’ve received, apologized for having given me advice in the past. It’s not so much that these tips weren’t smart or wise or really good ideas… I know that everyone who gave me advice over the years LOVED ME deeply. I know this and never doubted this, AND it wasn’t always what I needed.

It got me thinking about advice in general, when it feels good to receive it and when it doesn’t, what kind of advice is helpful and what is not. A lot of you also commented that it’s so great to know what might not be helpful to say to a friend or family member going through infertility (or any other difficult thing) but it occurs to me that I haven’t shared what would be helpful.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my coaching training is to be careful about giving advice. Going for problem solving, fixing and caretaking is a sure way to kill the energy of a coaching session. So what’s the alternative? There are two things that come to mind: One is being in a space of curiosity and the other is simply being with your friend or loved one going through the hard time.

It is one of those classic complaints that women have about men. “He’s always trying to fix everything! I just want him to listen to me.” Having someone tell you what you should do can be strangely disempowering.

So back to being curious… It could look like this: What is it like to be going through this? What kind of support do you need? What scares you about all this? What helps? How do you need me to be?

Then there is the “being with” part, which by the way, Matt is really good at. We watched a Dr. Phil episode once on managing toddler’s tantrums and they were saying that what works is matching the energy of the toddler. “Yes! That is so frustrating! You are so frustrated right now! That toy is not cooperating!” Within moments the toddler would calm down. It was like homeopathic medicine. Giving the child a small dose of their energy had a neutralizing effect and they felt heard. Soon after this, I noticed that Matt was naturally doing this with me when I was in a really low, dark, place. He’d hold me and say, “I know! It’s so hard! You’ve been doing all the right things. It’s so frustrating…” And this is all I really needed from him. I’m sure there were times when he wanted to tell me how to be, to relax or trust or have faith. I always appreciated when he simply met me where I actually was. Faithless and all.

What I have also appreciated are other peoples’ personal stories. The people that have gone through this (or had other experiences of grief) and reached out to me were a fundamental part of my healing. I think storytelling is one of the greatest ways we humans have of touching each other, connecting and healing one another. Your stories are always welcome here.

As I move toward parenthood, I’ve been warned that I will get far more unsolicited advice than I have ever gotten in my life. At the moment, I am open to what I like to call “hot tips.” If you have hot tips for me, I would love to hear them! All of you moms and aunties and godparents out there have a lot of experience. Hearing stories of what has worked for you and what hasn’t is exciting to me.

This is my little instruction book for how to give me advice. What’s yours? What helps? What doesn’t?

why matt and I have a lot to learn

cassidy and dylan, Canon Digital Rebel

Matt and I were outside a popular restaurant the other night waiting for a table and were watching the folks around us. There was a family near us, a mom and dad with three kids ranging in age from about 4-8 years old. We weren’t sure who was deaf and who was hearing in the family, but they were all quietly signing to each other.

At some point Matt and I glanced over at the 6-year-old boy who was signing to his sister. He was sticking his index finger in his mouth and then motioning to his butt while doing a funny little dance. Then he would stick the other finger in his mouth and point to the his butt again.

We found this completely hilarious and charming. (It was so much better in sign language!) And then wondered what kind of parents we’re going to be. Are we going to inadvertently be encouraging this behavior? Look out world…

PARK(ing) day

PARK(ing), November 2005, SF, Canon Digital Rebel

Remember that really amazing park that my husband Matt and collaborators at Rebar made in a parking space? Well, since then there have been PARK(ings) created around the world. From Sicily to Glasgow, people are raising awareness about public green space in our cities.

Now it’s time for YOU to transform a metered parking space into a park too. Parking Day is September 21st, 2006! Imagine… a series of PARK(ing) installations sprinkled throughout downtown San Francisco… or one in your hometown! Please go to the Rebar website for more information.

The Journey: Part Two

file folders, Canon Digital Rebel

*I suggest reading The Journey: Part one before continuing with this story.

Let me begin by saying that in my journey to get pregnant there wasn’t some magic moment when I “let go.” There was no signing of adoption papers (some people seem to think adoption is a fertility drug which I disagree with on many levels). There was no feeling of “whenever it happens is fine.” There was no thinking the right thoughts to make this happen. I did not think the right thoughts.

Before I reflect any further however, let me give you the gory details. I left you with us opening that door to western medicine, to the UCSF IVF clinic to be exact. We arrived at the office for our first appointment and the very first thing we saw was a sign reading, “Due to the sensitive nature of this practice, please do not bring children into this office.” Tears came to my eyes. They got it. They knew that if you walked through those doors you’d been through the ringer. You were probably frustrated, deeply afraid, and also hopeful that this place (and all of your savings) would result in the baby you so longed for. (And frankly, you were probably not in the mood to see someone else’s happy, adorable child.)

We saw our doctor who happened to be young, brilliant, italian and gorgeous. Ciao dottore! He was also encouraging and positive and framed things so beautifully. His italian accent didn’t hurt either. “This is very good, very good, very good, very normal…” as he flipped through our extensive interview. “I am very optimistic for you.” I almost cried right there. NO ONE had said that to me in all these years.

After two hours of interviewing us and doing an internal exam, he didn’t once ask me if I was drinking caffeine or the right kind of water or suggesting I go on a liver cleanse. He simply pulled out a piece of paper and said, “This is our plan. You take the following tests, (He very sweetly looked up at me and added, “I’m sure they will be very normal.”) and then this is our first step. We try this for 3-6 months and if that doesn’t work, we go to step 2, and so on…” Each step was a different, and/or a more invasive kind of intervention. We weren’t thrilled about all the steps, but we had a plan and it was written down on paper. This was more than we’d ever had! I liked this man with a plan.

As Matt and I stepped into the elevator we looked at each other and agreed we felt hopeful for the first time. His line of questioning didn’t have the undertone of “What are you DOING WRONG that has this not work? He simply looked at the facts (the sperm analysis, counted my follicles, went over our blood test results…) It was so scientific and objective! and I was ready for that.

A quick interlude now. An abridged list of the things people asked me/suggested to me during this journey:
1. You’re drinking tap water? You have to stop that immediately.
2. You stopped coffee, that’s good. But green tea? That’s just as bad.
3. Drink as much green tea as you can.
4. Black tea? Bad bad bad.
5. Coffee? bad bad bad.
6. How do you hold your sphincter? No, really. Are you clenched up a lot? You need to relax there.
7. Don’t exercise too much.
8. Yoga bad.
9. Yoga good.
10. Try evening primrose, Vitamin A, chaste berry, Vitex, herbs, raspberrry leaf, nettles and rosehips.
11. Matt should stop riding his bicycle.
12. (Said in a thick accent from a tiny, adorable acupuncturist): “Your husband reason you miscarry! Bad sperm! Bring him for treatment!”

You just need to relax.
You just need to have faith.
You just need to relax your sphincter.
You just need to take these herbs.
You just need to take this speculum home and identify the exact day you ovulate.
You need a liver cleanse.
Your kidney chi is too low.
You need to to let go.
You need to clear out the old energy in your womb, your old wounds.
Do you think you were really pregnant that first time? Who diagnosed it?
You need to meditate.
You need to go on vacation.
You need to drink Robitussin.
You need to have only good sex.
You need to look into adoption.
You need to be unattached.
Maybe if you weren’t depressed..

Are you crazy yet people?

After weeks of more testing (some of it was really uncomfortable, namely the HSG test) going to a class where I learned to inject an orange with a syringe (for some possible future day of injectible meds) and more blood tests, we went back to our doctor and got the results. Our diagnosis was “Unexplained infertility.” Very technical term, no?

For us, this meant that they had no idea what was wrong with us, or said differently, that there was nothing wrong with us, and we began our first intervention. This was Clomid (a fertility drug taken orally for 5 days) and then an IUI (intrauterine insemination) on ovulation day.

I was afraid of what the drug would do to me. In some, it creates hyper-moodiness, hot flashes, night sweats, nausea or even blurred vision. After a few days of taking it, I didn’t notice any side effects at all other than the fact that when I watched Oprah that week, I would start crying when she was announced and the crowd started cheering. Just the sight of Oprah was very overwhelming!

Ultrasound day was very exciting. We saw that I had two follicles with eggs that were about to drop. We knew twins was a possibility and as long as there weren’t 4 or 5 follicles with eggs, we were still game.

After taking an ovulation predictor (still the best way in my opinion to determine ovulation, and less crazy-making than charting your temperature) we came in the next day for our big moment. Matt came by in the morning to make his deposit, they washed it in a centrifuge, got rid of the slowpokes and made his sperm bionic and super-powered! My appointment was later in the day and lasted all of 5 minutes. They threaded a catheter into my uterus and shot those guys right up there. Done! We asked if I should lay there for a while and the nurse said, “It’s not necessary, but people like to. Stay as long as you like.” So I laid there for a bit and Matt and I chatted. It wasn’t exactly romantic, but it was exciting.

And that was that.

A couple of weeks later, frustrated, sad and angry that I felt no symptoms, I grieved. I grieved for yet another cycle of disappointment, for all that we had been through, for getting our hopes up, for the fear that it might never work. I cried so hard my eyes were swollen and my head ached, but I felt like I had finally touched into the depth of my sadness.

And then I took a pregnancy test.

And it was positive.

I am a Clomid success story. Or maybe an IUI success story. (I am adding these lines because when I was scared about taking Clomid, I googled “clomid success story” about a hundred times looking for positive story) Look here folks! It worked for us on the first try.

In the end, we’ll never know what it was that helped. Was it the drugs or was it simply meant to be that cycle? Was it the bionic sperm or did all that praying finally pay off? We’ll never know. We will always have to, no matter how difficult it is to do, bow down to the mystery. Oh, the mystery.

some diversions while the world is coming to an end

cherry tomatoes, farmer’s market, Canon Digital Rebel

The cutest thing I’ve seen in a really long time. Animation by Mike Adair.

Got a tough decision to make? A creation by Self Taught Girl for you to cut, paste and use.

A hilarious video called Dance Monkeys Dance.

On my nightstand:
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is written so beautifully and the characters are deep and unforgettable.
– I recommend buying this, reading it, then re-reading it immediately: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
– The Happiest Baby on the Block is my new bible.

Andrea Scher, Tracey Clark, Grace Davis, Blogher conference

And a photo of me, Tracey Clark and Grace Davis at Blogher that makes me smile. If you don’t already know about these fabulous ladies, they have incredible blogs and hearts.

some promises I make to you

self-portrait at the De Young Museum bathroom, SF, Canon Digital Rebel

I promise to never use the words:
EVER again. Because these words annoy the SHIT out of almost all of you and I respect you too much.

I also promise to never mispronounce words like supposibly and libary or get anywhere near the word “irregardless”. I am still working on using “I” and “me” properly, but I have Matt on the case. He is very good at grammar.

Thank God I don’t work in an office because I will never have to say, “Are we on the same page?” describe software as “sexy” or comment that Bob really “stepped up to the plate.”

I promise to never shorten words like rellies for relatives, prezzies for presents, puter for computer or hubby for husband.

I am still stuck on the vagina thing, because as one of you pointed out, “I mean, come on. Guys get a cool word like PENIS. It even has a cool nickname, DICK, among others. I cannot think of one cool nickname for “vagina.” So I’m with you there. We have limited options.

I WILL however continue to use a word that I find hilarious now and will find funny until the end of time. You will not like it. You will think it’s gross and vile and you might not want to look it up if you don’t already know what it means. If you DO like this word as much as I do, read all of the definitions on this page and prepare to laugh your ass off.

This word is “shart.”

word allergies

fenugreek, a mighty nice word, Canon Digital Rebel

When you’re in the world of baby names, you become acutely aware of the names that totally rub you the wrong way or that just feel wrong in your mouth. You know what I mean. The names that make you think of pharmaceuticals or new diseases.

Recently, my friend and I had a lively discussion about words and expressions that we are allergic to. For her (she is a food critic) it is “foodie.” I almost used it on my site and she explained to me very passionately that she is trying to remove it from the gourmet lexicon. For me, it’s the expression “pick your brain” as in “Can I pick your brain?” which to me sounds really scary and gross, or like someone wants to consume me. I am also not a fan of the word “blogosphere.”

What are your word allergies?

my beautiful alien baby

20 weeks and counting, Canon Digital Rebel

As I watched the opening keynote speech at blogher, I felt a funny feeling in my belly. It wasn’t the magical, twittery butterflies of fetal movement that people described, but more like an alien was inside me, politely trying to find its way out. Or like gas. One or the other.

I held my belly for quite a while, totally fascinated… excited but a little freaked out. I turned to the closest mom next to me. “I think it’s moving!”

“Is it like butterflies?” she asked. That butterfly thing again! And for a second I wondered if there was something wrong with me.

I felt better when I spoke to another mom later that day who was 10 weeks pregnant with her second baby. She asked me, “Do you ever feel like they’re eating you alive from the inside out?”

And I hadn’t felt that, so I felt better.