February 27, 2006

Pomp and circumstance

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 7:31 pm by Erin

I did it, I passed my defense!  I now officially have my Ph.D.!  My presentation went swimmingly–it was about as smooth as I could make it, and I was very surprised at myself at how calm I was while I was presenting.  The private defense was surprisingly fast, only about an hour.  The questions were more hypothetical than really "Defend your results on this experiment".  Which actually made them harder for me, as I had mostly prepared to defend all of my results and spent less time on the background and applications for potential other uses.  But regardless, I’m DONE!

And I’m also exhausted, after 9 1/2 hours of sleep in the last 2 days.  I’m beat.  I’m going to bed.

Thanks to all for your good wishes–they were MUCH appreciated!

Oh, and on a separate topic, we told my parents tonight that we’re adopting internationally.  Tune in tomorrow to hear the stunning story!


February 26, 2006

I have never been so scared

Posted in The musings of Erin at 8:26 am by Erin

as I am right now.  Good G-d, I will be defending my dissertation in 22 hours.  I am shaking.  I couldn’t fall asleep last night until 4 a.m.  Every time I tried, I kept thinking that I just don’t know what the hell I’m doing, wondering who in their right mind ever thought that this was a good idea.  Certainly not me. 

The way it goes is this: I do a P*werPoint talk for 30-45 minutes (I just went over my talk again and it clocks in right at the allotted 45 minutes).  This part is public–anyone who wants to be there can be there.  They get to ask me questions for about the next 15 minutes.  Then everyone leaves and I am there with my committee, the 4 people who know my work best and can quiz me as extensively as they want to about it.  That part could last up to 2 hours, though my boss thinks it won’t go more than an hour and a half.  90 minutes.  Of them being able to ask me anything they want.  Do you know how long 90 minutes is when you’re in the hot seat and your degree rests on everything you say?  Me neither.  I suspect that it’s an eternity.

I keep trying to tell myself that even my boss thinks I’ll do OK.  He was happy with my talk the other day, asked me some questions that I answered well, and then said "That was a good question.  I might ask you that one again on Monday."  Which means that he will, knowing that I know the answer.  This is what a good advisor does at a defense.  He asks you questions that he knows you can answer to help boost your confidence.  After all, he’s had you in his lab for 5 years–he’s had his chance to grill.  This is his chance to show off the grad student he’s produced.

My advisor, however, has been known to kick someone when they’re down.  So if he thought I would do poorly, he would a) tell me that he was really concerned about my ability to pass, in less diplomatic terms, b) ask questions that even he can’t answer, and c) subtly make fun of me when I couldn’t answer them.  I know this for a fact, as he did this to the grad student in our lab who defended last July.

The fact that he said "I think you’ll be just fine" (though he did tell me to fret some–I assured him that wasn’t a problem) and plans to ask me questions that he knows I can answer means that I probably will be.

I’m still terrified.  I could barely eat breakfast today.  Don’t know how I’m going to eat later.  Don’t plan on eating before my talk.  Hoping desperately that I can get at least a few more hours of sleep tonight, though I do feel remarkably sharp right now for having only gotten 4 1/2 hours.  Nerves are better than caffeine, apparently…all the adrenaline running through my body has me really jittery but also pretty focused.

Hey, I’m teaching my MCAT class today and we get to talk about adrenaline–I’ll have to use myself as an example of sympathetic nervous system activation in action!  Wow, I’m so cool.

Anyway, any spare luck vibes would be appreciated.  I’ll update here when I get a chance, probably sometime tomorrow afternoon.

February 24, 2006

A note to my ovaries

Posted in TTC woes at 11:09 am by Erin

Dear Ovaries,

We need to work on your timing.  I realize that the PCOS isn’t something you enjoy, and I am trying to help you out with that by taking my Metformin diligently.  And I did appreciate your rapid response to the low dose of Clomid, so thank you for that.  You’d done your job and popped out an egg early that cycle.  I am grateful that you did the same thing the next month even without the Clomid.

This cycle, though, your timing could have been better.  I was begging for an early ovulation, so that I could get my tests of next cycle done before I go to NY.  You didn’t see fit to answer my pleas.  Then, when I became aware of your reticence, I begged for a late ovulation.  It would have allowed me to get my tests done when I came back from NY.  Again, you refused and decided to push the egg out of its comfy nest on one of the worst possible days it could have been.  And now I realize what woud have been another benefit to a late ovulation this cycle–I could have taken my migraine medicine before my defense.

Yes, my medicine.  That works so efficiently to get rid of my migraines.  That not only isn’t safe for pregnancy, but which I’ve been warned about taking if I could even potentially be pregnant by three separate doctors and given a special phone number to call in case it happened by accident (hahaha).  Migraine medicine to treat my migraines, which I get during times of stress (check) and my luteal phase (check).  The migraines that hurt like a MF.  And leave me unable to concentrate on studying, or going over my talk since speaking out loud resonates in my head.  Very much like the one I’ve got right now.

So when I’m done with all of this crap, and can concentrate again, we’re going to sit down and have a talk.  Correction: I’m going to talk, and the two of you are going to listen.  And if you don’t start listening to me, I’ll go back onto birth control pills and you’ll never get another chance to have your say in anything ever again.

We have to live with each other, so let’s try our best to enjoy it.

Thank you,


P.S.  To my head: if you’re even thinking of having a migraine on Monday, you’d better just forget it right now.

February 23, 2006

A random smattering of thoughts

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:11 am by Erin

Lost out on another batch of baby fish.  Mom was enormously pregnant yesterday, as in ‘how is she still afloat’ enormous.  Today, pretty darned small.  Haven’t seen any fry swimming about.  Of course, I saw our existing baby fish once and then not again for 3 weeks, so it’s possible that there are a couple doing a really good job of hiding.  But I’m not confident.  That’s OK, though.  We don’t have room for millions of Platy’s.

Still having pain and pressure.  Not often, but pretty uncomfortable when it happens.  Don’t know enough about endo, but will certainly be talking to my RE more about it.

Am defending my dissertation on Monday morning at 9 a.m.  If you know me IRL and would like to come, let me know.  If not, any good luck vibes you can send would be amazingly appreciated.  I’m scared out of my wits, though my advisor said he thinks I’ll be just fine.  Coming from him, that probably means that I’ll be just fine.  Trust me, if he thought I’d do poorly, he would let me know in no uncertain terms.

In preparation for my defense, I am moving out.  My parents arrive in town on Saturday and rather than send them to a hotel, I decided that I would go to one for Saturday and Sunday nights.  That way they have unfettered access to P, and J will still be home to help out with the logistics (and my mom might even take pity and do some house cleaning–my guess that it would suffer greatly without my care has been proven.  Though J’s been good about keeping up with the laundry and dishes).  But I get peace, quiet, and a Jacuzzi tub 🙂

And finally, I have realized that this cycle will likely end next Saturday.  The day of the adoption fair (hosted by RESOLVE, which J and I have now joined).  I think that might help alleviate the depression that normally accompanies the end of a cycle, so it gives me another reason to really be excited about it!  If the cycle has to end (and I have no reason to think it won’t–21 out of 22 unsuccessful cycles with good timing of everything don’t exactly inspire confidence), I can think of nothing better to pull me out of it than a really great day full of ways that we can build our family in another way!

February 22, 2006

The bra less fitted

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:31 pm by Erin

I had a bra fitting today.  I hadn’t had one done since I was in college, when I was (and I quote) "a perfect 34C".  Oh, I was so proud of those tatas.  They were perky and happy, and filled out my shirts nicely without looking awkward.

Then I got pregnant, and by 8 weeks along, I was up to a 36D.  TWO CUP SIZES IN 6 ^*^*&$*$ WEEKS!  And by the end of the pregnancy…well,  let’s just say that I was beyond sizes that I ever thought I’d see.  And during nursing…wow, let’s just not go into that but suffice it to say that the 36DDD bras that I’d ordered were too small.  I recovered closer to my original size but the girls just ain’t what they used to be, regardless of size.

So I finally decided to have a bra fitting–I am defending on Monday, I had no appropriate bras to wear under my pretty suit.  I now check in at a 32D.  I paid $50 for what is undoubtedly the ugliest bra I have ever owned, and I am including training bras in this comparison.  But I know of no place that sells pretty 32D bras.  I had a hard enough time finding the 34D bras that I bought around 6 weeks pregnant with P.

Now I know why my shirts no longer fit properly.  I’m teeny around and enormous out front.  (The teeny around part only applies to my top half–my bottom half can hardly be construed as teeny.)  If the shirt fits my chest, it bags along my ribs.  If it fits well to my waist, it strains and heaves across my bosoms.

I have occasionally, to J’s dismay, mentioned reconstructive surgery when I am done having children and done nursing.  I would just like to be a size that was easier to fit, both in terms of bras and shirts.  I’d probably go as close to that 34C as I could.  It really was nice…


Side fun note about my post-O days:  I feel weird this cycle!  Some pinchy-type pains and a whole lot of pressure and discomfort.  It doesn’t feel like anything promising (and really, at 3dpo, how could it be anything promising?), just unpleasant.

I also found that tipped uteruses (uteri?) can be caused by endometriosis.  I have a tipped uterus!  I found out when I was pregnant with P.  And I have several other symptoms of endo.  My RE might be right on this one–oh, goody!  PCOS and endo…where will the fun stop?

February 21, 2006

I have a grandfish!

Posted in Happiness is a true gift at 7:55 am by Erin

Remember this post?  I mentioned that I’d seen one baby Platy and never saw it again.  Last night I was looking at our fish and, lo and behold, there was a baby Platy!  Considerably bigger than the one I saw last time.  Our female is pregnant again (these things apparently breed at remarkable rates), but hasn’t dropped the fry yet.  And I think the baby is actually the one that survived from last time!  I’ve been reading some fish forums and found that the fry will hide in nooks and crannies if they survive.  This one was hiding in one of the plants, going between there and the huge rock-like thing in the tank.  But I found it when it was swimming at the front of the tank, so it was clearly starting to venture forth.

Of course, I immediately cried "Baby fish, baby fish!" and brought my men-folk running.  P kept saying "Baby fip!  Baby fip!", and thought it was fantastic.  J wanted to leave it alone since it had survived on its own up until that point, but it’s still awfully tiny and I worry that our Dalmatian fish will eat it (he’s pretty big).  So I caught it and put it into the breeder container, and there it is.  Swimming around, looking healthy and happy (though a little disconcerted to be out in the "open" after weeks of hiding).  It’s a baby girl Platy. 

As pathetic as it is, it has really perked me up from my post of the other day.  Between the depression of the baby shower and the overwhelming stress of my defense (in which I will be 6 days from right now) and feeling like there’s no way I can answer the questions they’ll ask me (McDonald’s is hiring, right?), I was sinking pretty low.  But the baby fish just made my evening last night.

A baby fip has revolutionized our house.  Who knew?

February 18, 2006

When baby fever becomes baby desperation

Posted in TTC woes at 3:55 pm by Erin

I went to a baby shower today.  I knew it would be hard, but the shower-ee is a friend who has been through an awful lot to get to this point (pg with IVF twin girls) and I really wanted to be there to celebrate her wonderful blessing.  I also knew that there would be 3 other pregnant women there, but figured I could handle it.  After all, I was warned in advance about who would be there and I already knew that they were pregnant and had come to terms with it all.

I also got my peak on my monitor today and figured that this is the one time each month that I let myself feel a little hopeful, so I wouldn’t be so down about everything.

My good intentions and hopes for a baby shower during which I didn’t feel like someone was actively squeezing my heart out through my sternum lasted for all of about 5 minutes, when I realized that there was yet another pregnant woman there.  She has 2 adorable kids and is 3 months pregnant with her third.  I knew she would be there, but didn’t know she was pregnant.  It completely derailed me.  I figured that I knew all of the pregnancies ahead of time and was prepared for that.  The sight of the extra one just threw me completely off.

I know that the people who were there who know me would have been very understanding of my not being able to handle it, but I tried to tell myself that I was OK, that I would get over it quickly and would be fine for the rest of it.  It didn’t work.  I am trying my hardest not to cry, and have been for hours.

Why does it hurt so much?  Because that should be me.

When we started TTC, I was 3 days shy of my 24th birthday.  We figured that I’d have a baby at 24, another at 26, another at 28, and the last when I was 30.  So by now, I should either be pregnant or have just started TTC#3.

Instead, we’ve now been TTC a grand total of 22 cycles in 32 months.  Out of those 22 cycles, I’ve gotten pregnant with one child and had a likely chemical pregnancy.  I’ve dealt with nearly 3 years of infertility for my 8 1/4 months of pregnancy.  Is my child worth it?  Absolutely, all that and more.

Does it hurt like hell?  Every damned day.

I so desperately want another pregnancy, another baby to birth and nurse.  The last few weeks, I’ve felt like I was getting very close to accepting that it wouldn’t happen.  Today, I feel like I’ll just melt away into nothing if it doesn’t.

February 17, 2006

A quick update

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:28 am by Erin

As I’m starting to get more and more frantic about my defense, I will be posting less often.  10 days from right now, it will be over one way or another.  But I did want to drop in with a quick update.

Thanks to all for your advice on what to do about P’s daycare/sugar situation.  I decided I didn’t want to be one of those parents who makes the teachers roll their eyes about keeping my child away from sugar, especially since next week is his last week of full-time care.  After that, he’ll only be there two days a week.  So I’m not going to worry about it until he goes back to full-time when I start teaching.

I didn’t O by d22 (yesterday), and my monitor has no love for the idea of me ovulating today either.  So I think I will do what a very smart friend recommended, and get some birth control pills to take when this cycle ends.  That will let me go up to NY without missing a whole cycle–I can stop them right before I come home and have some break-through bleeding, which will count as d1.

Of course, instead of just being excused from jury duty, I got reassigned to the week after I come home from NY.  And that will be the week during which I need to have an HSG.  What fun!  "I can’t be in court tomorrow because I have to go have dye injected into my uterus while they take X-rays.  And last time it nearly made me pass out!  Can I be excused?"  I pity the poor lawyers who try to seat me on their jury. 

I asked J if he could get a trial scheduled there for that week next month so that he could excuse me: "Mrs. M…oh, sorry.  DOCTOR M.  Do you have any compelling reasons why you cannot sit on this jury?"  "Well sweetie, if I find for the other side, I would imagine that our sex life would suffer greatly.  And since we’re trying to have a baby, I don’t think that would be very helpful.  Will you come with me when they inject dye into my uterus and take X-rays?"

Oh, that would be priceless.

February 15, 2006

My son, the Smurf

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 2:30 pm by Erin

I’m mostly a pretty easy-going person.  I accept the fact that since I send P to daycare, I can’t control every morsel of food that enters his mouth.  I accept the fact that he’s now of an age (at 2?  OK, whatever) where they have little Valentine’s day parties at school.  I even accepted that they needed food for said party, and baked strawberry cupcakes with rainbow chip icing.  I was a little upset when I discovered that they had put lollipops in the Valentine’s Day basket that they gave the kids to take home, because I discovered it after P found it, unwrapped it, and had begun happily eating it.  I didn’t take it away (what an incredibly pointless endeavor that would have been!), but I wasn’t happy about it.

Today I went to pick P up, and found that he was a little blue around the mouth.  And hands.  And clothes.  And that all of the other kids were, as well.  When I asked why he was blue, as any parent would do upon finding out that their child has turned into a Smurf, the teacher launched into this whole thing about how they had extra cupcakes left from yesterday and had to eat them up, and how it was such a disaster.  There was apparently blue icing all over everything–what a mess for the poor teachers!  (Note that my frosting was vanilla with rainbow chips.  Not blue.  So this was not my fault.)  Oh, and if the P was a little hyper this evening, it was because he’d had quite a bit of sugar.

Now, I accepted this explanation yesterday when they had their party.  P does not get sugar at home, so even a little bit makes him go insane.  I dealt with my psycho, hyper, sugared-up child who also ate the lollipop that they thoughtfully put in the kids’ baskets.  We managed to get through his crash down from that sugar-high that happened when we went out to dinner last night.  I didn’t complain because, hey Valentine’s Day only happens once a year. I know that there will be other times they have parties in there, but occasionally is not bad.

I was not so accepting when it happened again TODAY.  I failed to commiserate with the teacher who complained about blue icing everywhere because, quite frankly, there shouldn’t have been any icing around anywhere today.  And because I have to give my kid another bath tonight because he’s blue everywhere.  And because I HAVE TO DEAL WITH A PSYCHO, HYPER, SUGARED-UP CHILD WHO WILL HAVE ANOTHER MISERABLE CRASH THIS EVENING.  Probably while I’m teaching my Bradley classes in my living room.

I didn’t say anything today because I honestly didn’t trust myself to speak in words that should be used around small children.  But tomorrow I will go in there and say that I would greatly prefer that P be kept away from sugar from now on.  I will stress to them that I don’t think it is healthy for children of that age to be ingesting sugar on a regular basis (and I do know that they give them lollipops, maybe more often than I’d realized).  I will also mention that we have a family history of diabetes and try to keep him away from sugar in the hopes that he will never have to deal with it.  This is true.  It’s not our primary concern, but I find that people are more willing to do what you want if you mention bad and scary diseases in connection with what they’re doing.

I buy organic when I can (and we can afford it).  I made all of his baby food, even going so far as to send homemade food with him until he started eating finger foods (they provide foods for the kids).  P’s only "cookies" are graham crackers and a very occasional granola bar.  He only gets watered-down juice once a day, and it’s always 100% juice with no artificial colors.  I try my hardest to make sure he eats a healthy and well-balanced diet.  (The cupcakes I made, while not healthy, were not as sugar-laden as a boxed mix.)

Am I overreacting on this one?  Should I just deal with the fact that it happened again today, and hope it won’t happen again?  Or should I speak to them about it?

I seriously could use some advice–dissenting opinions welcome, of course, as I’m really not sure if I’m just being overprotective or not.

I’m comfortable with the skin I’m in

Posted in The musings of Erin at 8:13 am by Erin

I feel so popular–I got over 40 hits yesterday, and I haven’t even posted anything new in a few days!  Of course, no one commented.  As usual.  *sigh*

The person who did a Google search for "stuffed the costume with" was probably a little surprised to pull up a blog about PCOS, though I did post about P’s Halloween costume, which J stuffed with little stuffed animals.  Of course, why they were searching for that in the first place does escape me.


Back to today’s topic!  I have issues.  We all know that.  If you’ve ever read one of my posts/talked to me/spent even half a minute with me, it’s pretty obvious.  But for the most part, I’m happy with who I am (infertility notwithstanding).  I love my family, and I think they’re pretty happy as well.

So I wonder about bringing in new children who look differently than us.  It doesn’t bother J or I to do that, and P has friends of many races so I’m sure he’ll be fine with it as well.  I do worry about my in-laws sometimes.  They grew up out west in very small, very white, very Christian (mostly Mormon) towns that were…let’s say, a little intolerant of differences.  I think it still boggles their minds that they have a Jewish daughter-in-law and grandson.  They’re great people and very supportive, but I think they’re still a little thrown off by it.

I’ve often wondered if we were going to have to deal with favoritism with them.  They love and dote on P, but my MIL has never made any secret of the fact that she’d LOVE a granddaughter.  I won’t share her reasons, as I have no right to put that out on a public site, but I can understand them.  So I’ve always hoped that if we do have a daughter, that she’d continue to treat P the same as she would then treat her granddaughter.  She used to make comments about how crazy she would go buying girl clothes if we’d had a girl, and I would hate for P to feel slighted.

I am curious as to how they’ll take the news that they will most likely have a granddaughter and that she is Chinese (or Guatemalan, or Kazakhstani, or wherever, but China’s on top of the list right now).  I’m probably not giving them enough credit, but I worry that their backgrounds won’t let them accept her in the same way they would if she were biological.  Of course, I worry about that for any adopted child, as P looks just like J did as a baby–as do all the babies in his family.  (Seriously, I once saw a picture on J’s aunt’s refrigerator and said "I don’t remember P having an outfit like that."  It was one of her grandkids.  Not P.  That’s how much alike they all look.)  That seems to be a pretty big point of pride with them.  Ha ha, P’s got my eyes–he’s not J’s exact clone 😉

I think I spend too much time worrying.  They’ve never shown me anything but love and support, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t accept her.  And if they did have issues, I feel fairly confident that they would try their best to work them out privately and not let us know.

Now I’m reading back over this and thinking that I just have no sense of humor at all.  I really wanted to lighten things up around here.  Unfortunately, my sense of humor tends to be sarcastic, and that doesn’t translate well to the written word.  But when I get serious, I dwell on things.  And I have enough else to dwell on lately–like my defense in 12 days.  Dear God, that’s where I’ll be 12 days from right now.  I need to go pass out now.  And read 200 science papers.  And make up the rest of my presentation.  And make corrections to my dissertation.

What the hell am I doing blogging?  I HAVE A MILLION THINGS TO DO!!!!!!!


Oh, as a side note, I decided on Saturday that I can’t deal with housework/cooking/anything other than science until after my defense, so I put J in charge.  By Sunday morning he wanted to quit (and said something about "Slaves can quit, right?").

There will be one of two outcomes to this:

1)  He will appreciate all the work I do around here daily, and will start picking up some of the slack to help me out.


2)  I will emerge from my science-induced trance to find the house looking like a bombshell hit, with no clean laundry, no groceries, and will spend the next month trying to reclaim my house from the 2 weeks J was in charge.

You can probably guess which option has my bet.

Next page