Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You..."

I never did this on Facebook, so I thought I would share a list of 25 random facts about me here on my blog.

1. I am an only child.

2. My parents come from large Southern families. My daddy is the oldest of six boys, while my mother is the eighth of 10 children. I have 16 first cousins on my mom's side of the family and I'm the oldest of seven first cousins on my dad's side. In the incredibly small Alabama town my parents are from, I'm literally related to everyone in town in some way by blood or marriage, on one side of the family or the other.

3. My husband is Canadian. Yes, he plays hockey. No, he does not say "eh?" at the end of sentences.

4. I grew up an Air Force brat. We moved every three years until I got to high school. I attended four elementary schools, two junior highs, and one high school.

5. I lived in England from age three to six. From this, I gained a love of drinking tea and British comedies.

6. My dream from age 14 on was to travel to Paris. I finally went at age 26, on a vacation with a girlfriend. It was all I wanted it to be and more. I've been back once on a solo vacation at age 28. My husband and I flew into Paris on our honeymoon when I was 31, but did not stay there, as we were on our way to Lyon and Chambery, France, and Geneva, Switzerland instead. We had a fabulous time, but I wish we'd at least spent a day in Paris! I can't wait to take my husband and daughter there in a few years.

7. I've taken 12 years of ballet (two en pointe), 11 years of tap, several years of jazz, and two years of hip hop. I also spent three years on my high school dance team, one year on my college dance team, and another year on my college country and western dance team. In case it isn't obvious, I like to dance.

8. I was the Salutatorian of my high school graduating class of 835 people.

9. I majored in Communications and English and minored in Speech at a private liberal arts university. I call it the Everything-But-Math-and-Science degree plan.

10. My grandma taught me to drive her car when I was 15. My papa continued my driving lessons on his tractor, four-wheeler, and truck. I love being able to say I've driven a tractor!

11. My all-time favorite movies are When Harry Met Sally, Say Anything, and Moonstruck, followed closely by the original Star Wars trilogy. Seriously.

12. When I was a kid, I liked to play school. I had a little chalkboard and some used elementary textbooks. I was always the teacher and made my friends write sentences when they misbehaved in class. They actually did it. That's me, always having to be in charge LOL.

13. I've been a chronic nail biter all my life. As a kid, I bit my fingernails AND my toenails. (I was a lot more flexible then than I am now!) Twelve years ago, tired of my hands always looking ugly, I started wearing acrylic nails, and that pretty much ended the biting.

14. My husband is the fourth guy I've dated with his first name. Granted one of those guys was a guy I went steady with in 7th grade, but the other two were more serious relationships in high school, including my first love. It's part of the reason I went out with my husband originally. I thought, "Well, I've always had good luck with guys named ______."

15. I had an imaginary friend until I started elementary school. He was a little boy named Moochie, based on something from the original Mickey Mouse Club. My parents just acted like he was part of the family. In fact, he traveled all over England with us when we lived there. I talked to him all the time. When I started kindergarten, I told my parents Moochie had gone to live with his grandmother and that was the end of that.

16. I took three years of piano lessons as a kid. I wish I had taken more.

17. This is my favorite number. It's also my birthday. My husband wears this number when he plays hockey now in my honor.

18. In third grade, we had a weekly spelling bee in our class. I won every week except one (I misspelled 'February' and have never gotten over it--darn, confusing "r" after "b"!) the first semester. To give other kids a chance at winning, my teacher let me call the words for the bee the next semester. As usual, I enjoyed being in charge!

19. I took five years of French while living in San Antonio. I know, I know. I should've taken Spanish, and after 24 years here, I've got a passing basic knowledge of it, but I love France and all things French (see #6). And I married a Canadian who went to French Immersion school as a kid and is fluent in French, so see? It all worked out!!

20. My first job, besides babysitting, was at a Po Folks Restaurant when I was 18. I was a cashier/hostess, and my uniform consisted of jeans, a dress shirt, a bow tie, and suspenders. By the end of the summer, my jeans were tight because I gained probably five to 10 pounds from eating fries with ranch dressing on my breaks. Luckily, I weighed only 112 pounds when I started working there (oh, those were the days!!!) so I could afford to gain it.

21. In sixth grade, it was all Duran Duran, all the time in my world. I was in love with John Taylor, while other friends claimed Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon. No one wanted Andy Taylor or Roger Taylor, although I always thought Roger was kind of cute too.

22. When the Thriller album was popular,  I once attended a "Michael Jackson Night" at my favorite skating rink wearing a white sequin-covered glove on my left hand. To my credit, this glove was from a pair I had to wear when I was a dancing snowflake in the pantomime performance section of The King and I (also the source of the title of this post) at a community theatre a few years before--I didn't make it special for the night or anything. Boys kept skating up to me and asking if they could wear it, so I told them they could have the right-hand glove of the pair, but since that was the wrong hand, none of them wanted it. I also won a poster of Michael Jackson during a drawing that evening! (RIP Michael.)

23. My senior year of high school I tried out for and was accepted into the teen modeling board at one of the local malls. We did a few runway shows throughout the year and mannequin modeling in stores and around the mall at other times. Mannequin modeling is where you pretend you are one of the store dummies and freeze into position for 10 minutes or so at a stretch and try not to laugh or move as customers come up and make funny faces at you. It's hard! At our final runway show of the year, Kelly Ripa, who was new to All My Children at the time, made a personal appearance at the mall as part of our show. She was probably 20 at the time. She hung out in the changing area with all of us teen models and was very nice and friendly, just like you see on TV today. It's amazing to see where her career has taken her!

24. I am really good at picking things up with my toes. I've done this for years, but it REALLY comes in handy when you are holding a baby and don't want to bend down to pick something up off the floor. Maybe I will audition for the "Cool Tricks" section on Yo Gabba Gabba!

25. I am a good ice skater, and an even better roller skater. Today, at 37, I still have a pair of ice skates and roller skates and have used both of them in the last five years (the ice skates more than the roller skates sadly). I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough to learn to skate, so I get to indulge my passion for skating more frequently!

Bonus Random Fact: I only follow one sports team: the four-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs! They are the best and my love for them knows no bounds.

Looking back over this list, I'm not sure it's very glamorous. Maybe my name should be Nerd-O-Mommy?!?! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hi. My Name is Glam-O-Mommy and I'm Infertile.

Me: "Hi. My name is Glam-O-Mommy and I'm infertile."

Me: "Hi Glam-O-Mommy."

This is me imagining myself at an Infertility Anonymous meeting. And how many people are in the meeting besides me? NO ONE. I'm having the conversation with myself.

I've documented my battle with infertility in somewhat graphic detail here on my blog before. I am one of the lucky ones. I emerged victorious from my battle with a beautiful baby girl.

Still, I wish I had known someone like me when I was in the trenches of my battle. Someone willing to talk about it.

My battle had been going on for over seven months before I even realized I was in a battle and I was losing. We had been trying to get pregnant faithfully each month. My doctor told me to come in and get a blood test to check to see that I was ovulating. I was at work when I realized I'd missed a call on my cell phone from his nurse. On the message, she told me I got a "two" on the test and needed to call her back. Being EXTREMELY naive, I called her back. "I got your message," I said hopefully. "Is a 'two' good?" "You need to be a 14 or above to be ovulating," she informed me matter-of-factly. "So, I failed the test," I said stupidly.

I remember vividly how at that moment I felt like icicles were sliding through my veins, when in fact the temperature was in the 90s with high humidity and I was sweating. Things were about to get VERY DARK and emotionally torturous for months, with no end in sight.

And the worst part of it was...no one I knew, except possibly my husband, could really understand what it was like to be me.

Or, the ones who did know, weren't so big on talking about it. Many women feel that battling infertility is something shameful, and I understand that feeling. You feel like a failure as a woman. Women were made to give birth. That is our role in the circle of life. We carry the babies. So it is devastating to find out that something so elemental, something you spent years and money trying to PREVENT from happening at the wrong time, is never going to happen now that it's the RIGHT time.

You feel damaged and broken. And the majority of people you encounter just have absolutely no capacity to understand or relate to how you feel and what you are going through, even when you try to half-heartedly give them a little insight into the fact that you are having DIFFICULTIES without going into graphic detail. And they say stuff that they think is absolutely well-meaning, but in reality STABS you in the heart repeatedly.

I mean, when you have gotten a "two" on a test that you should've scored a 14 or above on, and the doctor tells you that means you do not ovulate (which is totally weird because you seemingly have a period every month, so what is that about?) and you, being an educated person, understand that no ovulation=NO BABY, you don't really know how to respond when confronted when these kind of statements from Well-Meaning People [WMP]. Because most of the time, it's none of their business, so you just keep things to yourself, but other times, you just want to come out with the truth so they will shut the H-E-double-hockey-sticks up. Although most times, these people are the truly clueless, who upon hearing you have a problem, continue with these statements, not understanding they should just shut up.

Things Never to Say to Anyone (Because You Have No Idea If Someone is Possibly Infertile):
  • "You just need to relax, then you'll get pregnant." (Um, no I won't. I am barren.)
  • "The minute we stopped trying, we got pregnant." (Um, that won't happen for me. I am a failure!)
  • "I heard if you put your legs in the air for 20 minutes after sex, that will help you get pregnant." (Um, no it doesn't. Believe me, I tried. Stupid waste of time. Besides, I'm barren.)
  • "Maybe you should adopt. I heard that when people adopt a baby, they usually get pregnant right afterwards." (Hello...adoption is a wonderful choice, but that's not a good reason to adopt a baby!)
  • "I know how you feel. It took us two months to get pregnant." (Please kill me now.)
  • "I just don't understand why you don't want to give your parents grandchildren!" (Speechless devastation.)
While I heard all of these things and many more, the last one was a real doozy. It was said to me by an Annoying Aunt of mine, who is not a WMP by any stretch of the imagination, at a family reunion. Loudly and haughtily. So most of my relatives could hear it. As if I was CHOOSING to be childless to spite my parents!! I was literally rendered speechless and just walked away. I had to avoid her for the rest of the weekend because every time she came within 10 feet of me, she started in on the topic of my selfish childlessness like a dog refusing to let go of a juicy bone.

Believe me when I tell you that if a woman says to you she is having problems getting pregnant, she does not want you to say any of the statements above, or anything else. What she wants is for you to simply say something like, "I'm so sorry. That must be really tough." And then LISTEN and be a friend.

Anyway. I am getting a little off-track here. What I feel passionate about now is speaking up about my infertility battle. I tried to talk about it with people as I was going through it, and I mostly got blank stares or the aforementioned comments, because it's just impossible for people to understand it unless they go through it themselves. And today, when I bring it up in conversation, most people still don't get it. But I bring it up very specifically, so that if the person I'm talking to IS facing that battle themselves, they know I am someone they can talk to and someone who will listen and understand.

Here's how the conversation generally goes:

WMP: "So how many kids do you have?"

Me: "I have one daughter."

WMP: "How old is she?"

Me: "She's almost two."

WMP: "So, are you going to have another one?"

Me: "No. I had to take fertility drugs and do fertility treatment to get pregnant with her, because we couldn't get pregnant without help. I don't want to put myself through all of that again, but I'm just so grateful I have one healthy baby."

WMP who has no trouble getting pregnant: "Oh, well, some people still get pregnant on their own after fertility treatments, you know. I have a friend..."

Me: Trying to not roll my eyes....

or

WMP who is having trouble getting pregnant: "Really? You guys had trouble? We're kind of going through that right now."

Me: "Ask me anything. I'm happy to share my experience with you."

I've actually had this conversation with several women who started asking me questions because they were facing infertility. One was a coworker, and I met with her almost monthly, kind of like a little infertility support group for her, for over a year until she finally got pregnant through treatment. Her baby was born recently and I'm so happy for her! And she is grateful to me for being there as someone who can understand and relate, which makes me really happy, like something good (besides my amazing miracle child) is coming out of the pain and loneliness I felt during my infertilty battle.

NOW, I know there are tons of infertility-related blogs and online communities out there. I wish I had known about them when I was going through my own experience, because I am sure they would've provided support to me and helped me feel less isolated, but I didn't. Either way, both online and in person, I am now all about speaking out about infertility. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. It is a MEDICAL CONDITION and we need to support women going through it rather than making them feel like there is something shameful about it. (We also need to get insurance companies to cover more of the costs related to infertility treatment because it is a medical condition, but that's another post entirely.)

I really admire the actress Constance Marie. She is 44 and has a young baby. She's currently blogging on People.com in their celebrity baby blog section about motherhood and wrote an in-depth entry the other week on exactly what she went through to have her daughter. Her battle was WAY worse than mine. Her honesty prompted lots of comments from other women facing their own infertilty battles and I think it's terrific that she is speaking so openly about her experience, as it can really help other women to know they are not alone.

This last week, actress Catherine Bell was also featured on People.com's celebrity baby blog. She is pregnant with her second child. The headline was "Catherine Bell: Son Was Conceived 'Pretty Much Naturally'". In the article, it says: "'We were totally trying,' the Army Wives star, 41, reveals. 'I conceived pretty much naturally.' In fact, it was just two months after starting the fertility drug Clomid that Bell became pregnant."

I like her, but this really rankled me. And it's probably completely irrational on my part, I know, but I was disappointed. Why couldn't she just say, "We needed some help, so we used Clomid." Instead, she's trying to make it sound less shameful that she had help, when there is NO SHAME in getting help. Actually, from the article, she makes it sound like they just wanted to get pregnant quickly, so they may not really have needed help anyway, they just used Clomid to speed things along, but still! I have to tell you, there is nothing 'pretty much natural' about Clomid. Clomid makes you a raging menopausal crazy person, which is very unnatural. But it does help you get pregnant, so it's amazing. And that is what I think we should say.

I feel so grateful that medicine and technology (gifts from God in my opinion) have given women like me a chance to be a mother. Even with all of that, there are still women who will not be one of the lucky ones. Who will still not get pregnant with all of that in their corner, for reasons mysterious and unknown. But all of us, the lucky ones and the unlucky ones, have nothing to be ashamed of. We need compassion, support, and understanding. And we need to use our voices to help fight the stigma of infertility. So that's what I'm doing.

Yes, I have a beautiful baby. But I am indelibly changed by the experience I went through to have her. Sometimes I feel like I walk around with an invisible red "I" on my chest. I am still an infertile woman. My experience colors how I view the world. So I am going to keep speaking out and hope that sharing my experience helps others in some small way to not feel alone. And I am going to hug my baby tight and love and cherish every moment I have with her. Because, while all children are miracles, I know mine really is. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seven Quick Takes on a Thursday Night

Many blogs I read do a "seven quick takes" blog entry on Fridays, so I am going to give it a shot here on a Thursday night!

1. I have not abandoned this blog, I swear! It seems like this last month has flown by between Mother's Day and my birthday, which are a week apart, and crazy busy-ness at work. I may not have mentioned this before but I am paid to write for my company, so sometimes, while I have interesting ideas for my blog, and would much rather spend my day writing for my blog, the most energy I can muster when I get home at the end of the day is to note the idea, thinking I will come back to flesh out the post later. Um, yeah. I will try to write a little more regularly here in the future. I am better at posting pithy, 140-word updates to my Twitter feed, @GlamOMommy, so follow me on Twitter if you dare!

2. After almost two years and nine months, I have started regular exercise again--yay! Pre-baby, I was a regular, three to four times a week, Jazzerciser. Some people may think that's crazy, but I love Jazzercise. It feels more like dancing to the latest top music rather than "exercising," but it combines cardio, stretching, and strength training in one hour. I always feel so much better after a class, because I know I've worked every part of my body. I couldn't exercise during my pregnancy, because I had an early bleeding scare and considering all the difficulties I encountered to get pregnant, my doctor advised me to take it easy for the first trimester just so I would have peace of mind that the baby was okay. When the second trimester began, I was primed to go back to Jazzercise and do it all low impact, but then I was struck with a severe case of sciatica that left me having trouble simply WALKING for several weeks. By the time that passed, I was so huge and it was so hot in Texas, I just gave up and told myself I'd get back in class after the baby was born. Um, yeah. I went three times while on maternity leave, and it was SO hard because I'd been practically immobile for so long. Now, almost two years later, I am back in class, and doing WAY better than I expected. Apparently, chasing after and lifting a 28-pound toddler is fabulous exercise all on its own. My stamina now is almost better than I went to class all the time! I'm only going twice a week after a work. The other two days, I pick up my daughter from school and my husband goes to work out, so this way, we both get a good workout in!

3. On Saturday morning, my daughter and I start the first of 11 Saturday mornings of Mommy and Me swim class. What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking I didn't want my daughter to be as old as I was (six) when she started swim lessons. I wanted her not to be afraid of the water and possibly save herself. I was thinking it would be cool for her to have some good experience in the water before we go on our vacation in September (more on that later). What I wasn't thinking was, oh, that means I have to GET UP and BE SOMEWHERE at 9:15 in the morning every Saturday this summer. What I wasn't thinking was, oh, that means I have to WEAR A SWIMSUIT every Saturday morning this summer. In front of other people. With my mommy pooch and less-than-toned thighs in full effect (thus the Jazzercising!). What I wasn't thinking was, oh, that means I have to wrangle my cute baby for essentially TWO HOURS every Saturday morning this summer for a half-hour class. What I wasn't thinking was, oh, that means I have to WAX regularly this summer! (I have an appointment tomorrow!) Hopefully, it will be a fun bonding experience for me and my little gal and she will take to the water like a cute little duckling.

4. I found out this week that yet another friend of mine who has a kid around the same age as mine is pregnant with baby #2. And I feel fine. I feel I am good with my decision to only have one child, after having moments of doubt and serious babyfever this spring. While I'm not completely ready to start selling off our baby equipment and clothes yet, I feel that I am done, and I'm okay with that. I essentially knew going into our pregnancy that it was most likely my one shot at experiencing that miracle, and so I really reveled in it and tried to enjoy it as much as possible. It's a little bittersweet knowing that was truly it, especially as my daughter now looks like a kid vs. a baby and hits huge new milestones all the time, but I love her so much and I'm so grateful to have her, it's okay. She'll have all of our love and attention, whether she wants it or not! :)

Watch out world! I'm a big girl now! (21 months old)

5. Next week, for the first time in my motherhood, I am going to be single-parenting it all week, as my husband is going out of town for work. EEK! I am taking the advice of another blogger, and have lined up dinner with the grandparentals on Monday night (it's my mom's birthday), dinner with a mom friend on Tuesday night, and may take my daughter to the grandparentals to spend the night on Thursday, so I can get in one Jazzercise class at least. :)

6. As if things weren't going to be hairy enough for me next week, what with some looming deadlines at work and the single parenting, I had to go and make things more complicated by choosing NOW to start working on potty training. SIGH. I really don't know what I was thinking. For several months now, I've talked up the potty with my daughter--she comes in with me occasionally, we've watched an Elmo potty video, and read an Abby Cadabby potty book--just so she would start getting the idea. This week, I set up her little potty in our bathroom, but did not point it out to her at all or tell her it was for her. Yesterday morning as we were getting ready for work and she was playing in our room, I told her I was going to go potty, and she immediately ran over to HER potty and sat on it! Hooray--she's ready, I thought. But the thing is, at her school, they don't reinforce potty training in the class she's in now and I wasn't sure when she was going to move up to a class that would. So my husband and I stopped in at her school today and talked to the director, and she told us they have a transition class they are putting some of the early potty training kids in, and that she can visit the class NEXT WEEK (while I'm single parenting) to see if she'll do okay there, and if so, she can move on up there and doesn't have to wait until August, which is when the rest of the kids her age will move up to the potty training classes. And, in the new class, she will get music and a stretch and grow class once a week, so I think that will be fun for her...I worry that she is bored in her current class. (I may be biased, but she can count to 10, spell her first name, sing the alphabet song and many others, recite some books from memory, and recognize all the letters, shapes, and colors, so I think she's pretty smart and a fast learner and want her to be challenged and learning new things.) But, and I do this every time she moves classes, now I'm sad to see her leave her teachers, who are so sweet! It's tough...I want her to move on and grow, but I want her to stay my baby and stay with good people that love her too, so it's a push and pull all the time. Luckily, one of the teachers in the new class was her teacher when she was first in school at four months. My daughter doesn't remember her now, of course, but I loved her and so that makes it a little better for me, although we have yet to have a bad teacher at this school. :)

7. Jamaica. Jamaica. JAMAICA!! We've booked our big vacation this year, and we're going back to Jamaica! (Another perk of not having another baby--we can still afford to travel fun places!) My husband and I went to a Sandals resort in Negril about four years ago and had an amazing time. We also took the picture that became our Christmas card picture that year on that trip.

Our 2006 Christmas Card Picture from Jamaica
I thought this was pretty glam, I have to say!

Next door to Sandals, which is couples-only, is their sister resort named Beaches, which is for families. On our last visit, we walked over to check Beaches out because we had privileges there, but came back quickly after encountering all the noisy children. Now that we have a noisy child of our own, we are excited to go to Beaches! And our daughter is excited too, because she saw the pictures of Elmo and the other Sesame Street characters that live at Beaches on their website! She was like, "Elmo!!" So we will get to have a fun beach vacation in a beautiful place and help our daughter make some fun memories with her Sesame Street friends too. So, as you can imagine, the Jamaica vacation is essentially what prompted both the return to exercising and the Mommy and Me swim class! (The potty training will help too...our daughter can participate in better kid activities at the resort if she's potty trained!) And, on a few recent shopping trips, I bought two possible outfits for myself and one for my daughter for the Christmas card picture we will take on the beach in Jamaica on this trip LOL. Now I just need to coordinate a nice outfit for my husband too. :) I'm already ahead on our 2010 Christmas card--BONUS!

If you are reading this, thanks for reading! I'll try not to be away as long next time. :)