Friday, April 29, 2011

Thank You, Prince William, or With These Cufflinks, I Thee Wed

Prince William has decided not to wear a wedding ring. Much has been made of this fact in the media. I'm still not sure why he decided not to wear one, but all I can say is "Thank you!" Now I can finally get over the fact that my husband, J, does not wear one!

J has a wedding ring, sure. And he vowed to wear it as a symbol of our love or something to that effect in our wedding. And that vow lasted...about 13 days. Thirteen days in which he actually lost his ring TWICE!

J has never worn any jewelry, not even a watch. The only jewelry he had when we met was an iron pinkie ring which he never wore, because he got his degree in engineering, and in Canada, all engineers get a pinkie ring made out of iron to remind them of how if they make a mistake in their job, bridges and mines can collapse and people can die, so they should always remember not to make a mistake. (I'm sure I don't have all the particulars of this tradition right, but this was the gist of what he told me. He actually became an IT guy after he graduated and so has never needed to wear that ring to remind him.)

J told me in advance he didn't want to wear a wedding ring because he doesn't like wearing jewelry, but I thought surely he would get used to wearing one. We picked out a lovely white gold band, I had our wedding date inscribed inside it, and we forged ahead to our wedding day.


J's ring is JUST out of sight in this picture, taken during our cocktail hour.

We exchanged the vows, I put the ring on him, and all was going very swimmingly until about an hour into our reception. Suddenly, our videographer came over and tapped J on the shoulder.

"Are you missing something?" he said, and held up J's wedding ring, which he had seen slip off his hand. J, not used to the ring, hadn't even noticed! One hour into our marriage and the ring was already a problem.

The next morning we flew off to France and Switzerland for a 10-day honeymoon. We started off in Lyon. J put his ring on everyday, but he kept turning it around and around on his finger and it was obviously driving him nuts. And him fiddling with it all the time was DRIVING ME NUTS!

Our third day in Lyon, we took a boat ride along the Saone River. J kept fiddling with his ring. And then all of a sudden, I heard, "plink, plink" and then nothing. I looked at J. "Did you just drop your ring?" J looked down at his hand and then up at me: "Yeah, I guess so." We looked at the metal bottom of the boat...I figured after the second "plink," the ring probably went over the side, into the water, and that was that!

As we looked around behind us, a voice from two rows back said, "I"ve got it!" and handed forward J's ring. I put the ring on my finger for the rest of the ride. I was like, "Seriously, J? You've lost the ring twice in four days?!"

"I just can't get used to it...I'm not a jewelry guy," J said. "It doesn't mean I don't love you or we're not married if I don't wear it."


I took this picture about 30 minutes before we went on the boat ride
where he almost lost the ring.
It is LITERALLY the only picture I have
that shows him wearing it!

J toughed it out with the ring until the end of our honeymoon and a few days at home. The first time he drove the car, he felt like he had to take it off to drive! And the day we returned to work was the last straw for him.

"I can't type with the ring on," he complained. "How do you do it? I'm sorry, but I just can't get used to wearing it."

And that was the end of the ring. I really had a hard time with it the first few years of our marriage and wanted him to give it another try, but he steadfastly refused.

Over time, however, I started to get over the ring issue. Especially after I began to realize that I actually HAD given J a piece of jewelry on our wedding day that he wore, maybe not every day, but at least weekly.

Cufflinks.

Before our wedding, J had a dress shirt with French cuffs, but he didn't have any cufflinks. He just wore the fake ones that came with the shirt. (My husband needed a little help in the style department when we met, obviously LOL. OK, he still needs some help.) Since I knew he loved that shirt and would need cufflinks with his tuxedo, I got him a pair of silver cufflinks engraved with his monogram and gave them to him as a wedding gift.

He wore them at the wedding. He wore them on our honeymoon with the shirt. He continued to wear them when we got home and bought other French cuff shirts because he LIKED wearing his cufflinks. They perform a FUNCTION with his outfit and do not GET IN HIS WAY. As an IT guy with an engineering background, this is something he appreciates.

Apparently, I should've simply held his wrists during the wedding and said, "With these cufflinks, I thee wed" or "Wear these as a symbol of my love" or whatever. :)

Some of my girlfriends have commented on J's lack of wedding ring over the years, and I've told them about his wedding cufflinks. But now that Prince William has decided NOT to wear a ring from the get-go, I think I can finally let the issue go and get over it, once and for all.

After all, if Prince William doesn't feel the need to wear a ring, J, my prince, certainly doesn't have to! :)

Note: J still has his ring. It sits in a lovely music box we purchased in Geneva, Switzerland at the end of our honeymoon, along with his cufflinks. J actually picked the music box out because it has a red rose on the lid and we did a variation on the Unity Ceremony with roses in our wedding. He liked the symbolism. So he's romantic in his own way. :) I'm lucky to have him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

I thought I would try "Ten on Tuesday" after I saw this on a few other blogs I follow. It's hosted by Chelsea at Roots and Rings

1. When someone asks you for a book recommendation, what is your go-to book?

Lately, it's The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister or Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin.

2. Do you buy your books, or are you a library patron?

Both. I love putting things on hold and picking them up at the library, but sometimes I go crazy at Barnes and Noble and buy five books at once! I tend to alternate...check some out, buy some.

3. E-readers, yay or nay?

Nay for now. I don't have one and I can't really imagine giving up physical books, which I love, love, love. But I do not go anywhere without my Blackberry, my iPod, and my digital camera, so I'm a total gadget person and it's weird that I'm NOT into them yet!

4. What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, I loved a book called The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. I still have the copy that my parents bought me when we lived in England in the late 70s and I read it to my daughter now!

The first long book I read was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was in the fourth grade and I finished it in five days, which seemed epic at the time because it was so thick. It's still a favorite, just a lovely book.

5. If you could be any character in a book, who would you be?

Probably Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice...I'll take Colin Firth or Matthew MacFayden as Mr. Darcy any day. Or Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. :)

6. What book would you love to see turned into a movie?

It's often hard to find a movie that lives up to a book I really love, Pride and Prejudice notwithstanding.

7. What is your all-time favorite book?

Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sun Also Rises, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Little Women, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, 84 Charing Cross Road. If you haven't gathered from this list that I was an English major and have an affinity for epistolary novels, I don't know what to say. :)

8. How many books do you read at once?

I'm lucky to get through one at a time. I cannot focus on more than one any way due to lack of time and Mommy brain-I just start getting confused and forgetting what is going on in the book.

9. What is your favorite book genre?

I actually really love mysteries (obsessed with Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley series) and chick lit!

10. Which Harry Potter book is the best? Or haven’t you read them at all?

I love the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book of the series and happens to be my favorite of the movies too. Love the time travel elements and Hermione's leadership role. I can't wait until S is old enough for us to read these together!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Two Kisses for Maddy"

In July 2008, I came across Matt Logelin's blog late one night while I was up surfing the web and trying to fight off pregnancy-related heartburn. His daughter Madeline had been born a few months earlier on March 24th. She was seven weeks premature, delivered by c-section, and taken directly to the NICU. His wife Liz died 27 hours later on March 25th of a pulmonary embolism as she was preparing to get to go visit Maddy in the NICU for the very first time. She only got to see her daughter once, fleetingly, and never got to hold her.

Reading back through old blog entries and catching up on Matt's journey since Liz's death, I was incredibly moved by the way he wrote about his wife and the amazing love and heart-wrenching grief that emanated from every word he wrote. I was also touched by his love for Maddy and how hard he was focusing on being the best father for her and some of the unexpected challenges he faced as a widowed dad, especially when confronted by strangers asking where Maddy's mom was or questioning why a seemingly single man was out with a baby.

As a pregnant woman about 40-50 days out from my due date, the circumstances of Liz's death scared the crap out of me and compelled me to have a conversation with my husband about what I would want if I died in or after childbirth--what I'd want him to give my daughter for me, what I'd want him to tell her about me, how I hoped he would raise her, and how I hoped he would keep my parents an important part of her life. As you can imagine, this kind of freaked J out, so I had to explain about Matt's blog and Liz's story.

I have faithfully read Matt's blog ever since, always touched by his remembrances and stories about Liz, who sounds like someone I'd have liked to know-just a very cool, fun chick. As a new mom to S, I learned from some of Matt's fatherhood experiences--mistakes he made (forgetting a bottle during a trip to a baseball game), triumphs he had (how to deal with too-large baby pants--snap the onesie over them!). I was excited when Matt got a book deal and moved to India to work on the book and show Madeline all the places he visited with her mom when she was alive, including the Taj Mahal and the spot he proposed to her.

Matt's book, Two Kisses for Maddy, came out on Thursday, April 14th. I picked up my copy yesterday and read it straight through in three hours. As I expected from reading Matt's blog, the book is an amazing love letter to Liz and to Madeline. And though I knew how it was going to go, when Liz goes into distress in the book, I started crying so hard, wishing she would pull through. Although Matt always seemed to lay his soul bare on his blog, in the book he goes deeper into the aftermath of her death and his grief than ever before. He also shares more about his life with Liz before Maddy's birth.


It's a beautiful, compelling love story. I know Matt wishes he never had reason to write the book, and I wish he didn't either, but I can't help but think what an amazing gift the book is to Madeline. Through the book, she'll get to know her mother. She'll also get to know how much her father loved her mother, and loved her, right from the moment she was born. In pictures, Maddy looks so much like her mom and in the last chapter of the book, which is a letter to Maddy, Matt lists the ways she acts just like her mother too.

As I've watched Maddy grow up in pictures on Matt's blog and watched my own little blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter grow up a few months behind her, I've just felt so much for Liz and for Maddy and for Matt. It's so unfair Liz didn't get to stay here with them. It's unfair Maddy has to grow up without her. It's unfair Matt lost the love of his life. But life isn't fair, and Matt has navigated through his grief admirably, thinking of others as well as himself--Liz's family and friends, and other widowers in need--he helped create the Liz Logelin Foundation to help others in his situation, which alone would've been a major testament to his love for his wife. He's also created and experienced moments of happiness for himself and Maddy from the earliest days of her life. And he continues to do so today. I'm sure, somewhere, Liz is amazed and proud.

I highly recommend Two Kisses for Maddy. Just make sure you happen to have some tissues at the ready.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lumpdate

So on Tuesday, the 5th, I went to see the surgeon. He attempted to aspirate the lump in my right breast one more time (long needle, lots of poking in all directions-OW) before concluding that it seemed less like a cyst filled with fluid and more like a solid lump. What fluid he did get out of there, he sent off for testing. Then, he sent me and my lump off with orders for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Having already missed an afternoon of work, I scheduled these tests for last Friday, my regular day off from work.

The day before the tests I made the mistake of Googling breast cancer and spent most of the rest of the day paralyzed with fear, since you can always find something that sounds like your situation when you Google.

Friday afternoon, my mother came over to watch S and I headed off to the radiology center. A very nice older lady named Carla took me back, had me take off my top and bra and put on a gown open to the front. Then, she proceeded to position me as if I was about to take the most awkward school picture ever-shoulder back, head turned this way, hips a little more this way, lay my arm along here. Then she grabbed my right breast with her hands and mashed it as flat as it could go against a clear plastic plate and pushed a button that sent another clear plastic plate pressing down on it HARD, told me to hold my breath, took the picture, and then let me relax before repositioning me for the next picture.

She took two pictures of each breast, and she showed them to me between each shot. Amazingly, most of the interior of my breasts looked like mesh netting, clear between the grid lines. Kind of like in the movie Weird Science, when Gary and Wyatt can't decide on how big the boobs should be on the girl they are making, and they size them up and down on their computer.

Image from "Weird Science"--most of my breasts looked kind of like this
on the mammogram, lines with dark spaces between them.

However, in my right breast, my lump appeared solid white and egg-shaped. It was larger than I could feel from the surface, going down into the center of my breast more than I expected. Seeing it was kind of overwhelming.

Carla took the images and went to see the doctor. He decided he wanted two more angles on the right breast (my left appears completely clear). Carla was apologetic as she positioned me for the next two pictures, as they were going to be more painful, she explained. Oh goody, I thought, kind of numb and in shock. Luckily, the doctor was satisfied after seeing these and Carla escorted me to another room to wait for my ultrasound.

By the time the two ladies came in to do my ultrasound a few minutes later, I was full-on crying and freaking out. I tried to get it together, but I couldn't help it. They gave me tissues and chattered on about random world news stuff (the rising price of gas, politics) in an attempt to distract me while they took tons of images of my lump from all angles, even from my armpit. They showed me none of the images. They left me in the room forever afterward while they checked that the doctor was satisfied with the images. He was, and they left me to get dressed and then showed me out.

When I got home and explained everything about the appointment to my mom, I broke down. "What if I have cancer? I don't want to be sick. I don't want to die. I don't want to lose my hair." I just sobbed and she hugged me and told me not to worry about it until the doctor got the results and called me. We'd deal with everything then.

I spent the rest of the weekend purposefully doing everything in my power to distract myself from thoughts of cancer...dinner out with my parents, playing in the backyard with S and my hubby, a playdate with another family at Sea World, anything to not think about the possibility of having cancer. (OK, I did think that if I had cancer and lost my hair I would invest in the best damn wig ever...I mean, my hair is so important to me and I spend so much money maintaining it, I could easily pour that money into an awesome wig, right? Aside from that, I tried not to think about it. At all.)

Monday afternoon, the surgeon called me while I was in a meeting with the president of my company. Of course. I called right back, but he was back in with a patient. I checked my voicemail, and he left me a very reassuring message that he was calling with my results, but there was no urgency! He would be in tomorrow if I wanted to call him then. He stressed the "no urgency" thing twice!

Last night, I finally got to talk with him and he informed me that my lump is a fibroadenoma, which is a benign tumor. Fibroadenomas are almost always benign; malignant in very rare cases. Based on the tests he had run on the cells taken from my lump, plus his review of the radiology report from my mammogram and my ultrasound, he feels very certain that it is benign. I am relieved.

He tells me we could watch it or we could take it out, it's my decision. I tell him I want it taken out as soon as possible. He thinks that's the best course and reiterates that he feels the fibroadenoma is benign; however, he then also tells me that the radiology report categorized my lump as Category Four, which means "suspicious/potential for malignancy." I'm going to get a copy of this report in my mail and he doesn't want it to alarm me. If he takes the lump out, he can have it thoroughly tested to be absolutely sure it's not malignant. Now, I'm less relieved and back to worrying.

So I'm having my fibroadenoma breast lump surgically excised in an outpatient procedure a week from Friday, which is actually Good Friday. I hope it is a good Friday for me. I've never really had a surgery or procedure requiring me to be under anesthesia, except for having my wisdom teeth extracted in 1994. I hope I recover easily. I hope I get good pain meds. I don't like pain. I HOPE IT'S REALLY BENIGN AND NOT CANCER.

My surgeon told me he plans to go in through the edge of my aureola so any scarring will be part of that darker skin and less noticeable. I'm not that worried about aesthetics since my boobs=NOT GLAM. They are small and already took a major hit after I had S (they dropped an inch and started to point in odd directions when I lay on my side-and I didn't even breastfeed!). It does occur to me that my right breast is my slightly smaller breast already, so I wonder if it will be more noticeably small after the fibroadenoma is removed. I SO DON'T CARE AS LONG AS IT'S NOT CANCER.

Now I'm feeling mild anxiety, because I just want to get my lump out and find out that everything is OK. It's going to be a very LOOOOOONG week or so until then. My husband is on call Easter weekend, so he's going to work from home and watch S the day of my surgery and my mom is going to go with me. Then, she and my dad are going to take S home with them that night, so I can rest and recover. I'm so lucky to have a great family and support system.

I'll just be happy when it's all over. I'm going to be on pins and needles until then. Please keep a good thought for me if you will. And please pray for everyone out there battling cancer in all its forms. I'm praying for them too.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm a Little Freaked Out

I have a lump in my right breast. Have had it, actually, since last fall. It's a recurrence of a lump that first appeared the fall before that, in 2009.

According to my OB/Gyn, the lump is a fluid-filled cyst. The first time it appeared in 2009 and I mentioned it to him, he aspirated it, meaning HE STUCK A HUGE NEEDLE DIRECTLY IN MY BOOB AND SUCKED THE FLUID OUT. Ouch. He sent the fluid off for testing and it was all apparently benign. The lump went away.

Last fall, it reappeared in the same spot. Out came the big needle again, but this time my doctor was unable to get all the fluid out. He believed there was just this little sac inside my breast that keeps refilling with fluid like a balloon, and since aspirating it didn't work the second time around, he referred me to a surgeon to have the sac surgically removed.

Now, the lump is annoying because it's right to the side of my nipple and I feel it all the time, but since he seemed confident it was all benign and stuff, I put off going to see the surgeon initially. Then my husband had surgery. Then my daughter had surgery. So I put myself last.

This past week, every time I've turned around, I've been reading, seeing, hearing something about cancer-online, on Twitter, on The Moth podcast, etc. I kind of felt like it was a sign I should call the surgeon and get that breast lump taken out, once and for all. Since the lump is apparently benign, I need to get it out of the way, so that if I get other lumps I will notice them.

So, I called the surgeon my doctor recommended and set up an appointment for next week. His assistant asked me if I've had a mammogram. I told her I haven't, as I'm 37, so not quite the age when you normally start getting those done. Then, she directed me to their website to fill out a new patient packet, and while I was there, I looked at the doctor's bio.

He's a breast cancer specialist.

Now, realistically, I know my OB/Gyn was very casual in his referral and didn't act like it was a big deal and they tested the fluid both times the lump appeared and it was benign. And it's understandable the assistant would ask if I've had a mammogram-if I have to have surgery on my breast it makes sense they would want to do one of those. I know. But when she asked that and then I read his bio, I started freaking out. Just a little bit.

So while I'm generally hopeful that I'm in for nothing more than an annoying minor surgery that will leave me with a scar on my right breast, I'm kind of anxious for my appointment on Tuesday. Keep a good thought for me if you will. Because while I could care less about what my boobs look like (they've never been particularly spectacular), or about a minor surgery (although I don't look forward to any kind of pain, even minor!), I just want to get good news and be around for a LONG time.

In the meantime, I'll be here, quietly freaking out.