It Takes a Village

ivf_embryo_lavThere were seven people in the room when I conceived my eldest daughter, the most crucial of whom was not my husband.  In fact, Ad Man didn’t really need to be there at all. I’d argue that the most important person in the room was the embryologist who delivered a syringe fitted with a long plastic tube containing four of the cutest little soap bubbles you’ve ever seen.  As IVF doctors tend to have a bit of a God complex, I’m sure my handsome, famous, Beverly Hills fertility doctor would have claimed the title for himself. And, actually, our bank account would provide evidence that he was correct.

In addition to Dr. S and the embryologist, there were two nurses and two additional doctors who were there to learn how to make babies the hard way.  Ad Man was by my side holding my hand, but he could easily have been out eating a slice of pizza, having done his important job days before.  Since then, our potential brood had been plumping up cell by cell and being poked and prodded by a team of doctors who declared them free of genetic diseases and ready for implantation.

Before the crowd gathered around my vagina like mechanics diagnosing an engine problem, Ad Man and I met with Dr. S to discuss the soap bubbles.  The romantic petri dish dance between my eggs (not so gently plucked from my ovaries with a giant needle days before) and Ad Man’s sperm had resulted in two Grade A Large embryos and two others that were puny and a little scraggly around the edges.  We decided to implant all four embryos in hopes that one or two of them would stick.

This was not our first time at the rodeo, however.  We were in our third year of trying to get me properly knocked up.  By this point, I’d already endured countless tests, hundreds of shots, and two previous rounds of in vitro.  After the first round, we were told that my pregnancy test was positive, but my hormone levels were low, so there was a good chance the pregnancy wouldn’t be successful.  It wasn’t.

After the second round of IVF, I knew almost immediately that I was pregnant when my boobs began growing at an alarming rate.  Two weeks later, Dr. S gave us the joyous news…I was indeed pregnant and my enormous breasts were evidence of my raging hormone levels.  Turns out, my raging hormone levels were evidence that I was growing a set of twins in there.  We were ecstatic!  Two babies for the price of one!  We were done with this IVF shit forever!

Unfortunately, our joy was short-lived.  A few weeks into my pregnancy, after we’d already seen the two little heartbeats, we went back to the doctor’s office for another routine ultrasound and discovered that the fluttering heartbeats had stopped. An even more detailed ultrasound confirmed that I’d lost the pregnancy.  The weeks and months after my miscarriage are now a blur.  I went into a deep depression and Ad Man did his best to support me while simultaneously mourning his own loss.

I do remember, though, that it was the love and support of our friends and family (along with antidepressants and the world’s best therapist) that got us through that profound heartbreak.  Ad Man and I had been very open about our struggle with infertility, which we later found out, is a fairly rare thing.  Infertility is often still seen as embarrassing or, at least, deeply private.  In fact, it was only when we opened up to others that a number of our friends shared that they too had experienced, or were struggling with, infertility. Luckily, Ad Man and I are both blabbermouths with no boundaries so we had a team of people cheering us on, including both of our bosses.

One day, Ad Man (who can be a real softie) went into his boss’s office crying after a failed round of IVF.  In a perfect, only-in-L.A. moment, his boss J gave him a big hug and said, “That fucking sucks!  You know what you need?  Xanax.  You want some?”  I’m telling you, you can’t buy that kind of support!

Honestly, it was a relief to be open with our friends because we could rely on them for support and we could laugh with them at the ridiculousness of the whole process. When you’re dealing with infertility, it’s best to just check your humility at the door on the very first day.  By the end of our last round of IVF, Ad Man could give me a shot in the ass just about anywhere and I could have had a vaginal ultrasound in the doctor’s waiting room without blinking an eye.

And, Ad Man was such a trouper.  Subjects that would have made most men hide in a corner, like uterine polyps, low sperm count and masturbating into a cup, just became fodder for amusing dinner party conversation.  (Now, don’t you wish you could party with us?!)  Going into our second round of IVF, Ad Man was happy to discover that, because we lived so close to our fertility clinic, he could make his, ahem, deposit at home and bring it into the clinic rather than having to do the deed on-site.  When he was making the special delivery, he got into the elevator with another guy who looked sheepish, carrying his own bag-o-sperm into the office.  Ad Man took one look at the guy and said, “You brown-baggin’ it too?”  I don’t know if the poor man in the elevator was amused by the question, but it sure has made us and our friends laugh over the years!

Mommy and baby BiggieThose seven people who witnessed Biggie’s conception must have been good luck because it resulted in a blissfully uneventful, successful pregnancy with one healthy baby girl!  Ad Man and I never regretted being so open about our journey even when things went wrong and we had to make some very difficult phone calls.  We found out that it sometimes takes a village to make a baby.  I’m glad we learned that lesson early on because, as others have said time and again, it sure as hell takes a village to raise a child.  I’m just glad that my little band of villagers has always been there to laugh and cry with me (occasionally at the same time), offer me shelter when I’ve locked myself out of the house, take the kids for an afternoon when I’m barely holding on by my fingernails, and to know, without me having to say a word, when an emergency cocktail is in order. What more could a girl want?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Crazy Stuff I’ve Had to Tell My Kids

underpants_head_v.2I am constantly amazed that any child ever manages to live to adulthood.  Seriously, it’s like every single one of them has a death wish.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant the first time, I went about baby-proofing every room in our apartment despite the fact that I wouldn’t give birth for another 8 months and the child wouldn’t be even remotely mobile for some time after that.  As most parents do, I had visions of my kid sticking a knife in an electrical socket, falling down the stairs, cracking open her head on the edge of a glass table, chugging a bottle of Draino and diving into the toilet head first.  I knew a helpless baby or curious toddler could get in no end of trouble and believed I could protect my kid from all foreseeable dangers.

What I didn’t realize, however, is that my children would get themselves into precarious situations I could never in a million years have predicted.  Because, you see, children are stupid.  They do and say stupid shit ALL THE TIME.  And, it starts at a much younger age than you’d expect.  Not all of it has the potential to land them a spot as Darwin Award nominees, but it’s generally all either ridiculous, annoying, messy, embarrassing or all of the above.

Because of our children’s bouts of utter stupidity, we all find ourselves telling them things we would never have had to say prior to having kids.  There are just some things you shouldn’t have to say to another human being!  I have numerous examples from my own experience and have gathered many others from friends with children. I’m hoping to make this a recurring post, so in the spirit of laughing together so we don’t cry, please share your stories in the comments!  Enjoy…

“Take the turtle out of your underwear!”

“Don’t headbutt your sister.”

“You need to keep your eyes open when you’re riding a bike!”

“You do NOT wash your hands in the chocolate syrup!”

“You can’t do yoga with pizza in your mouth.”

“Don’t lick the television.”

“Get your sucker off the cat!”

“No pole vaulting in the living room.”

“No, the ducky doesn’t belong in your underwear.”

“Don’t put mud down your pants.”

“No those are not bite marks around my nipples where you used to feed. They just look like that.”

“Don’t point the arrow at your sister.”

“You have to wear underwear with dress pants.”

“No, that’s NOT what the hand-held shower head is for.”

“You can’t feed the dog Play-doh!”

“No, you can’t touch my boobies.”

“I’m removing all mirrors in the house so you can’t watch yourself cry during fits of rage.”

“Stop smiling meanly at your brother.”

“Your penis is not a drum.”

“No, mommy doesn’t have a ‘front butt.’ It’s called a vagina.”

“Is that your booger on the wall?”

“I don’t think you should practice the recorder in the shower.”

“Your arm will always be longer than your neck, so no, you won’t ever be able to lick your elbow.”

“Stop riding your brother like a pony!”

“I’m going to throw away any ammo or weapons I find that are not put away in the weapons closet.”

“Sweetie, girls can’t pee on trees like little boys. I am so sorry. No, don’t try!”

“Stop rubbing the hamburger on your face!  A bear is going to eat you.”

“You know I don’t like you licking my clothes.”

And, my personal favorite…“I don’t like the vengeful way you’re eating that cheese.”

One additional note, on occasion your significant other can be no smarter than his or her progeny causing you to have to ask things like…“Are you aware that your daughter is dipping her binky in your vodka?”

I would love to hear the crazy shit you’ve had to say to your children or significant other!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

We’ll Be in Touch

My mom uniformThere are number of intimidating aspects of a job search for moms (and dads…but mostly moms, let’s just be honest here) who have been out of the employment market for an extended time while raising children. For example, trying to find an appropriate outfit when meeting a potential employer may be difficult.  Digging through my extensive collection of skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans and high-waisted flare jeans (friend to many a muffin-topped mom, myself included), I find not one pair of appropriate pants.  As for tops, I own just about every available color of this v-neck t-shirt from Everlane, but nothing “blousy” or even “shirty” that looks professional and doesn’t showcase my tattoos.  And my shoe stash consists mainly of flip-flops, Vans slip-ons, boots and sexy sandals for going out to fancy events, like preschool fundraisers.

But the single most frightening part of the job search has got to be the interviewing process.  Think about it.  You’re completely out of your element and not exactly set up for success.  The interview itself consists mainly of sitting in a room with another adult and having a conversation that does not revolve around your children, your children’s school, the neighbors or the irritating thing your husband does that’s driving you bat-shit crazy.  You’re meeting with someone who is already reluctant to even consider you as a potential candidate for the job because of the glaringly obvious Grand Canyon-sized hole in your resume and is probably just doing a favor for a friend-of-a-friend (a testament to your stellar networking skills at the kids’ weekend soccer games).

Little Biggie in Mom's shoesSince just forming a complete sentence is a challenge at times for a stay-at-home mom, coming up with intelligent, witty, informed and mostly truthful answers to interview questions is likely the biggest stumbling block there is when attempting to return to the job market.  So, I have done some preparation to work through my responses to some commonly asked interview questions and help give a leg up to other readers who may find themselves in the same predicament.  Please note that, while I suspect your answers to the following questions would be strikingly similar to mine, you really should alter them a bit to fit your specific situation.

A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Responses to Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions:

Q:  Tell me a little about yourself.
A:  Well, I am a graduate of X University where I studied art (just an example of my largely useless undergraduate degree. Yours may be something like marine biology or philosophy or Russian literature.)  From there, I went on to X University School of Law (or medicine or business…you get the drill now) where I graduated with honors (or at least in the top half of my class).  That led to an offer at a somewhat prestigious law firm in X world-class city (where I no longer live because I wanted to be able to afford a house and send my children to a decent school).  Blah, blah, blah, job successes, promotions, raises, etc.,…and then I had a kid and threw it all away.  (OK, maybe not in those exact words.)  I am now looking to reenter the job market.

Q:  What is your greatest strength?
A:  I am a very strong leader and have led teams of varying sizes with a number of successful projects.

Q:  Can you point to a recent example of when you displayed your leadership skills?
A:  Absolutely.  Just last year, I managed an unruly team of 20 preschoolers to develop a project that was sold at a hefty profit at the yearly school fundraiser.  I managed to get my group to act as a unified team despite a number of obstacles including needing to use the potty, a disagreement over who got the last of the pink glitter and a tantrum over having to take the blueberry Go-Gurt when all the strawberries were previously claimed.

Q:  How do you evaluate success?
A:  At the end of the day, I ask myself, are the children all still alive?  Has my husband officially filed for divorce?  If I can answer those two questions with a yes and no, respectively, I call it a success and pour myself a glass of wine.

Q:  Why are you leaving your current position?
A:  Because my employers are tyrants, the pay sucks, the working conditions are abominable and I haven’t had a vacation in 7 years.

Q:  Give me some other examples of times you used your strengths to solve problems at your current job.
A:  Well, more than once, I’ve used my chest or my cupped hands to catch flying vomit from an ill child in order to avoid having to try to scrub puke out of a white flokati rug.  I believe this shows my creative problem solving skills as well as my ability to sacrifice my personal comfort for the greater good of the organization, or at least its interior design.  Also, I have found food on the floor on various occasions when I’ve been in a rush to complete another project and I’ve just eaten the abandoned food rather than taking the time to walk to the trash can.  This demonstrates my impressive time management skills.  Lastly, when faced with an epic exploding poopy diaper situation, rather than pulling the soiled onesie over the head of a screaming child which would have smeared feces into every orifice on the child’s face further angering her, I quickly grabbed a pair of scissors, carefully cut the putrid article of clothing off the child, yelled “Fuck it!” to no one in particular, threw the onesie in the trash and dumped the kid in the tub.  Again, creative problem solving and, um, maybe multitasking?

Q:  How do you handle stress and pressure?
A:  A daily cocktail, varying somewhat, but generally consisting of Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Xanax and alcohol.

“Fantastic, thanks for coming in.  We’ll be in touch.”

Life Lessons

I’ve P_and_W_on_bike_0913_v3discovered, if I tell Ad Man that I need to work on a blog post, he’ll willingly take the girls out to do something fun-ish and if I say I need somewhere to write, he’ll blow all the leaves off the deck so our house no longer looks abandoned from the back.  I should have started a pretend job long ago!

I have to admit though, for all the shit I give him (usually in a public forum like Facebook), I have an extremely supportive husband.  He’s quick to cheer on any half-assed scheme I present to him.  Like the time I told him I was thinking of making and delivering soups to office buildings after his co-workers made a few comments about his lunches looking delicious.  I mean every office gets sandwich delivery and what’s a sandwich without soup, right?  I soon kicked that plan to the curb though, when I realized the fact that I don’t eat meat and am squeamish about cooking it meant that I would only be able to offer vegetarian soups thereby limiting my potential customer base immensely.  (Prior to giving up meat altogether, I once called my father freaking out while prepping a turkey for Thanksgiving and squealed, “Oh god, what do I do with this, Dad?!  I feel like I’m cooking an INFANT!”)

Of course, Ad Man quickly moves on to leaf-blowing the entire back yard and forgets that we have two children, one of whom is now putting stickers on my face while I attempt to type and the other who is glaring at me from across our filthy outdoor table because I won’t let her watch the Disney Channel for the 17th hour in a row.  And, I suppose that’s one of my biggest gripes about (traditional) motherhood vs. (traditional) fatherhood.  For hours on end, even my comparatively involved and supportive husband has the luxury of forgetting that he is one of only two people on the planet responsible for keeping these two humans alive and preventing them from (fingers crossed) growing into adult psychopaths.

I had a sudden epiphany recently when trying to figure out why, after spending most of the last 7 years yearning for my “lost” career, I was still conflicted about going out and getting a damn job already (as if it were that easy).  I realized, no matter how hard I worked or what amazing job I managed to land, I would never be living the equivalent of Ad Man’s charmed life because of one glaring omission.  I will never have a wife.  Even with the best, most loving nanny possible, I would never have the freedom of knowing that I had someone at home who loved my kids even when they were acting like little assholes and would show up at “work” every single day even when I was out of town and she had strep throat.  (Just a random example, of course.)

And, while that realization still really, really pisses me off, I’m taking steps to try to learn the lesson I’m constantly impressing upon my daughters.  Life isn’t fair.  Suck it up and move on.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin