Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas ate my life

Sorry for the radio silence. Christmas is a tough time for posting -- there's traveling, and family, and more family, and then I throw a party every December 30th. We're spending New Year's Eve alone at home tonight, as we often do, because we're just flat worn-out.

So, the interesting question at hand was what happened last cycle. Turns out it was a mixed bag: I got my period twelve days after the progesterone draw was taken, so that probably was the real O date, and that's a decent P4 level for that point in my cycle. On the other hand, that means I O'ed on CD 24, which is awfully late in the game, and the ovulation process is long and drawn-out and bodes poorly for things like egg quality. And, well, I got my period, so the cycle was a bust, and that's obviously teh suck.

However, if you happen to find out you're unpregnant on Christmas Day, a shiny new iPhone takes out some of the sting.

So, where to go from here? Well, Dr. Boss's opinion is that I "probably need a little Clomid", so it looks like we're heading back down that path. However, because my husband is a stubborn mule iPhone giver, it won't be this cycle. We're going to monitor me more aggressively this cycle, with temping and OPKs and an ultrasound or two as needed. I'm going to shell out for the new schmancy digital OPKs -- somebody finally got smart and invented ones that have clear indicators rather than making you play the how-dark-is-it-really game. I'm going to ask for an ultrasound when I think I'm starting to peak, and then another if I do the same second-peak thing as last month. After that, assuming I don't actually get knocked up, we'll probably start a Clomid cycle. Maybe it'll even work. Wouldn't that be novel?

I don't know where I'll be this time next year. Will we still be a family of four, or will I have a new baby arrived or on the way? I do know that it'll be OK, though. Admittedly, we only qualify as secondary infertile under a generous definition -- we haven't been at this very long, and we're just getting to jump the queue because I have a medical history. However, I'm already handling it much better this time around, and I think that will continue even if this drags on for a while.

I want very much to get the reproductive show on the road, so that we can either get pregnant or give up and accept that we've done what we could. I don't deal well with uncertainty, and I'm not very patient, and I'm personally pretty dubious that things will work out without medical intervention. I hate to stand around twiddling my thumbs waiting until the requisite time period has passed for us to be declared REALLY infertile. Why not just skip over all the months of failed cycles and start addressing the problems we know to exist? But after that, after we've put as much energy and money and tears into it as we have to spend, I think we can walk away.

Two years ago, I started the IUI cycle that turned into Claire and Katherine. I love them more than life itself, and if they're all I get, that'll be OK. I'll be sad -- I won't lie and say that I'm not already a little sad to be back on this particular horse -- but failing to have a third child is not such a tragedy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Test results

It took them until today to get around to running the progesterone from last Wednesday, because of a broken machine, but I got the results a little while ago: 4.27. Per Mom, this indicates some level of ovulatory activity, but it's somewhat tricky to evaluate because of the two LH spikes.

If the first peak, on CD18, was the "official" one, this was not a good ovulation, and is not sufficient to sustain a pregnancy. On the other hand, if the second peak on CD24 was the "real" one, it's better news. This isn't a bad result at all for just after ovulation, and would probably correspond with a reasonably good peak level. However, the egg quality could be dicey, after a previous near-peak and long growth cycle.

Rather than do another draw, Mom thinks we should just wait to see when my period shows up, and work backwards to decide which day was the correct one. If the total cycle length is around 32 days, the first case applies; even if the second peak was the real LH surge, we'd be talking about an 8-day luteal phase, which is problematic. However, if it's more like 38 days, the second peak was the real one.

In either case, we're almost certainly going to do monitored cycles for the next month or two, so that we can know what's going on throughout the cycle rather than getting a single-day snapshot. After that, Clomid is the next step, although I don't know how quickly we'll go there -- G is expressing what we will politely term "reservations" about "rushing" into treatment, and about the risks of multiples. That's a subject for discussion in and of itself, but worrying about it at this point is premature.

ETA: Thyroid results are back. TSH is suppressed and free T4 is 1.09. That's within normal limits, if somewhat low for me -- I'm usually more like 1.5. The suppressed TSH is normal for me, since my variety of hypothyroidism is hypothalamic in origin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We interrupt this important dilemna...

... to discuss an entirely different one: Infertility 2.0.

You know how I've been thinking I've been ovulating a bit later in my cycle, based on OPKs? Well, yesterday was CD23, and while I'd thought I'd O-ed on CD18, I was having some symptoms that made me suspicious, so I used another OPK.

Positive, on CD23, six days after a positive on CD18. Or, at least, what I *thought* were positives. Of course, I immediately thought, what if I'm pregnant, and the OPKs are picking up the hCG instead? Well, that turned out not to be the case, so I tried again today, with a different brand of OPK I had lying around. This one was negative, but middling negative, not what you ought to see the day after your LH surge, or a week after it.

So, of course, the next thing I did was to pick up the phone and call my clinic's head nurse, better known to me as Mom. (It's so helpful sometimes, having a mom with 20-plus years as an RE nurse...)

My mother said that 1) Answer brand OPKs (the cheap 20-pack you can get at Walgreens) suck -- their patients get more false positives and false negatives with those than any other brand. They recommend ClearBlue. 2) if they were legitimate readings, not stick errors (which the middling negative I got today supports), something's not right.

Mom says that late ovulation is usually bad news. If I'm really legitimately ovulating today, on CD24, the egg is probably not going to be very good quality -- long cycles, with long periods of hormone activity, cause them not to mature very well. On the other hand, if I ovulated on CD18, it might not have been a very "good" ovulation either. Even if a follicle released an egg of OK quality, I may not be producing enough progesterone, or there may be something else wacky with my LH/FSH.

If it's just the one wonky cycle, OK, fine, that's how they go sometimes. However, it also calls into question the legitimacy of all those other "ovulatory" cycles. This one isn't especially different -- I just happened to retest even though I thought I'd already ovulated.

My mom said, maybe you just need a little bit of Clomid. Now, Clomid and letrozole both were complete failures for me the last time around, but things are at least somewhat different now. I'm having regular cycles, and there's some kind of ovulatory activity working, even if it isn't completely right. There's reason to think it's a reasonable option.

I went into the clinic for a progesterone level today. If I did O last week, it'll be elevated, though possibly not enough to sustain a pregnancy. If I didn't, it'll be negative, and we'll recheck in a week to see if I'm ovulating today. Either way, it's time to at least think about doing some monitoring next cycle. After that, who knows?

I dislike the thought of Clomid. I didn't enjoy it the last time around, and I'm unhappy at the idea it might have come to this. We'd talked about how, if we need more aggressive treatment, we'd wait a while, maybe a year. We know that ART comes with downsides for us, namely high risks of OHSS and multiples, and we haven't yet sorted out whether we'd try another IUI cycle or head directly to IVF. And now, we're talking about starting up the "gateway drug". If Clomid doesn't work, will we be able to say, no, let's sit on it for a while before deciding to move down the path?

Lots of questions, and not a lot of answers today.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Working hard for the money

So, I've got a dilemna I'm trying to resolve about going back to full-time work.

I'm not sure I ever really posted about my decision to stay at home after the babies were born. Prior to the infertility, I had spent four years working as a freelance computer programmer, but I'd gotten burned out even before adding the infertility upheaval into the mix, and I took a full-time job a couple months after I started blogging.

I stayed with that company throughout my pregnancy, and sometimes wish I could have continued. I really liked the job, especially in the first few months, loved what I was doing and the people I was working with. Later, the new VP of Operations brought a different atmosphere, but not really a bad one, just more corporate and less free-wheeling. This is pretty common for tech companies moving out of the small startup stage, but it's a bummer if you *like* the startup approach to life, which I mostly do.

The most notable change was that the programmers, who had previously been free to work from home or in-house as they chose, were now required to work mostly in the office. Initially, this didn't affect me that much, because I actually liked going into the office, and getting dressed up and interacting with people, after years of barely leaving my house. Ironically, it was not long after that point when my doctor strongly encouraged me to begin working from home, due to the uterine irritability issues. I worked from home the rest of the pregnancy, and if I could have continued to work mostly from home, I would probably have stayed with the company after the babies were born.

However, that wasn't an option, and for me, going back to an office job wasn't an option either. I was nursing, and I was very hesitant about leaving my tiny babies with a non-family caregiver, and frankly I just didn't want to leave them. So I turned in my notice, didn't work at all for a couple of months, and then went back to freelancing on a very part-time basis. I meant to work just a couple hours a week, in the evenings and while the babies napped, enough to bring me in a little bit of extra cash while allowing me to basically be a SAHM.

This worked well throughout the winter, when the babies slept a lot. It got harder in the spring, as they became more awake and demanding, and by the start of the summer, I hired a college student to babysit in-house for three afternoons a week. When she left in August, I found a high-school student, who comes (theoretically) every afternoon for three hours. In a lot of ways, this is ideal, and I'd recommend something like this to any mother of twins, even if you're not working from home. It's really nice to have a few hours to go to the grocery store, or to pay the bills and run errands, or to go and get your hair cut, without hauling a toddler or two around all the time. The babies also go to Mother's Morning Out twice a week, and I take my laptop to a coffee shop and work while they're there.

However, my work situation has gotten more and more demanding. My old clients keep handing me more work, and my business partner's gotten us involved in some new projects which require some very specialized skills -- I literally don't know of anyone else in town who's capable of doing the work. I worked nearly full-time in the weeks after my knee surgery, when I had a babysitter there anyway, and I think that also encouraged everyone to pile work on me.

The upshot of it all is that I have enough work to keep me busy for at least two months, realistically more like three, if I bill as much as I reasonably can with my current child-care arrangements. And it's not like I'll finish that and be done, either -- I expect more work to come in while I'm taking care of this stuff. The nature of the freelance business is to have ups and downs, but for the foreseeable future, there's as much work available to me as I feel like doing. On top of this, I have some school commitments necessary to complete my master's degree this spring.

I have enjoyed being a SAHM. I like spending time with my children and doing motherly things, even the not-very-exciting ones like laundry and baths. I like the freedom of being a SAHM, the ability to go hang out with my mom friends and their kids, to go have lunch with Daddy any day we like, to go to the park because it's a beautiful day and there's nothing else I have to do.

The part-time work was the optimal situation, because it's a little bit of intellectual stimulation and some extra cash, but it wouldn't interfere with my lifestyle too much. At least, that was the theory. I'd still have every morning and two afternoons a week to spend with the babies... or, every morning... or, now, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. They nap from roughly 12 to 2, the babysitter's here from 2:30 to 5:30 or so, and then it's pretty much time for supper, baths, and bed. I've essentially turned into a full-time working mother without quite realizing it. I'm still pretending I'm a SAHM and can do SAHM-type things, but underneath the denial I know that's not really the case.

Part-time isn't working any more. I knew this would probably eventually happen, because that's the nature of the freelance industry -- work tends to expand to fill all available time. So, I've got to decide whether I'm going to go back to full-time freelancing, with an in-house full-time nanny, or to hang it all up and be a SAHM. My mother's found a potential nanny, and I've been chewing the idea over for weeks. I think I've more or less made a decision, although I can't say I really like it, but I don't see what else I can do.

So, gentle readers, what do you think that decision is?

----------------- to be continued -----------------

Thursday, December 06, 2007

You know your day sucks when...

The dog throws up on the floor...


and the children find it before you do.

We teased my sister for years about how she liked to eat dog food when she was a baby, but my children have just taken it to an entirely new level. At least M didn't eat pre-digested kibble...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Silver lining

The upside to being unpregnant?

FryDay and Beerball.

I may not be very eligible for the ball part of it -- repeat ACL surgery isn't on my agenda -- but I can damn skippy do the beer. And if I don't deserve a fried Snickers bar, who does?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rhetorical question

Is there anything cuter than watching your babies play hide-and-seek with each other?

Sometimes I really love being a mother of twins.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Katherine's Box: a photo essay

Here, have some cute baby pictures of Katherine and Claire fighting over The Box.






Sunday, November 11, 2007

Brought to you by the makers of OxiClean

Because randomness is all I have today:


In the last 24 hours, the dogs have:

  • thrown up half-digested kibble up all over the sofa
  • stolen a diaper -- a POOPY diaper -- and chewed it up, also all over the sofa
  • pooped on the floor, because it was too cold out for their dainty selves
  • peed on the floor, ditto on the dainty selves
  • thrown up more half-digested kibble on the living room rug

Anyone want three standard poodles, gently used? Alternately, can anyone give me instructions for re-upholstering a sofa in poodle hide?


At 14 months, the girls are not really talking very much. They say Mama to me, Da for Daddy (inconsistently), uh-oh, "da" for dog, bye-bye, "ba" for ball and book, and "da" or "dit" or "dere" for pretty much everything else.

However, their understanding of language is accelerating. Yesterday, I asked Claire if she was hungry, and her face lit up and she RAN to the kitchen. I've not made any effort to teach her "are you hungry?", or tried to say it repetitively. Apparently, though, I say it often enough for her to pluck it out and realize what it means. It's the first ambient-language phrase I've really seen them understand.


One of the other things that we are becoming very clear on is the concept of "mine". We have this green plastic tupperware box, ostensibly for toy storage, but in reality it's primarily for sitting in, and sometimes putting on one's head. It is quite clear to Katherine that the box is HERS.

Claire is the dominant twin in most regards, and Katherine generally allows her toys to be taken away without much complaint, but she defends that box with life and honor. If she sees Claire get in the box, she immediately gets furious even if she isn't currently playing with it. If she's in the box, she cries whenever Claire comes near, and I've seen her head-butt Claire to make her go away. The only thing Claire is allowed to do with the box is to turn it over and stand on it. Why that's different, I don't know, but the bottom line is that the box is Katherine's.

It's so amazing, watching them turn into people.


Did I mention that they are climbing?

Katherine only took her first few steps about a week ago, still mostly gets around by knee-walking, and doesn't even seem particularly interested in the whole idea. And yet she'll turn that stupid green box over, use it as a step-stool to get onto the sofa, and stand there teetering and crowing over her achievement.

Claire's even worse -- she is trying to climb up the outside of the stairs. She hangs on to the baluster and tries to stand on the part of the treads that sticks out past it. I give her two weeks at most before she figures out how to start scaling it.

Like little monkeys, they are. Or, rather, like little monkeys with a shocking disregard for gravity.


I'm in the 2ww at the moment, and I think I had what could have been implantation cramping last night. I'm going to be a little bit disappointed if this cycle doesn't work out.


The great stroller debate is over, and I bought the Jeep Wrangler SBS. Even leaving aside the question of price, I actually liked this stroller better than the more expensive models I test-drove. It doesn't fold as easily as the Combi, but it does well enough; it drives easily one-handed, fits through my front door, and is lightweight. The major downsides are the lack of storage space and snack trays, but neither of those meant a lot to me anyway. I think we're going to be pleased with it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fiber: Cherie Amour dye attempts #1 and #2

Here's what I'm starting with -- undyed wool, and Jacquard acid dyes in Emerald and Black. My goal is to achieve a soft sage green, something akin to the Leaf colorway here.

Acid dyes aren't really acid -- the acid in question is actually vinegar, which you add to the dye bath to set the color. However, they come in powder format, and you do need to be careful handling the powder, especially if you have, say, a history of landing in the hospital for breathing problems. Plus, it's hard to measure out powder like that, or to combine two different powders without getting them all over your kitchen. So the first thing I did was to CAREFULLY combine some powder with water to make a 1% dye solution (1 gram dye to 100 grams water). This is basically like a big jar of food coloring, easy to measure and mix with other colors.

The amount of dye you need is determined by the weight of the yarn you're dyeing, and this is where ugly math starts. You should use 2% to 4% of the fabric weight in dye -- if you're dyeing 100 grams of yarn, you should use 2 to 4 grams of dry powder. That's fine, but what if you're only dyeing two or three grams of yarn?

That's where the beauty of the 1% dye solution comes in. My first test batch was only about 2 grams of yarn, so 2% to 4% is 0.04g to 0.08g of dye powder. I don't have a kitchen scale that measures in those kinds of units, but if you remember, we've got our giant jars of liquid dye, and we can work backwards from there. I put in 1 gram of dye and 100 grams of water. So, if I want 0.04g of dye, I can just take 4 grams of dye solution (0.04 g * 100 g h2o / 1 g dye), and thanks to the magic of math, I have the correct amount of dye.

Batch A

I prepped the yarn for dyeing, and then stood around doing the math to get the right amount of dye. Since I wanted a relatively soft color, I decided to only use 2% of the fabric weight in dye, or 4 grams of my dye solution. The Emerald dye color is a fairly bright green, and to get the sage color I was after, I toned it down by using a 3:1 green:black ratio, 3 grams green solution and 1 gram black.

I prepped the dye bath as per the instructions, added my yarn, and put it on the stovetop to boil. I used a very tiny amount of vinegar to set the dye, based on the manufacturer's recommendations of 1/4 c vinegar per pound of fabric. The math on that is painful, and I eventually wound up putting the vinegar in solution as well, to get a total vinegar amount of 0.25g (basically, a few drops -- a quarter of a 1/4 tsp).

The result is the bottom yarn. It's definitely soft -- too soft, in fact, and with not quite enough green in it. It's a nice celery color, but I don't want a whole sweater in that color. So, back to the drawing board.

Batch B

This time, I cut off 5g of yarn, to make my math a little nicer. To deepen the color, I decided to step up to using 3% of the yarn weight, 0.15g dry powder, 15g of my dye solution. I changed the green-to-black ratio to 4:1 green:black, or 12g green solution and 3g black solution, so that it would be more green and not as gray. I also decided to just pour in a glug of vinegar, thinking that perhaps I didn't have enough vinegar in the previous batch to help the dye penetrate the fiber.

As you can see from the photo above, those things made a BIG difference. Batch B is much, much more saturated, and the green is deeper. I think it's mostly due to the extra vinegar -- even the first batch had a lot of dye in it, more than enough to really darken the yarn.

I think that this color is very nice indeed. It's darker than what I'd intended, but it would be quite flattering to me. You can't see it in the photo, but there are subtle variations in the color, and it gives the yarn a lot of depth. I'm going to turn it into a small swatch to see how I like it knitted up.

I am debating whether to make a third batch and see if I can hit on the sage green I originally wanted, to compare it with the olive Batch B. I'm thinking of using 2% of the yarn weight in dye again, and adding about a teaspoon of vinegar, rather than the coupla-tablespoons from Batch B.

I'm still a little nervous about dyeing the whole pile o' yarn, but these two test batches are encouraging.


Because I don't have a knitting blog, and because I am too lazy to think of a good title for one, I'm going to talk about fiber stuff here for a bit. Now that I'm on Ravelry, I'm wanting to do some more detailed journaling. BTW, if you have gotten hooked on the Ravelry smack, email me at for my Ravelry handle, and I'll friend you -- I love having friends!

I've been knitting for, oh, a year and a half now, and crocheting for a bit longer than that. In that time, I've made baby hats and adult hats, blankets and toys, scarves, booties, baby dresses, and several pairs of socks. However, I've never yet knit myself a sweater. This is mainly because my weight has fluctuated so wildly in that time, with the infertility gain and the pregnancy and the massive postpartum weight loss. I haven't been the same weight from one fall to the next in literally six years, and I haven't wanted to sink the time or the yarn cost into a sweater I'll only wear one season.

However, I've stabilized recently, and while I'd still like to lose a few more pounds, I'm not really working hard to do it, and it won't really be enough to affect my upper body size too much. So, I finally decided it's Sweater Time, and Cherie Amour from the latest Knitty stood up and yelled, "knit me!"

I have heard from several people, including Jo, that the yarn called for in the pattern is perfectly delicious. Sadly, I couldn't find a colorway I liked. As a general rule, I don't much like highly variegated yarns, especially on large garments. See how, in the pictures in the pattern, the yarn goes all stripey at the waist, and then there are large chunks of the various colors in the lacey part? That's called pooling.

Variegated yarns are notorious for doing this, and while I'm kind of OK with it in the context of a sock or a scarf, it's just not my thing for a sweater. It plays funny tricks on the eye, which in turn can be less-than-flattering on the body, and obscures the prettiness of a lace pattern. So I knew I'd have to go for a solid-colored yarn or a semi-solid, with very subtle color variations.

Unfortunately, we are currently and temporarily local-yarn-store-less here in my city, until it reopens under new management sometime this fall. I shopped around on the Internets a bit, ordered a test skein, knit a swatch, hated my swatch, and then knit another swatch with some of the bulky-weight wool that's destined for the girls' Christmas stockings. (Which I now estimate will be completed for next Christmas, or possibly five Christmases from now, based on my complete and total failure to actually put yarn to needles for them.) This yarn worked -- gauge was right, and I liked the fabric I got -- but unfortunately, none of the available colors really floated my boat.

This is the part where I decided to get brilliant. See, you don't HAVE to confine yourself to the pre-dyed colors they offer for sale. If you like, you can buy the undyed version of the same yarn, and dye it your very own self. I promptly ordered a bunch of skeins, and some green and black acid dyes, and started plotting how I'd go about creating a nice weathered-looking sage green. Never mind that I'd not once so much as tie-dyed a shirt at summer camp. No, I was going to figure out how to dye, and make myself the One True Perfect Sweater Yarn.

At this point, if you are wondering whether it is a good idea to do a sweater's worth of yarn as your very first dyeing project, the answer is no. Happily, I came to that conclusion as well, and for once I didn't have to figure it out the hard way first. I've dyed two small test batches, just a few yards cut off a single hank, and I feel like I'm actually getting close to ready to do the big scary dye of all yarn. I just need to acquire a few more supplies at Wal-Mart, and figure out where and how I'm going to set up six skeins of wet not-necessarily-colorfast wool yarn to dry.

I now see how people get addicted to dyeing yarn. Believe it or not, there's a whole cottage industry centered around hand-painting and hand-dyeing yarn, mostly sock yarn, and now I know why it exists. I'm very much a product knitter -- I knit because I want to make the things I see in my head -- and if I start dyeing my own yarn, I can get EXACTLY what I want. I have a mile-wide streak of do-it-yourselfism, and the idea of dyeing my own yarn is tremendously appealing.

The idea of spinning my own yarn before dyeing it is also appealing, but really, don't I have enough on my plate?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween Costumes

Katherine was less than thrilled about her costume, and refused to have anything to do with the halo.

Claire got the biggest kick out of her costume -- I had to pry the devil horns out of her hands at the end of the night. She was the perfect little devil!

We did not trick-or-treat with the girls, because I didn't get home from my doctor's appointment until nearly 7, and it's not like I need the candy. However, they were tremendously entertained by all the trick-or-treaters, so a good time was had by all.

About the costumes:

I bought the horns, halo, and pitchfork, but I made the dresses myself. I sewed them by hand, I might add, as my sewing machine chose Halloween morning to crap out. Note to self: next time, try starting the costumes the weekend before Halloween, not the morning of.... They won't win me any needlework prizes at the county fair, but they served their purpose.

These are actually the first "real" garments I've ever put together, other than some long-ago doll clothes. I didn't use a pattern, just improvised straight dresses with drop shoulders from the babies' measurements. I should have made them A-line, because the straight dresses were difficult for them to move in, and 2" of ease was just barely enough. I had a little trouble with the open side of the neckline, where it meets the sleeve, but the second dress was better than the first, and I think I understand how to do it.

All in all, not too bad for a novice seamstress, I think. I'm planning to recycle the idea, and the horns/halo/pitchfork, next year, and I will have a much better idea of how to go about the sewing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And now for something completely different

I'm so tired of seeing those sad posts on my blog every time I hit my blogroll, so let's talk about something else -- namely, strollers. I'm considering getting another tandem stroller, and I'm looking for some advice.

Currently, the only stroller I possess is the Graco DuoGlider I received as a shower gift. Back when I was registering for stuff, I figured the DuoGlider was inexpensive and would be good enough. Fourteen months later, I'm starting to chafe a little bit, and wondering if there's a better alternative out there.

As I quickly discovered once the babies were born, the stroller is perhaps the single most vital piece of equipment a twin mom has. If you have a singleton, you can cart around the infant carrier, or wear/carry her, or hold her hand as she walks. If you have two, though, they pretty much go in the stroller. I occasionally wear one baby and put the other in a shopping cart, but with the still-iffy knee, it's not something I do often.

My principal peeves with the DuoGlider are 1) it's so freakin' huge; 2) the back seat is angled funny, causing the baby in that spot to constantly slide downward; 3) the front seat canopy comes off pretty much every time I fold and load the thing. I don't mind the heaviness of it, but I do mind how much room it takes up, especially in crowded situations.

I originally thought a side-by-side would be even bulkier and clumsier, but some of the slimmer SBSs really aren't too much wider than the DuoGlider. I'm starting to think the extra width might be a pretty good tradeoff for the stroller not sticking out three-plus feet in front of me.

A frequently mentioned negative of the SBS is that most of them don't have trays, but I can live with that, I think -- I don't use the trays on the DuoGlider that much anyway. I almost never use the DuoGlider's basket at all, because my giant diaper bag blocks it off, so basket size and access is not really a consideration. Some other things I don't care about are all-terrain/jogging potential, because I don't jog and mainly use it in stores and on sidewalks, and a parent cupholder isn't high on my list either. I'm also not too concerned with infant seat usage -- obviously, the girls are long past this stage, and I'll probably just go back to the DuoGlider if we have a third baby.

My #1 consideration is that the designated stroller MUST be easy to steer with one hand, because that's mostly how I get through the grocery store -- I push the stroller with one hand and pull the cart behind me with the other. Secondary to that is that it should be relatively narrow, and that it be comfortable for the girls to sit in. I would love to have a BOB Revolution or a Mountain Buggy Urban Double, but I'm not sure I can really bring myself to spend upwards of $500 -- I'd like to keep it somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 or below.

Here are the strollers I'm considering:

Jeep Wrangler -- it's so inexpensive, but I wonder if it's a cheap piece o' crap
Combi Twin Savvy -- compact and seems easy to steer, but I've read it doesn't hold up well
Maclaren Twin Techno -- good reviews, but at the very top end of my price range
Chicco Citta -- cheap and cute, but on the wide side

What strollers do you have? What do you love and hate about them? What would you buy if you could go back and have anything you wanted?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On loss

This has been such a sad, grim week.

I went to see my ex-in-laws on Tuesday with a casserole and a cake -- I am a Southerner, and there is no resisting the urge to bake when disaster strikes -- and had a really nice visit with them. They were, I think, genuinely glad to see me and to talk with me, and they asked me to come back and bring the girls. From my own experience with loss, the hardest time is after the funeral, when the family members are gone and there are no more arrangements to busy oneself with, so I'll bring the girls to visit during that time.

Several family members implied, and in one case stated outright, that the girls were the children Dylan wouldn't ever have. I wasn't at all offended by it -- I understand the emotion, and in fact, G said that's one of the things he pitied Dylan the most for, that he never had children. Still, it was hard to know how to respond. Dylan and I had talked about what might happen if we couldn't have children, which is a possibility I've always been aware of, and he was not at all keen on the idea of ART. Of course, it's always different when you're actually staring childlessness in the face, as we inevitably would have had we stayed married. However, I can't envision the girls in that alternate history, can't separate the fact of their existence from the context of the family of G and me, and the very idea is vaguely unsettling. Still, if it gives them some comfort, bringing the girls to meet them is the least I can do.

I didn't really start to have a hard time with it all until after that visit, but by the time of the actual services on Thursday and Friday, it really sank in, and hit me much harder than when I initially heard the news. There's a natural tendency to speak well of the dead, and as the week wore on, I found myself putting away all the unpleasant memories, and thinking mostly about our friendship in high school, and the period of our engagement and the start of our marriage.

In some ways, this feels dishonest to me, because the bad stuff really did happen, and it had a substantial impact on my life. To name just one story, there was the night that he was drunk and we were fighting when the pizza guy came and saw Dylan pushing me around some. Not hitting me -- he never slapped or punched me -- but there were times when he'd shake me, or squeeze my arm really hard, or shove me. I didn't really think of it as physical abuse, but some of those times left bruises, and on this particular occasion, the pizza guy actually called the house later to check if I was all right.

It was a real wake-up call for me, and it wasn't long after that that I decided the divorce needed to happen now. It also influenced my decision to pursue a relationship with G -- I didn't ever want to find myself in another quasi-abusive situation, and I thought a lot about what I knew of his character and about what would happen when we conflicted. If I were to whitewash that one miserable night, or all the others like it, out of Dylan's and my history, it would leave some noticeable blanks.

Dishonest or no, though, my tendency this week has been to let those incidents fade to some extent. I'd let them go well before now -- I'm not a grudge-carrier by nature, and I wasn't bitter or resentful about them before he died, so it was that much easier to just not think about them. And when I focused on the good times, that's when I really started to feel I'd lost someone, and to mourn.

Part of me felt as though I didn't really have the right to grieve. After all, we did divorce, mostly at my impetus, and I hadn't even seen him for nearly seven years. But when you get down to it, he was my husband once, and in some ways I knew him better than anyone else in the world. In fact, if you like irony, here's one for you: in the eyes of his Church, I'm his widow, not his ex-wife. I'm not Catholic myself, and if you'd asked me two weeks ago, I'd have said this was so much nonsense. Even his family, who are as devout as you'll find, would probably have laughed at the idea.

But then he died, and only then did I realize that the connection between us hadn't entirely disappeared. I thought I was done with him seven years ago, but I was wrong -- it's so very different from that person's being dead. I don't, of course, grieve him as I would if G were to die, but it's an echo of it. There's divorce, and then there is cold in the ground, and the two do not compare.

I went to the visitation, a typical Southern open-casket affair. I hugged his family, and I held his hand and cried, and I told him how sorry I was, that I never would have thought it would end like this for us. The funeral the next day was even worse, and I wept through most of the service. I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when they closed the casket, over the face of the man I once loved.

I hadn't expected to grieve like this, but I have. One of the only two people in the world who know me that intimately is now gone. I am now the only one in the world who knows how the moonlight shone on the emerald he put on my finger, that March night in the Grove at Ole Miss, and how he picked me up and swung me around after I said yes. I'm also the only one who knows how he'd snarl when we fought, how his shoulders slumped when I told him I wanted a divorce, how we wandered around the house in elaborate silence until he moved out. The one doesn't cancel out the other, and the whole equation adds up to a loss.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I just got a phone call from my ex-mother-in-law, telling me that my ex-husband died yesterday.

I don't think I've done more than mention once or twice on this blog that I even had an ex-husband, but I did, the classic "starter marriage". We married when I was 22, and the divorce was final exactly eighteen months later, seven years ago last Wednesday. I rarely think about him, and have only seen him once since the divorce, although I live less than five miles from his parents and see them every so often at the grocery store.

He and I were friends in high school, the sort of friends where you both know that one of you has a tremendous crush on the other. We dated, after a fashion, for a few weeks one summer in college, then drifted apart for a while. We reconnected the summer before our senior year, in the days when I was left reeling from the news of my dad's terminal cancer. We began to shop for a ring that Christmas, became engaged in March, and moved in together after graduation. We married the next April, and built the house where I live today.

The marriage was a mistake, a horrible judgment error that I sometimes think I might not have made if my dad's death hadn't left me adrift. Dylan had some good qualities, but plenty of bad ones too, if I'd been interested in seeing them. Things deteriorated between us into the territory of emotional abuse, and occasionally skirted the line of physical abuse. He could be devastatingly funny and charming, then instantly morph into a 6'2" toddler with a drinking problem.

Happily, I had the good sense to put an end to it before any permanent damage occurred, and before we thought of having children. We disentangled the finances, had a straightforward legal process, I kept the house and the dogs, and he was gone from my life as though he'd never been. I began dating G shortly after Dylan moved out; I wondered if I was rushing into a new relationship too fast, but the truth is that I'd done all the necessary moving-on in those last sad months of the marriage, and the actual divorce was just the coda.

When I've thought about our marriage in the subsequent years, which isn't often, I'm mostly relieved that it was so easily undone, and grateful for where it left me in life. If it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't have moved back to my hometown after college. I wouldn't live in this house, wouldn't have met and married G, wouldn't have the girls. Most of my life is as it is because of him, if somewhat indirectly. And I simply can't quite wrap my head around the fact that he's gone.

I'm not even really sure how sad I am, or how sad I ought to be. It's terrible for his family, and my heart is broken for his mother. As far as I know, he never really got his life together, never remarried or even had anyone really serious, never had a family. I'm sorry that he won't get the chance, that he's died before he got around to growing up and becoming a better person. He could have been -- the potential was there -- but to my knowledge, he didn't, and that's such a waste.

Too, I loved him once, well enough to marry him and to think it would be forever. He was gone from my life a long time ago, but that's a very different deal from being dead. I did think from time to time, during those last few weeks before we split, that it would be so much *easier* if he could just drop dead. Of course, I didn't really want that to happen, just wanted to skip all the divorce junk, and I knew living well would be the best revenge. In the end, I didn't really bear him any ill-will, and I would never have wanted this to happen to him.

There'll be a visitation and a funeral and a wake later in the week, and his mother has asked me to be there for those things. I always got on very well with his parents, and they were genuinely sad when we split; but I'm apprehensive about seeing the extended family and friends after all these years, and I'm not sure what the script is for the ex-wife of the deceased. I suppose I will manage to sort it all out, but I am a little nervous about it. Mostly, though, I'm just kind of sad and shocked about the whole thing.

Goodbye, Dylan Thomas Gordy. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual Light shine upon him; may his soul and all souls, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen, and Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is you is or is you ain't my VCD?

Wednesday morning was still very rough on me, but I was starting to perk up by the end of yesterday afternoon, and I'm generally better today. I managed to get some food in, which helped a lot; while I am not one to complain about losing five pounds, I don't recommend doing it in five days. I am still tiring very easily, but I definitely have more energy, and I'm starting to be hopeful that a few more days of rest will make a difference.

However, after spending literally all day at various doctors', we're still not sure what exactly is the problem. Clearly, there still is one, because I become distinctly squeaky after just a few hours without albuterol, and eventually lose the ability to push enough air out to talk above a whisper. A breathing treatment reverses this nearly instantly, which is a definitive sign of asthma... except that my lung function tests say otherwise.

My pulmonologist this morning was absolutely convinced that it could not be anything other than vocal cord dysfunction. The ENTs tested me for this before I left the hospital, and didn't find any evidence of it, but the symptoms I have, and the lung function symptoms I don't have, all fit in with that diagnosis. The pulmo kicked me back anyway to an allergenist/immunologist for another look at it, on the chance that the last one had been done too close to a breathing treatment.

So I got to have a second tube stuck up my nose and down my throat, which is just about as much fun as it sounds like, and the allergist found... nothing. My throat, larynx, and vocal cords are not irritated, inflamed, swollen, or sore in any way. It's absolutely clear that I do NOT have VCD. He thought he might have seen some swelling farther down my trachea, which might have been bronchitis except that I'm not coughing, and he decided to repeat the lung function tests again.

The lung function tests are the very weirdest part of this whole affair. The tests I had done in April showed mild obstructive lung disease, about 80% of the lung capacity a woman my age, height, and weight should have. The ones from Tuesday and today showed my lung capacity at about 150% of predicted. This isn't just unexpected, it is absolutely illogical, any way you look at it. If you assume the 150% value is inaccurate, why was it repeatable? I seriously wondered if it was a measurement error, until I duplicated it again today.

Alternately, if that is the accurate value, my lung function back in April was only half of what it should have been, and I should have been gasping for breath in the ER instead of running around after my babies. If your lung function is at 50% of your personal best, you are in *trouble* -- yet it's now that I can't walk down a hall without panting, with a lung capacity one-and-a-half times what I should have?

In the end, the allergenist called the pulmo back, and they even consulted the lung-function-test PhD again. Collectively, they threw their hands up and said to stay on the albuterol for now, because it "works". I think they're hoping it's just some really weird virus thing, and that the albuterol will see me through until it passes on its own. If that's the case, fine, great -- I certainly don't *want* there to be anything wrong with me. But if there is, I'd like to know what it is and how to fix it, instead of having the dubious satisfaction of stumping the doctors yet again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Released from hospital yesterday afternoon. Having what I think is a bad reaction to steroids, and am so weak I can barely move. Thought for a while last night I'd have to go back, but am doing a little better today.

Convalescing slowly -- I feel like I've been sick for a year -- but at least I'm home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today's update

Still here, and not likely to be released before tomorrow afternoon, or more likely Wednesday.

I had a terrible night last night, thanks to a nurse who took it upon herself to decide that I didn't need the breathing treatments the doctor had ordered and that I had asked for. I was due for a treatment and feeling short of breath, but when I paged her, she ignored me for a while. By the time she came in, I was getting a little panicky, but she announced that I was fine, that she didn't know what kind of emotional problems I had, but that I needed to stop being a baby and relax.

It deteriorated further, and it eventually wound up with them giving me Ativan and leaving me alone to "get over it", which caused me to de-saturate too much. It was a real nightmare -- they didn't so much as come in to check on me while I struggled to breathe, much less give me the appropriate amount of oxygen. It was incredibly negligent, not to mention cruel, and if anything had happened to me, would have been a huge liability issue for the hospital.

I've been given to understand that occurrence reports have been filed and disciplinary measures are being taken; while I don't want to get anyone fired, it was an awful situation, and I think the nurse involved needs to be reprimanded at the least. My doctors tore the nursing staff a few creative new orifices over it, and I've been getting regular treatments today and feeling better for them.

Now that it's no longer the weekend, my regular doctors are back, and things are moving forward with the diagnosis. I had some lung function tests done earlier this afternoon, which oddly enough looked really good. My pulmonologist now feels that perhaps the asthma is not the central problem, and he's shifting me over to ENT, thinking that it might be somewhat higher up the respiratory system, maybe vocal cord dysfunction. ENT has been in for a consult, and I'm supposed to have some unpleasant tests done tomorrow afternoon involving a tube down my nose. Oh, well, can't be too much worse than an HSG...

My biggest concern over the last day or so is that I've felt a few people have been trying to pin a panic disorder label on me, particularly after last night's incidence. Now, I've never had any kind of panic disorder, and while I freely admit I've been panicky, that's... just what happens, when you can't breathe. My pulmo was really reassuring on that point today, said it was 100% NOT IN MY HEAD, and that it was a physical problem he is sure they will eventually diagnose and fix. This is a huge, huge, huge relief to me. It's sad to say, but once you get stuck in the anxiety-neurosis box, it makes it much harder to get treatment for legitimate physical problems. I'm so thankful to have skilled doctors who don't just see a hysterical Prozac candidate.

I'm reasonably stable today, if really worn out. I'm in a better place emotionally, knowing that we're getting closer to figuring it all out, but it's all tiring and frustrating, and I'll be so glad to be home. I miss my babies so bad it hurts.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Revolving door

Apparently, the hospital has one. After Thursday night's smaller attack, they decided to keep me through Friday, as expected. I had no more major exacerbations on Friday, successfully took a few short walks, and thoroughly enjoyed a visit from my babies (who were happy to see me for about thirty seconds before becoming too interested in the hospital room). We decided to release me on Saturday morning, and by 11:30, I was on my way home.

I hadn't made it much farther than the front door before I became noticeably winded. I thought, well, it's just a lot more than I've been doing, and went into the bedroom and lay down on the bed to rest. When the breathlessness didn't abate, I hit the rescue inhaler and waited. When it grew worse, I tried to calm myself down and wait it out, but ultimately it became obvious that it was time to give up and go back.

Unfortunately, because it was Saturday afternoon, I couldn't just go back to my regular pulmonologist and let him decide to admit me. Instead, we had to go to the ER, which turned out to be a horrible experience. I'd been controlling the fear okay all the way to the hospital, but when I got to the ER, I was hyperventilating to some degree, and it had caused my hands to spasm and lock up. They put me in a room, shut the door, and left me alone while G went to go park the car, and at that point, it just got too much for me, and I got a little hysterical.

It took them hours to decide it wasn't just a panic attack -- for some reason, they kept insisting that I'd been released from the hospital two days previously, not two hours, and therefore it must not be a repeat attack, and I didn't have the breath to make them understand. Further adding to the confusion, I don't wheeze, haven't throughout this whole process, just simply don't take in as much air as I should. I wasn't doing terribly bad, once I got the panic under control -- I was moving enough air to have okay oxygen levels, but still not as much as I should have been.

Next, they decided I must have a pulmonary embolism, and that I needed a chest CT scan. Now, this is not an unrealistic thing to rule out, considering that I've been treated quite aggressively for asthma of late and still am far from well. The problem is that not only does this involve x-ray radiation, but also radioactive contrast dye. I kept trying to explain to them, again without much breath, that I might be pregnant, and that if I were it still wouldn't show on betas or HPTs. The ER resident tried to argue with me about it, asking why I didn't believe the HPT, until I asked *her* how many days past ovulation she would expect to see a detectable amount of HCG. She said 10 was about the minimum, and I said, well, there you are, and refused to have the CT scan done. The chances of this actually being a PE are not non-existent, but they're also not very high, and I can wait a couple more days to get this one done.

Eventually, they got me on enough albuterol to really start opening up my lungs again. I'm worried about how much albuterol this seems to take, at least two back-to-back treatments to start having a noticeable effect. There are some very confusing things happening here, and this is one of them. Anyway, two hours of continuous nebulizer had me able to breathe and speak normally again, and at 3 AM, just over 12 hours after arrival, they kicked me upstairs for an overnight stay.

I've had more breathing treatments this morning, including two back-to-back ones, which did seem to help me a good deal. I got up to have a much-needed shower, though, and I haven't really been able to catch my breath afterwards, so I think another one is in my near future. I'm back on the IV steroids, and the plan is to keep me on the steroids and nebulizer overnight, and then do pulmonary function testing tomorrow and let my own doctor make the call.

I am trying very hard not to think about how upsetting this all is. I've been in the hospital for all but a few of the last 96 hours, and we don't have much in the way of answers. The underlying inflammation of the asthma should have responded by now to the steroids, and I shouldn't be needing so much albuterol just to have breath enough to speak. Yet I'm not heavily de-satting, so objectively, I'm not in all that terrible a shape... as long as I stay very, very still. Getting up and moving around doesn't do me any favors.

Hopefully we will have some better answers by tomorrow.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bad joke

It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke: "Why did the blonde go to the ICU for a cold?" Unfortunately, the punchline is not very funny at all, as it seems the Perversity Goddess is determined to fuck with my life in a very serious way.

The knee is progressing along, although I'm still not completely off my crutches, but I caught a cold from the babies, and had two severe asthma attacks back-to-back -- one Wednesday night which sent me to the ER, and another one Thursday morning, which won me a scenic 12-hour tour of the ICU.

Thanks to high doses of IV steroids and enough albuterol to leave me climbing the walls, I'm out of immediate danger and have been stepped down to a regular room. I was supposed to be released in the morning, but I had another attack after getting up to take a shower. Thankfully, it was less severe and was stopped by my rescue inhaler, instead of needing an extended series of nebulizer albuterol treatments, so at least the drugs are having some effect.

However, I don't think that my doctors or I will be comfortable sending me home until we're all sure I won't be getting brought back in an ambulance. If I can't stand up for ten minutes without starting to get into trouble, I probably don't need to be that far away from help. At a guess, I'm thinking maybe tomorrow afternoon or Saturday morning is probably a more realistic option.

Right now, nobody is talking to me very much about what the future holds -- they've mostly been worried about helping me move enough air. From my talks with my doctors and my med-student brother (who has actually been a part of my care team -- he's on the ICU rotation), I can expect to go home with a pretty big dose of prednisone, and to repeat same at the first sign of upper-respiratory infections. Short-term, they all seem pretty confident that the steroids will eventually do the job and get me sorted out. There's also been some question about giving me a little bit of insulin; while I have never had the slightest sign of blood-sugar issues, even during a twin pregnancy, steroids can do bad things here. I tested high last night, although it wasn't really valid, coming half an hour after a large turkey sandwich and a sugar cookie.

However, reading between the lines, this probably isn't the last time I'll be in the hospital -- once you've had an asthma attack of this severity, you can expect to have another. I don't know what diagnostics I'll need in the days and weeks to come, but I know there will be some, and that my entire treatment plan will be revised. I'm worried about a lot of the long-term fallout: how will the steroids affect my bones (which may already be somewhat questionable, per my blood tests)? what will happen as my lung function naturally declines with age, in 10, 20, 30 years? what will happen if I get pregnant again, which can worsen asthma in some women, and how will the treatments affect an unborn baby?

There's a chance I could be in the very early days of a pregnancy right now, too early for betas or HPTs to show. If I am, there's a small possibility that the drugs could increase the baby's risk for some birth defects, although certainly less than if I keeled over. The asthma will also put me at higher risk for some complications like preterm labor, low birth weight, and pre-eclampsia. It's worrying, but then so is everything else.

Right now, I've got so many mixed emotions. Obviously, I've been terrified, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I could have died from this if I hadn't gotten prompt treatment. I had a few moments when I really did fear for my life, and my pulmonologist must have too; as soon as he walked in his office door and saw me, he literally greeted me with "I'm sending you to the ICU right now." Asthma is serious stuff, and apparently mine is a lot worse than anybody expected. Before my trip to the ER, I didn't even have a rescue inhaler, because I've never had an attack bad enough to need one -- usually, I just get pretty sick and wheezy with colds. Now, I've been instructed to never be without one, ever.

And on a minor level, it is highly aggravating to have this happen before I've even healed from my knee surgery, to not be able to maneuver my crutches very well because of my IV, to know that I'll need yet more help caring for the babies for a few more days, to spend an endless few more days in the bedroom of which I am heartily sick.

In some ways, it's almost like being diagnosed with infertility all over again. Wednesday morning, I had mild asthma which required no attention beyond twice-a-day Advair and occasional checkups. Today, I have severe asthma, and it has just become a much larger part of my life. I'll need to do more daily maintenance, such as peak-flow monitoring, and see a doctor more frequently. I can expect to take more medications, including some with systemic side effects. I'm looking at some long-term alterations in how I manage my health, and some lifelong increased risks of adverse, even fatal, events, and I can't pretend I'm not upset about this.

However, I also have some things to be grateful for. I'm profoundly glad just to be alive, and to live in a time when asthma treatment is so advanced. It is a huge relief to know that I'm in the best hospital in the state, under the care of some truly excellent physicians. I have complete confidence in their ability to do whatever can be done to diagnose and treat me. I think I'll be back to normal in a few days, even if it is a new and more precarious normal.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Spin me right round

It seems that last month's ovulatory cycle was not, in fact, a fluke.

After having my first spontaneous period ever, I tried really hard not to get my hopes up that it would happen again. I think that, for once, I actually did a pretty decent job of it. When two weeks came and went without any sign of ovarian activity, I ignored it (helped, no doubt, by regular doses of painkillers). As the third passed, I figured it wasn't going to happen this month, but sighed and went on with my life.

Of course, you can all guess that this is the part where my old friend the Perversity Goddess comes round for a visit. No sooner had I written it off than lo, came the EWCM, and I had to reassess. I ran out of OPKs somewhere along the line, and didn't want to ask my mom to buy me more (she's been doing all our grocery shopping), so I haven't been really tracking hard.

(And why I minded asking my mom for OPKs, when she was professionally involved in every part of our IUI cycle, I don't know. She drew my blood for my beta, chaperoned ultrasounds, and is fully aware that we're TTC, yet I didn't want to ask her to buy pee-sticks. I am a logician for the ages, sometimes.)

However, if I had to guess, I'd say the ovulation thing probably worked. If I'm lucky, I'll get to pee on another stick in two weeks (oh, who are we kidding, ten days max, if I can hold out that long). If I'm unbelievably, insanely lucky, it might even tell me something good, at which point I will go straight to the casinos while fortune favors the bold. After that, I think I'd probably have to turn in my official Registered Infertile card, but y'know, I'm okay with that.

I get to be normal. I get to try, just like a normal girl, without a single 18-gauge needle in the house, with Schrodinger's ovaries ticking along sight-unseen. And because I am not naive about this, I know that maybe I get to try, and try a couple times more, and then a year has gone by and we're making that phone call again.

That's okay, though. I won't like it, but it won't hurt me like the failure to cycle at all did, not for a while, and not ever quite the same desperate way. This time I get to get on the merry-go-round, and I'll worry about spinning in circles later.

Friday, September 28, 2007


So, in the last week or so, we've officially gotten first words around here. Prior to now, we've gotten the odd "mama" and "dada" for months now, but it's been inconsistent, and I haven't always been sure it applied specifically to us. I had actually been beginning to worry that this was a sign my babies were not in fact budding super-geniuses, but thankfully, they've decided to appease me.

I don't know that I've talked much about their personalities, but as anyone who knows us in real life can tell you, they're so strikingly different that you wouldn't guess them to be twins.

Claire, the older twin and the smaller one, is so incredibly busy and inquisitive. She wants to get into everything and to do everything, and is extremely strong-willed and focused on whatever it is she's doing. She is assertive and self-assured, not to mention impish, the type of child that strangers smile at in the grocery store and say, oh, I bet she's a handful. And she is -- not in a bad way, but she definitely requires a lot active and involved parenting. She is sometimes exhausting, but she is also a very engaging child, and it's fascinating to watch her learn about the world.

As for Katherine, a friend of mine told us when she was ten days old that "there's just such an incredible sweetness to her", and nothing in the subsequent year has made me question that. She is more quiet than Claire, and by nature is easy-going and laid back. She is a sharer, and will happily give you any illicit treasure rather than try to run away and then cry when it's taken, as her sister does. She loves to pet the puppies (our three standard poodles), and will often just lie down and snuggle with them, whereas Claire wants to throw the ball for them to chase. If she's content with what she's doing, she doesn't feel the need to get into everything like Claire, who will immediately make a beeline for the open baby gate or the dropped remote control or the carelessly-set-down glass. Being Katherine's mother is an easy job, and a rewarding one filled with the baby hugs and kisses Claire doesn't always have time to hand out.

In view of all that, you won't be surprised to hear that Katherine's first deliberate word is "dog" -- well, really "dah!" but there's no mistaking what she means when she points and says "dah! dah! dah!" at any dog who approaches.

As for Claire, I think it tells you all you need to know about her when I tell you that her first word was, clear as a bell and impeccably-timed as she knocked over my crutches...

.... "uh-oh!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How weaning happened

As I mentioned earlier, the babies are now officially weaned. I've had a couple people ask me in other contexts how that went, so I thought I'd talk about it for all of you.

We had always intended to wean at approximately one year. Originally, I really, really wanted to make it to six months, and then to a year if I could. However, we didn't really want to go much beyond that, for several reasons.

One, the idea of toddler nursing didn't really appeal to me, and especially to my husband. Two, we knew we wanted another baby, and with my HA, it would be necessary to wean partially or completely to see if my cycle would return. Three, there is a lot more social pressure put on extended nursing mothers, and I knew I'd get it from family and some acquaintances. I couldn't have cared less in the first year, but when the babies are getting most of their sustenance from solids anyway, the cost-benefit analysis shifts.

I might have dragged the weaning process out somewhat longer if it hadn't been for the surgery, though. Once we got down to two sessions a day, my nursing relationship with the girls really shifted, and in a way I actually enjoyed. It became less about getting them fed and more about it being their special snuggle time with Mama, especially as they are rapidly becoming too busy to cuddle much. I miss this very much, especially the bedtime nursing, and have been tempted to start again on several occasions. Had the surgery not happened, we might have kept this up for another two or three months.

However, the surgery did happen, and it was a convenient fixed-date goal. To be clear, there was no medical imperative that I wean. They could have taken bottles the night I was gone and returned to nursing afterwards. Pain medication would have been something of an issue; I'm not one to generally fret too much about medicine in my milk, but I was taking a LOT of oxycodone for several days there (and am still on hydrocodone two weeks out). However, I could have worked that out with the pump, or with proper medication timing. The biggest issue was that, as my previous surgery showed me, it's really hard to nurse when you've got a hurting and immobilized knee, and when you're drugged and groggy and just want to sleep. As painful as this ACL repair has been, I've been glad I didn't have to nurse them.

We started the weaning process about a month out from the surgery. At this point, they were nursing four times a day (morning, evening, and after two naps), and eating three solid meals. They were not in the habit of snack-nursing or night-waking, although I did sometimes comfort-nurse if a baby was particularly upset. It definitely made weaning easier, that they were already on a somewhat predictable schedule. If you're thinking about weaning and have a grazer, I would recommend that you shift your nursling to a more consolidated pattern as the first step.

The first feeding to go was one of the post-nap feedings. They had been trying to shift to one nap anyway, so encouraging that let me drop one feeding pretty easily. After a week, I dropped the other post-nap feeding, and replaced it with a sippy cup of cow's milk and a graham cracker, which they love ten times more than nursing.

The next week, we dropped the morning nursing, and started taking them straight to their high chairs for breakfast when they woke. This was the one I struggled with, because it meant I had to get out of bed and feed them breakfast instead of catching a few extra minutes of nursing napping! I still miss this one, and I often snuggle with them in bed for a couple minutes while they wake all the way up.

The final nursing to go was the bedtime nursing. I wish I could say I had a well-thought-out strategy for dealing with this one, but I didn't. The last night nursing was the night before my surgery, and after that, I just wasn't available at bedtimes, and let my mom and my husband figure out how to get them to bed.

For the most part, the girls really didn't even seem to notice that I was weaning them. They were somewhat distressed the week following complete weaning, but between the teething and the weaning and the general upheaval, it's hard to say how much was due to any one cause. They don't really pull at my shirt or root around much, with one exception: when they hurt themselves and are very upset, it's clear they want to nurse to make it better. They accept their fingers/thumbs as substitutes, but I still feel a little twinge about denying them.

Because I am prone to plugged ducts, we tried to do everything slowly, dropping one feeding a week. However, I still suffered from terrible plugged ducts, to the point that my entire breasts were rock-hard masses of lumps. Fortunately, this did not turn into actual mastitis, but it was quite uncomfortable, and I was often glad I was already on painkillers.

Two weeks later, the plugged ducts have finally pretty much resolved, but I still have milk ready and waiting at the slightest provocation. I think this is partly due to my hypothalamic amenorrhea -- my hypothalamic/pituitary axis has never been very good at downregulating prolactin, and I've struggled with oversupply. I'm waiting to see if this resolves, but if I still have milk at my yearly exam in November, we will check prolactin and discuss.

As I posted previously, I did actually ovulate and have a spontaneous period toward the end of the weaning process, albeit with minor luteal phase disturbance. I have not ovulated, or shown any signs of it, so far this cycle, which is somewhat disappointing. However, this could easily be chalked up to the surgery, so I'm not getting too upset about it. Obviously, I will have to wait a couple months and see how things shake out, but I'm not ready to declare my ovulatory issues to be resolved just yet.

So, that's the end of our nursing story. Overall, I'm very proud of myself for having stuck it out for a year, and I think it was a worthwhile achievement. I'm somewhat sad that it's over, but I hope I'll have the chance to nurse more babies someday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh, for crying out loud

Did y'all see that an Australian IVF patient is suing her doctor because she had twins?

Apparently, the woman in question had requested a single-embryo transfer, the doctor mistakenly put two back, and she had non-identical twins. She considered putting one up for adoption(!), but decided instead to sue him for the cost of raising one of the babies.

This, to me, is just the height of idiocy. Yes, the doctor screwed up, but a) accidents happen; and b) multiples are a fact of life in infertility. Nobody can promise you that there's always just a single follicle, or that the embryo won't split into identical twins(as IVF embryos appear slightly more likely to do). I'm quite sure the woman signed consent forms to that effect somewhere along the way. She darn sure signed them for the IUI procedures she'd had done previously.

If she'd gotten pregnant with IUI twins, or IVF identical twins, the outcome would have been the same. She'd have suffered the physical difficulties of a twin pregnancy, the potential prematurity issues, and the costs of equipping and raising two babies. She accepted those risks, which can't be blamed on anyone else, and it's hard not to escape the conclusion that she's only suing the doctor because she can.

I know it's hard to have a twin pregnancy, to birth two, to equip a nursery, to nurse and comfort and take care of two tiny babies. However, as they grow, I've also discovered the joys of twins -- the way they entertain each other, the "sharing game" they play, the way they elevate my husband to parenting equality rather than being the secondary parent. It requires more work and more money, but I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Admittedly, my pregnancy was not as bad as it could have been, and my babies have been very easy for twins. Still, I find it hard to see what they're so upset about. They don't appear to have had prematurity issues, or any maternal issues beyond bedrest and postpartum depression. I can name five women off my blogroll who have had worse stories than theirs, from a medical standpoint. As for the costs of raising twins, well, I equipped a nursery -- nicely enough that it got photographed in our local paper -- bought a bigger vehicle, quit my well-paying job, and am contemplating buying a larger home. We are not independently wealthy, but somehow we've managed to do all that without landing in the poorhouse. So yes, I find it really hard to muster up any tea and sympathy for them.

I accepted the potential dangers and unpleasantnesses of having two, and judged it a fair trade-off for being able to have any baby. When the grocery-store ladies tell me I've got my hands full, I often respond, "Better full than empty!" And that's how I really feel. Yes, I believe that singleton pregnancies are a better outcome for infertility treatment. However, given the current fiscal and technical realities of IVF and IUI, that's just not always how it works, and multiples are the risk you have to accept. Ultimately, I think it's better that we have multiples than that we have no baby at all.

Whatever you think about the people who have high-order multiples and don't selectively reduce, at least all of their children know that they were wanted. I also think it says something that there hasn't been a lawsuit (that I've heard of) where the clinic gets sued by parents of high-order multiples, who have endured much greater financial, physical, and emotional costs than someone who "just" has twins.

What kind of message will this one day send to her babies, that she didn't want one of them? They won't know which was the unwanted twin, so each will assume it was herself (or, during spats, the other). They'll know that their mom seriously considered giving one of them away, or perhaps selectively reducing one of them (though the article doesn't mention this, I'm assuming that it was probably discussed if adoption was). Their twin bond, and the joys of having a sister, will be the things their mother didn't want them to have. How will that make them feel?

I try not to judge other people's choices, but this makes me angry. This couple chose to do ART, understanding that it carries a risk of multiples. They got a "good" health outcome with their multiples, and have a family that many women would kill for. Now they're suing the doctor, and saying things in court that their children will eventually hear and never forget. I hope that the $400K they're asking for is worth it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Separation anxiety

This has been a week of separations for us all.

First of all, the girls started Mother's Morning Out at a local church last Wednesday. When I dropped them off, there were tears, but none of them came from the babies. I've left them with sitters before, and at the church and gym nurseries, but somehow, it's different when they go to "school".

I think I've mentioned that I quit my job after they were born and went back to freelancing. My workload has increased over the last month or so, enough that I now have a sitter who comes for three hours a day after school, and then the two mornings of MMO. Honestly, it's more time than I really want to be working, but when you freelance, it tends to be feast-or-famine. I just wish it didn't come at the expense of time spent with the girls.

The second major separation was the end of nursing. I've been gradually weaning them for about a month, dropping one feeding every week. Monday night, the night before my surgery, was the last night they nursed before bed, and now we're done. They don't seem to have taken it too hard, overall -- they're a little off-kilter, but I think that's because there have been so many changes in their bedtime routine. It's been hard for me, though.

I worked so hard to be able to exclusively nurse them, put so much time and energy and pain into it. I'm delighted I was able to nurse them for a full year, and overall, it was the right time to stop for our family. They are still young enough to adapt to the change easily, we're ready to hope for a third baby, and frankly, there is something appealing about having my body back to myself again, after nearly two years of pregnancy and nursing. Still, it's made me sad, because it's one more milestone of growing-up, and because I loved the closeness of it.

Oh, and speaking of that third baby -- it worked! I got my period! Ten days after ovulation, so still some luteal phase disturbance, but nothing worth throwing stones at. I feel like the Velveteen Rabbit, like I've suddenly become Real after so much desperate longing. It's only the first step in getting pregnant again, but it's more than I have ever been able to do by myself before. As soon as my knee is sufficiently healed, we'll start trying to get pregnant, and I am so very excited about actually being able to try this time!

The final separation of the week was the night I spent in the hospital Tuesday, after my ACL replacement surgery. As it turned out, once they put me to sleep, they were able to test and discover that my partially torn ACL was only hanging on by a thread, and that it was completely useless at holding my knee together. This wasn't exactly a surprise, given the trouble I'd been having with it, and it did come as a relief that they decided to replace the ligament, so I can recover and move on.

However, the surgery has been no joke. I've had two knee surgeries already, but both of those were for cartilage damage, and I really wasn't prepared for how painful this would be. They actually drill small holes in your leg bones to anchor the new ligament, and this hurts just about as much as you'd think. They recommend an overnight hospital stay for pain management; I was hoping to be able to tough it out and go home, but when I woke up from the surgery, that clearly wasn't even an option. I went home yesterday morning, desperate to see my babies, but there have been some points over the last 24 hours where I've thought that perhaps I should have stayed a second night, because the Percocet just wasn't cutting it.

I am finally moving around a bit more this afternoon, and have managed to stretch out my Percocet doses to the recommended 4 hours, rather than popping two of them every 3 hours. I'll start physical therapy in the morning, which will mainly involve managing the swelling and working on getting motion back into the joint. I'm looking at four weeks of no weight bearing, and two weeks of partial weight bearing after that, which is a damned long time when you have small children. I can't pick a baby up and go anywhere with her, so I'll have to have friends and family stay with me all the time.

It's a big hassle, but I'm still glad I went ahead and had the surgery. I'm glad to know I wasn't making a huge fuss about nothing, and that it turned out to be a surgically correctable problem. I'm relieved that I will someday have a normal knee again, and that I won't have to worry about falling and dropping a baby, or damaging it worse in a future pregnancy. I will theoretically be walking again by the advent of the holiday season, and I have high hopes that this will be the first Christmas in several years where G doesn't have to do the shopping while I am sidelined by health issues.

Overall, things are working out the way I've hoped they will, with the childcare and the nursing and the knee. It's just that the process is tough, sometimes!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

31,536,000 seconds

31-million-odd seconds ago, my daughters emerged into the bright lights, Claire quietly and Katherine with an angry wail. It was, without a doubt, the best day of my entire life.

How that squares up with the fact that each day is better than the next with them, I'm not sure, but you'll just have to take my word for it. I won't pretend that every one of those 31.5 million seconds has been wonderful, but the couple thousand that sucked are vastly outweighed by the joyful remainder.

I have been looking at their newborn pictures today, as you might have guessed, and I'm struck by how different and yet how similar they look now. When I was pregnant, I had no picture in my head of how each baby would look; and then when they were born, I couldn't imagine what they would look like as toddlers. Now that they are toddlers, it's the most self-evident thing in the world that of course they would look like they do now, and yet I can't extrapolate to their two-year-old selves. I have a feeling, though, I'll find out sooner than I can conceive.

When you're pregnant, or have a tiny baby, everyone tells you how fast it goes by, and you shrug your shoulders and say, yes, I know it will. Still, you don't really know what they mean, until one day you look up and it is their first birthday, and your babies have been replaced with two little people who are crawling and walking and going to Mother's Morning Out and playing pattycake and eating grilled cheese sandwiches.

Happy birthday, my darling girls, my Claire-bear and my Kitten. Your father and I love you more than you will be able to imagine for many years to come. We have been richly blessed in each of you, and in the pair of you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My tiny vampire

When the girls were undergoing the growth spurts that all tiny babies do, I called them my tiny vampires. It sure felt like they were sucking the life right out of me, on those days when they nursed ten or twelve times apiece, or for hours at a stretch. I watched the weight fall off me, and looked at my still-anemically-pale skin, and realized just how much energy it really takes to nourish two other human beings.

Those days are firmly in the past, now. The girls are still growing fast -- Claire is 17.10 and Katherine is 19.4 -- but we are down to morning/evening nursing only, and in two weeks or so, they'll be done. I haven't seen the tiny vampires in quite some time, and I didn't think I ever would have reason to call them that again.

Yesterday, Claire was having a very bad day indeed. She has a cold, as does Katherine, and is snotty and cranky and feverish. She wanted neither to be held or to be put down, or to do anything (as far as I could tell) other than sit in my lap, fling her head backward, and scream.

So, I happened to look down into her mouth one of those times, and got a good view of her top gums for the first time in a while. I then thought, hmmm, I wonder if she has thrush again, because look at those two white dots on her gums....

Of course she doesn't have thrush. She has two teeth, to be exact, coming in on the top rather than on the bottom as most babies' do. Better still, they don't appear to be her front two teeth. No, those little dots are definitely skewed off to the side.

Her canine teeth are going to come in before her front teeth do. My precious little baby isn't getting teeth, she's sprouting FANGS.

I guess I know what I'll be dressing her as for Halloween.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Monkeys and their uncles

Well, knock me over with a feather. The day after my last post, there was a line on the OPK -- faint, but visible without squinting. Yesterday and today, the line is darker; it's not necessarily as dark as the control line, but it isn't too much off.

(By the way, I intend to make my fortune by inventing OPKs that have some damn numbers on them, instead of forcing you to play the how-dark-is-it game.)

There is saliva ferning, there is EWCM, and there is some kind of crampy, twinge-y activity going on in there. Combine that with the positive-ish OPKs, and I can only conclude that this ovulation thing might actually be working. To say I'm pleased would be putting it mildly -- I'm totally stoked about it, y'all.

We don't intend to, y'know, *try* this month, since if we did conceive, it would put me at about four weeks pregnant precisely at the time of my knee surgery. That's a bad idea, because the surgery would be canceled if I had a positive test, or (worse) I might be too early to test positive.

I've always felt a little bit bad about subjecting Claire and Katherine to substantial doses of narcotics during the OHSS, and I'm not about to possibly put another embryo through that if I can avoid it. I'd really like to get the surgery accomplished before getting pregnant again, so that I can face pregnancy and the newborn stage without a knee that hurts on the time or randomly makes me fall down. So what with the surgery and the recovery, it's doubtful we'll actively attempt to get pregnant until later in the fall.

Nor is it a foregone conclusion that everything's going to be OK, just yet. I could ovulate irregularly, or have luteal phase issues, and sometimes it just plain takes people a while even when everything seems to be working OK. So I'm not about to book the OB/GYN now for a delivery sometime next summer, or spend the money I've mentally booked for IF on that Bernina sewing machine I covet.

Still, it is major, major progress. As far as we know, this may be the first time I've ever spontaneously ovulated in my life, and it's definitely a good thing!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Over the last year or so, I've come to decide that Nico is my Period Twin. We both had HA, got pregnant within a month of each other, gave birth within a week of each other, and have recently been in the weaning process, wondering if and when our cycles might resume.

Warning: if you don't want to know anything more about my girly bits, stop reading now.

Lately, Nico has had some symptoms that indicated she might have an answer to that most interesting question, and in that last week, I've had cause to do the same. I don't temp, because I've found it to be unreliable as well as annoying, but I do keep half an eye out for some of the other fertility signs. To an extent, this feels like keeping an eye out for the sudden appearance of unicorns; even on the estrogen overdose cycle, and on the cycle in which I got pregnant, I never really had much in the way of CM, and nothing else except for random homicidal impulses.

Lately, though, there has been something that looks very much to my uneducated eye like EWCM. Of course, the very first thing I did was to drag out my ovulation microscope, and for the first time in my life, I actually saw some minor evidence of ferning. So I trotted myself down to Walgreens and bought a 20-pack of OPKs, excited by the possibility that my body might be working like a real live girl.

I think I shouldn't pee on any more sticks, of any kind, because it is bad for the soul. Five out of five days, I have managed to produce a line that's only visible with the assistance of an electron microscope. The CM dried up and went away, the crampy feelings I've been having disappeared completely, and there is nary a saliva fern to be seen.

Frankly, I'm not really sure what to think about all this. I can't help but conclude that there was some kind of ovarian activity taking place -- there was certainly some estrogen coming from somewhere, and that's encouraging. On the other hand, it seems to have fizzled right out, which argues that the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is not entirely with the program. I have progressed much farther toward weaning lately (we are nursing 2-3 times per day), so maybe completely weaning will make a difference. Alternately, maybe they are already weaned enough that this is as good as it's going to get.

This week's project is to drop the post-nap nurse, and get down to morning-night nursing only. After that, we'll probably take a couple more weeks to drop those two, at which point we'll see if I cycle naturally in the next three months. One of three things will happen: I'll start ovulating, in which case there will be puppies and rainbows and baby dust; I'll completely fail to do anything, in which case there will be wine and eventually a visit to the RE; or I'll cycle irregularly, in which case who knows.

Every time I don't ovulate, or have a negative pregnancy test, feels like a failure. I don't know how it feels to legitimately try for cycle after cycle, because I never got far enough on my own, but I can't imagine it's fun. Combining the two by waiting out a year of irregular cycles, well, that sounds rotten. I would like very much to get pregnant again, have another baby, go on hormone therapy, and forget about this entire chapter of my life. If we threw ourselves right back into treatment, that's just that much sooner we'd either be pregnant or be done, and either way there would be some relief.

G wants to be patient, and see if it happens naturally. That is easy for him to say, because he isn't the one who is broken. If I do cycle again on a quasi-regular basis, I think I'll be OK with trying to wait it out, because I do think that I have a reasonable chance at a pregnancy if I can just get the ovulation thing happening.

I wish I knew what was going to happen, and I wish I could just stop thinking about it until it does.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Today's milestone: TiVo

Claire just demonstrated her ability to properly work a remote control....

... by recording Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo.

I'm so proud.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Letters to my non-readers

Dear realtor who was supposed to show my house the other day,

Next time, cancel your showing as soon as your buyer cancels on you, instead of forgetting to tell me until I call you 10 minutes before the showing. By that point, I had already carted the babies out in the hundred-plus-degree heat, locked the dogs up in the very hot garage, and left the house, not to mention all the work of prepping the house for showing. That's a lot of unnecessary work you put me through.

Karma is a bitch, and I sincerely hope it comes back to bite you in the ass.


Dear client who canceled five minutes *after* the showing time,

That goes for you too. I won't say anything too rude, because I still want you to buy my house, but it's not the nicest thing you could have done to me. It's really hot outside, and I didn't particularly want to get the girls out. I also had other things to do during the day besides getting the house ready to show. I keep the house pretty clean on a daily basis, but I still have to spend an hour or two sweeping and mopping and picking up after the girls, and I'd have been just as happy to skip that.


Dear client-who-canceled-above, and then pulled a no-show for her rescheduled appointment,

Up yours.

If you have any trouble with that, let me know. I have a pair of pointy-toed boots at my disposal, and I'll be happy to assist you in any way I can.


Dear ACL in my left knee,

I know we've been together for thirty years now, but you just don't hold me together like you used to, and it's time for us to part ways. On September 11, I'll be trading you in for a new model. Well, OK, a used cadaver-graft model, but it is still going to work better than you do. You've changed, what with all the partial tears you've been through, and you're just not what I need any more. I wish you all the best, and hope you have a really nice trip to the medical waste incinerator.


Dear dogs,

Yes, I know it's very cute that the girls have learned to share food with you. I totally agree that you are all fairly thin and could use a little fattening-up, and I know that Cheerios and gently-used turkey burger taste better than kibble.

Nonetheless, do you think you could possibly refrain from swarming the high chairs like a school of sharks awaiting chum? And possibly, could you even wait until the food drops to the floor, rather than still being in the babies' hands?


Dear Molly the diaper-eating wonder poodle,

Please don't interpret the above to mean that it's OK to wait to eat the food until it has been digested and excreted by the babies.

I already have a poodle throw blanket in my living room. If you steal and destroy another poopy diaper in the middle of my bed, I will make myself a matching rug.


Dear air conditioner,

It is so hot here that the pavement on the roads is buckling, and people are literally dying from the heat. I know you thought it would be a really cute idea to leak out all your freon and stop working last week, but let me assure you, it was not cute at all. No, not even the tiniest little bit.


Dear fire ant nest outside the bedroom window,

Wondering where those missing worker ants were, the ones you sent out to forage for food or water? Well, they crawled into the house, and unbeknownst to me, up into one of the babies' damp towels hanging on the end of the changing table. When G gave Claire a towel to play with during a diaper change, she immediately started screaming. She has about ten fire ant bites all over her neck and chest, and we felt just awful. G smooshed all of the ants on Claire, and I vacuumed up the rest.

I hope you enjoyed the nice dose of fire ant poison I sprinkled all over your mound. Rot in hell, you stupid baby-biting fire ants.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three steps

Tempted by her Nana's Coke can, Claire took three tentative steps across the floor tonight, sat down, then did it again, and again. I cried, we all clapped, and Claire just looked confused at all the hullabaloo.

She's been on the verge of walking for weeks now, and I'd told Greg only last night that I thought it would happen this week. Once she learned how to push up into a stand, we knew it couldn't be long. She had all the skills, and it was just a question of convincing her that she should start putting one foot in front of the other.

Tonight, it all came together, and my Claire-baby is now officially a toddler. *sniff* Katherine's not standing independently yet, so I'll have one baby for another few weeks, but they are growing up very fast indeed.

Oh, and it's official, Claire still didn't get her first tooth by the time she learned to walk. At 11.5 months, there's still no sign of teeth for either baby. This hasn't hurt my feelings too much, since it simplifies breastfeeding dramatically, but it's still a bit weird to have a toddler (!) with no teeth.