The Ultimate Parents-to-Be Playlist explained

As described in my earlier post about how my husband and I have always exchanged tapes to commemorate special events, I managed to come up with a unique list that I thought both he and I would appreciate.  A nice mix of his music tastes and mine, as if, appropriately, our tastes had a baby.  Or, as Jeff Tweedy sings in Wilco’s puzzling “Muzzle of Bees,” “Half of it’s you, half of it’s me.”

1. “The Times They Are A-Changing” by Bob Dylan.  I can’t imagine there being something that happens in your life that will change it quite as much as having a child does, or so everyone seems to lead me to believe.

2. “F.N.T.” by Semisonic.  The title of this one refers to the chorus, Fascinating New Thing (not unlike the “P.Y.T.” of Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing).  These guys from the 90s, most famous for their follow-up single, “Closing Time,” tell the F.N.T. “I’m surprised that you’ve never been told before that you’re lovely, that you’re perfect, and that somebody wants you.”  And what’s more fascinating than a new baby?

3. “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child.  This song was the inspiration for the entire playlist.  Early on I really struggled with having a new body, and one which I really can no longer control.  “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly,” spoke both to me seriously and playfully to my husband.  If I can’t fight it, I might as well embrace a new bootylicious bod!

4. “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble.  I think this would probably be the most obvious choice of all the songs on this list.  I have to believe that he’s speaking to his future child when he says, “I promise you, kid, I’ll give so much more than I’ll get,” and not his future wife – because otherwise I’d have to believe it was written in the 1950s when white men were the only ones who held human capital.

5. “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III.  The two best things to come out of the movie Knocked Up: the ending credits and this song.

6. “Birdhouse in Your Soul” by They Might Be Giants.  I seem to remember my husband once saying he liked TMBG in high school, and this song in particular.  When I listened to it again it made me think of the process you go through wondering if you’ll ever have room to love someone else as much as you love your significant other.  Who really knows what “blue canary in the alley by the lightswitch” means?  But “Who watches over you?”  Yeah, that’s me.

7. “Born at the Right Time” by Paul Simon.  Just about the only folk singer from the 70s I can stand is Joni Mitchell.  Seriously.  James Taylor, Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkel…  blech.  I’m more of the late 60s/early 70s rock fan myself.  But again, this playlist was intended for not only my husband but for general audiences, and sometimes you have to compromise.  I stumbled upon this one (thanks, Google!) and it actually made me cry, and became an earworm.  Although it still always makes me think he’s talking about Moses for some reason.

8. “I Miss  You” by Bjork.  If he can have a song he loved from high school, then so can I.  Going through old cassette tapes as we cleaned out the house I found a recording of this gem.  Another play on the theme of all those hopes and dreams you have while you’re waiting for them to actually happen.  “I miss you but I haven’t met you yet.  I remember but it hasn’t happened yet.”

9. “Stay Up Late” by Talking Heads.  Another Google find.  Talking Heads, again not one of my favorites, but one of those weird bands the husband listens to every now and then.  (I swear I will never understand his taste in music).  This is kind of funny? Ironic? Twisted?  The baby’s so cute I just want to make him stay up late...  I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around, buddy.

10. “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon.  Since at the time of the playlist creation we didn’t know the gender, I wanted to make sure we gave equal opportunity for the sexes.  You couldn’t have a parent-to-be playlist without this classic.

11. “Getting to Know You” by Della Reese.  The King and I was one of my favorite movies growing up watching my grandmother’s Turner Classic Movies network.  This version keeps the optimism of the original musical recording but without the length and weight.

12. “What’s the World Got in Store” by Wilco.  This was the only sure bet for a song and the song which inspired me to create the entire playlist.  While on the plane returning from vacation at the end of June, my husband popped one earbud into my ear and said, “This one goes out to my little friend.”  I immediately teared up and couldn’t get through the whole song – since I didn’t want to look like an idiot on the plane.  One month later I requested they play this song for us – and they did.  They then played “Muzzle of Bees.”

So there you have it!  What would you have chosen for your playlist?

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A playlist for parents-to-be

Really, one of these days I’ll turn my attention back to infertility!

When my husband and I were first dating, we engaged in a two-year long-distant relationship where we talked daily but saw each other maybe once or twice a month on the weekends.  We often sent packages to each other of sentimental items or handmade trinkets, including the then-modern version of the mix tape, a mix CD.  The mix CD continued into our marriage, commemorating big moments in our lives with a special soundtrack one of us would surprise the other with – our first vacation, a solo trip for a work conference, a road trip weekend.  But I’m afraid the mix CD has gone the way of the mix tape, and I’m out to make a playlist for my husband and I to enjoy this new adventure.  I’ve thought of a few songs but I’d like to crowdsource and ask you what songs you think should be on it!  Funny songs, upbeat songs, sentimental songs…  leave your suggestions in the form below or email them to me at expectanthope@gmail.com, and check back in a few weeks to see what I’ve come up with!

You knew this was coming

This is not my first mother’s day as an infertilite; it’s just the first one that I’m not naïve to my infertility.  All the other ones passed by just fine, happily celebrating my own mother and grandmother, and always thinking in the back of my mind, “Maybe by next year…”  But there never was a “next year.”

So this is the first one that I’m a little worried about.  And, at least all the Resolve.org and other infertility tweets this past week have all be filling me with a little trepidation – that, uh oh, this is a really tough time of year.  You’re probably going to get depressed and wallow in misery, so have your plan prepared now.  I didn’t realize a simple holiday could bring with it warnings of apocalypse; it’s not like we don’t all know there is a Mother’s Day – but we don’t always know when strangers are going to be rude.

Given all these prophesies, I’m a little worried that a switch will go off in my head that will immediately render me depressed, unable to leave the couch, desiring a bag of Tostitos chips and a jar of salsa con queso.  I read what all the websites say about how you should have a contingency plan in place for what to say to people, or to treat yourself extra special, or to keep in touch with your feelings and do whatever the hell you feel like doing.  I’m not sure all of that is really sound advice, and could be very detrimental to someone’s healing process I could imagine.  When you counsel someone suffering from depression, you don’t tell them “Yes, stay in bed all day if that’s what you need.  Don’t make the effort to talk to anyone.”  If that was a valid treatment for depression, would we need pharmaceuticals to make us do the things you really don’t want to do? Right.

What is an infertilite who’s okay with being an infertilite to do?  If I don’t feel twinges of pain and depression in a way that’s going to make me want to hide in a cave all day.  Don’t get me wrong – I still get the jealousy of the excitement certain family members display over friends and family making their announcements of arrivals.  I make slightly bitter jokes about never going to see What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Movie (which is probably just as predictable and unrevealing about pregnancy as the book is – just guessing).  But does not feeling sad about Mother’s Day (and not being one) make me abnormal?  Shouldn’t we also be recognizing that while there are infertilites who are truly suffering on the day (perhaps after a miscarriage, an adoption process taking too long, or emptied wallets from ARTs that didn’t work), there are also infertilites who are making peace with it – and that’s okay too?

Therefore, for all those out there who don’t want to give any one highly commercialized holiday that much power over how they define their emotions about infertility, a declaration:

“This Mother’s Day I will value the life that I have been given and all the wonderful people in it.  I will honor my own limits in celebrating the day with others.  I have the strength I need because I am a woman – a whole, confident, beautiful woman.”

Ladies, not being a ‘mother’ does not make you less of a woman.

This is your body on Clomid

About two weeks after taking Clomid – your midcycle, about the time you ovulate – your body starts rebelling against you in cruel and unusual ways.  My symptoms have ranged from bloating to cravings to painful intercourse, and the severity lessens the more cycles you do.  I have done 4 cycles of 50mg clomiphene citrate, and I am on the 3rd cycle of 100 mg.  (Apparently my body didn’t really ovulate during the 50mg cycles, according to my OB/GYN, though given the bloating and pain I experienced you could have fooled me!).  During my very first cycle, I thought I was having kidney stones I had so much pain in my lower abdomen.  I could barely sit down, stand, or move.  Going to the bathroom was extremely painful.  And it wasn’t gastrointestinal pain – it was far deeper than that.  It was awful, and it makes you not want to move for days.  The pain disappears in about a week, and with every cycle it isn’t quite so bad as your body gets used to it.  But still, it’s enough to make me wonder how much more patience I can have in being uncomfortable in my own body.

My abdomen becomes very bloated from mid-cycle through the onset of menstruation.  My pants don’t fit as they usually do, and I look like I’ve gain about 10-15 pounds in my midsection, though I may not be eating anything more.  I try to do yoga as much as possible during this time, since I’ve read that vigorous exercise could twist your tubes and disrupt your ovaries in this state.  But it isn’t enough to make me feel like my normal, skinny self again.  In fact, I won’t feel normal and fit into my skinny clothes again until the onset of menstruation.

In short, I go through two weeks of bloating, a few days of extreme abdominal/pelvic discomfort and in some cases pain, topped off with two weeks of self-loathing.  And lately, after over half a year of this emotional and physical roller coaster, the two-week wait is a pessimist and uncomfortable march to the inevitable.  I try to be positive – I exercise, I meditate, I pray – but somewhere deep inside I’m not convinced this month is the month.  Not since I got overly excited a year ago and bought the onesies have I had true, honest, authentic, and trusting hope.

Blessed are the barren

It’s Ash Wednesday and with Lent approaching I’m feeling a little repentant.  I’m thinking of confessing my sins and trying to establish a tabula rasa. I want to find meaning in why my path is not as direct as, well, everyone else’s.  In my attempt to think this through and figure out what I am meant to do in life, I began to realize that in my quest to getting to someone that I think I should be (aka: a mother) I lost sight of who I was.  In my paranoia of taking every precaution to get pregnant, I’ve all but abandoned my exercise routine.  Now in the nicer weather I ache to go for a run outside, as much as I ache to start a family.  I know it sounds simple but it came as a big realization to me.  Who was that woman?  Where has she gone?  To get back to where I’m meant to be – to be in that place where I can trust that things are as they should be – I will need to get back to my old self.  The self that made time for exercise regularly.  The self that felt good about herself.  The self that didn’t beat herself up for everything she didn’t have, but instead was thankful for all the wonderful things she does have.  The self that didn’t dread speaking to her family, knowing how that conversation will lead to details about a relative’s pregnancy.  The self that didn’t mind sending her niece back with her parents after a sleepover.

This is your brain on Clomid

You know how you get those printouts at the pharmacy with your prescription that tells you all about your side effects?  You know how they say mental or mood disturbances are an extremely rare side effect?  Yeah, me too.

Don’t believe it.

Every woman I’ve talked to who has taken clomid (and for the record I am on generic clomiphene citrate) had warned me about the mood side effects.  Wild mood swings and depression were the chief complaints.  I didn’t believe them, because when I took the medication I didn’t feel anything.  It felt a lot like a sugar pill to me, with the lack of immediate side effects – compared to other medications which tend to make you feel woozy, drowsy, hyper, relaxed – in other words, make you feel something.  But when I started my first round of 50mg clomiphene citrate and I didn’t feel any differently – and didn’t notice any change in how I was thinking – I believed I had escaped that side effect.

In fact, it wasn’t until the second round of clomid that I began to realize, “Hey, this isn’t me.  This isn’t normal.”  Having suffered through depression on and off through my teens and 20s, I thought I’d be able to recognize the signs.  I was entirely fooled, until I started taking cheap shots at my husband and realized, “Stop! What did I just do?  And why?”  The worst thing was, acting so bitchy felt entirely natural to me even if it really isn’t my nature.

Here’s what I went through (and continue to battle, now on my second round of 100mg): A complete and utter lack of desire to go to work – every day. A negative view of everything happening – at my job, at home, on tv. I become a human Eeyore, a grey cloudy sky following me everywhere I go, drenching everything I encounter with sad and morose overtones. My husband can’t do anything right, and (exasperated sigh!) my life is soooooo stressful and overwhelming.  I couldn’t stand to be around anyone. Grrr!!!

The pharmacist ought to hand you a little placard with your prescription that reads, “Don’t mind me, I’m on clomid.” Maybe a warning sign is more appropriate.  But I advise informing those you love about what’s going on, why you might be acting strange.

Only you know yourself best.  So make sure that when you’re on any kind of medication that affects your mood, you keep up your usual lifestyle regimen that you have come to expect.  Keep exercising – it is the only thing that returns me to my “normal” state during the 5 day cycle of hormones.  Keep eating healthy foods.  And, if it makes you feel better, indulge yourself in a retreat: give yourself a pedicure, get a massage, or lay on the couch and do nothing – and don’t feel guilty about it.

One cognitive effect I have experienced which actually has a physiological impact is that it makes you think you’re hungry even when you’re not.  Maybe it is a psychological way to cope with the depression and mood swings, to eat chocolate and comfort foods.  But either way, I’ve had to train myself to stop snacking as often as I had been – because only a short week to 10 days after starting clomid, my body would begin to see the rest of its side effects.

To be continued…