I decided to check back here after not even looking at the site, or the stats, for 7 (no, 6 , per the date on that previous post…sorry) years, after receiving an email from someone who had pulled the molar pregnancy post off the blog.  But now that I have figured out my password and have logged in to see the traffic, I can see that this blog still gets a reasonable amount of traffic on two posts:  the ones about molar pregnancy and the one about cleaning up spilled detergent.  (The rest are verbal (keyboard?) diarrhea.  I am appalled.)

I wanted to update anyone perusing this site for the former concern.  I wrote that material when I was at a very hopeless point in our family-growing journey.  It was hard to lose a baby so loved and so wanted.  But I can tell you, now, that we came out on the other side stronger and better as parents.  Our loss made us appreciate parenthood when it finally happened. When our oldest had colic, we took it in stride because we were delighted just to be parents.  Screaming in a restaurant?  We laughed.

We have two kids.  They are the light of our lives.  They are now 7 and 4, and they are best friends.  We have moved around the country with them, we will continue to move around the country for the next several years, and we are a tight-knit little family.

Does it mean that I don’t look at children who were born at precisely the time that my child who we lost would have been born, and wonder?  Of course I have a twinge of wonder every so often.  But I wouldn’t have the two miracles that I have today, and I cherish them with every fiber of my being.  They are perfect.  They are gifts.

A molar pregnancy is a terrible pregnancy outcome.  If you are here because you are dealing with it, I am so, so, so sorry for your loss.  Take the time to grieve and mourn because it is a piercing, seemingly relentless grief.  But then take heart.  Things will get better and you will be stronger for it.

Best wishes to you.

P.S.  If you are looking for passwords to this blog, I have to tell you: I had to look them up myself!  Really, it’s been that long.  And there is nothing good back there anyway…verbal diarrhea, I tell you.  Really.

Two mornings ago, Turtle woke up and declared that there was a goat in his room (except he pronounces it “goak”.  I thought he was dreaming, and brought him into bed with us.

Well, he woke up more fully and told me he was going to go visit his goat.  I thought he was still dreaming.  I followed him into his room, where he pulled up next to a firm pillow covered in a blue flannel pillowcase on the glider.  “Goak!” He declared, firmly.  “Mama, goak!”

He then petted the goak, gave it hugs, and found his water bottle so the goak could have some water, holding the camelback straw close to where he assumes the mouth of the pillow/goak is.  He talked to the goak, telling it all about the cars outside, and hugged it some more.

He even had me believing in Goak.

The second day, Mr. Goak was even the one thing he prayed about.  “Lord, thank you for the goak and the ceiling fan.  Amen.”  (To be fair, a few nights ago he was thankful for “grandma, grandpa, amen.”  Simple prayers.)

He did this for two days.  Tonight, I asked him if he’d say goodnight to the goak, and he did – offered some water, some imaginary food from his hand, gave Goak a big hug.

I keep waiting for Goak to become a pillow again.  Until then, I find this absolutely adorable.

There are many giveaways right now, and all of you should consider entering them.

First, for a shiny new Dyson.  I do not have to tell you how excited about this thing I am, because I am the world’s most enthusiastic, unrequited champion of the Dyson vacuum.  You most certainly want one, too.  You can win one from Jill at Baby Rabies (www.babyrabies.com).

Second, for shiny new HP TouchSmart computers.  There are two places you can enter to win one of these:

Totally Together Reviews:  http://totallytogetherreviews.blogspot.com/

MckGiveaways:  http://mckgiveaways.blogspot.com/

So…go enter!!  And win!

(sorry I never update this any more…things have been busy, and I’ve been otherwise occupied!)

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Last year on this day, I remember reading some pregnancy loss blogs, thinking how heartbreaking it would be to lose a baby.  I even thought, “that could be us,” which I think is probably good, because it could be ANYONE.  Fifteen percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth.  That’s a lot of heartache.

But still, when we found ourselves pregnant in December 2008, we felt unadulterated joy, not worry about loss statistics.  And when we hit the 12-week point, with two healthy ultrasounds, we rejoiced, again.  We felt so blessed.

And obviously, our story is not unique, and it is by no means the most heartbreaking story.  We were barely out of the first trimester when we went in for another routine appointment and the refreshing thump, thump, thump on the doppler was gone.  When the nursing student said, cheerfully, “oh, sometimes when they’re so little, they get away from you!” I smiled, weakly, but I thought, “Please, God, please, no.  Please have our baby be alive.”  But they rolled in the pathetic little ultrasound machine, and pulled up an image of our lifeless baby, swishing from side to side because of the ultrasound probe pressing against my stomach.

I did not know what it would feel like to lose a child, but in that moment, I joined the initiated.

Of course, our story did not end there, and most of it is in this blog, preserved for others who may have to go through it.  The genetic testing on the baby and the placenta showed that our pregnancy was not a normal pregnancy; it was a partial molar pregnancy, which carried a risk of cancer for me.  And though that sounds absolutely horrible, I will be honest and say that it is a mixed blessing:  on one hand, we knew that it was nothing *we* did that caused the baby’s demise (I included my husband in there), but that the baby was not viable.  On the other, we were required to wait for months to try to get pregnant again, and in the interim, I had to take weekly hCG tests to ensure that the placenta didn’t regrow like a tumor.  Every week, the tech would say, “another pregnancy test?” and every week, I’d say, “yep…” as though I were the crazy chick who needed weekly confirmations of my gestational status.

And I will be even more honest, and say that those months were some of the worst in my life, and some of the worst in our marriage.  The grief was palpable, and augmented by the fact that I had at least 5 friends due within 3 weeks of our due date in September 2009.  I withdrew from friends, and I withdrew from this blog.  I stopped asking about pregnancies.

Post-partum depression after miscarriage is very, very real, and very, very, debilitating.

He would be one month old today, had he only had the right number of chromosomes.  Our lives would be very, very different.

I say all of this not to be depressing, but to be honest.  I don’t think anyone realizes what it’s like to go through a miscarriage until they have been through it themselves.  It is difficult to know what to say, and words come out wrong.

So, in honor of today, I would like to share some thoughts about what to do, and what NOT to do, if you have a friend going through a miscarriage (and possibly infant loss, but I am not going to pretend I have any idea about that pain):

1)  Do send an email, a card, fruit, food, gifts.  If someone is very good at gardening, you might consider sending a plant, but if the person does not have a green thumb, consider that it might be additionally painful to give a plant in remembrance, only to have it die soon after.

2)  Do not say the following things:  “It’s probably better – you don’t want to raise a child with difficulties,” “You’re young, you can always have another,” or “Get over it”, or “It happens“.  All of these things were said to me, multiple times.  None of them helped, and in fact, most of them made it much, much worse.

3)  Do allow the person to talk about the baby, their pregnancy, or their due date.  Do share your own story of loss.

4)  Do acknowledge the person’s due date, even by saying, “I know how hard this time is for you, and I’m thinking/praying for you”.  That means more than anything else.

5)  Do not complain about:  not being able to drink alcoholic drinks while pregnant, not being able to sleep, vomiting due to pregnancy, lack of sleep in the first few months of having a baby home, being tired, having breastmilk problems, hurting because a baby is kicking you in the ribs, or being sick of maternity clothes to someone who has had a recent loss.  This is not to diminish the trauma of those things (well, except the drinking while pregnant.  Never complain about not being able to drink while pregnant.  Sorry, I am going to sound like a judgmental jerk for this, but you are pregnant, and this is your obligation to your baby.  No drinking.  No cigarettes.  Tough luck.  They will still be around in 8 months).  Sleepless nights, vomiting multiple times a day – those are tangible, and horrible, and stressful.  No question.  However, a person who has just lost a baby would probably give anything for the nausea, for the sleeplessness, for the inconveniences posed by the process of having a child.

6)  Do be honest about your pregnancies.  Do not leave a grieving friend in the dark in order to protect them.  It will simply hurt their feelings more than had they known about the pregnancy in the first place.

7)  Do offer to pray for someone.  Do offer to help in concrete, specific ways.  Do not say, “please let me know what I can do to help” because although that sounds wonderful, chances are, the person is in so much grief that she cannot identify what it is that she needs help with.

Today, on this day, we remember.  Please take a moment to reach out to those around you who have had a loss, and even join the campaign to light a candle at 7:00 tonight.

Blessings to all of you.

P.S.  I get a lot of emails asking about our progress, so just to update and leave this on a brighter note, we were cleared to try to conceive – meaning, I never developed cancer or regrowth – in August 2009, and I took the MCAT to try to get into medical school (which is funny in and of itself) in September 2009.  Right now we are waiting, praying, and asking the Lord to show us what He has planned for us and our family.

How’s that for a title?

So hey! Have you heard?

The President is going to indoctrinate brainwash talk to the many small children of our great nation on Tuesday! During school hours!

That’s right! There will be some minutes spent on such appalling and morally questionable topics like, “staying in school” and “school is great!” and “education is important” and, the worst one of all – “don’t drop out”.

I know, I am horrified, too. To think. The FULLY DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT of our COUNTRY might OPEN HIS MOUTH and TALK. To OUR KIDS!

I mean, think about the possible consequences:

–They could spontaneously start singing creepily, like the Von Trapp family or small children clad in t-shirts with the word “HOPE” splashed across them

–They could question why Jimmy’s family doesn’t have health insurance, but their family does

–They could want to stay in school until they are 18, rather than drop out and hopefully work in a minimum-wage job

–They could decide that they want to grow up to be the President, too

–They might hear the words “civic responsibility”

–The words Obama uses might become permanently seared into their very impressionable, but-immediately-hardened-upon-hearing-Obama-language, brains. Like, he could say, “It is every American’s responsibility to pay Lots and Lots of money to me, so that I can make sure I make every rich person very poor and every poor person very rich,” children will grow up to believe that there is only One Way to structure taxes, and they will be incapable of analyzing the impact of such questionable public policies, because once they hear it from Obama, there’s no going back.

I’m having trouble coming with any others. Anyone?

Because the fact of the matter is, *none* of that is remotely concerning to me. I mean, according to CNN, Reagan gave a similarly-oriented, but more politically-slanted speech to school kids in 1988, calling taxes “such a penalty on people that there’s no incentive for them to prosper … because they have to give so much to the government.” And frankly, I was 11 in 1988, and I have no doubt (?) that I heard that, and I think that is one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever heard.

See? It didn’t permanently damage me. It surely wasn’t my parents’ opinion, and yes, there was a time when I completely disagreed with their political opinion: it’s called ADOLESCENCE, and hopefully all children will question their parents’ political (and other) wisdom at some soul-searching point, too, regardless of whether the President talks to them during one school day.

At any rate, my point is that Reagan’s statement was actually a *debatable* one, and *it* didn’t leave any permanent, indelible mark on my brain. Do we really want to debate the merits of staying in school versus dropping out?

Someone on Facebook posted a status response that was something like – “if it was Bush or Cheney, I’m sure you’d be upset, too.”

Well, actually, I’ll tell you what I would do, if it were Bush (or Cheney, if Cheney had ever actually been elected President):

A) I would send my kids to school, anyway, because a) it’s school, b) he is the PRESIDENT, and c) we can discuss how Bush is an idiot (or other, more cerebral policy critiques) later that day, over dinner, and

B) I would pray like heck that Bush didn’t use the word “nuclear”, because man, it WOULD be tough to explain to my child why our President cannot pronounce the word “nuclear”.

Fortunately for us, Obama is a well-educated guy who can, in fact, accurately pronounce all of the words he employs in his speeches. After 8 years of a guy who gave speeches that were really worthy of many a drinking game, I have to say that Obama is both a breath of fresh air and somewhat of a let-down….there are not nearly so many fun rules for drinking when Obama is speaking.

Not that anyone should be drinking during a speech to school kids! Obviously.

I honestly don’t understand the issue.

Moreover, I really do not understand why, in fact, we are so up in arms over this in this country anyway. People are DYING in Afghanistan. People are DYING in America. People are LIVING IN THE STREETS here. We just had dinner with some Australian friends who had moved here from Mozambique – yes, people, MOZAMBIQUE, where people really are dying, and living in dire, dire, dire poverty – and they were *shocked* that they saw homeless people on the streets of America.

They said, “I would expect that in Mozambique, but not in America.”

Who can say, “misplaced outrage”? Anyone? Anyone???

Because here’s the thing:

This country? This very country? The let-freedom-ring country? Was already pretty darn socialist before Obama ever stepped foot in office.

Let me say that again: WE ARE NOT A CAPITALIST COUNTRY.

I’ll give you a few examples, just off the top of my (very tired) head:

Poverty alleviation: In 1986, President Reagan (yes, that President Reagan…the father and stalwart of the conservative cause) expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit. There is, in fact, only one way to receive a bigger tax refund than what was originally owed (ie: profit from taxes), and that is through the EITC. The EITC was designed for families living in poverty, as a way to augment their low wages. It enjoys bipartisan support and has been hailed as one of the most effective anti-poverty interventions in recent history. The Heritage Foundation (a staunchly conservative thinktank) supported the expansion of EITC when Reagan proposed it in 1986.

The EITC is a Robin-Hood-esque intervention: take from the rich [who pay taxes], and give to the poor [who need the help].

Sound like the claims made recently about Obama’s “socialism”, right?

And yet the socialism continues, unabated. In fact, it’s celebrated. On *both* sides of the aisle.

Agriculture: Why do you think we have such a love affair with high-fructose corn syrup? Is it because it is delicious? Is it because it is better than sugar at sweetening carbonated drinks?

Try: it’s cheaper. And also, the government pays people to make corn, so we have a surplus, so….hey, let’s use it to make something that is sort of like sugar! Between 1995 and 2006, the U.S. government paid $56 billion to subsidize the production of corn, depressing prices worldwide and screwing farmers in Africa, who cannot get a reasonable price for corn because the American farmers need to sell it so cheaply, given the flooded market.

So, let’s review: The government decides what crops we need to produce and what we don’t need to produce. The government then PAYS people to produce them. The crops are then in excess, which floods a pseudo-market economy (but for the whole managed-market thing, or the extraordinary barriers to entry, such as tariffs for incoming produce and quotas for subsidized stock) and depresses the price point to the point where no one would want to enter the market, anyway. So we have too much corn.

So we make corn syrup, which goes swimmingly until people start getting obese, and we realize that, perhaps, corn syrup isn’t all that awesome, but by that point, we can’t stop paying people to produce corn, because WHAT would the farmers DO with all this LAND that they’ve been using to produce our nation’s Most Very Valuable corn/wheat/soy?  [*Answer:  Start their own PR campaign, of course.]

(Side note: Time magazine wrote a similar article critiquing the state of the food industry in their August 21st issue. Totally fascinating, if you’re into looking at where our food comes from.)

These subsidies began in 1965, under LBJ, but were expanded in 1970, under Nixon.

Yes, that’s right. Under yet another Republican president.  Renewed multiple times in the last 39 years under both Republican and Democrat administrations.

Have I made my point yet?

We *are* a country guided by some very basic socialist-sounding notions. For the most part, we believe in government control of many, many things. We like the government to fix our roads, fund our police stations, and ensure we are not hit by a nuclear (that’s nu-CLEEEEE-ar) bomb. We rely on the government to protect our crops from foreign germs brought in with travelers, and many of us choose to send our children to schools that are, in fact, funded by government dollars.

Does that mean we have no input on roads, schools, or police activity? No, of course not.

But can you imagine if the government just said, “Nope, sorry! We’re going to allow the FREE MARKET to dictate the condition of your roads now. So if you care enough about your road, you can pay for that pothole to be fixed*. If you’re out on a remote country road, I guess it’s up to you, Joe Shmoe who lives down that country road, to fix it. If you want it/”need” it badly enough, you’ll find a way to pay for it.”

Of COURSE not. THAT would be ridiculous. I think it is safe to say that all of us believe in the value of the non-potholed-road. That it is a necessity, not a luxury.

*Note: if you live in a desert, you will not understand the importance of the pot-hole-fixing component of road repair (maybe?) In places with crazy temperature fluctuations, the concrete in the road cracks, resulting in big, car-eating potholes.

But it turns out, that is *exactly* what we seem to believe about healthcare. And we seem to have this crazy fear that we are in the process of making a left-hand turn off of Conservative Court, careening down Socialism Street, when we’ve been cruising down Socialism Street for the last 80 years like it’s a lazy Sunday drive.

I mean, really. *I* don’t drive down Joe Schmoe’s rural road EVER. I live in a large, bustling, urban area. But I’m perfectly happy with the fact that my tax dollars go to pay for his road’s maintenance. I don’t have kids yet, either, and I’m fine with the fact that my property taxes fund our public school system.

Likewise, I am perfectly okay with the concept that my tax dollars will go to fund health insurance access for others who are not as fortunate as us. (As a side note, just to let you all know, you are ALL subsidizing DB’s and my health care. Thank you. We totally appreciate it and we are beyond grateful, and also? We love our government-run health care.)

All I am saying is this: If Obama wants to tell the kids of this country that he thinks they should work hard and stay in school, I think that’s awesome. I think that message is awesome coming from anyone, but I think it is particularly valuable coming from someone who really *did* work hard, really *did* achieve a lot, and really *didn’t* have a ton of privileges – white, financial, social, or otherwise – thrown his way.

And if he says something as political as Reagan said, like something about taxes, so help him, God. Then people can rise up in fury and pray fervently that their children did not hear something so blasphemous as, “every family should have access to health care.”

There are so many more important things to fight about. Let’s pick something else. This speech is a non-issue, and I am kind of embarrassed that it is *this* type of thing, and not something *actually* important, that gets Americans all riled up.

(That category is a little bit dramatic, I realize.  Sorry.  I mean, “Super useful things”.  I don’t have too many of them, so when I do, I share.)

A few weeks ago, when we still had a subfloor and not a real floor, we spilled about half a gallon of Tide [liquid] laundry detergent all over the floor.  It was kind of a pain, but since it was a subfloor, we weren’t super concerned about cleaning it up in the best way possible.  We quickly realized that water wasn’t going to cut it, and I started to look on the interwebs for better suggestions.

Oatmeal:  No, clumpy mess.

Baking soda:  Glue.

Cat litter:  Gross, sandy glue.

Vinegar:  I don’t know why I thought this was going to work, because it’s essentially like making a volcano (remember the volcano?  When you were a kid?  With red food coloring?  Acid + base = volcano?)

We mopped it up as best we could, and moved on.

Well, then that washing machine died, and we got a new, high-efficiency washing machine, and we finally, finally, finally installed our floor.  (Yay!)  Which meant, of course, that we had this huge container of non-HE detergent left, and we decided to use it as a weight to train an unruly corner of carpet protecting the new hardwood floor from the cat’s litter box.  It worked perfectly.

Until, of course, it didn’t.  A few days ago, Little detected something outside the house, and he did not approve.  He went ballistic.

I have no idea what it was, but apparently s/he/it was sufficiently terrified not to come any closer.  I suppose that’s good.

What wasn’t so good was that Little obliterated the litter box, the door, and the Costco-sized container of Tide (non-HE) in his mission to protect our humble, humble, HUMBLE abode, and this time, the Tide that spilled wasn’t on a subfloor.

So I created my own method of cleaning it up.  I wanted to wait for a few days to make sure it really *did* work before I contributed to the folklore of the interwebs.  I’m telling you, the internet methods DO NOT WORK.  Try *this* internet method, instead.  I have had two opportunities to refine it, and it takes less than an hour.  (There is another solution, requiring a mop and hot water and a tub and a ringer, that takes about 2-3 hours.  Good luck with that.)

Here is what you need:

-Paper towels/large towels
-Vegetable oil
-Method all-purpose cleaner,
or another cleaner that is safe for your floor.  It doesn’t REALLY matter what you use, but I used Method.  I am not paid to mention them, but while I’m at it I LOVE Method stuff.  I have yet to use something they make and not love it.  (The important thing is that it cuts grease, but not TOO much.  I don’t know much about other all-purpose cleaners because I love Method so much.)
-NO WATER.  Critical.

1)  Grab paper towels or several large towels.  Only get large towels if you spilled the kind of detergent that can go into your washing machine.  I could not do this, since I spilled non-HE detergent and we now have an HE washing machine.  I feel guilty about this, but I really couldn’t do much about it.

2)  Pick up as much of the liquid as you can with DRY paper towels.

3)  Dispose of said towels.  If you use real towels, put them in plastic bags to be washed.  Refrain from adding more detergent to the load.  🙂

4)  Place new towel/paper towel on top of spill, to absorb extra.

5)  Walk away for 10-15 minutes.  Surf the internet and read how other people made mini-volcanos on their floor with vinegar and detergent.

6)  Repeat Step 3.

7)  Rub some vegetable oil all over the spill.  Don’t go TOO crazy, but cover the area.  Be careful not to slip.

8)  Wait a few minutes.

9)  Take Method/other all-purpose cleaner.  Spray on oil/detergent mixture.

10)  Wipe clean.  May require 2-3 passes.

11)  Add paper towels to your grocery list, since you just killed a roll or two.

12)  You’re done!  Seriously!  Isn’t that amazing?

Good luck!

There is an article in the NY Times today:

New Policy Permits Asylum for Battered Women

So in a somewhat tragic turn of affairs, I did not know about this case, nor did I follow it as it was coming down the line for a decision. I used to follow these issues, closely. It’s kind of a mini-sign of how much my life has changed in the last 5-6 years that I had to read about this – and *not* known about the W administration’s stance on it – until I read the NYT.

Anyway, the article made me think about something that DB and I talk about all the time.

There are *so* *many* people who want to come to this country.

I mean, I am not pro-Bush by any stretch, but I can’t imagine that after reading her case, anyone in the Bush administration was untouched by this woman’s story. Her story is sickening. It is every woman’s nightmare in a country where everyone else turned a deaf ear and blind eye – and she, unlike countless other women, actually tried to get help…and was turned down. By everyone.

No, the reason this is a major departure from the Bush Administration – the reason that the Bush Administration denied classifying this woman as needing political asylum – is that it might open the floodgates, so to speak, of millions (yes, probably millions) of women in similar situations.

And now we’ve done it.


So I got to thinking: I’ve been trying to figure out how best to say this, and I haven’t really had the ability to frame this message in anything other than a straight-up “This is bad because…” or “This is good because…” in quite some time; I’ve been busy. But I have been very involved in adoption issues for a while, despite not having adopted (we seem to be on the long-ass time horizon for that one) and recently, I’ve gotten more involved. So here is my message:

Yes, there are people lining up to come into America.

Yes, there are people who came here, who *are* here, who maybe came to these shores not-so-legally.

But just because *they* want to come here, doesn’t mean that *everyone* wants to come here.

That is an important point. Think about it. I assume Tahiti (I know nothing about Tahiti) is a fabulous paradise place, but WHAT IF you don’t want to go to Tahiti? Should we just assume that because TAHITI *might be* great for you, you should move there? Immediately? Become a Tahitian?


And if you ended up in Tahiti, and really, you were more of a snow-bunny-type, or something (go with me here, people), would you want to lose every aspect of your identity as an American in your move to Tahiti? If you *moved* to Tahiti, would you want documents saying that you were born a Tahitian, not an American?

Probably not.

And more than that, it would be a lie. You were born an American, on U.S. soil, whether you liked it here or not. And you moved to Tahiti, and became a naturalized Tahitian, because *that* is what happened.

That is the truth.

There are two adoption-related bills proposed in Congress. I believe – and I know others believe – that they more harm international adoption than they help. They are a threat to transparent, ethical adoption.

They assume that *every* kid wants to be a Tahitian. Or an American.

So to speak.

The first bill is the FACE Act, or HR 3110/S 1359. This act conveys citizenship to children adopted overseas retroactive to birth. It eliminates the visa process, so there is very little investigative clout to investigate whether a child referred for adoption is actually legally freed for adoption. By the time this investigation takes place, it is potentially already too late: the child is adopted, the legal child of American citizens, and there is considerable political will to approve such a petition – and this time, it is not for a visa, but for a passport.

Citizenship conferred retroactive to birth means that adoptees might not be able to seek dual citizenship when they are older. As infants or toddlers – they will relinquish the right to own land in their birth country.

Actually, that right will be relinquished for them. By this bill.

It is cutting off ties to birth culture and country which are meaningful, and important, and possibly the only thing the adoptee has in leaving his/her birth country.

(Remember: Tahiti. Leaving America for Tahiti. You are from Alaska. And now we’re saying that you can’t even go back and own property in Alaska when you are old enough to decide that for yourself.)

And really, the truth is that the FACE Act, if enacted, will slow down the process of adoption for prospective parents: I think I can speak to this in a very personal way. DB works for the federal government. To change pieces of paper around, and move staff around from one office to the other (moving people from one government body to the other, to meet the requirements of this law) (don’t ask me how I know this) – but to CHANGE PIECES OF PAPER, do you know how long it takes?


The process will take MONTHS to sort out.

The government is *not* *slick*.

Bill 2: The Families for Orphans Act (HR 3070; I don’t know what the bill number is in the Senate yet)

(I really should have thought more about which tropical island I used in this analogy. Is Tahiti a nice place? If it’s not, take this to mean: I meant that Tahiti was a glorious, paradise-like place. 365/24/7. OK?)

This bill *sounds* good. I’ll give it that. It really does *sound* phenomenal.

But it isn’t.

It stipulates that foreign countries can have American debt relief and foreign aid IF THEY ACQUIESCE to having an international adoption program.

(There is already significant aid that accompanies any international adoption program. Do we really need to provide incentives to sending countries?)

In fact, it mirrors another existing bill (PL-109-95) whose mandate *is* finding permanent placements for kids in need of them. PL 109-95 is required to provide yearly report to Congress on the state of USG children’s programs.

PL 109-95 is unfunded.

PL 109-95 does not explicitly delineate inter-country adoption as an option for kids in need of homes.

FFOA does.

And although FFOA proponents will say that this is *not* an adoption bill, really?

Since it mirrors the PL 109-95 so nicely, save for the requirement that countries open up for adoption?

It is.

And it should not be. America should not be the child welfare police of the world. In fact, what status do WE have in telling other countries how to treat their children?!?

We haven’t even ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child!

Who on EARTH would want to listen to us? And why should they?!?

And why can’t we work with other countries in formulating a culturally relevant, child welfare plan…a la PL 109-95?

So here, I leave you with this thought:

Tahiti may be fabulous, and you may never ever want to leave.

America may really suck, and you might want to get the hell out of Dodge to escape it.

But *you*, my friends, are old enough to speak up. Ditto the women seeking asylum trying to come into this country: old enough to make decisions about where to live, when to move, and how to do it (or at least old enough to verbalize the choice).

Young adoptees: not so much.

Don’t we owe it to them to not assume one country is *better* than the other? To assume that they are here, we are going to do the very best for them, and we are going to advocate, advocate, advocate to retain *all* of their rights? To say, “We are going to work our butts off to ensure that you are considered an American citizen the moment you touch American soil, but we are still going to celebrate your first heritage. Your first national allegiance. We want to celebrate the culture and the family from which you emerged”?

To ensure that their birth culture is appreciated and respected? Ie, acknowledge that America might have some challenges, but Tahiti has other challenges, too? Neither is one “better” or “worse”, necessarily, but different.

Yes, I thought so.

For more information, you can go to Ethica.

And if you agree with me, please, please speak up. Join the Facebook group (linked on the Ethica website). Write your congressional representatives. Share your concerns with them.

Talk to them about Tahiti.

Last night in our church small group, somehow (don’t ask) the topic of family planning came up. One of the couples said, “our friends got pregnant using “natural family planning” and the doctor said, “do you know what we call couples who use that method? PARENTS.”

Everyone laughed.

But it bugged me.

I feel fairly strongly about the following:

a) Everyone should be able to do their own research about how to have safe sex and/or avoid/plan to get pregnant.

b) Women who want to take the Pill should be able to take the Pill. Those who do not want to take the Pill SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TAKE THE PILL.

c) Aside from the Pill – taken here to mean an estrogen-containing oral contraceptive – there are other family planning methods available that are effective (or not effective) for family planning. These include the following:

1) Progesterone-only Pill – aka the “minipill”, or “POP”. Does not contain estrogen. Very prone to failure, as it is a tiny dose of progesterone that must be taken at the *exact* time every day. (Estrogen pills should be taken at the exact time every day, but they are *slightly* more forgiving of slight discrepancies in the time one takes them.)

2) IUDs. There is the copper IUD and the Mirena IUD. The copper IUD has no hormones. The Mirena IUD has progesterone which is released “locally” (although really, everything *does* circulate, but it is said to release a very very low concentration of progesterone). Both are extremely effective. The copper IUD tends not to affect periods/blood flow and the Mirena IUD tends to lighten or eliminate periods.

Once they are removed, they convey no protection against pregnancy.

I had a Mirena for almost 2 years. It was good. It stopped my periods, which was the goal. Unlike a lot of women who have it, I really had no other side effects and I thought it was fine.

3) Barrier methods: condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps. All of which have varying rates of efficacy (the diaphragm and cervical cap being among the worst because they can slip, and the woman has no idea that it has slipped, followed closely by the female condom). (I don’t know why the female condom sucks. I’ve never used one, and they are very expensive compared to male condoms. According to this article, they are difficult to place, which probably means they aren’t used properly in practice.)

The male and female condoms are the only birth control methods that can protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

4) Abstinence. I love how this is mentioned in every birth control efficacy chart. Of COURSE this is 100% effective…until it is no longer the game plan. Remember that line from Anchorman? “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works all the time.”

Ha. I crack myself up.

5) Other hormone-containing things, like the Patch or the Ring.

I tried the Ring. I hated it. It fell out constantly. But it has its enthusiastic fans, too.

6) More hormone-containing things, like the Shot (Depo-Provera). Has only progesterone, given by injection every three months.

This freaks me out because it is something circulating in the body for 3 months. What if you hate it? You can’t clear it out of your system, and you have to wait for 3 months! However, it is a good option for people who can’t remember to take the Pill, or people who can’t take estrogen.

7) Natural family planning methods. AKA: Non-hormonal, non-invasive methods.

And here we get on a soap box.

The options:

1. The pull-out-and-pray method (aka coitus interruptus). Does this require further explanation? Issue: Sometimes there are spermies in the pre-ejaculate. The part that escapes prior to the guy knowing to pull out.

2. Rhythm/calendar method: Where a woman starts counting her cycle days from the first day of menstruation, to day 14, when she assumes she ovulates, avoids around that time, and assumes she is safe the rest of the month.

This just doesn’t make sense.  All women are different.  Their cycle lengths are different, their bodies are different, and very few women actually ovulate on the 14th day of their not-likely-to-be-28-day cycle.

3. Natural family planning (NFP)/Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). (Yes, I am lumping the two together for purposes of this post. I’m sorry to anyone I offend.) Differentiated by the fact that FAM users employ backup methods, like condoms, during fertile phases of the woman’s cycle. NFP traditionally employs abstinence during these times.

Birth control method charts make this method of family planning look foolish, which only contributes to the types of jokes circulating in doctor’s offices. The number of health-care professionals I have had to explain this method to is appalling…friends of mine who use the calendar method, the pull-and-pray method, who think that we are insane for planning the way we did for the time that we did it. So here I go: my plug.

It is my opinion that every woman on this planet should have access to this information.

It is NOT my opinion that every woman/couple on this planet should employ this method of birth control for a billion reasons:

1) It takes planning, awareness, preparation, and, at times, restraint. The fertile phases of a women’s cycle also tend to be the most sexually arousing. Couples prone to spontaneous unprotected sex would be very, very poor matches for this method of birth control.

2) It requires that the woman read a lengthy book and understand what is going on in her body.

3) It requires that the woman consistently check her temperature and interact with her body in ways that may be uncomfortable for her.

4) It requires that the couple be on the same page in terms of protecting/avoiding during fertile periods (if avoiding). This is *not* always the case in many relationships. It is the sad reality that many sexual relationships are not characterized by negotiation, understanding, and love, and in those relationships, where the woman cannot guarantee that she will always be able to avoid/protect during fertile periods, this method is not appropriate.

That being said, this method is extremely effective when used appropriately and correctly.

It takes into account temperature charting (basal body temperature – temperature first thing in the morning), cervical mucus, and cervical position. Those three signs, combined with a commitment to using condoms or abstaining during the fertile period, constitute a form of birth control that is more effective than almost any other method (other than abstinence entirely, IUDs, or permanent sterilization).

We used this method exclusively for two years of avoiding. We didn’t get pregnant during those two years, but I wasn’t sure if it was because I was infertile or because the method was effective. (Then I had the Mirena IUD placed to reduce my menstrual flow because I was getting too anemic.) When we started trying, we achieved pregnancy on the first full cycle of trying.

That is not to say that everyone using this method will find that it works well when TTC. But it *will* help a woman determine the length of her luteal phase (a critical factor in a successful pregnancy), whether she is ovulating, or whether there might be some other underlying factor in the inability to conceive. It will help a fertility specialist in trying to help a couple who seek to become pregnant.

I will also say that DB and I practice this method in the *most* conservative way: we use a condom/avoid on the days that I know I am fertile and/or THINK that I MIGHT be fertile. I think this has contributed to our success for those two years and again in the last 4 months, when avoiding pregnancy has been critical (due to the type of pregnancy loss we had).

This book changed our (my husband and I) lives for the better:

And apparently, 1000 women agree with me (see reviews for the book on Amazon!).

It is long, and it is comprehensive, but it is absolutely the best book on women’s bodies, fertility, and practicing reliable birth control without pills or implants or medical intervention. It is also a great book for learning about conception. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I believe that *everyone* should have a copy, even if the Pill is the best option for them.

So here is my point:

If you look at that article I linked to, above, and look at the efficacy rates of any of these methods, they all seem scary, with the exception of the permanent/fixture-type (IUD) methods.

However, this method is different in that its efficacy rate is based upon reading natural signs/symptoms of the body, understanding them, and acting accordingly. Which means that efficacy rates will take into account all of the issues noted above (women unable/unwilling to chart effectively, unable to negotiate terms with partner, unable to abstain/protect at fertile times).

Which means that the data – as is the data with almost any BC method (ie, the columns for “perfect” versus “typical” use) is skewed. Couples using a condom every time but the one time she is fertile screw up the statistics. Couples who are on the Pill except for the two days she forgets it screw up the statistics.

In short, they are all prone to failure. And they are all prone to not-failure. It depends on the user’s level of commitment to the method.

And, a word on God and His will for people getting pregnant:

We all know of the couple that got pregnant using this method. Our friends did. Our friends friends did. No question, it happens.

But if you ask them, honestly, if they knew the possibility existed when they conceived that child? I would guess that the vast majority would say yes (although you’d have to be a close friend to ask!!) Our friends said that they were pretty sure they wanted a child, and they just “kind of stopped paying attention”.

OF COURSE one runs the risk of getting pregnant with this method if they “stop paying attention”!

And this also means – if you get pregnant, it is not because “God wanted you to have a baby!” No. With the number of infertile couples out there, I do not believe that God has any personal desire for one couple to easily get pregnant and another couple to struggle for years. I’ve talked about this (probably ad nauseum) before.

No, God created women’s bodies to be able to carry a child and God created men’s bodies to be able to father a child. But God wants us to be smart about what we know, too. Getting pregnant because the couple was not paying attention is not necessarily God’s will for their family’s growth. That is people having sex at the appropriate point in the woman’s cycle, resulting in a fertilization event that will ultimately become a baby.

But can we say that it is God’s will that adoptive mothers relinquish their child? That it is God’s will that a child suffer abuse, or trauma, the family they were born into? That it is God’s will that a pregnancy ends tragically in a loss?


Stepping off of soapbox now…

One of the blogs I lurk on read has a post about this horrific organization, the Westboro Baptist Church, which has a theology that is, in summary, stomach-wrenching and unthinkable, with abhorrent practices to match.

They are protesting in NYC today – at a synagogue – and will be in your neighborhood soon, too, and the synagogue where they are hatemongering is launching a campaign to raise money for the causes that are apparently worthy of such hatred.

Please, consider contributing to this effort. Reading their (the hate-monger) website is sickening.

If you cannot contribute, please pray. Our God is one of grace, love, righteous anger, and righteous judgement, but it is His prerogative, not ours, to deign what is abhorrent and not. Certainly the protests here – with signs like, “God hates you”, “God hates the USA”, and others that pronounce who, not what, the Lord “hates” – are not only horrifying, but not Biblical. In the slightest.

God is sovereign. Full stop. Period. And any attempt we make to usurp that is simply an abomination.

I guess it’s been a while since I’ve written here.

I don’t have a lot of words these days.

I’m studying for the MCAT, now, since I did well enough in bio and physics to justify continuing on this quest.  I have a lot of studying to do.  It seems that my head *still* resembles a sieve, and whatever physics I learned a few short months ago has left my brain.


We are in the process of ditching cable and setting up DVR in another way, using either TiVo or a computer-based DVR and HD-TV over the air.  I realize many people do this already, and we are late to the game, and I also realize that many people think we’re insane for doing this.  It’s been quite a bone of contention between DB and I how to proceed, for reasons I don’t entirely understand…anyway, has anyone done this?  The ditching cable, setting-up-some-other-DVR-thing-using-an-antenna, I mean?  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Otherwise, life is in a weird, sort of apathetic holding pattern.  In rare form, I have almost nothing to say.

How are you all doing?

Listen up!

Heather is an adoptive mom who is trying to raise $1750 to build a home for a family in Vietnam.  She has been trying to raise this money for a long time, and her deadline is the end of May (which is COMING UP) and she still needs people to donate.

She is also giving away a double stroller in exchange for a $10 donation.  Not many people have donated so far, so the chance of actually winning the stroller is HUGE. HOWEVER, if you do not want to win the stroller, you can still donate without entering the giveaway.  I am ashamed to admit that I did not donate until recently because I did not want to win the stroller!  I know, that’s pathetic, especially because we *have* seen desperate poverty and *have* felt called to help in some way.

BUT!  It’s better late than never.  So just go to Heather’s blog and donate!

Anyway, from Kelly‘s blog, because she explains it better and Laura already copied her, and although I don’t have many readers, they are, for the most part, different readers because you aren’t adoptive parents, so please think about contributing to Heather’s efforts:

From Kelly’s Blog:

For the past month or so, I’ve seen a fellow adoptive mom Heather trying to raise $1750 to build a home for a family in need in Vietnam through the group Giving It Back to Kids.   Her deadline is the end of this month and she is still not half-way to her goal, yet.

Unless you have been exposed to families in extreme poverty, unless you have seen how many live in third world countries, it is hard to understand the term “shack.”  A “shack” here in our country is not a “shack” in my son’s homeland.  A shack there is a 5 foot by 5 foot area built out of scrap that could house a family with several kids.

Imagine what we could do if everyone gave $10 to Heather’s project?  Even if ten of you do that, and then post this on your blogs, and then ten of your readers do the same, and on and on, we can get her to her goal.

If you have a blog, won’t you help us get the word out?  If you have food on your table, won’t you consider contributing $10 or $20 to a family who you will never meet, but whose world will be forever transformed by your generosity?

It may seem that a few people giving a few dollars can never make a difference, but that is just not true.  If you put a bucket under a dripping faucet, it may seem like it would never fill, but leave the bucket for a few days and that bucket will overflow with countless “insignificant” drops.

Go to Heather’s Blog and CHIP IN!


I really have no words to describe how it feels to be done with school for potentially forever.  I mean REALLY potentially forever.  Especially when it’s ALWAYS been over my head – for my entire life – now, it’s just…I’m underemployed.  And a well-oiled science-class study machine at this point, which is so out of character that even D is impressed.

Honestly, I have never EVER studied with the intensity that I studied over the last 2 months…EVER.

I’m not really a study-er.  Let’s just say it wasn’t necessary.  I managed, and it worked out, probably because I write decent papers (some might actually say they are more than decent, but there have been some not-decent ones in there, too, started the night before they are due, written with bursts of clarity and “brilliance” at 4 am, and turned in at 9 am with absolutely. no. editing. what.so.ever….I can admit it, those really were not-so-decent) (although unfortunately, I never suffered, grade-wise, for that behavior, which would be the reason that it never actually stopped) (until the last 2 months, when it finally dawned on me that paper-writing really wasn’t the desired skill in biology or physics) – anyway, all of this to say that I am not used to studying.  At all.

(Those previous posts about studying?  Which you can find if you look hard enough?  Yeah, I mean, I did do that for points in time, but it was always a) late at night, and b) a day late, a dollar short…like in o-chem last summer.  So I guess yes, I did study, but not really in the effective way that one really *should* study.) (And I blogged a lot.  And took a lot of internet/walk the dog/talk on the phone/look at Facebook/eat some food/stand on my head breaks.)

And, in the last 2 months of my completely convoluted education path, I figured it out.  It only took….well, I’m 30, and I’ve been in school for most of the last billion years, so….that’s how long it took.

(I am starting MCAT studying next week.)

(I think those study habits of the last 2 months will probably come in handy for that.)

(Because have I mentioned how much I *suck* at science?!?  In hard science, you have a *right* answer and a *wrong* answer.  I INEVITABLY pick the WRONG answer.  And try very hard, with my lovely skills of Logic and Reason and Writing Prowess – that worked so well in previous courses – to explain why, after 4000 years of Conclusive Evidence-Based Research, that, really, it is This Answer that is ACTUALLY the right one.  Scientists have just not really understood anything all these years.  That, really, *they* should be grateful to *me* for FINALLY enlightening them.)

(It hasn’t worked.  Although in social science, where there are almost *no* Right Answers, or, at least, there are Some Right Answers, and Some Wrong Answers, and really, you could make a good case for any of them, and as long as it’s backed up by Someone’s Research, preferably published in a Peer-Reviewed Journal, it is totally fine.)

(Can we see why, perhaps, there was a taking-hard-science-classes learning curve?)

Going out with a bang, I did take the opportunity to write some love notes on my exam last night, mostly as a way to kind of pull it all (as in, all of these years) together.  Sample question:

A woman owns some sheep, and she loves them very much until they are 2 years old, when she ships them off to become food.  However, sometimes the neighbor’s mangy dogs come and eat the little lambs.  They never eat the big sheep, though.  Which survivorship curve best describes this population of sheep?

Now, the whole question of survivorship curves really depends on whether there is a sizeable population of sheep that can make to adulthood – ie, live a long, (prosperous?) life, and then croak.

But I sat there in the damn exam, wondering, “How old are sheep when they are technically adults?  Does it happen at 2?”

(And then, if you really want to know, I thought, “Well, Little is an adult at 2.  But oh, LITTLE!  Would we kill you for mutton chops?  Oh, that would be so sad.  I would not consider Little to be an adult, but I am pretty sure that is the standard for big dogs…isn’t it?  He still acts like a puppy now, and he’s four.  He still scampers!  But for cats – I think that is a year, to be an adult cat, isn’t it?  I wish I’d paid attention to the sheep at the petting zoo.  I wonder if that said when they are adults….” and on.  I’m sure you get the picture.)

So I wrote a little note.  “My answer is D, but if sheep aren’t at maturity at 2, my answer is B.

There were SEVERAL instances in this exam when I wrote such notes.  And, at one point, when discussing adrenal insufficiency – a topic I know a little too well, mostly because I am not the world’s most adherent patient, so I’ve taken it upon myself to be well-versed in what happens if one suddenly *stops* taking prednisone or whatever – which was REALLY not the question, but honestly, this man writes really *confusing* questions, and adrenal insufficiency was a *perfect* answer to his question, although it was not based on anything in any lecture or book – ANYWHOO, I wrote,

“Although I actually know this is correct, if this is not what you are looking for, please give me points for creativity.  Thanks!”

Which, you know, is right up there with Logic and Reason.

It’s over.


I just found out that my body is clear of hCG (pregnancy hormone) – finally, or already, depending on how you look at it.  It took 10 weeks from the D&C.

This is Very Exciting News, because it means my body was able to expel the trophoblastic material (what was part of the placenta) on its own.  There are molar pregnancies in which this does not happen, and those women need to have chemo.

After this point, for anyone who is curious, I need two more weekly tests that are negative, 3 more monthly tests, and then we are free to try to conceive, if we decide to do that.

Thanks for your prayers – this has not been a fun process at. all.

P.S.  I will publish the update to the toddler/3-year old post soon.  In the middle of finals now…but I haven’t forgotten.


I have a lot to say about 2009 H1N1 virus. I call it “pig flu”.  Because I’m funny really original like that.  Hee hee.

However, I thought the best thing would just be to post this link.  Go ahead, click it:

Do I Have Swine Flu?

That way, you can decide whether to go to work/take an airplane/sit in class/stay in a home-cave with a mask for emergency grocery store trips.

In all honesty, I do hope and pray that this flu is not a repeat of 1918.  In my (fairly worthless) opinion, I do believe it is a bit overblown at this point, and I hope I am right.  I *do* think that, should it spread to high-density areas of the world that are completely ill-equipped to deal with a virus, it might be devastating.  But so far, given the slow spread of cases (and the very low death rate – 0% in this country, discounting the toddler in Texas who died after being brought to Brownsville from Mexico), I am dubious.

I feel very terrible for the pig farmers in Egypt.  I think that is one of the most tragic stories of this flu.  What a senseless loss.

OK, very quickly –

is it me, or is this phrase being thrown around a WHOLE LOT these days?!?

I am mildly obsessed with the Craigslist killer story.  I will admit: I rarely get super obsessed with a news story, but when I do, man, I. AM. OBSESSED.

And the latest news from the CK is that the guy was in “serious debt” (Anderson Cooper, CNN) with “$130K” in student loan debt.

Which is why he stole $800 from a prostitute?  (Or three?)

Um, the math really doesn’t add up.

A)  All psychology aside (and all psychology would suggest that the guy stole money in order to have some power and control and exercise dominion over these women), um, $800?  Is not going to get him very far on that debt.  Really?  It isn’t going to do anything other than terrorize a woman and MAYBE get him some playing time at the casino.

B)  $130K is a lot of money, yes, but it isn’t RARE, is it?

We have…well, we have a lot of student loan debt.  A LOT.  So much so that $130K doesn’t really make me blink.  Almost all of our friends have debt loads in that category (between 70 – 150K…+).  I’m not saying that is a great thing, but it is the reality of higher education….isn’t it?  Tuition is roughly $50K/year for many graduate programs and private undergraduate institutions.  DB and I have three graduate degrees between us.  We have gotten some financial aid, but…

Let’s just say that $130K isn’t out of line, and it is the nonstory here.   And I wouldn’t call it “serious debt”, no matter how much it resembles a mortgage in the midwest.

The other day, when Obama was announcing his plan for restructuring the student loan program, CNN decided to put on a student who was “buried” under student loan debt (to give her personal experience, I guess).

Her debt load?


I mean, seriously?  Is CNN completely in denial about the reality of student loans today?!?

(Because I would be freaking REJOICING if our – or even MY PERSONAL – student debt load was $15K.)

(Just saying.)