One is Healthy

I feel very happy and lucky to report that one of my twins is growing ahead of schedule with a beautiful heartbeat of 184. I honestly never knew if I’d get to this day. The tadpole was much bigger than I expected, with thrillingly well-defined features, and I actually got to hear the heartbeat this time. I think I was seeing its back with its little spine and the creases of its little arm and leg buds. It wasn’t just a blob, it was… an organism. A living, well-organized being. Growing so quickly.

This is not my ultrasound, but the closest I could find on Google images:

beast

Look how it went from being a tiny blob to crowding its little space! I’m 8 weeks 4 days, but it measured at 9 weeks. You go, embryo!

But I barely had time to be excited, because I could tell immediately that the embryo in the other sac was less than half the size of the healthy twin and not as well-formed. It looked pretty lifeless, and the tech confirmed it measured two weeks behind with no measurable heartbeat. We had just been chatting about pregnancy with multiples (she’d had IVF triplets). And just like that it was no longer relevant.

When the doctor saw the report, he declared the smaller twin non-viable, and it was hard to argue with him.

It’s a strange mix of emotions. I am elated to know one is in there growing like a beast with every marker favorable so far. But I’m devastated that this child is losing its sibling and scared that if something does turn out to be wrong with the twin that is still there, I’m fresh out of back-ups.

I’m also relieved to have a much better chance of having the natural, relatively uncomplicated childbirth I always wanted. The risks of complications go way down when it’s just one in there, along with the risk of c-section and other interventions. But most people who have twins, their kids are just fine, and a ready-made sibling for my child would have been more than worth a surgery.

Everything I pictured about having two kids, right around the same height, one holding each hand as we walk along the river… that’s gone now. The hope that they would have that special twin bond and be there for each other through life, through everything. The fact that they would be full genetic siblings, even if they weren’t genetically related to anyone else they knew. Suddenly the world feels a little more cold and lonely for the one who remains.

I know embryos are lost all the time, including “vanished twins.” It’s a very normal thing to happen. Especially in my uterus, apparently, where this is the seventh embryo that went in and never came out the way it was supposed to.

The OB was very cool. Like the ultrasound tech, he had been through IVF, and they were both more empathetic than usual. The doc congratulated me twice but was also sensitive enough to say he was sorry for my loss, also twice. I do feel this loss harder than I expected, probably because it’s not just me losing a child but also my child losing its sibling.

And it does put more pressure on us. We’ve always wanted two, and if we could have had two in one shot and been done with it, it would have been such a relief. No more thinking about this crap. No more worrying. My biological clock could finally go straight to hell. But now I’m looking at having my second child at forty, and that’s if I’m very, very lucky. (Nothing inherently wrong with that, but it was never in my plans.) And the kids won’t be age-mates, which makes things that much more complicated in general. They could have entertained each other endlessly, right from the start. They might even have had their own little language.

I do feel incredibly lucky to still have one, don’t get me wrong. It is so strange to be exulting and mourning at the same time. For so many years I was a mother of none, or briefly a mother of one, and for ten days I was a mother of twins, which was so thrilling. But now it’s already over. It’ll be a little while before I fully process this hope for twins that I’ve always had being finally dashed.

But it will put less pressure on my body. It’ll mean less danger, less stress. (Believe me, I’ve heard plenty of twin horror stories, and they put the fear of God in you. Odds are still in your favor, but if the worst happens to you, odds don’t mean squat.)

I’m sure I’ll be fine once I’ve had a little time to process and adjust. And of course I’m beyond delighted to have one looking so healthy, though there’s a bit more pressure on that one since, as I said, I don’t have a back-up anymore. My overall confidence isn’t as high as it was yesterday, but it was still magical to see that little beast chilling in its little water world, its little heart pumping away. Live, little one. Please live.

But yeah. This loss hit me harder than I expected.

Not Complaining, Just Remarking

I always make this caveat to my husband before telling him about my latest symptom. He knows as well as I do that it’s a huge privilege to be experiencing any of this, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But I find it interesting to hear about other people’s symptoms / physical experiences in pregnancy, so here are some of mine, for posterity.

The nausea has been interesting to me. I expected it to be like the horrible feeling just before you throw up. Instead it’s been more like mild seasickness. The problem with seasickness is not the degree of discomfort as much as the relentlessness of it. There’s pretty much nothing you can do about it other than get off the boat, and God willing I won’t be getting off this boat for a while.

It’s kind of like being poked in the ribs, not hard, but enough to be annoying. If someone did this one or five times, you’d just shrug it off. But if they kept it up for hours, you might eventually find yourself turning into a rage monster. I do find I’m a little more short-tempered than usual, but so far not so bad.

Another way to think about it is like feeling hungover. You feel sluggish and tired, a little queasy, with your throat kind of burning. (If you were drinking, that may have been from vomiting; in this case it’s from reflux.) You just feel off. You want to drink some cranberry and soda, watch some Netflix, and wait for the time to pass until you feel OK again.

Only it’s not going to be 24 hours in this case. You’re not really sure how long you’re going to feel this way. They say it starts to clear up in the second trimester, but not always, and that’s still a month away in any case.

Some days and hours are better than others, and all in all it’s annoying but fine. To be honest, I revel in every feeling of nausea. It’s like a little message saying, “Yes, this is really happening.” Thankfully, so far, I haven’t actually vomited (though I’ve gagged a few times).

My brain can be painfully slow, though, especially if something unexpected happens and I’m thrown out of my expected groove. Working on a novel, as I’ve mentioned, is damn near impossible, though I try to chip away at it a little at a time. I feel safe driving, but only just. I really force myself to stay focused at all times.

And I can be slightly bipolar. One minute I’ll see something totally random, like grass, and be swept away by mild euphoria at how beautiful and perfect everything is. The next minute, I’ll feel nauseated and blame whatever song is on the radio and turn the radio off and then find something else to hate and blame for making me feel like warmed-over dog poo. I mostly just observe these impulses and let them pass without attaching too much significance to them. My husband says he hasn’t really noticed this, so I’ll call that a win.

But I did cry three times while watching a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode I’ve probably already seen about seven times: The Inner Light. Granted, it is one of the most tear-jerking episodes of all time. But the little sweetnesses and rituals about having kids really got to me this time.

My boobs finally got sore and swollen, too. I guess it tends to wait until however far along I got last time to keep on developing, or whatever they’re doing. A new thing: My nips are really sore. I have to turn our new shower head down quite a bit so that the little jets of water aren’t hitting them too hard.

At night, somehow my guts know exactly when I’m wanting to go to bed, because that’s the moment they choose to blow me up with gas, most of which I have to burp out. I have to kind of twist and lean and contort myself to get it all out, and when I’m already so tired, I just want to go to bed, not do burp yoga.

Then it’s remarkably hard to sleep at night. It’s hard to distract myself from feeling so off, so I just kind of lay there feeling off, tossing and turning until sleep manages to overtake me. And then I have incredibly stupid, boring and/or stressful dreams. Things like my husband telling me we’re out of mustard (which I later can’t remember if it was a dream or not), or it being my first day at a new school, and the school is also a mall, and I have to figure out where in the mall is the door leading to the classrooms, and I can’t. I don’t wake up feeling very rested.

And I’ve definitely had food cravings. There was a week where all I wanted was Mexican food, and right now all I want is Turkey sandwiches and Blaze goat cheese pizza. I can kind of force down the much larger set of what I’m not craving, but it’s not nearly as appealing. When it’s not exactly what I want, it tastes kind of bland. When it is what I want — heaven.

Meanwhile the things I used to do to blow off steam are mostly off-limits, and I have to watch my husband drive off in his jersey, shorts, and cleats to have fun playing soccer while I’m stuck at home. It’s hard not to feel a little resentful. Not of my husband, but just that the universe turned out like this. Of course, I’d gladly take any pain or discomfort rather than give it to my husband, but… I wanna play, too.

But every time something failed and I consoled myself by going out and playing soccer, I knew very well that I’d rather be pregnant than playing soccer, and the same is true now. Hell, I probably could play (if I strapped my sore boobs in tight enough), but I’m just not willing to take the risk. And hopefully in a year or 18 months I’ll be back on the pitch. That seems like an awful long time right now. I guess I should be doing a lot of drills so I’ll be better than ever by then. But there’s just nothing quite lining it up and drilling it into the goal.

Other than, perhaps, giving birth and being a parent. 🙂

My Book is Free on Amazon

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog, but I wrote a memoir called Fast Times in Palestine that was published in 2011. The electronic version is free right now on Amazon (until Monday).

Here’s a description of the book:

Pamela Olson, a small town girl from eastern Oklahoma, had what she always wanted: a physics degree from Stanford University. But instead of feeling excited for what came next, she felt consumed by dread and confusion. This irresistible memoir chronicles her journey from aimless bartender to Ramallah-based journalist and foreign press coordinator for a Palestinian presidential candidate.

With dizzying speed she found herself attending Yasser Arafat’s funeral, tour-guiding Israeli friends around the West Bank, dating a Palestinian from a conservative village, being held at gunpoint and injured by a stun grenade, and witnessing the 2005 Disengagement from inside the Gaza Strip. The gripping narrative focuses not only on violence, terror, and politics but also on the daily rounds of house parties, concerts, barbecues, weddings, jokes, harvests, and romantic drama that happen in between.

Funny, gorgeous, shocking, and galvanizing, Fast Times in Palestine challenges the way we think not only about the Middle East but about human nature and our place in the world.

Named a Top 10 Travel Book of 2013 by Publishers Weekly and a Best Travel Book of Spring by National Geographic.

“No other book has conveyed such an authentic, penetrating, and enchanting sense of the Palestinian people and their long struggle for rights and security.”

— Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories

“Harrowing, funny, vivid, entertaining and deeply humane, Fast Times in Palestine opens a rare window onto Palestinian life. It’s impossible not to be moved on nearly every page.”

— Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree

“A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that’s enormously informative yet reads like a novel.”

— Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace

Please feel welcome to download your free copy by Monday 🙂

Why Donor Embryos?

I anticipate this question being on the tips of people’s tongues whether or not they actually ask. Like any couple making an intensely personal decision, we don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone. But curiosity is understandable in this case, and I’d rather have a link to refer well-meaning people to than try to explain it anew each time.

These were our other options, and I’ll go through them one by one and explain why we didn’t go that route: more IVF, donor eggs, traditional adoption, foster adoption, or embryo donation (which is different from donor embryos, as I’ll explain).

More IVF

By the fall of 2016, we’d already gone through three failed rounds of IVF. We had enough money in the bank to try one more thing before hitting the point where we’d have to go into debt. We still didn’t even know why IVF wasn’t working, and we could have used a good chunk of the money we had left to check into ever more obscure reasons. (For example, there’s a rare condition where the man’s sperm is simply not compatible with the woman’s uterus, in which case IVF with his sperm will never work.)

If we found some good reason why IVF wasn’t working, we’d have to abandon it anyway. In the more likely case we found nothing, we could just keep trying IVF and hoping our luck would turn around. But I’ve never had much of a stomach for gambling, and we no longer had any faith whatsoever in our luck. I know people who’ve done ten rounds of IVF and still had to go an alternate route, and we just didn’t have the money or the stamina for that possibility.

If you’ve never done IVF, it’s a horrendous process. Physically I could handle it, but emotionally, the stakes are so high at every point in the process that the cumulative stress — and then the heartbreak when it doesn’t work — is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. (Not to mention trying six million different things to optimize our gamete production year after year was getting exhausting and demoralizing — and expensive.) We just weren’t up for putting ourselves through that anymore. Everyone is different, but three years and three failures was our breaking point.

Donor Eggs

I’ve never been hung up on my own genetics, so in that respect it would have been an easy decision for me. We probably would have done it in Mexico. (It’s not affordable in the US.) It had about a 70% chance of working, which sounds great. But 30% is actually a pretty big chance of failure, and egg donors can have unexpected problems, or drop out at the last minute, or Ahmed might have had a bad day (especially in sultry Mexico), or who knows what else. It was still a pretty big gamble with the last shot we had left before diving into debt.

And Ahmed still doesn’t have his citizenship, and “traveling while named Ahmed” isn’t super easy in the best of times. And these are not the best of times.

All in all it felt like jumping out of a plane with a parachute that had a 30% chance of not opening.

Traditional Adoption

This is a wonderful option for many people, but it’s tremendously expensive — more expensive than we had funds for. We could have done some kind of fundraiser to help keep us from going into debt, but I already raise money every year for a Palestinian family (in fact, I’m raising money now), and there’s only so much you can bug your network for cash.

Plus we would have wanted to do an open adoption, and this would have meant inviting another woman or couple rather intimately into our lives, and we’re both rootless introverts who have no idea where we’ll end up raising our kids long term. We’d rather be as autonomous as possible when it comes to huge decisions like that.

Not to mention it’s a long, stressful, invasive process that involves, among other things, waiting for a birth mother to pick you. And you can imagine how many Oklahoma birth mothers are going to pick a couple comprised of a foreign Muslim and an agnostic.

Meanwhile we’d have to get a bigger place with an extra room just to qualify, which means pretty much immediately moving into (and paying for) a bigger space than we need for God knows how long. And we plan to sleep in the same room with our kids anyway (at least for the first year), so it would really be a waste. And the idea of staring at that extra room for all those months or years we’d be waiting… Not super appealing.

Plus we like where we live. We like the tree outside our window and the walking path next to a river just a few steps from our door. We’ve decorated this place with the intent to be here for a while, and uprooting would just add a whole other (expensive) level of stress.

And then there’s the fact that adoptions can be disrupted at the last minute, or end up costing thousands more than you were led to believe, and so on. In short, it can be an extremely rough (and expensive) road, and we’d already been on an extremely rough (and expensive) road.

Foster Adoption

This can be another wonderful option, and I looked into it, researched it, talked with an agency, and spoke with people who had foster adopted. Of course, you run into the same problems with needing an extra room, inviting random adult strangers into your life and home, and having a harder time whisking the kid(s) away for a year in Turkey if you feel like it.

Even worse is the very real possibility of bonding with a baby for months only to have that child taken away from you and placed into a potentially dangerous or abusive (or at least not super attentive) situation. I get attached so easily, and this kind of thing could hurt worse than anything that’s happened so far. And some of the kids are born with drug addictions or have major attachment issues or other serious problems that we didn’t feel particularly equipped to handle.

Maybe after we have a kid and start to feel like competent parents, and have had a little time to recover from these four awful years, we’ll be ready to look into this again. But these years have really taken a toll on our soul, and the last thing a child needs is to be taken in by people who still feel shell-shocked and not quite fully 100% ready to take them on.

Embryo Donation

This led us to consider embryo donation, which means being gifted the leftover embryos of another couple. Some organizations treated it, absurdly, like adoption, with home studies and everything (and high price tags to match). Most clinics put you on a wait list that could take months or years, and then you didn’t know if you’d end up with embryos from a couple who themselves had had trouble conceiving, or if you’d get one that had used an egg donor. Your chances could vary wildly, and it was quite overpriced as well (in my opinion). If you wanted an open donation, you’d have to wait to be picked, and again: foreign Muslim and agnostic in Oklahoma.

The most “progressive” embryo donation organization I could find charged something like ten grand for a single try (the same cost as donor eggs in Mexico), which again you’d be very lucky if you had a 70% chance of success. More likely your chances would be even lower.

And it’s hard to overstate just how little faith we had in our luck by this point. We weren’t even sure if I could carry at all, and spending another $30k or whatever for three more tries of whatever only to come up empty yet again would have been… too much. Just too much.

Donor Embryos

Then I stumbled across what became our clinic: California Conceptions. They offered double donor embryos (meaning two healthy donors, i.e., an excellent chance of healthy embryos and healthy kids) with virtually no wait list.

The clinic was founded because there’s such a big demand for healthy embryos — much higher demand than supply. It’s true that more than half a million embryos are sitting in cryo-tanks in the US, but the vast majority of them are not being donated. Hence the long wait times at most clinics.

Even better, they offered up to three tries for one very reasonable set price — $12,500 plus meds and travel — with a 90% success rate over three tries. Each try would be with a different set of donors, so if one egg or sperm donor had problems or some rare, undetected incompatibility, it would be a relatively minor setback instead of a catastrophe.

Even more amazing, with my age and health status, I could qualify for a guarantee that would either refund the $12.5k or give us three more tries if the first three tries didn’t work. There’s nothing else on earth that comes close. And it’s based near the Bay Area, where I have a ton of friends and contacts.

It gives me full control over the prenatal environment. I’ll be able to give birth to my child(ren) and breastfeed them, and our names will be on their only birth certificate. The program also comes with an active Facebook group that shared tips, advice, support, and plenty of pictures of beautiful babies to keep you motivated.

The main drawback of the program was that it was anonymous, and I don’t think that’s really fair to the kids. It should, ideally, be up to them, or at least it seems that way to me. (And I’d love to exchange emails and pics with these two kind people in any case — I was at least able to send a gift of thanks to the egg donor via the clinic.) But anonymous was all that they offered, and the sperm donor can be contacted once the kids turn 18, and with all these online DNA tests, true anonymity is getting harder and harder to maintain in general. Maybe our kids will never care that much, or maybe they’ll end up wanting to track down their donors. We’ll fully support them either way.

Sure enough, our first try — despite a roughly 70% chance of success — failed. But it didn’t set us back all that much time, money, or stress, considering how much worse it could have been. We got right back up and tried again. And so far so good on our second try (fingers infinitely crossed).

If you’ve never gone through years and years of fertility struggles, please do me a favor and say a little prayer of thanks. It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.

Ask anyone who’s been through it. It rips you apart in ways you didn’t know you could rip. I consider myself a pretty grounded and psychologically healthy person, and I could never have imagined how much this would hurt.

As a fellow fertility blogger wrote: “A recent online article from US News and World Report cited a Danish study that found infertile couples who fail at treatment were three times more likely to get divorced. Psychological impact surveys have shown women with infertility experience anxiety and depression similar to those diagnosed with cancer and other major illnesses. [We] knew living like this for much longer was not going to be good for anyone.”

To all those women who have more stamina and more tolerance for risk than I do, I can only tip my hat and wish you every success. And of course, every couple is different. For some, donor eggs or adoption is their best options at a given branch point, and that’s wonderful. We fully support whatever feels right to you. A lot of these hang-ups are very specific to us.

But we know ourselves, and we were very near our limit of tolerance. Four years and all of our savings down the drain was more than enough stress and heartache for us.

By the Way…

I realize I haven’t written any content warnings on my posts so far, and a big part of that is because I consider myself still very much in the trenches. I may be peeking my head out a tiny bit right now for the first time in years, but I’m all too well aware that one misstep, one stroke of bad  luck, and I’m right back where I started.

Honestly, I feel like Wile E. Coyote walking over a cliff. As long as I don’t look down, maybe everything will be OK. But I do know I’m walking on very thin ice indeed.

Another part of the reason is because I have followed several “fertility issues” blogs, and it always annoys me when they suddenly clam up as soon as they have good news. I appreciate that it’s out of sensitivity for others who aren’t so lucky at the moment, but I also know I can click away if I don’t feel like reading something, and in general I want good news for EVERYONE. And if I’ve followed you this far through hell, I want to get the good stuff, too!

Just my opinion, and I fully understand and respect that it’s not shared by everyone. But for me, the good stuff is not only inspiring (hey, if she can do it after all that, maybe I can, too!), it’s often also instructive. Birth stories fascinate me. And raising donor conceived children is, of course, its own special, fascinating adventure.

So if I’m very lucky, this blog will turn from a “fertility issues” blog into a “pregnancy” blog and then a “raising donor embryo kids” blog.

*Furiously knocks every piece of wood I can find*

If I’m unlucky, I’ll be knocked right back into the trenches before you know it, a broken down heap of heartache once again, until I pull my ass back up again for another try — once more unto the breach.

But I’ll be honest, and I’ll be open. And if any part of it is tough for you to read right now, I will completely understand if you’d rather steer clear for a while.

Love and hugs to everyone, wherever you are on this “journey from hell.” Whether you’re so far down in the trenches you don’t know if you’ll ever see light again, or if you’re already on to the good part and loving every moment of it.

Or, like me, kind of in between, with so much hope and so much to lose.

Wishing for good things for us all.

Twins… Maybe!

Wow. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.

I did my best to distract myself this morning since it was an afternoon appointment and I couldn’t bear to think about it. My stomach was really messed up despite my attempts at distraction. My guts knew what was at stake even if my mind was diverted.

I sat in the waiting room of the freestanding imaging clinic for what seemed like half an hour, only to look at my phone and realize only four minutes had passed.

Mercifully I didn’t have to wait too much longer to be called into my appointment with a blonde ultrasound tech who looked younger than me. I told her we’d been trying for four years with two losses, just so she’d have some context. It didn’t seem to faze her.

They’d asked me to fill my bladder, which I didn’t realize was a prelude to an abdominal ultrasound. I just assumed it would be transvag. She said if she couldn’t visualize things well enough through the abdomen, she’d switch it up.

The warmed gel was put on my belly, then she kind of waved the wand across my abdomen offhand-like, and when she did, I thought I caught a glimpse of two sacs with two little beans right where they were supposed to be. The sacs didn’t look misshapen or empty or full of detritus. They looked normal. Healthy.

“Is that… do they look good?” I asked.

“I can’t really tell you anything,” she said impassively. “The doctors have to look at it.”

“I know, but… they look OK, right?”

“I can’t really tell you anything.”

As you can imagine, this conversation repeated itself more than twice. I know techs are just supposed to measure and make reports, not diagnose anything, but I kind of wanted to knock her in the head. Still, I felt profound relief setting in, especially when I saw that both blobs had wee little flickering heartbeats. I had never seen that before, at least not in my uterus. Knowing that it was even possible was such a relief.

She was kind enough to let me know the heart rate of one of them. 167. Maybe a little fast, but that’s better than a little slow. The other one was hugging the side of its sac too much, so she couldn’t get a good measurement.

(The opposite happened to a friend of mine recently. Her doc couldn’t get a good measurement transvaginally — in fact, couldn’t see an embryo at all — so he switched to abdominal, and the baby and its heartbeat measured perfectly. Which is unusual, because transvag is normally more accurate.)

My ultrasound tech poked and prodded and measured this and that without saying a word for what seemed like a very long time. Occasionally I’d catch another glimpse of an almost baby-looking blob and its little heart beating away, and my heart would swell. But she kept moving so fast I could barely focus on anything before she’d moved on.

I just wanted to empty my bursting bladder and call my husband so he could feel the intense relief I was feeling. But then she wanted to switch to transvag to measure the heart rate of the other one. I told her I didn’t want to subject them to any more poking, prodding, or ultrasound waves. I had all the info I needed (which was to continue taking my meds and continue monitoring the pregnancy), and I had another ultrasound in ten days at the OB already scheduled. (I was also just kind of sick of that tech and didn’t feel like going to third base with her.) She reluctantly let me beg off. If anyone down the line doesn’t like it, they can call the Pamela’s Body Complaint Department at 1 800 NUNYA BIZ.

The other little one is there and has a good heart rate or it doesn’t. I’ll know soon enough. For now just seeing it was enough, without subjecting it to any more potential stress just for my own marginal peace of mind. For now everything feels like it’s all right, and for now that’s more than enough for me.

It’s just such a relief since we haven’t known anything since the two beta hCG numbers, and just two numbers tell so little of the story. It could have been ectopic, it could have been molar, it could have been a missed miscarriage or another blighted ovum. Less likely with good numbers, but entirely possible. And, of course, it could have been one or two. And we were hoping so much for two.

I called Ahmed absolutely giddy to be giving him good news over the phone, FOR ONCE. He was as over the moon as I was.

When I got in the car and turned on the radio, Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds was playing. 🙂 I was starving since I could barely eat this morning, and I treated myself to hot and sour soup and non-raw sushi (lobster mango roll) at Sushi Hana to celebrate.

So. Wow. We might actually be parents this time.

We’re most certainly not out of any woods yet. The docs haven’t even called to confirm my amateur opinion that everything’s fine. But we’re further into the woods than we’ve ever been. Just seeing a strong, swift heartbeat was such a miracle.

Maybe my uterus is not an embryo Death Star after all. Maybe I did just need to find the right embryos, like my doctor said.

And maybe these are the right embryos.

I’m allowing myself a little bit of joy and hope today, a tiny little break from endless anxiety. It’s nice.

UPDATE: Doc called and confirmed that everything looks great. Looking forward to my first honest-to-God OB appointment next week!

P.S. This is not my actual ultrasound pic — my ultrasound tech kind of blew off my request for pictues, saying they weren’t really cute or anything, and I was too wired to argue — but it’s the closest I could find on the interwebz.

SONY DSC

Nerdz Rule

Yesterday my best-friend-since-second-grade Holly and I went to a Star Trek trivia night at a brewery supply store. Random, I know.

Holly and I were obsessed with Star Trek: The Next Generation as teens. It was such a bright vision of the human future, with problems like hunger and peace on earth long since taken care of, and nothing left to do but hang out on earth and enjoy life or strike out and explore. We were stuck in a tiny town with small horizons and plenty of small-minded people, so it was all the more vital to our psychological well being. A vision of what we could help work toward, some day.

In fact, one of the ways my mom punished me was to forbid me from watching Star Trek for a period of time. And it was a great day when I successfully lobbied to change my bed time from 10 to 11 so I could watch reruns of Star Trek on my little barely functional CRT TV before falling asleep.

What’s funny is that when they announced Star Trek trivia night, we just assumed they meant The Next Generation and maybe Deep Space 9, Voyager, and/or Enterprise. We both completely forgot about the original series, which neither of us really watched.

Luckily they alternated between TOS and TNG questions, and there were five teams, and we did ten rounds of six questions each. The most anyone got in a given round was 5, and probably the most common score was 2. They used Star Trek trivial pursuit cards for the questions, and a lot of it was the kind of minutiae you’d really never know unless you had no life whatsoever, like the random made-up names of planets in various episodes. The most random question I answered correctly was the name of the trader who brought Tribbles to the station in The Trouble with Tribbles — Cyrano Jones. I knew because I’d recently watched the DS9 remake of that episode and then went and watched the original series episode to see the starting material.

But some of the questions were really good, and we had a great time racking our brains and trying to out-nerd the other nerds. In the end we won and got free t-shirts out of it, and we were unaccountably proud of ourselves. Like, all those hours finally paid off in some tangible way. 😉

I’ve not been making much headway with my novel lately. Not only am I too jumpy and anxious to settle down to it, my brain is also so fuzzy, and sometimes when I’m trying to edit I feel like a tiny ant on a chessboard. I can barely see the pieces right around me, much less what’s going on on the rest of the board. Guess I’ll just have to take advantage of moments of clarity and keep chipping away.

Another weird thing: I know I should be eating protein-packed, nutrient-dense food, but meat and vegetables just don’t appeal that much. All I want is carbs. And cheese, which I’m mildly allergic to. What’s up with that?

My ultrasound on Monday happens to fall on the full moon. Two weeks after that, a total solar eclipse will wend its way across the full span of the continental United States. We plan to spend a night in Kansas City and then drive north into the path of totality, probably at St. Joseph, that Monday morning. Really excited for it. I’ve heard there’s just nothing else quite like it.

Still trying not to let myself feel much of anything (though hope springs whether I want it to or not, especially with so much queasiness, which is new for me), and walking into that ultrasound place will feel like the Bataan Death March, with a very real possibility of trauma heaped on trauma. Just trying to keep calm and carry on as much as I can.