Monday, July 24, 2006

Niki and Marcus saying their "I Do"s!

(Stay tuned for more photos from the wedding and the rest of our trip to Wisconsin.)


Hello there fair readers. Our trip to Milwaukee was fun and our favorite part of the wedding was after Marcus kissed his new bride Niki, the minister actually congratulated him by saying something like "all right, WELL DONE!" (Does one compliment the first kiss?) Anyway, we partied and danced and got into a blue state, red state argument with my former brother-in law, so all in all it was a pretty darn fun. (By the way although we were in a red state, our bride and groom are firmly blue state!)

As Su mentioned in one of her last posts we found out that Saturday would have been the best day of the month to do our insemination, and unfortunately we were far far away from DC. So we'll just have to shoot for August. I'm a big believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason, so I think August will be just fine (it is our anniversary month after all!)

On a whole other topic, I finally decided to take the plunge and begin Weight Watchers for the first time ever in my life. An e-mail came across my desk a few weeks ago that they offer classes every week right here in my own building, and I suddenly had an awakening that I'll probably never get rid of my unwanted extra dozen pounds if I don't do something a bit more active than "wish hard". ;-) It hasn't been too easy which is what I sort of imagined, and as I've started tracking my intake I guess am learning most of all, that I really love all the wrong foods!

My weakness are (in no particular order) cookies, cake, bars, brownies, cinnamon rolls...I think you get the picture. With the point system I'm using, I can actually have some of these things, but only small servings. See, that's the problem. If I'm going to eat cookies, I'm gonna want to eat the whole sleeve or until I'm full whichever comes first. I wonder if I'm any more prone to hunger than other people are? I definitely know that I find feeling hungry to be an uncomfortable feeling. And who likes discomfort no?

So, I'm going to stick to the points plan and see if I can just slowly but surely lose these pounds. I think my motto is going to be "I'll watch my weight so you don't have to!" Susanne is in my opinion a naturally more nutritious eater than I am which helps. Like she actually likes salad and stuff ;-) She wouldn’t mind losing weight too (not that she needs to) but having to track every little point is intrinsically annoying to her. Well, wish me luck. I'd wish myself luck too, but right now my brain is sort of full of thoughts of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. (If you only dream of them they are 0 points!) -Monica

Friday, July 21, 2006

Too Funny!!!

From The City Paper, July 21, 2006, News of the Weird: "At a June fertility conference in Prague, Israeli doctor Shevach Friedler reported on research showing that women who'd been entertained by a clown for 15 minutes following an embryo-transfer procedure had a conception rate nearly twice as high as women who'd undergone the procedure but no clown treatment."

Do we think these findings apply to IUI as well?!? Thank goodness we have another month to mail-order the red nose and rainbow wig for Monica!

D*#! Little Pink Lines!

When we get home I'll post our photograph of our two lovely little pink lines at lunch at O'Hare. Today was the day we didn't want to see them -- we're in Chicago, on the way to Milwaukee and 60+ hours from our next possibility for insemination! Alas, our little spermsicles will have to keep their cool a little longer. AND we'll have to be patient for another cycle. Timing IS everything.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're leaving on a jet plane...

This weekend my sweetheart niece Niki is going to get married in Wisconsin. Niki's my oldest sister Mary's youngest daughter and even though she's a 28 now, and a beautiful young woman, I still usually see a precious little three-year old whenever I look at her. She's marrying Marcus who is a great guy and we are really looking forward to Saturday's big event.

Since Susanne and I just got married last year, we can definitely empathize with all of the energy and stress that go into planning a wedding, but on the other hand, like I told Niki last week, it's really such an amazing day it's totally worth it! In fact Susanne and I will celebrate our first anniversary on August 6th! Finally, the rest of our cake! (Well, we did eat some at our 6 month mark--it could have gotten freezer burn you know. As it was, it was perfect and so will our final slices!)

Of course this event will bring my side of the family together again, and that means kiddies! My sister Alice's daughter Janna is 8, my great-neice Cassie is going to be 6, and the little guy Liam will be closing in on two. We're also going to see one of my favorite students from back when I was a teacher. Karin is a pediatrician now, and she and her husband have two beautiful little ones who are delightful. Children, children everywhere! How wonderful!

It's funny for me to contemplate becoming a mom at 46 or even 47 depending on how long it will take. Heck, my mom and sister were GRANDMOTHERS when they were in their early 40s. And some friends were telling us yesterday that their 6 year old son calls his grandmother "tia". They are spanish speakers and we of course knew that "abuela" is grandmother while "tia" is aunt. Seems "granny" was just 40 when this little guy came along and she didn't want to feel old so she has always had him call her auntie. Too funny!

But I'm not really like my mom or my sister or my friend. I've always marched to a different beat I guess. Maybe because I've been mistaken for being younger most of my life. I don't know. Su is 13 1/2 years younger than me, but in some ways our ages seem equalized to me. I don't worry too much about being too old to keep up with toddlers. I seem to have a lot of energy (right honey? Well, except for maybe when I'm sort of in a napping mood! ;)

But I guess I'm just trying to say that it feels right to me to become a mom now. I once read a book called, "You Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Odd." I think that's how I feel. Coming out as gay was "odd" (but so true), and so is having our family now if that's God's will for us. So, call me odd, if you will, but I just call myself lucky. Have a wonderful day! -Monica

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Meine Suesse

Welcome to our new blog. My lovely wife Susanne wrote a beautiful post last night about the challenges she is facing as she's come off of antidepressant meds over the past month. It's not an easy process, but it's something that makes sense (as she explained) as we begin our initial attempts to bring a child into the world.

The funny thing is that I also deal on a regular basis with anxiety. I come from a big family of seven brothers and sisters (all born within a year of each other) and basically all of us suffer from either depression or anxiety. When Su and I began researching procuring donor sperm we learned that donors can't have any such mental or physical problems. So by choosing a donor who met the specifications we were looking for, we basically picked a donor who couldn't pass on my family's brain chemicals. I see that as a wonderful thing.

I'm a redhead and although it's a recessive gene we decided to go for a redhead. And since Susanne is brilliant (4.0 in everything) we figured we'd pick someone who had proven academic prowess. Of course, with the spermsicles on ice at our local fertility clinic, we just look at our donor as a blessing. We can't produce a child without sperm and I can't help with that. Of course, men can't produce children without available eggs, so it all seems pretty "even steven" to me.

By this time, you're probably wondering who we are. Here's what we wrote about each other on our archive blog prior to our wedding last August.

"How can we best describe ourselves? Monica is sort of hyper, never lacking for ideas and a thoughtful, caring person. Susanne is calm, brilliant and kind. (Can you tell we wrote these about each other?) We make a great team. Although Monica was in junior high when Susanne was born, we both feel that this just means that Monica knows more lyrics to songs from the 70s." Su is a social worker, and I am a former Peace Corps Volunteer and work for a federal agency in DC.

You may be wondering why I titled this post Meine Suesse. Susanne was born in Germany and almost all of her relatives still live there. She is "Susi” to them, and I like to call her what sounds to me like "My Susi" but it actually means “My Sweetie”. Susanne is an amazing woman, and she is such a blessing to me. Last night when we were talking about our artificial insemination journey that's just about to begin, she told me this-- "I don't want to have a baby, I want US to have a baby." I felt so connected--so part of a joint effort to have our family.

We'll be writing here and there on this blog. We don't know what the future holds. We may get pregnant right away. We may experience disappointment after disappointment. We may change course and opt for adoption. We don't know what the future holds, but we do know that our love is powerful and solid. So stay tuned. We predict great things to come! -Monica

Monday, July 17, 2006

Oh, to be anti-depressed...

Better living through chemistry... ah, those were the days... It is truly amazing and awful at the same time to understand and feel the effect of brain chemistry -- serotonin & norepinephrine -- on emotions as starkly as I have over the past week or so. The newly Effexor-Free Me isn't a very happy camper!

In early 2003 (even after two years of social work education, several years of working with individuals with a wide range of chronic and persistent mental illnesses, and personal experience of depression and anxiety among close friends) it came as rather of a shock that I might actually be so depressed that I should consider taking medication. It had taken me a good two years to even come to the realization that I could be depressed. After all, I had a great education, a great job, a beautiful home, a significant other, a supportive family, etc. With all that, what could I possibly be depressed about?

I just felt sorry for other people who didn't have all the great things that I had. So sorry, in fact, that when I heard their stories on NPR, I would get teary-eyed. There are lots of these stories on NPR. You'd be amazed how many fit into a ten-minute commute. In retrospect I'm probably lucky I never crashed the car in the midst of all of those blurry, teary-eyed rides to and from work. Even once I conceded that I might be depressed and started seeing a therapist, it was still surprising that insight alone wasn't going to be enough.

The actual effect of taking an antidepressant was amazing to experience. The "on a scale from 0 to 100; 0 being the worst you could ever imagine feeling and 100 being the best you could imagine feeling" test showed a marked improvement within just a short time. A further adjustment of the dosage and wow! 100 here I come! Bye bye hopelessness, bye bye loneliness, bye bye crying jags. (Oh, the stories on NPR were still touching, injustice still made me angry, and there is still a lot of tragedy out there--but my fellow drivers and I were definitely safer without the blur of tears.)

After nine successful months it was time to see if I was "cured", so to speak. I carefully weaned myself off the medication under the direction of the psychiatrist and all seemed well...for a while (two months? maybe three?). Really everything was fabulous -- my beautiful house was even more beautiful after a great kitchen renovation; I had met the love of my life and was about to get engaged; I'd had a very smooth coming out to my parents and friends; I was feeling accepted, loved, and supported! So why was I bawling? Crying hopelessly and uncontrollably? Give me back those meds!

Fast forward two years. I waited til the last possible moment before we are to start trying to get pregnant to figure out what to do about the antidepressants. Stay on and have a more stable/less stressed mental state to take you through this inherently stressful and emotionally trying process? But of course you want to avoid any possible harm and expose a fetus to as few chemicals and medications as possible. We wanted to weigh all of the evidence, discuss with the psychiatrist, read all of the warnings, etc. I was taking a Category C drug: animal studies have shown an adverse effect (very small animals taking very large doses?) and there are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. What inadequate reports there have been don't seem to indicate a large risk (a different antidepressant was recently down-graded to a Category D), but nonetheless... Ideally I will be Effexor-free during the entire pregnancy and during breast feeding. At the very least we should try for the first trimester and again in the last weeks. Ok, here goes!

The Effexor-Free Me: feeling cruddy, sad, less than optimistic about the possibility of actually getting pregnant; more irritable and snappy than usual; barely able to drag myself out of bed in the morning but equally unable to go to sleep at night (check the posting time!); crying at NPR stories (definitely!) and while singing hymns at church and over lunch and when reading about fertility and at the slightest sentimental notion. Probably the worst part right now is feeling the difference to a week or two ago so intensely--knowing, logically, that nothing has really changed (I am still just as blessed and loved as I was then) and knowing that these feelings will pass again; but feeling intensely powerless over the feelings themselves much of the time. Conclusion: my brain is broken!

So please bear with Effexor-Free Me and read this brief warning: expressing empathy for my situation or offering to help reduce my stress or cheer me up will surely drive me to tears! Don't be alarmed: you may see me tear-up but I'll also be chuckling at this catch-22. And thanks.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Here we go again!

So, we're going to try this blog thing again. Maybe you've read some of our old blog or seen our pictures. Maybe you'd given up on us... it has been a while. One thing for sure, we know you could never remember that other URL. Hopefully Oh, Susanica! will be a little easier to find.

Susanica's Homepage got its start in the days of wedding planning in 2004 and served us well throughout that process. The wedding's all there, too -- invitation, program, and of course, lots of pictures. You'll also find links to our pictures from our fabulous honeymoon in Peru (we like Shutterfly slide shows because you don't need to log-in to enjoy them; here's more).

Now our first wedding anniversary is fast approaching, but more importantly, the planning for Susanica's next major event is well underway. So join us here on our continuing journey to build our family and wish us luck as we prepare to welcome a BABY into our world.