Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dear Uncle

I write this from a hotel lobby in sun-bruised Hollywood, F L A. I’m visiting my Uncle who had a terrible stroke. When I say those words, “Uncle in a coma” I always feel like it’s just some weird and horrible joke told by an old Jew with a cigar… The  famous “Uncle in a coma” joke second only to “Who’s on First”. It just seems too awful to be true.
It’s so horrible it can ONLY be a joke. It’s so visceral and raw. I’ve never loved my father more, or been so exhausted.
Every time they try to take him out of his coma he has a seizure. His brain is still very active from the stroke. I want him to have dignity. DIGNITY!!!!!! I was happy today when they brought him a special bed in the ICU.
I brush his hair and tell him how sorry I was for being LATE. How I am here NOW and he will never be without FAMILY again.
Call your mother. Tell someone you love what they mean to you today. REALLY.
And if you are reading this, say a little prayer for Eugene. And for every hurting, lonely soul who needs a bit of kindness. Moments like this make me realize how lucky and blessed I have been. I wish I could give him some of this blessing…
Thank you for reading this…

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RubyFeather is now on Facebook

So many ladies have written to say that they love the idea of our new girl-power group for those of us navigating the big IF. I have to say that it is so wonderful to get such an outpouring of support.
We have set up a facebook page so folks interested in Rubyfeather and what it represents can connect and support one another. This page is global, so you don’t have to live in Boston to become a member.
Also, by joining this page or becoming a “fan” you can help us spread the word about RubyFeather. I tried to keep the main premise of the group somewhat discreet in description.
Won’t you be my facebook friend?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Why is my manicure  DRY ENOUGH to type a new post, but not dry enough to post some bills????? Hmmmmmm....
Funny that you have time to do the things you long to do (if available to you) but never enough time to do the things you distaste?

I go back to work tomorrow. I took a few days off to be with my parents. They were visiting from California. Big Brooklyn Jews, with the striking accents and the dramatic hand gestures. My Mother, so warm and funny, seemed to be loved by strangers wherever she'd go...

My dad is still in Florida. His Brother is in a coma and has just had a stroke. They found him on the floor of his apartment. I worry about my Uncle, and about my Father, who was orphaned at 30. HisFather died of a stroke so I imagine this weighs very heavily on him. 

My Uncle is one of those difficult, eccentric men that you WANT to love because he is your "family". He has eyes like my father, and because of this, I tried desperately to love him. Still, he often said or did things that were hurtful or cut deeply, and he was sometimes cruel toward my Mother. My Mother who every stranger in the world seems to love.

I remember he once asked me if I was a lesbian, because I was still single at 29. This, he said, as he took his sticky dentures out and placed them face up on my kitchen table, so he could enjoy a slice of cheesy Brooklyn pizza. There's nothing wrong with being a lesbian, had that been my choice, but to be accosted with insinuation by a hairy, toothless man in my single-girl kitchen was just too much!

I want to love him. And part of me does bacause he is my Grandmother's son, and I know she is my guardian angel. I guess we make some interesting, celestial love triangle. The Grandma I never knew, my Uncle, and me....

It's complicated....

I was single (by choice) for so long, and I remember that universal fear. Something happens, you slip or are hurt, and because you live alone you think you might not be found for days. And g-d forbid if you have pets! Hungry pets, I won't go into the details...

I love my Uncle because I know he meant well (most of the time). He just did not know how to "say" it like everyone else. It was as if a streaky window separated him from my family. He was always on the outside of the window. And it was stormy out there...

I am closer by blood to my Uncle than my own husband. My husband who becomes more my soul mate every day. My Uncle, found on the floor of his apartment after suffering a stroke. My Uncle, still in a coma, having a seizure every time they try to pull him out of it. My Uncle, who loved me, paralyzed on his left side.

Why do I feel so angry?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

pork & (In)perfection

I’ve been thinking about this social club we have just started, and I am so excited by the positive response we have had thus far. We are less than two weeks old and have 20 new members in Massachusetts and Maine. I’ve gotten so many wonderful notes from readers who would love to join, but live too far. I wish we could do happy hours via skype so every woman who needed a network, could find herself in our big Boston Bear-Hug.
I first began this blog to break out of the bubble of isolation that this journey toward family can often create. You are either on the “inside” of the experience, or on the “outside”. As much as your friends and family love you, they are watching through a streaky window. What would it be like to be on the “inside” ….with sisters? The idea inspired me to form RubyFeather Social Club
I hope the group generates a lot of good energy, catharsis, and empowerment. It is so easy to lose your center on this journey. Maybe a few vagina jokes and some mocktails with the girls in RubyFeather  will help to brighten up this place!
And speaking of “not funny” moments (having little or nothing to do with my vagina) let me tell you about our domestic train wreck yesterday….
The Bear and I have been married a year. Last night was to mark the first dinner we have hosted at our house for both his parents and mine. I love my in-laws AND I love my parents, but the night was like a train that CRASHED, DE-RAILED, then got itself back on course and somehow arrived AHEAD OF TIME!
(Forgive me , if anyone in my family reads this. But blogging IS my therapy!)
Friday night, T minus 4 hours….My dad got a phone call at 2pm from a hospital in Florida. He had been trying to find his brother, whose phone was busy for several days. A man called to say he found my uncle passed out on the floor of his apartment a few days ago. He was now in intensive care and had not resumed conciousness. My parents are visiting Boston from California, and we immediately began making plans for my dad  to fly to florida, to be at my uncle’s bedside.
T minus 2 hours….My mother in law arrived two hours early . She had been trying to reach her son (my husband), who was swept away in the hubub of our family drama, and had missed her calls. I was still trying to arrange a flight and car for my dad and I hadn’t had a moment to dress pretty or finish setting up the house. (Obviously our priorities had changed). This day was a BIG DEAL to me. We’ve been planning it for weeks and I even bought our “married” silverware in preparation for the perfect table. This seemed so superfluous now.
Anyway, my head and heart were with my uncle, but the night was still moving forward. I hate not being prepared and I am a terrible stress ball (…control freak?) when things get derailed. (People who know me are probably smiling at this remark) The Bear was beyond grumpy,the appetizers still in plastic wrap, and I felt like someone who was caught in musky old clothes after a hapless walk of shame.
So train WRECK….then a slight DE-RAIL. When you are on this infertility journey, keeping face during special times can often seem like a dauntless task and a secret obsession. Once I realized that I needed to LET GO of the need to be appear perfect the night seemed to improve. Still it was not easy to give up this obsession!!!!! I lit a few candles and the floor didn’t seem as dirty (and neither did my hair : ) ). I had a few glasses of wine and “pouf”, BACK ON TRACK!
Somewhere between the stuffed mushrooms and the pork loin I was able to sneak away and get my dad a ticket to florida. My dear friend helped us out with a buddy pass on Jet Blue. (FLY JET BLUE!!!!!). I resumed my spot in the group and dad was relieved. Mom and M-I-L had rosy cheeks from a bit of wine and  girl-talk.
TAKE OFF. The Bear made a pork loin that was out of this world. Jews and pork- not always a good mix, but it was absolutely perfect!
T PLUS 2 HOURS- The pork was consumed, the apple cobbler devoured and my father in law was turning my parents on to another shot of lemoncello.
The night ended well. Daddy left on a 7am flight for Florida today. He says Uncle had a stroke and his condition is critical. I will keep them both in my prayers. The night made me realize that family is the most important thing… Nothing is ever perfect. But we need to cherish those moments that tug at our hearts. I am blessed to have so much love in this house….In 10 years, I’ll remember my mother’s bright eyes and tender heart last night, not my smelly pits or messy kitchen. That’s what I’ll take away from this….
Wishing you joyful moments of imperfection…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Snowball's Chance

My obsession with Angelina Jolie’s eggs kept me up last night. OK, I admit, it could appear somewhat homo-erotic, but that’s not what I’m getting at. If we are not preggers the “old fashioned way” : ) this month, we will resume our IVF journey in the next few weeks. After several lost pregnancies through IVF and IUI, I am pretty anxious about this round. Our Doctor (who I LOVE) recommends we continue with ICSI and IVF and hold off on pursuing a donor egg. She gave the Bear and I a slew of genetic tests (12 blood tests for me!) and did an endometrial biopsy to rule out endometritis as the cause of our frequent losses. Everything came back A-OK and we exhumed a big sigh of relief after the many weeks of waiting.

Still, I feel a little like a deer in the headlights on this round. I’m standing in the middle of the road, hoping I’m not hit again…

I love my Dr. because she is one of the best in her industry. She directs the Center for Infertility at a prominent hospital in Boston, and she teaches at Harvard Medical School. She takes the time to talk to us, and actually asks us how we are doing. I’ve dealt with some of her colleagues at the center, and it’s rare to get more than a grunt from some of them. Nevertheless, I believe that she cares deeply for her patients and she’ll give you straight up advice. She’s the kind of woman I would have liked to be friends with, in another time and place.

My obsession with Angelina and the eggs she bares has very little to do with Angelina Jolie herself. It’s what she personifies to me. She’s a sexual goddess yet she’s a seemingly devoted (and quite fertile) mother figure. Being married to an Italian, who’s also a Catholic, I recognize that women are often archetypally personified as the vixen (sexual and available), or the virgin (mother figure). But Angelina is both, it seems (at least to the camera). Her eggs seem like Faberge’.

Where is this going?

I guess I’m scared. I get overly “heady” when I’m scared. I’m scared of losing another one or having a baby with birth defects because of the age of my old eggs. I’m pretty messed up in the head right now.

My probability rate of getting pregnant with my eggs and having a live birth is about 23%-26% as per my Doctor. I compared the figure to other events with a similar probability, just to see how I felt about it:

  • In 2005, analysts predicted there would be a 1 in 4 chance of a recession in the next 12 months. (And look what happened!)
  • There is a 45.12% probability that a building will blow down in its lifetime!
  • There is a 23% probability that a “Great Flood” will occur every 25 years.
  • There is a 23% chance of snow in Columbus, Ohio on any given Christmas.
  • If you are a trucker, and are text messaging (or reading this!) you have a 22% greater chance of being involved in an accident in Portland, Oregon.

Wow. This stuff is pretty depressing, but I do know something without repute:

  • I am 500% loved by a man I adore, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner on this journey. (The Bear confirms this!)
  • I am happy for all I do have. All the people I have touched, who have touched me in return.
  • I have so very much to be thankful for. I need to sit in my power.
  • Even if my eggs are few, and not as fresh as they once were, they are beautiful, and treasured. And they are mine! : )

On the Inside- and it Stings!

This following is a response I posted to Melissa Ford (aka Stirrup queen) on BlogHer column refuting a recent article about twins and IVF. It is in relation to a recent New York Times article that many of us found deeply disheartening. Again, it makes me feel like those of us on this journey are in a bubble of isolation, while those on the outside of the experience proselyytize and minimize the motivations of Doctors and patients alike. I welcome you to read this article, and offer your own comments on the subject. My thoughts on “The Gift of Life, and its Price” by Stephanie Saul in the New York Times:  
Dear Melissa,
Thank you for this beautiful review of a very disturbing article. I can’t begin to tell you how I feel when I picked up my Sunday NYT to see the photo of two sanguine babies so small, they fit in sand buckets (They were actually placed in these buckets for their photo!). The paper lay on my kitchen table for 3 days before I willed myself to read it. My husband and I are taking a month break from IVF after two consecutive miscarriages. What bothered me about the article was that it truly felt as if it was scribed by someone on the “outside” of this experience. For those of us on this journey, it pains me to see such indifference and lack of opposing viewpoints in such a front page article. Saul makes it appear as if every Doctor and clinic’s focus lies solely on churning out babies and ensuring the fiscal success of their practice. She insinuates that reputable clinics avoid proper protocall and compromise the safety of their patients in order to “meet numbers” and draw new clients to their practice. While this may be the case in some clinics, I think it is a broad, sweeping exaggeration to say that is the motivating factor of every RE.
In my experiences with IUI and IVF, I have never encountered such pressure, or lack of regard for my overall well being. 
I wish the article would have offered a more balanced perspective and Saul would have interviewed others in the Medical profession who’s purpose and attitude differed from her own.
Thank you so much for your perspective, and for letting me share mine.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Join RubyFeather

I’ve just created  a social club for baby-makin’ ladies who would like to meet in a positive setting and share stories, encouragement and adventures. We will host monthly socials and  outings in the Boston area. All are welcome. 
For more information, feel free to email me at and be sure to check out the link below for event details:
New to Boston! RubyFeather hopes to engage and empower women who are experiencing the ups and downs of  adding on to their families. We believe that we are stronger together, than individually. We are here to offer you some good energy, and some girl power. We meet up for coffee-talk, mocktails, mixers and outings. Whether you are single, married, gay, or straight, you are welcome. Whether your journey is through IVF, IUI, adoption, or the traditional method we encourage you to join us. We are not a “group therapy session” but a group of strong ladies who believe laughter and encouragement is the best medicine 
What we do:
Meet for cocktails and mocktails
Try new yoga studios
Take power walks
Kvetch (sometimes : ))
Share stories and strengths
Support, befriend and encourage each other

What we are not:
We have NO medical expertise whatsoever! Thus we will not administer any medical advice.
We are not a therapy session (unless laughter and fun are therapy!)
Please check us out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What is RubyFeather?

We sit across from each other in the waiting room of the Infertility Clinic. Sometimes we are with a partner or a friend. Sometimes we come alone. We see each other at our IVF and IUI orientations – 5 hours of medial info and tears. Small talk at break over coffee. Downcast eyes. Beyond that, we don’t speak.
Now we are embroiled in the process. We talk to friends about it, but they don’t understand. How can they truly? Our partner is in the thick of it with us. Sometimes people ask us too many questions, or just tell us to “relax and it’ll happen!!”
We see each other again at the ultrasound clinic. First it’s the “high achievers” in suits, in line before 6am, then, the rest of us, somewhat discheveled. We each carry a folder full of numbers and stats, a map of the maze-like hospital, and our medical protocall. Red folders for IVF. Green for egg donation. Still, we don’t speak.
Eventually, we get so overcome by the process that we crave the comraderie of other women going through the experience. We join online chats and groups, and read countless blogs. We speak through the computer. A little echo in a long tunnel of silence. 
So many times, I’ve wanted to talk to you. I wanted to say “I UNDERSTAND.” I’ve wanted to give you a hug if you needed it, or a smile just to commiserate. It sucks. It really does! And noone knows it better than someone experiencing it as you are.
I’m the woman that sits across from you getting her blood drawn for the millionth time. You can also find me down in the ultrasound room. I’m the lady on line in the grocery store, buying pineapple and avoiding dairy. I’m your online BFF.
Let’s smile at one another next time. A big cheshire cat smile. Emanating like light from a once dark space.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dance in Love

 A psychic once told me to "Dance in Love". I'm not exactly sure what that means, or why I needed to pay a psychic to tell me that. But every so often it pops into my mind. Like a moment ago! I'm riding the commuter rail from Boston to Providence. I'm on my way to a creative leadership seminar.The darkness envelops the train, with it's green flourescent lights and smell of old coffee.  For the last thirty minutes I've been assuming that we are still in a tunnel. Every so often a gentle orb of light flies by the window. On a deeper look, cutting through the tinny hum of the railcar, I finally realized that we were never in a tunnel. It's just the moments before dawn. The dark hush which preceeds the day. Its fall in New England, with a robust harvest moon and wet, crisp mornings. Now, when I look -and concentrate- I see a slip of blue piercing the darkness. The black "tunnel" has been a stand of trees. Thick disiduous tress, heavy with wet leaves, soon to drop as fall decends.

Sometimes I think the journeys we are on in life feel like this train ride. At times, we can feel as if we are trapped in the womblike silence of a dark tunnel. When we take time to look- and to BELIEVE- we can see that there's  life outside. And if we wait long enough- a Sunrise!

The journey might take you somewhere new. Conversely, it might be a route you are accustomed to, or one you are weary of travelling. If you look around, however, you'll discover something new with each journey. The kindness of a stranger, or beauty beyond reach.

The nice thing about this journey is that it might lead you somewhere you never expected. Even if you know where you are headed- there are still suprises. Also, its good to remember that you can get off the train at any time. Maybe try a different route to your destination next time.

Whatever you wish for, I hope it becomes yours.

Dance in love my dear.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I’ve gotten about 50 hits on the blog this month by people searching the keyword “pterodactyl”. (See the posting: Fill Your Cup). Innocently, I recommended that anyone going through the baby-making process develop an “alter ego” to give voice to the new hyper-you that seems to come out during the meds and the stressful trials of trying to conceive. I refer to MY alter ego as Tarra, she’s a graceful pterodactyl. I could not go through this without Tarra. I can attribute (or blame her) for any mood swings or questionable tears that surface during the process. She’s also a great source of humor for both me and my husband, as we can just say “Tarra did it!” when anything particularly nasty comes out of my mouth.
Tarra sits on my right shoulder. She’s strong and powerful, but angers easily. Like me, she knows that even when it’s bad, it’s worth it. She’s not sure if this journey will bring us a baby through IVF, egg donation or adoption, but she assures me that there’s more than one way to make a family.
Tarra loves all women going on this journey, because no matter how beautiful, how successful, or how self-actualized we are, we are still humbled by the process. Her little reptile heart beats for each of us.
I bring this up for two reasons:
1. I think everyone should have an alter ego.
2. There are a handful of schoolchildren out there, looking for information on Dinosaurs, and finding a Vaginasaurus instead….

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Prize

I went to buy yet another ovulation predictor kit at CVS yesterday. I think those of us trying for a while should get a punch card ( like the ones they give at coffee shops) and once you hit a dozen (or two) you get a prize. I know what I’d like as a prize…7lbs, 3oz. Green eyes like my husband’s….

The boy behind the counter gave me my shopping bag and whispered “Good luck!”

I felt like crying.