So, Thanksgiving is racist. We can all agree on that.  In the past, I have refused to celebrate it, but then I discovered the only thing that accomplished was depriving my family of my presence and mashed potato-eating abilities (of course, I was a vegetarian at the time), and depriving me of an opportunity to pause and be grateful for 10 minutes before moving on to the next thing.  Since then, I have come to embrace it.  You know, sort of.

I would say one of the things that sucks the most in life is having to share the kids on the holidays, including Thanksgiving.  This one and the 4th of July are particularly difficult to stomach, since their “other parent” (i.e., not my wife, but the OTHER other parent) is not American.  So they don’t have family traditions, etc. over at that house.   Meanwhile, my wife and I are cooking a turkey for ourselves.  Or, getting blindingly drunk with our friends while watching fireworks, whatever. Some holidays are easier to manage than others.

Anyway, back to the point at hand, which is that we don’t have the kids for Thanksgiving this year.  Sad.  So, my wife wanted to celebrate by having a Thanksgiving-esque dinner at our house tonight, but only without a turkey, because (1) we didn’t want to steal the real-Thanksgiving thunder, and (2) the kids, frankly, do not want to have two Thanksgivings. They want one, on the actual day, and then okay, do something Thanksgiving-like with the other set of parents.  But you can really only handle so much turkey in one week.

So, my wife wanted to cook something that would have actually been eaten in 1621. Isn’t that ambitious?  She decided, after  some quick internet research, that this was either duck, quail, or venison.  Since the kids are anti-duck (don’t ask me why they’ve eaten duck when I haven’t even eaten duck, let’s just suffice it to say that they have, and they were not fans), and we thought quail could be hard to come by, that left us with venison.  Specifically, that left us with this venison stew:


This is a wild mushroom and venison stew, created by Emeril, recipe/credits here.  Alright, we think. We head to Fairway to buy the requisite wild mushrooms, parsnips, venison, and other odd whathaveyous that the recipe calls for.  We do not come up with veal stock (WTF, is that a thing?) and we do not come up with venison.  At least, not enough venison.  We do come up with one package of venison chops (12 oz) and some buffalo meat. My wife decides the buffalo is “close enough” to venison, so we toss it in the cart and out we go.

When we get home, we notice this review, that the stew is fabulous, here are some tips, oh, and by the way, “[t]his is intermediate level cooking. If you are a beginner try another recipe.”  Um, what? You would think we would have been tipped off by the exotic ingredients, but we were looking it up on our phone on the way to the store, so, you know.  We weren’t.

Undaunted, I rolled up my sleeves to make this last night after the kids went to bed, because unlike the real Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving-esque is on a school-and-work night. Which means it needs to be finished by sticking it in the oven to warm it up, not cooked from scratch immediately before eating.  That’s when we noticed that the prep time was 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Because of this, I opted to just dive right in and start cooking shit, rather than chopping up all the millions of vegetables ahead of time.  It went… okay? I guess?  I didn’t exactly “dice” the things that called for dicing, but a coarse chopping will do fine, right?

Somewhere around 11:30, when it was all finished, I checked my work email.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a bunch of work-crap happening between 10 and 11:30. Whoops. Thankfully, the other associate resolved it, otherwise I would have had the opportunity to START WORKING again at 11:30.  The law firm is a cruel and unusual place.

My point, really, is this.  Being a working parent is sometimes the most horrible, difficult, exhausting thing.  There is never enough time for anything, so you just cut out sleep, trying to add more hours into the day. After all the stew hullabaloo last night, we also had to get up to drop our car off for new tires at 7 am (we had a flat, so it couldn’t wait anymore).   After we dropped our car off for the tires this morning, my wife left for work and I got the two elementary-aged kids ready for school.  And THEN I realized I had no car to take them in.  So, we walked.  Even though it was too late for that, even thought it was freezing out, and it was a cello day, and we could only find one mitten for one of them.  We just dealt with it, and we laughed the whole way there, talking about squirrels and their nut-finding abilities, and a hawk that flew over my daughter’s head while she played on her friend’s trampoline, and balancing on the curb even though we had no time for that.

And I realize that this is the stuff that kids remember. Holidays, yes. But also how hard we try to make things special for them, and the crazy things we introduce them to, and how we live our life, taking what comes, fitting it all in, doing it all, even if we sometimes do it all poorly and half-assed and exhausted.  My kids will be flexible, they will take life as it comes and roll with the punches, they will just use buffalo instead and walk to school on a cello day.  This is Thanksgiving in our house, because this is life in our house.


the mermaid

I wrote the post below last Thursday, but have avoided publishing it. It seems so negative, so melodramatic. But honestly, trying to conceive is one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had, and quite frankly, I often feel pretty negative and melodramatic.  I will find out if I am pregnant over the weekend. I am sure, as this week draws to a close, I will have some hope, some optimism, and then, either some more disappointment or some elation. We shall see. But for now, I just feel overwhelmingly, decidedly not pregnant.  I don’t understand how I possibly could be pregnant, when I feel exactly the same as I always do.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sunday night, we got the “light line” on our OPK. While we had agreed just a few days before with our RE that it was time to start reading our OPKs differently so that we did not miss ovulation each time we inseminated, I was nervous. I thought we’d see the light line in the morning, so we’d have plenty of time to get to “dark line” by the time we did our insemination. But getting the light line at night meant that Monday morning, when it was time to make the call, I still had just a light line. So, we hesitated. Should we ask for a sonogram before they thawed the sperm?

We finally decided to just go for it. We had two specimens left from our hot smart donor, which meant that if Monday was too soon, we could try again on Tuesday. We got in the car to head to the doctor’s office. Then, while my wife drove, I looked at our calendars.

“Okay. So you have an 8:30 meeting, a 10am meeting, and a 3pm meeting. I have a 10:30 conference call, a 1pm call, and a 4pm call. So…. Can you skip anything?”

“No. Not really. Can you?”

“Nope. What the hell.” It was 7:45. Even if they thawed the sperm right then, my wife would be late for her 8:30 meeting. “The only window we have is between 11:30 and 1.”

“Well,” said my wife, “I guess we’re doing it between 11:30 and 1.”

Our doctor’s office is basically across the street from where my wife works, but it’s a good hour and a half on mass transit from where I work. The way my meetings were spaced, there was no getting into the office if we did the insemination between 11:30 and 1.

So, I had to figure out what to tell my boss about why I suddenly wasn’t coming in. I had been out sick for a week over Halloween, I had just taken half a day off to meet with the RE on Thursday. I was rapidly running out of good excuses for not showing up to work. How much easier would it be on everyone if you could just say, “Hey, we’re trying to get pregnant here, so I am going to be missing a shitload of work. Okay great.” I only had one excuse I hadn’t exhausted. “I guess I have to say its a childcare issue. ”

“It is,” my wife said. “It’s just the child we don’t have yet.”

My wife set me up to work in a cubicle at her office, and we went our separate ways. I called the doctor’s office at 8:30, when their desk opened, and told the receptionist I needed to schedule an IUI. “Oh, well, hm. We’re really booked today. Could you do 11:30?”

I wanted to kiss her. “Yes! 11:30 is perfect. Thank you!” I could barely contain my excitement.

I will spare you the details, but the insemination was the best yet. My 10:30 call ended early, and we were actually on time for once in our lives. We didn’t have to wait. A female doctor was working, instead of the cranky man doctor who ignores my wife that had done the last 3 inseminations. When the doctor did the post-insemination sonogram, my follicle was over 24mm and irregularly shaped, indicating that I was about to ovulate at any second. The timing, for once, was dead-on. I went and got a salad with my wife in the bright fall sunshine, and then we both went back to work. It was surreal. It was like an hour out of time, when everything went right for us.

Something about the way everything lined up this time made me feel like there was a bit of magic in it all, and I want to believe this is the time we made our baby. We were both so present this time.

Then, yesterday, came the fear.

I’m afraid I’m setting myself up for disappointment if this isn’t the time. It felt so right, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t it. But sometimes I can’t help but feel like the baby has become a myth, like a mermaid. I’ve wanted this for so long. I want so badly to believe that flash in the water was something magical, but deep down, I know that mermaids aren’t real, and magic does not happen for ordinary people like me.

let’s do it anyway

This weekend, we did nothing but chores. Well, technically, we also sat outside in the freezing cold to watch one football and two soccer games. We went to Home Depot twice, since we are working on repainting the kids’ rooms. We switched out summer clothes for winter and went to Target. My wife did about 37 loads of laundry (she has a very particular system, and does not appreciate anyone messing with it, even if that someone has actually managed to do their own laundry without ruining anything for their entire adult life). I tried to go for a run (something for me! Something fun!) and tripped over a metal pipe buried in leaves on the edge of the sidewalk, twisting my ankle and skinning my knee. I limped home after only being gone for 10 minutes.

Yesterday, the kids were off from school, so we worked from home. Sometimes this means about 4 hours of work sprinkled with fun activities for the kids. This time, for me, it meant my ass at the desk from 9:30 in the morning until midnight, with breaks only to pick my son up from a birthday party, eat dinner, and clean up the kitchen afterward. To top it all off, my boss warned me at about 7 pm that I was “about to get really busy.”

To say that I resent the men I work with who have stay at home wives or part-time wives is an understatement. I promise you none of them were up at 6:45 to make dinner in the crockpot before they left for work. I promise you none of them were responsible for making sure their awkwardly-sized pre-teen daughter had long sleeved shirts. When I told my wife I was “about to get really busy,” she correctly observed that we were ALREADY really busy. And then the cat peed on the bed, which is her way of also observing that it has been a little too hectic for her liking.

As I sat at my desk, researching laws I don’t care about at 11:30 at night, I thought about busy, and our lives. I thought about adding the complication of a pregnancy and a baby to our already full plates. When I climbed into bed, I asked my wife if I would be happy soon. I don’t think anyone would be happy working a a job they don’t like for 16 hours a day, and spending their leisure time cleaning up cat piss, so she hopefully does not take these questions personally. I asked her whether we were stupid to add another complication to our already overbooked lives. “Well,” she said, “according to the New York Times, having more children is totally likely to make you even more miserable. But let’s do it anyway.”

I should note that this is how we approach most things in our lives.  Oh a dog, that sounds like a lot of work and something we don’t have time for. Let’s do it anyway.  What’s that, we never have a weekend with more than an hour of free time?  Let’s go ahead and re-decorate all three kids’ rooms anyway.  Etc.

No one would say that coercing your 10 year old daughter into a shirt that isn’t $55 is fun. No one wants to run around from practice to practice, packing snacks and dealing with messes and broken things and cat pee and dogs barking and teenagers stropping. On balance, it probably nets out to less overall happiness. But still, no one who has kids would really change it. As my wife said, they also add so much light to your life.

So no. Having another kid won’t make me happy. It will probably even make me less happy (on a net basis), if the New York Times is to be believed. Whatever, lets do it anyway.