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diblings

The system is working: this morning my phone alarm went off at 8:50am with the reminder “SIERRA”- which is what I call my car. I moved her from her Thursday spot to a Tuesday spot and reset my alarm even though I know I’ll drive over the weekend- I need to err on the side of being anal.

It’s sprinkling and chilly this morning. I’ve found myself moody this week- content on Monday, foggy and insecure in Tuesday. What will today bring? Today my motto is “Be kind to everyone and especially yourself.”

Last week, I joined the Donor Sibling Registry. It’s a site where families with donor kids can connect with their kids’ donor siblings, or “diblings,” meaning that the kids share half their genetics. Whereas I’m happy to remain disconnected from McPiercy himself for all kinds of reasons, I welcome the opportunity to meet E’s diblings and their families- it just seems like opening up more possibilities for love and community! And, if we don’t click for whatever reason, that’s ok- we just move on, there’s no obligation.

So I registered last week on the DSR (and paid the $75 membership fee- it’s a nonprofit run by a family with donor kids who wanted to connect) and saw that there were several other families listed with McPiercy’s donor number listed. They all had nice posts about being open to being contacted. I emailed them all.

I was excited but it also felt low stakes. Nothing for a few days and then yesterday my first hit! R, mom of 2 boys (5and 3) in LA emailed me a friendly message and let me know that (YAY) there’s a secret Facebook page for four families with 3 girls and 2 boys (now 3 and 3 including E!)! I’d heard from SMC friends about the FB page phenomenon and I’m so happy there’s one for us!

Now I’m just standing by waiting to be connected to the group. This will be fun.

A few photos of adventures with E. Have a beautiful day! xo

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meal planning and parking tickets

I can’t believe how well it’s going with meal planning, something I literally never did before becoming a mom.

Once every 7-10 days, I sit down with my computer after E is sleeping and place my Amazon Fresh order. I start with staples by quickly clicking through past purchases. Then I find 3 recipes to make for the week. Either I find them buried somewhere in my gmail or I search for something specific on sites like www.yummytoddlerfood.com or www.momtastic.com or regular recipe sites or my sister D’s resources for meal planning. I order the ingredients I need for those 3 meals. I copy/paste the recipe into an email that I send to myself, starring it so it stays at the top of my inbox until I make it.

I do some cooking at night, some things are simple that I can make after work, some go in the crockpot in the morning (today’s meal is cooking as we speak: Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili)

We’ve been eating well, spending less money, having leftover night with downstairs neighbor L, and E’s lunches look like this:

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I take pictures because I’m proud and I can’t believe I made them. I bought the bento box for myself as a practical lunch container to run with but quickly found that this can’t contain enough food to keep me full, so it became E’s.

So here’s the down side and I believe this to be directly correlated. I keep getting parking tickets. In my neighborhood, there is typically street cleaning once a week. If you’re parked there during the (2-hour) street cleaning window, you are fined $68. This is happening to me way too often. I keep thinking “that’s the last one! Now I’ll really pay attention!” And then I do something like move my car a day early to be safe, and put it in a spot that is cleaned once every 2 weeks but since I didn’t check I didn’t realize that it would be that day. As if just by moving it, I’m safe, so my vigilance turns off. I’ll make a strong mental note that my car is good for a week and then less of a mental note when I make an unexpected trip and repark in a new spot. This morning I sucked in my breath as I heard the street cleaner come down my side of the street- E was already at the window watching it glide down the block and swerve around my one lone car.

This is even with my downstairs neighbor looking out for me. Either she has a sixth sense about it or looks out her window a lot. Last night she called and texted but I was asleep at 8:45, in my running clothes, for the night.

I think meal planning has taken over my ability to track my car. I’ve tried setting an alarm. I’ve tried having it be the most important thing to remember each day. I am probably shelling out 2-3 tickets a month. This has got to stop!

Do I set one time aside each day to think about my car? Each morning when I leave for work I confirm its safety or move it? Put a note on my hand? Skywriting? Would this go better if the fine was $1000?

Well, on the bright side, we are eating well. I’ll just have to forge new pathways in my brain. Or whatever brilliant ideas you come up with.
xo

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all clear

The doctor called to say that the biopsy confirmed his preliminary diagnosis of a branchial cleft cyst! It’s not just good news but overjoying news with a hilarious and comical spin that makes people smile! This ominous anomaly became a vestige of our amphibious past, a nod to evolution, and a clue about my own mystical mermaidhood. I made the doctor laugh going on like this. He did not contradict me when I paraphrased him with, “I have a gill!”

I’ll be scheduling surgery sometime before the end of the year. And now I’ll do my life insurance. Grateful to my gill for helping me get that stuff set up. Thank you for your well wishes along the way.

In other news, yesterday I read one of my favorite articles ever on single moms by choice, about SMCs in Denmark. They are called solomor and the article takes a refreshingly positive view on families like ours. Read it here!

Lots of love to you on this gorgeous Wednesday. xoxoxo

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child care

I’ve been so lucky to have the greatest nanny ever for almost a year now. She’s warm, professional, unflappable, and 100% reliable. She speaks only Spanish to E (and me, which has really improved my Spanish) and she loves E and he loves her. And she picks him up in the morning to go to the other family- priceless.

The other family has been mostly great- a ten-minute walk through a beautiful neighborhood. They have a newly-remodeled house, lots of toys, even outdoor space, and they are close to Golden Gate Park. Their son is 6 months older and has been a great buddy for E (E’s first word was this boy’s name).

Clearly, though, these types of arrangements fluctuate with changing circumstances and pretty much all of theirs are changing, including: a new baby any day now, many classes for their older boy (including some preschool), maternity leave, and then a possible job change or simply not going back to work for her or maybe three days a week- many question marks about how this goes forward.

Child care can be so reassuringly regular or so so very stressful. Through winter colds and last-minute changes, I’ve struggled at times with my frustration with the other mom (we are so different) whereas I feel like the care is awesome. Now that everything is kind of getting thrown in the air, it’s a new kind of crazy stress- wondering if E will still get full attention while the nanny and the mom seemingly juggle three, plus chauffeuring the older boy to classes, plus I would really prefer to share 5 days a week, not the current 4.

I’ve always known that these situations are, by necessity, fluid, but once you’re in and settled and you love your nanny, contemplating a change feels impossible. Yet the situation has gotten so complicated. I crave a 5-day family and the simplicity that comes with that, yet what will I be giving up?

I went to preschool preview night last week- it was exciting! Spanish immersion programs, Montessori, close proximity, financial aid! Some start at 2, most between 2-3. I was not planning to send him next fall but now I don’t know.

My co-worker who has a boy just a little older than E has been through the ringer this year with nannies. They are on nanny #4 in as many months. A cautionary tale…

Yet perhaps if I relax and trust and have faith, the perfect scenario will present itself. Meanwhile, the nanny sends me photos like this during the day- the kids are all right. They’re having a blast, actually!

Xo

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yes

Saturday night, typing from the couch!

To pick up where I left off about my health scare- after an ultrasound and an MRI, the mass on the side of my neck appeared not to be malignant, based on the radiology reports, big relief. Going into my appointment, on Friday, I was very much looking forward to speaking with a live specialist and getting some real information about what this thing was instead of what it wasn’t.

Well, the doctor positively burst into the room and said he was excited to see me. That he’d read the reports and couldn’t wait to get the images, which he had now seen. I asked if I was some kind of special case and he said we’d just start by taking a  look.

He did an ultrasound and showed me that the mass has fluid in it (I could see that) and also pointed out that while the report said the mass was “vascularized,” it also said that it didn’t change with contrast. All of this to say, the report contradicted itself and it seems to be a cyst. Which I think made it less exciting to him but a relief to me, since cysts aren’t usually scary things.

He did a biopsy (not pleasant but not too terrible) and said that there was clear fluid coming out, which would be consistent with his diagnosis of a cyst. Also, there was no blood, leading one to believe it was not vascularized. Now here’s the crazy part:

Pending the results of the biopsy, he is predicting that this is a “congenital branchial cleft cyst.” What is that, you ask? Well, to explain this condition, we have to go back to when we were two-week-old embryos, when we were more like fish than humans. When we had gills, or at least the beginnings of gills. This is the moment that the gills “obliterate” or seal shut. In some cases, though, the seal is incomplete, and a pocket forms. A cyst is there at birth and eventually can enlarge due to an upper respiratory infection (which is what happened to me). It’s more or less harmless yet could be prone to infection.

So, my friends, this turned out to be a problem with my gill. I asked the doctor if I should blame my mom and he laughed. Two weeks is very early- I mean, maybe one extra cocktail and boom! My gill doesn’t seal.

When I got home, I started considering the possible symbolism around this. If I have this removed (likely, if that’s the diagnosis), will I then and only then become a full-fledged mammal? Will I experience some level of rebirth as a non-reptile? Will I have to re-learn how to swim?

I started googling, “branchial cleft cyst poetry” and “branchial cleft cyst spirituality,” thinking for sure there must be something along these lines. It’s just too surreal. There was nothing. I would own this literary niche.

After all my stress about this being something super serious, I find this to a be a downright friendly diagnosis and I am grateful. I don’t yet fully understand why this, why now, and maybe never will, but I’ll meditate on it. And if it turns out to be something completely different next week, you will be kept apprised..

Meanwhile, I’m back on the best case scenario track while E, with no appreciation for any of the above, has become Mr. Contrarian this week, fully exercising his use of the word No. We are working on Yes, which sounds like “Jesh,” but it doesn’t get nearly the airtime or level of passion. Diaper changes, clothes on, clothes off, stroller, car seat, close to everything is not what he wanted.  It reminds me of this video: Charlotte No No No

It’s part of the drill! Gracias a dios.

More to write, but I’ll save some for Tuesday on the bus.

xo

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agua

This seems like a Tuesday thing! Back on the bus. Thanks to the long weekend plus a professional cleaning of my apartment, I am rested, organized, and on the bus 15 minutes earlier than usual.

After a few years of no coffee, I feel myself inching back. I gave it up during the ttc process, kept on without it while pregnant, then it just seemed hazardous and time-consuming with a newborn. But I’ve found myself getting the occasional decaf latte as a treat, then once a week, then twice a week, etc. Then a regular latte. Then a regular drip coffee to save money. Now it’s like every other day.

There’s no reason not to- probably fine or even good for one’s health in moderation. I do like the feeling of being not-addicted and waking up naturally, and also feel like I save piles of money by not purchasing it. But right now I’m so looking forward to stepping off the bus and purchasing that small regular with room for cream. I think it’s $1.79. We all need our thing.

It was a fantastic hot summer weekend during which E and I were not separated for 3 days. I only felt it once the nanny picked him up this morning and I felt the peace of not being on. I needed a break and as a working mom I do now understand the Thank God It’s Monday phenomenon. I also saw a meme over the weekend that was a woman poolside with a frantic expression on her face, it said, “I was looking forward to relaxing this weekend, and then I remembered: I’m a mom!!!”

The theme of the weekend was great food, old friends, and water. M came over Friday night for pulled pork tacos (a slow cooker recipe I will have to post because it was so easy and so so delicious) and catching up after E’s bedtime. On Sat, lunch with sweet baby O and his parents. Then: pool party with the MI crew. Of course, I was too busy following E to catch up with anyone for real- he was in the pool, out, in, out, and his little silken feet slipped so easily on the poolside surface that I felt I should not let go of his hand. He is exuberant around water and even after changing back into clothes would have walked straight off the edge. He watches the older kids with ravenous curiosity. We had amazing bbq. We were both completely wiped out at 8pm and my back was tweaked (thankfully is better now).

Sunday was brunch with C and C–we walked through the Presidio at a leisurely relaxed pace. 3-day weekends do this- no need to rush. Monday I took E to the beach. I think it’s like going to church for him. At one point I let go to see what he’d do and he put both arms up and started walking straight in. Hallelujah, water!

Now he wakes up in the morning and says, Mom. Truck. Book! Doggie. Agua. And: beach.

In the early morning sunlight, I snuggle him and say- it’s going to be a great day.

Xo

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health

Back on the bus! Now I’ll just write to work 9 more times and it’ll be a habit.

Last March, when E and I were in the middle of another round of winter illness, I went to the doctor to get some medicine. She noted my swollen lymph nodes and particularly on one side. At the time, I think she said we should watch that since you don’t really want enlarged glands on one side. She prescribed antibiotics, I got better, and forgot about it.

A couple of months went by before I realized there was still a little lump there. I thought maybe the lymph node (of which I thought you only have one on each side but you actually have like 300) just hadn’t drained sufficiently. I went back to the doc and she said maybe but let’s do an ultrasound.

Around that time, I started googling, which is a bad, bad, and totally irresistible thing to do. I remember when I was going through IVF googling like mad, almost as if I could get information on the status of the actual embryo inside me if I could just get the search criteria precise enough. You just can’t not do it. The danger, of course, is that you find some scary stuff.

I did the ultrasound and found out just before leaving town for three weeks that the ultrasound was inconclusive and I would need a CT or MRI. And it was a “mass,” not a lymph node. But three weeks should make no difference so go enjoy your vacation, said my doc.

Well, I didn’t freak out, but this definitely got me thinking about putting my affairs in order, particularly a will, which of course is excruciating to think about, and so much more in terms of E’s welfare than my own. So, while in Michigan, despite power outages and lack of Internet, I managed to finish my will and have it signed and notarized. Phew.

Upon return, I did the MRI. Incidentally, that was an exercise in quelling panic, from start to finish, even though I was in an open MRI with no sides. If I ever have to do it again, I will take the anxiety meds.

I was supposed to get the results 2-3 days later, but by this past Sunday morning it had been 10 days. I also had something going on with my eye where it felt like something had been in it for 3 days, maybe a scratch on my cornea. And, to top it all off, E had gotten an insect bite of some kind just below his eye the day before and it was all swollen up. You know how sad it looks when anyone gets a swollen eye… That much worse with a baby.

Well, that was a real pileup of scary and worrisome shit. I felt super overwhelmed. I did not break down, because when you’re awaiting results, you’re spending so much energy just holding it together.

I took E to the doc and it was just a swollen mosquito bite- I got antibiotic cream to prevent infection. I got myself a latte and met up with JJ and S at the playground. In the afternoon, E slept for two hours while I made oatmeal banana muffins, kale cheesy bites, pasta, fruit salad, and Brussels sprouts. In the early evening, we took a trip to Ocean Beach where the wind and waves calmed me.

I was not spiraling. But, as a single parent, a health scare is worse. I’m both parents.

Yesterday morning, I got the MRI report- it is likely NOT NOT NOT malignant due to its “distinct margins” and my lack of enlarged glands. Biopsy, as I expected, to be sure. Breathing! Breathing! Breathing!

My eye is much better, E’s swelling went down.

Reminders to live each day, be grateful, get the papers in order. So relieved for now, and feeling like so much stuff I worry about is silly. Love to you all and fingers crossed that we all have good health in our futures.

Xoxoxo