Eli's Corner


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5 Things I’d Really Like People With Kids To Know

It always feels strange to post when you haven’t for so long, but I just wrote this big long comment on a Huffington Post article entitled “5 Things I’d Really Like People With No Kids To Know” (I know, why – WHY did I even click on it?  I think I genuinely thought it might be something other than it was, but it wasn’t).  It’s an unoriginal “kids are such a pain” rant – directed at people who don’t have kids.  This woman has a massive blind spot.  When I went to submit my comment, I realized that you have to sign over all of your personal information – via Facebook  (and you likely already know my feelings about Facebook) – in order to comment.  So I didn’t.  But now I have this comment that needs to be…commented.  Unfortunately, none of the people who need to see it will see it.  Oh well. Universe, here are my thoughts:

As a woman who has tried and failed for years to bring a child into the world, I’d like to give 5 gentle reminders to people with kids:
1. Every time you look at your child and see something of yourself or your partner, please be overwhelmed.
2. If you ever have the opportunity to go to an ultrasound appointment and hear a heartbeat, please be blown away.
3. I’m sure it’s difficult, but on those nights when your kids are keeping you up, please hold them close, listen to those cries and give thanks that those lungs are healthy, that this child is breathing, and of course, that this phase will pass.
4. I’m sure you miss going out, but let me assure you that while cocktail parties, travel and fine dining are nice, they feel emptier and emptier with each passing year that your arms remain empty.  So please look at those little reasons you can’t go out, and try to imagine life without them.
5. Consider your audience, and please be mindful when complaining about parenting to people who do not have kids that there is a good chance that their hearts have been breaking day after day, year after year to have these problems.  And maybe rein it in a little.

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another kick in the gut

I haven’t written any updates in a while, as I’ve been taking my first self-imposed break from babymaking since November 2011.  I was going to write a post about how awesome it is to not take a thousand supplements and vitamins everyday.  To not have a single fertility-related appointment for an entire month.  To drink wine and not have guilt and to not have sex when you’re ovulating because frankly, you’re not in the mood.  And then to have fabulous sex a few days later just because of sex.  How you start to feel like a person again, rather than a mere vessel, and you find yourself making time for other pursuits, pursuits that make you feel a little more like you again.  This was going to be a whole post about that.  But then yesterday happened.

I was very much enjoying my time off, so much so that I was contemplating extending it.  I had in my mind that I would let my ovaries rest up for the holidays and would just enjoy personhood during that time.  If I felt like having sex while ovulating, I would.  If not, I wouldn’t.  There was a vague thought of doing IVF in January.  But I didn’t need to think about that now.  In the midst of this heady freedom, however, I remembered that my RE gets booked up months in advance, and I thought I had better call and set something up now for January.  Come to find out, she was already booked through January, but she had a cancelation yesterday.  So I broke my “no babymaking appointments” rule and headed over with my husband to talk about next steps.

My acupuncturist/doctor of chinese medicine advised me to get my AMH tested a while ago, based on the fact that my mom had her last period in her mid-30s.  I talked to my RE about this, and she said that it was unlikely to be an issue in my case, since I respond pretty well to fertility drugs.  I pushed the issue, and she obliged me and ordered the test.  I had the requisition sitting on my desk for months, expecting one of the IUI treatments to work and for the whole ovarian reserve thing to become a non-issue.  After my fourth IUI failed, however, I got the bloodwork  done.  This was over a month ago, so one of my first questions was if those results were in.  She hadn’t even checked.  I asked if she could please look and pull them up.  She reiterated that she didn’t think it was an issue, but when she did pull them up, she was visibly shocked.

My AMH level is 0.47 – which, if you’re not familiar with AMH levels, isn’t even inside the low range for a woman of my age.  She started to brush past it and talk about IVF, saying that since I respond to drugs well, this doesn’t really matter.  I stopped her and asked what this meant in terms of early menopause.  She just said flat-out, you will have an early menopause.  You probably have a year or two before you lose fertility.

I’ve had a handful of moments in my life where I’ve received news that kicked the world into slow motion.  This was one of them.  Clearly, this wasn’t a total shock to me, as I was worried enough about it to press the issue and get the test, but having that nagging base-level fear confirmed was like a punch in the gut.  Then we continued talking as if someone had not just taken a decade of childbearing years away from me with one sentence.

Suddenly turning 35 next month (which I was half-dreading, half-grieving) was a non-issue, since in reproductive years I’m already about 46. This of course also means I’m on my very last eggs right now, which from everything I’ve come to understand, is not a good thing in terms of the chances of bringing a healthy baby to term.

The plan now is to kick off the IVF process in January.  I’m realizing I don’t have time for this not to work, don’t have time for another miscarriage.  The window is closing, the stakes are getting higher, and the hits just keep coming.  The list of ways in which my body betrays me continues to grow.  The sense that I’m broken, defective is hard to shake.

The odds of my having a child (let alone children, as I had once hoped) are moving solidly into the “miracle” category…a place where I am uncomfortable leaving them, not because I don’t believe that God can do it…I just don’t know if he will do it.  I have no assurances to that effect.  I told my therapist recently that I know I will be able to move on with my life if this doesn’t happen, but at this point I just have no idea how.  I’m terrified at the thought of picking myself back up after losing all hope of this dream – having that door solidly shut, possibly very soon.  At the same time, it would probably take full-blown menopause to give me the closure I would need to ever be able to walk away from this, so in some sense, there is some comfort in knowing this process won’t last forever.  It’s a small comfort, though.

I’m trying to trust, but I’m finding it almost impossible.  I know that by entertaining worst-case scenarios, I’m only adding to my own torment, but I just don’t have that solid faith that I used to.  If I get my miracle, I’ll be like the guy who was dragged to Jesus on a mat by his friends.  I’m hoping it’s enough.


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temporarily possessed

I had an interview this morning.  The first one I’ve had in years.  I’ve decided it’s time to move forward with my life.  I’ve been in a major holding pattern with this whole fertility thing, and given the fact that I’m giving my ovaries some time off, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back in touch with who I am and what I have to offer the world (aside from valiant attempts at procreation).

So no, I’m not getting a new job.  Prior to doing that, I’m going to have to have lots of meetings with accountants and lawyers, secure office space, hire at least two people and get everybody lined up with benefits.  In short, boys and girls, don’t go into business with your husband on a start-up; quitting is super complicated.  But this is not that story.

What I did do was finally submit a volunteer application that’s been sitting on my desk for about six months.  I mailed it off on Wednesday and by Friday already had a call back.  It turns out that my timing was good.  The local youth homeless shelter is desperately in need of English tutors right now.

I miss working with students.  And not just speaking to auditoriums full of them like I was for the past couple of years.  I miss the one-on-one interactions, investing in kids, helping them see their potential, trying to find a creative way to get them excited about learning.  I have limited experience with this demographic of student, but I figure, these kids are in need of nurturing.  And I’m in need of someone to nurture.

Don’t get me wrong – I get it that this is not about my needs.  And I don’t have a messiah complex or anything.  I’m going to be tutoring students, not saving them.  And being as how I am now old, have maturity and a good sense of boundaries, I was not intimidated in the least when she asked me to take a test to gauge the appropriateness of my responses in a variety of potential scenarios.  No problemo.

Most of the questions I answered easily.  No, I would not give a youth my phone number if he asked for it.  No, I wouldn’t confront a staff member about a decision he or she made in front of a youth.  Yes, I probably would go to a student’s university graduation if she asked me to years later.  Then question number four came.  I discovered that my brain could not formulate an answer to it, so I skipped that one, finished the rest of them and went back to it and stared at it for a while.  I was still sitting there staring at it when the woman called me back to reality.  I said I had answered all but one question.  She said, “That’s fine, we can just talk through that one.”  Then she proceeded to read it out loud:

“If one of the girls you worked with were pregnant and asked you to raise her child because she had no support, would you agree to?  If yes, why?  If no, why not?”

Um, this was unexpected. Obviously, in terms of boundaries, this is by far the easiest question to answer.  I see that now.  But in the moment, all I could think about was that hypothetical baby.  I sat there in what probably looked for all the world to be silence, but what was really going on can best be described in seconds 1.36-2.44 of the following clip:

When I came to, as if a spell had been lifted, I simply replied, “I would work with the staff to find the appropriate resources for the student.”  Seriously, it wasn’t that hard.  But you really wouldn’t believe how far that obvious conclusion was from my brain for several solid seconds.  Holy crap.

Well, assuming no expectant mothers are foisting their children on me, I think we should be fine.  And even if they do, at least I’ve already worked through my response.  Now I just have to remember how to write an expository essay without the gratuitous use of run ons.  And fragments.  And I have to remember how to stay on topic.  Again, should be fine.


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apart from this, i am

I spend a lot of time on here talking about who I am in the context of infertility, loss, endometriosis, chronic pain, a floundering career and various other issues. I appreciate this space, because I feel like it’s the one place where I can be as honest as I want to be about all of that.

But today, I’m doing something else. I’m taking some time to think about who I am independently of all of those things – as well as past pain and personal hangups –independently of any thing I would call an “issue.”

It’s so easy to identify with the hard things, and sometimes so hard to remember what’s left. So I just sat down and started writing a list, with general, timid terms at first, but they became a bit more confident and specific as the list progressed. Just for kicks, here it is:

So who is Eli, apart from all of this?

She loves to laugh.

She finds people interesting.

She’s compassionate.

She can be thoughtful.

She can be fun.

She’s good with words.

She doesn’t like conflict, but she enjoys a good debate (as long as nobody’s getting hurt or being super obnoxious).

She feels like culture is mostly crazy, and she wants to talk some sense into it.

She longs for truth.

She loves stories.

She loves to sing, mostly in private – although for a couple of years she sang lead in a heavy metal band because some boys at the high school where she worked as an administrator were looking for a lead singer for their band and asked her (possibly as a joke). She shocked them by saying yes. She always wore heels and a grey pantsuit when performing. The band achieved legend status.

She is the friend who will pay full price (even though she’s currently out of a job) to join you, your daughter, your unstable, recently-bereaved mother, and your alcoholic grandmother on a 2-week cruise when you have been ditched at the altar two weeks before the wedding and can’t get a refund on your honeymoon. She will go on that trip and sit in the middle of all that crazy with you.  She will sneak away with you to pound tequila shots.  If you eat 3 desserts, so will she.  She will even sing cruise lounge karaoke when you ask her to.

Frivolous beauty brings her joy. And makes her cry.

Mistreatment of the weak makes her angry. Like mama grizzly angry.

Sometimes she writes letters to celebrities she thinks are screwing up their lives and offers to let them come stay with her for a couple weeks. She thinks she could help. They never write back.

She likes nice things. And she likes to give nice things away.

She likes being around small children. She likes the purity of their interactions with the world, having not yet learned to stifle and mask everything they think and feel. She feels that children and very old people are lucky in that sense. They get to say exactly what they think.

Sometimes, she can be wise.

Sometimes, she can be funny.

Sometimes, she knows exactly what to say or do in a tough situation.

She believes people matter. She feels that especially young girls don’t know that they matter nearly enough.

She will stand in the path of a violent, heavily drugged man on the street (even though she’s very much expecting to be hit) because she doesn’t want to live in a city where people can be brutally attacked by a stranger in broad daylight and have their attacker walk away unencumbered while fifty spectators step aside to let him pass. She, in her heels, slacks and fluffy sweater, will be the one person to calmly stand in his way and tell him that he does not get to run away but must stay here and deal with what he has done. And for some strange reason, he will listen to her.

She’ll buy a homeless woman lunch because she really wants to buy her flowers but thinks it’s a jerk move to give a hungry person flowers and not also lunch.

She has little respect for people she thinks are phony, no matter what position they hold.

She just generally has a pretty low tolerance for BS.

She’s attracted to honesty, even if it’s honesty about unattractive things.

She’s attracted to humility.

She’s always been a sucker for a boy with a guitar, and she eventually married one.

She loves, loves, loves that she gets to see her quiet husband be crazy, goofy, brilliant, irreverent, and just straight up weird in a way that no one else on the planet ever does.

She is reborn every time she feels the warmth of the sun on her skin.

She likes the laugh lines she’s getting, but is not too fond of the sun spots.

Beautiful, clean spaces are balm to her soul.

She roofed houses to pay for college.

Every once in a while, she will embark on a crazy adventure that takes a great deal of courage. She hasn’t done this in a little while, but it’s in her.

She left a good chunk of her heart with a poor family in Argentina who loves her better than most people can probably love anybody.

She can pretty much quote entire Disney cartoons as well as chapters of the Bible.

She does a bang-on southern belle accent.

She thinks she looks good naked, if she’s very honest.

She’s willing to change when she learns she’s been wrong, even if it’s hard.

I kind of like her.

Who are you apart from this? I’d love to know.


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endo diet

I was chatting with a friend of mine on Sunday who is about to start a 40-day sugar fast.  He was terrified about it.  I was trying to assure him that it really wouldn’t be that bad, that after the first few days his body would adjust.  He said, yeah, I was right, it probably wouldn’t be that bad…he was just worried because he drinks pop (soda, for you people in my motherland) like water and eats a danish in the afternoon.  And suddenly I realized, he’s gonna die.

I realized I was listening to him as I am now – somebody who can quench a sugar craving by popping a prune in her mouth.  I eat so little sugar that a sugar fast is almost a non-event.  When he said the thing about the soda, I realized I should be listening to him as my old self – the one who had 3 Diet Pepsis a day and thought that Red Vines were a legit food group.  And then I was like, holy shit I’ve come a long way.

My history with food is a piteous tale.  My mom could cook, but she hated to, so every once in a while she’d make about 30 gallons of soup (you think I’m joking) and freeze it all in our industrial-sized freezer in the garage.  We would thaw and eat soup for months on end.  It wasn’t bad soup, but the very thought of Hearty Brunswick Stew induced a gag reflex by the time we were getting to the back of the freezer.  Then she discovered Costco stuffed shells, lasagna and stir fry.  These were great, because we kids could make them ourselves.  This was pretty much all we ate for the next few years.  These, mind you, were the good old days.

When I was in high school we entered a period of houselessness wherein we had no kitchen and almost no food budget.  That was the era of the 99-cent whopper (it once occurred to me interject and order one of the $2.99 items on the menu in front of the cashier – hoping my mom might let it slide out of shame – but one look of icy cold death had me quickly recanting and saying I would really love to eat a whopper).  This was also when my Dad discovered that the day-old lunches at the prison where he worked could be bought for $1 each, so that was our other standby.  By the time they got to us, the pickle juice had bled all over the mystery-meat-and-american-cheese sandwich as well as the weird little maple bar thing that was always in there.  At first go, they were probably palatable, but after a day sitting in my dad’s hot car, they made you contemplate what you might do to actually go to prison and at least get them fresh.

This only lasted for about 6 months, but it was the beginning of the end, for it was during that kitchenless era of woe that my mom made the unfortunate discovery that one doesn’t actually have to cook to sustain life.  It was pretty much fast food from then on out.  My idea of “healthy” was diet soda and the fiesta menu at Taco Bell.  (It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me how my siblings and I continued to be rail thin through all of this…I suspect by this time we had acquired a revulsion toward food in general.)  I continued to eat mostly crap throughout college.  When I graduated, I lived in a communal house and ate food bank food. (This was before hipsters, fyi – I just couldn’t afford anything else).  I mostly remember eating a lot of high-end truffles and day-olds from Starbucks. (I could do without another maple scone until I die and be just fine.)

Um, this is all very long and perhaps less interesting for you to hear than it is for me to tell.  What I’m driving at here is I was about as far from being a health nut as a gal can be.  When I started dating my husband, who is far more normal than I in almost every respect, he was severely appalled by all the fast food I ate.  Even after years of trying to wean me off it, he’d find tell-tale McDonalds cups in my car and double-decker taco wrappers of shame shoved behind my passenger seat.

I always planned on marrying a cook to solve my problems, but since I married a consultant – and one who was unwilling to subsist on the 99-cent menu – it became clear that there would have to be at least a marginal amount of cooking in this relationship.  I wanted it to be 50-50, in keeping with my egalitarian gender sensibilities, but I quickly realized cooking got me way more mileage than almost any other nice thing I did for him.  Don’t know what it is – some kind of primal need to be cared for that is met specifically through cooking.  So I began to learn to cook.  And since I was learning for the first time, I figured I may as well learn to cook healthy stuff.  So I kind of bypassed cooking with processed, fatty foods and went straight to veggies and lean proteins – with fairly regular binges on Nachos Bellgrandes and cheetos.  All or nothing, baby.

Then endo entered my life, and I began to bit-by-bit eliminate more things from my diet, learning substitutes, amassing recipes and developing new habits.  Because these changes have been so gradual, I don’t think I’ve realized how significant they’ve really been.  It was only in talking to my friend about his sugar fast (haha!  And you thought I wasn’t going to ever bring this back around) that I realized I have actually learned quite a lot and might actually be able to help people find some shortcuts on this whole path to getting healthier, particularly as it pertains to endo.

I have neither the patience nor the photography skills to reproduce all the recipes I use on this blog, so I’m in the process of transferring my go-to recipes to a Pinterest board and adding other ones there that meet the guidelines I’m trying to follow.  As I try new stuff, I’ll let you know how it goes and let you know what substitutes I used.  The goal is to have a decent-sized index of tested, no-brainer food that is tasty and endo diet conscious.  I focus largely around eating foods that will reduce inflammation in my system.  I avoid dairy, wheat, refined carbohydrates and sugars, soy, coffee and red meat, and I eat lots and lots of veggies.

I also want to talk about juicing, general shortcuts and household staples for cooking on a restricted diet.  This will probably be old hat for a lot of you, but hopefully there will be some useful resources, and I’m guessing there are some newbies out there who could use a leg up on this whole thing.

Without further ado, here is my Endo Diet Pinterest Board.

Also, I’ve written a general disclaimer to cover pretty much everything I write and suggest.  Please review it before taking anything I say too seriously.