Sunday, February 22, 2009

The best-laid plans

My RE doesn't take appointments (except for retrievals and transfers), she just has office hours, and the patients show up and are seen in the order of arrival. It may sound inefficient, but in fact, the waits to see her aren't any worse than they were to see my last RE in the US, even though she sees about 10 times as many patients. My RE usually likes to see patients on CD2 at the start of a cycle, so I thought I'd go on CD2 this time, in anticipation of starting an IVF cycle in March, so she could do any tests that she might want to run in the mean time (like bloodwork or whatever). However, my body had other plans.

About two weeks ago, I started a new self-improvement plan. Since the Egg was born, I haven't been getting nearly as much exercise as I should. I do walk a lot (about 25 minutes each way to work every day, up a huge hill, plus recreational walks with the Egg whenever I get the chance), so I'm not a total couch potato, but I really wanted to start doing something that raises my heart rate a bit more. So, I decided to start running. Truth be told, I hate running. However, it has two features that make it very appealing at the moment: it's free, and it's outdoors. Living in a huge, densely-packed city, the last thing that I want to do is to spend more time in stuffy buildings, so joining a gym doesn't particularly appeal, and I kind of hate the idea of paying to exercise. So, I found a gentle running program on the internet that guaranteed it would get me comfortably running a decent distance in 8-9 weeks without doing me any damage along the way. Sounded good, so off I went. The first two runs went well. A local university campus near my home has some nice paths for running, so it was actually quite pleasant, and astonishingly easy, given that I hadn't run in almost two years. So, for the third run, I decided to add some interest by adding some hillier paths (while still sticking to the recommended distances and times). By that night (when I posted last), my knees were throbbing, and by the next morning, I could barely walk. I did manage to hobble to work that day, and by evening, both knees and one ankle were hot, swollen, and very, very sore. Luckily, I had some work I could do at home, so I stayed home the next day. Then it was the weekend. After a couple of days off, I tried walking to work again on Monday. HUGE mistake. I ended up having to take the next day "off" also and work at home. I tried taking a taxi on Wednesday, but couldn't get a taxi home due to the odd location of my office, so I once again had to limp home. Thursday was the day that I should have gone to the RE. However, going to the RE would have required, at the very least, walking from my apartment to a cab, and from a cab to the doctor's office, which was about 100% further than was possible, given my condition. I finally took my knees to the doctor the next day (tendonitis: rest, ice, and ibuprofin, which was what I had been doing all along), but still haven't made it to the RE.

As a result of this incident, I have learned two things: First, running on hills is really bad for your joints. Don't do it. Second, icing your knees right after you hurt yourself really does make a difference. How can I tell that it was the ice that helped? Easy! I did a home science experiment and only iced one knee. They both hurt the same amount, but I iced the right and not the left, and now look! The right is tons better, but I can still barely walk on the left.

When I realized that my experiment had successfully answered my research question, I was filled with the righteous glow of scientific discovery. It lasted about five seconds. Then I realized that if only I had just iced both knees right away like Dr. Google said, I wouldn't be in pain anymore. Doh!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Infertile days

As an infertile mom, mostly I feel like an ordinary mom. My life is too busy and full with Eggbert, Mystery, work, and, well, life, to think too much about my own infertility. But there are days when it all does come crashing back.

Today was one of those days. I was already having a frustrating day, because I have somehow managed to injure both of my knees, making me hobble around in a piteous manner, and forcing me to work from home (since work is at the other end of a big steep hill that I just can't navigate in my current condition), and then my computer decided that it was time that I be taught a lesson, so I spent the whole day trying (unsuccessfully) to accomplish one fairly simple task. Then my period arrived.

It shouldn't have been a big deal. Eggbert is only 15 months old. My arms and heart are full. But it was a big deal. I admit it, I cried.

Before my next period arrives, I will turn 40. In just a few months after that, we will leave Korea, the land of cheap IVF, forever. Clearly, if I am serious about wanting another child, then it's time to start gearing up for an IVF cycle ASAP.

I don't want to do IVF. I don't want the needles, the expense, the mood swings, the risk of crushing failure. I don't want any of it.

But I do want another child. Just one more.

Once again, I am angry to be in this situation. I know that I'm one of the lucky ones. And when I look at Eggbert, I do feel incredibly fortunate, but it still does kind of grate on me that 85% of couples can just plan their family and have their kids, without ever having to face these kinds of days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Becoming a Repatriate

Knowing that I'm leaving has changed my relationship with Korea. Things about Seoul that I found annoying before now provoke only amused sighs. Things that I always liked shine a bit brighter. My friends here seem smarter, kinder, and more interesting. OK, not really the last one. They were always pretty interesting, actually. But you know what I mean. Once we stopped trying Korea on for size, both Mystery and I have both been able to relax and admit that it's not perfect, but it's an interesting place, and we've had a nice life here.

While moving to another continent is a pretty daunting endeavor, we've done it together twice already, and I had already done it a few times before I met Mystery, so we pretty much know the drill. Luckily, we didn't bring too many possessions to Korea when we came, and haven't acquired much here (other than tons of baby stuff, most of which we'll just give away). We're also not moving until June, so we have plenty of time to figure out the details. So, while our lives will be upheaved for a while, I'm not particularly stressed about it. And just to make things even better, we have already managed to arrange the rental of a gorgeous house for our first six months back in the US from a family that will be overseas themselves. So, we don't have to look for housing right away, and can look around a bit and see what neighborhood we'd like to live in and what kind of a home we want.

So, on a logistical level, everything seems to be going well. The one thing about this move that has me a little disconcerted is my own emotional reaction to moving back to my own country. I'm mostly feeling good about it, from a practical perspective, but I am feeling a bit wistful. I'm not sure how I feel about not being an expat anymore.

Many years ago, in a former life, I had a friend who went to Japan after graduating from college to teach English. After a couple of years in Japan, she returned to the US. I asked her how it was going, and she said that she was having an identity crisis. When she had been living in Japan, and people in the US asked what she was doing (meaning what was her job), she responded that she was living in Japan, teaching English. The living in Japan part came first. The teaching English was an afterthought. Living in Japan was, for her, the daily accomplishment from which she derived her sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Once back in the US, she went back to being one of millions of relatively new college graduates without much in the way of marketable job skills. She eventually found her way, but for a while there, she felt really lost.

I'm in a different situation, obviously. I am established in my career (which does not involve teaching English), have a husband and child, and have made quite a number of trips around the sun already, so I have a fairly secure sense of who I am. Moving back to the US won't, for me, result in a psychological demotion in the workplace, and I'm moving back with a job in hand. However, I admit that I am feeling a little strange about giving up the perceived glamor (for lack of a better word) of living "overseas". Of course, living in Korea isn't actually any more glamorous than living anywhere else (although the man-purses that I see in huge numbers every time I go out in public do make a compelling argument that Seoul is more self-consciously fashionable than most places). My life here is fairly ordinary on the surface. I go to work. Come home, have dinner. Sometimes get together with friends, etc. But, there is an automatic special something about living in a country that isn't your place of origin, at least for me. The fact that the sights that I see, the sounds that I hear, the smells in the air, and the tastes of the food are different from those that I think of as "ordinary" puts an extra little sparkle on my day on most days. After over two years, I am used to living here, and some of that sparkle has faded into the clear light of day, but there are still moments every day when I take a deep breath and just appreciate the incredible luck that I've had that allowed me the experience of living here.

And soon it will be over. There will be new joys, new sparkles, and new adventures. I'll be able to put down some tentative new roots without any immediate expectation of pulling them up again down the road. I'll be closer to my family, most of my friends, places that sell the foods that I have been missing for so long. These things are huge, and I'm excited about them. But I don't know when, or if, I'll get the chance to live "overseas" again, which makes me a little sad. And I wonder if, when I get back to the US, having seen what I've seen, learned what I've learned, lived where I've lived, I'll fit in.