Pregnancy after a loss

I’m afraid to schedule this post.  I’ll update it if I miscarry before Tuesday… it won’t have to be changed much.

As of now I am in the very early stages of a pregnancy.

The first time I got pregnant it was after more than a year and a half of fertility treatment.  I had a monitored clomid cycle (my eggs popped out later than normal) and an IUI.  I got a negative 14 days after ovulation, but a positive a bit after that.  Rising betas, and suddenly I miscarried at 7 weeks.  I’d eaten white bread at a conference the night before.  My reproductive endocrinologist (RE) only believed in Metformin at 500ml, even though the literature has found 1500ml to be effective in getting the early miscarriage rate of women with PCOS to match that of normal women.  Maybe it was just a chromosome abnormality.  I take comfort in the fact that I will never know, but only because I have proof now that I can bring a baby to term; at the time I did not.

Miscarriage is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  Loss of a wanted pregnancy is a horrible wrenching pain.  I lost a child.

I bled and stopped, I bled again and stopped again.  My betas went down like they were supposed to.  I upped my metformin to 1500 just in case, behind the doctor’s back.  I had a horrific time on a trip when I needed my last beta checked out of town… I had a breakdown because even though we’d set everything up in advance, and were supposed to get the ok with everything someone messed up somewhere and we spent 20 or 30 min trying to deal with the insurance lady when finally we realized if we just gave them $80 in cash they would stop asking me questions.  So we did.  I almost divorced my perfect husband that day.

The RE office wanted us to take a month off from trying (use protection!), then a provera challenge, and then another clomid cycle.  We weren’t sure if we wanted to keep trying.  But since I didn’t cycle by myself I figured I might as well start the provera challenge and then decide given some time.  So I took one of my remaining 40-odd mail order pregnancy tests because you’re supposed to check just in case before taking provera.  There may have been an evaporation line but it was hard to tell so I delayed provera… I wasn’t in a hurry to make the decision so any excuse to delay was fine with me.  The next day it looked less like an evaporation line and more like a faint line.  By that Monday the line was a real line and I called the RE office.  Despite having told us not to try, our tech was excited for me.

I wasn’t ready.  I was in shock.  I didn’t believe it.  I had just bought $600 of professional work clothing literally two days before.  I still hadn’t gone through the stages of grief with my first baby.  I had anger, guilt, and most of all, fear.  I did not want to lose this one.

I took pregnancy test (HPT) after pregnancy test until they drove me crazy with their increases and decreases in darkness.  Turns out my second morning urine is actually the best… has something to do with acidity in some women’s urine.  The ovulation prediction kits (OPK) were much more comforting since they only got darker.  Eventually DH suggested I get rid of the lot so I would stop freaking out so much and I sent them to a friend who was also trying to conceive (along with DH’s leftover Fertility Blend for Men).

I went in and got the blood tests… at 7 weeks I saw the heartbeat… and our child was eventually born.  It was a few months after ze was born before I believed ze wouldn’t just suddenly die.

There was a weird sort of cognitive dissonance for me.  Initially, I was so very afraid of loss, I was afraid to bond with the baby.  But the winning emotion was the thought that each week was another week longer that I got to spend with my precious baby.

Pregnancy after a loss can be frightening.  I didn’t buy any baby items until two and a half weeks before my due date, and even then sent out my mom and husband with a credit card.  We never did get around to buying a crib– we got a pack in play and were going to get a crib when ze hit 3 months but ended up cosleeping instead.

It’s hard to enjoy pregnancy when you think it might be taken from you.  Terrible side effects are a huge comfort because they indicate that the baby is probably still there.  Whenever ze would get still in the calmer second trimester, I would have to drink some orange juice just to make sure ze will still alive and could kick.

I’m worried now.  I’ll be less worried when I see a heartbeat (or maybe just hear it… I’m not sure how the u/s technology is in our small town), and less worried when the baby is born, and probably less worried still when ze is mobile.  And in kindergarten.  And I’m scared… not of the life changes or the increased expenses or time for our oldest… those worries are too far down the line to even dream of.  Almost every moment of the day is spent wondering and wishing and hoping and praying.  I’m afraid to plan too much ahead, afraid to complain, afraid to take anything for granted.  This time around I don’t have a box of OPK or HPT… just the occasional overpriced plastic thing from the drugstore.  (Hint:  ept sucks, go with first response instead.  Pink dye is easier to read than blue.)  Will I have another baby?  I still don’t know.  I hope so.

Here is a list of things not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.  #2 *always* said the right thing.

The WOH/SAH decision: Finances

First off:  for the nth time, no you do not need a SAHP in order to have a kid.

The Get rich slowly forum seems to be full of people like my rigid Uncle and his evil SAHM wife who lectured me at my grandmother’s funeral about how horrible it was that I was staying in the labor force (meanwhile, one of their teenage daughters desperately tried and failed to get caught by her parents smoking pot and cigarettes).

They say, “If you cannot afford to have one parent (the mother) stay at home with the kids, you should not be having children.”  They say, “It is too expensive to send your kids to a day orphanage/baby farm.  You cannot properly bond with your babies.”  (Actually, it’s only one nutty chick who says the latter and the first time she said it I thought she was being sarcastic… the nth time I’ve realized she’s just a troll.)

The strong research evidence is that moms who both work and send their kids to daycare bond just as strongly as moms who stay at home with their kids.  Throughout time mothers have shared child-rearing in groups rather than solo.  The one adult-with children model is not natural or normal.  It takes a village to raise a child, something that most SAHP realize, the difference being that money generally does not exchange hands in a playgroup or for informal care from relatives.  I haven’t seen research on father’s bonding because nobody seems to care (or because it’s harder to get working dads into the lab), but I bet you when both spouses work the father is more likely to bond than when he’s working 80 hour weeks to bring in money.  So, just to get that out of the way you’re not doing irreparable harm to your kid by putting hir in daycare, and daycare has benefits for the kid just like SAHP has benefits.  They’re different benefits, but one isn’t necessarily better than another.

Anyhow!  This is a Monday money post so the focus here is on the money aspect.

1.  Point in time cost-benefit analysis:  One argument is that the lower-earning spouse needs to do a point-in-time cost-benefit analysis of work income compared to the cost of daycare.  In this include not only the money going to daycare, but also commuting costs (assuming you’re not going to be driving everywhere as a SAHP, which is not necessarily a great assumption if you want to stay sane), professional clothing, etc. (or minus the cost of boredom-induced shopping if you turn into a Gymboree mom just to get out of the house).  They argue that if it costs more to work than it does to pay for daycare, then don’t work.  This argument makes some sense, especially if there are multiple pre-school age children and you’re not working a job that you particularly enjoy.  If you *do* enjoy your job, you should factor that into your equation since we should be maximizing happiness instead of money.  If you *don’t* enjoy your job, then maybe now is a good time to retool and think about your next career moves, regardless of your fertility.  So the idea is:


Cost of work – cost of daycare + happiness from working – disutility from working > Cost of staying at home + happiness from staying at home – disutility from staying at home, then you should continue to work.  If the sign flips, then you should stay at home.  This formula is incomplete– move on to #2.

2.  Add in Net Present Value of Lost Opportunities.  The point-in-time cost-benefit analysis is not where you should stop, however.  When you leave the labor force, you lose what economists call “human capital”– this is the abilities you get from working.  It comes in firm-specific human capital or all the things that make you valuable to a specific company, and general human capital or the things that make you valuable to the labor force as a whole.  When you leave the labor force, you start to forget how to do things and you stop keeping up with how the company, the industry, the workforce etc. are changing.  You get left behind.  That means when you restart in the labor force, you are likely to start at a lower (inflation-adjusted) salary than when you left — not the salary you would have with raises had you stayed in the field, not even the same salary as before with a 2 year gap, but an actual lower salary.  Add to that, if you are in a career-type job, specifically one that is not female-dominated (unlike nursing or teaching), you can be “mommy tracked” or have an even more uphill battle to be taken seriously in your career.  These problems will be worse in some fields and some specific jobs than in others.

So in this case you would have to take the same equation as above, but include the Net Present Value of your future benefits (this is your future income streams) instead of your single-year income alone.  You will compare your predicted future income with the work gap and without.  How do you predict your future income with and without?  Well, that’s difficult to do, but perhaps you have some ideas of career trajectories in your area.  Included in that calculation will be the probability that you get rehired, and the probability that you’ll be put back on the same track rather than forced to downshift if you return after an absence.

3.  Include Benefits, not just salary:  Don’t forget the value of lost retirement benefits that your company is paying for you when you make your calculations.  Are there other fringe benefits you should be considering?

4.  Risk:  What if the main earner loses his (or hir) job?  Many couples take turns being unemployed in this labor force, regardless of whether they are white collar or working class.  How secure is your partner’s job?  What would you do if ze lost it?  How quickly could either of you find work, and at what level?  A sizable emergency fund (or a dividend stream providing enough income to make you independently wealthy) can reduce the risk.  But if you don’t have that, having a second income and a second career to fall back on can dramatically reduce the stress of a lengthy job loss.

5.  Risk II:  Divorce or Widowhood:  What will you do if your spouse leaves you and isn’t good about paying child support?  What if the unimaginable happens and you’re left a widow or widower?  Do you have enough of your own resources to get through a divorce and its aftermath without a job?  Does your working spouse have enough life insurance to keep you and your children afloat until you can get back into the labor force yourself?

6.  Time to change careers?:  Are you thinking about a career change anyway?  If so, a break from the labor force may not be as damaging to your future income and future career.  You may want to spend some of your time out of the labor force retooling if you can get time away from child-care to explore education or new career options.

Before you take the plunge:

1.  Read Your Money or Your Life to help think about how your  career, job, and money fit into your life.

2.  Try living on one income (that of the spouse who will be working once the child is born) before the baby comes.  Doing so will help you understand what it means to have your income reduced (yes, some things will change, you’ll have more time to cook or grocery shop… though probably not anywhere near as much time as you think as babies are pretty exhausting, but you will also have increased expenses you that may balance that out– like paying for family health insurance rather than dual single insurance).  More importantly, living on one income will help you build up a large emergency fund that you almost certainly will need to tap at some point during your child’s early years.

Remember that being a stay at home parent is a form of financial independence.   It is not a bad or a good thing, it’s just a thing.  Make these calculations through the lens of financial independence– how much sacrifice do you want to make for temporary early retirement?  How will this decision fit into the rest of your life?

Link Love

What is a chicken boomer?  Now you know.  From femme frugality.

An excellent article on how crazy we should let our jobs become from Dr. Crazy.

Cloud reminds us that you’re less likely to be oppressed if you don’t marry a douche.  Only she puts it more positively– marry a unicorn instead, they actually do exist.  (Personally I think the unicorn density is higher in the engineering fields.)

Lord hear our prayer for mid-November from Girl Scholar.

Dame Eleanor laments on kids today blaming the victim.

The Hermitage with excellent advice for students on how to write an email.

My (white male, published in Science) colleague the other day was explaining to me that the journal Nature kind of sucks and he’s never felt the need to send any articles there.  Dr. Isis provides more proof on how Nature is behind the times and stupid.  Paul Anderson with a fantastic comment.  Update:  Apparently the author of the piece is going around and posting nasty and/or clueless stuff under sock-puppet names in the comments of the places discussing this piece.  So if you were wondering, “are there really so many clueless jerks in science”– maybe there aren’t quite as many as you thought there were… you only need the one to make multiple anonymous comments.

Savvy working gal with some tips about Social Security.

Ask the Grumpies: Sleeping Students

Rumpus asks:

What are the specific steps you take with a student that falls asleep in class? Currently sleeping students are probably the second-most disjoint part of my class. It’s usually just one or two per semester, but I think my technique isn’t quite right because they keep doing it (and it’s not due to the time the class is scheduled).

#1:  Man, I feel for these students.  If I had a class before 10am, that was often me.  I didn’t want to sleep, but sometimes I’d wake up in a puddle of drool, my penciled notes having gotten more incoherent and eventually trailing diagonally down the paper to the desk.

Even so, students should not be sleeping in class whether or not they mean to be disrespectful.  Mainly I address them when they start to nod off and ask them a question.  “So the p value would be… what… Mr. Smith?”  “Huh?  What?”  [frantic whispers from the student next to Mr. Smith] “Oh, uh, the p value would be uh…”  I’m mean that way.

#2:  I ignore it, unless they’re snoring.  It’s not too distracting and they’re only hurting themselves.  I’ve done it, so I can’t carp too much.

Teaching readers, what do YOU do when a student falls asleep in your class.  Everybody, have you fallen asleep in class?  Any memorable moments?

Even more Googled questions

The internet is full of curious people.  Here’s some who wound up at the wrong place.  We’ll answer them anyway.

Q:  what do you do when you are better than your parents

A:  Either be thankful that you’re living the American dream, or realize you’re a jerk and get a reality check.

Q:  why would a family want a rss feed

A:  To drive traffic to their blog?  To disseminate content?  So everybody can coo over their baby pictures?

Q:  when sour cream spoils it turns ? color

A:  The answer depends on where you are in the country.  In the midwest, generally green.  East coast, you’ll have your blues and greys.  In the South (moving West to Los Angeles), red seems to be favored.  Wild starter bread will also taste different.  We miss our graduate school starter.  The one we started after we moved was far too sour and we haven’t tried again.

Q:  what do you fell when your paper got scooped

A:  Trees.  Lots of trees.

Q:  can a man be in denial over having small penis?

A:  Yes.

Q:  started metformin, when can i ramp up

A:  From what I understand, you can ramp up once your stomach can handle it.  (Standard:  Talk to your doctor, which I am not, disclaimer.)

Q:  ibtp where is it?

A:  The patriarchy is all around.  Blaming the patriarchy is all around.  The website is here.

Q:  why cheaters apologize and then leave

A:  Because you’re lucky!

Q:  job security or follow your dream?

A:  Little from column A, little from column B.  It’s all about the compensating differentials.

Q:  how to be clever?

A:  You need to build up your (figurative) brain muscle.  Read more.  Think more, even if it hurts.


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Some folks are easily offended

Not sure what’s up with that.

They take your choices about things as personal indictments of theirs.

They take factual statements as personal indictments of their preferences.  I blame Fox News for that one.  “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” (Colbert, White House Correspondence Dinner 2006.)

They think you actually care more about dictating their lives than you do your own.  When in reality you really don’t notice them unless they bring things to your attention.

These folks live in a little cloud of drama and if you get sucked in, it can be very draining.  Molehills become mountains instantaneously.  Greys turn into sordid blacks and whites.  Snowballs become avalanches.  If you’re not the same as us or incredibly apologetic, you’re against us!

And if you suggest that maybe people don’t care about their lives as much as they think people do, they bring up myriad counter-examples, which probably actually just prove your point.  Or would if you could talk to the accused offender.

Once they get out of your life, when they decide to cut you off, life either stays the same because you didn’t notice the drama (though they rarely cut you off without telling you precisely why and precisely what is wrong with you), or your life improves immensely.  Perhaps a bit less entertaining, but it’s probably not healthy to get your entertainment from someone else’s negative delusions.  (Why are they never positive delusions?  Because little rays of sunshine tend to be self-fulfilling.)

Are we talking about you?  Well… the answer to this question is:  Do you think we are?  We don’t think we are, but your answer to our question is also the answer to your question.

How do you get excitement in your life?

Some folks need a little additional excitement in their lives.  We need to try new things on a regular basis or we get kind of bored.  Of course, that’s also balanced out with a strong risk aversion and ability to defer gratification.  Still, we get cabin fever.  We need thrills.

#1 Goes to the grocery store and buys ANYTHING SHE WANTS.  Anything!  When life is dull, she and her partner will dig out a relatively untouched cookbook and systematically go through all the recipes they haven’t tried, annotating the results.  If they lived in a larger more diverse metropolitan area, this would extend to trying new restaurants… unfortunately they’ve run out of those until some close and are replaced by others.

If she didn’t allow herself to go crazy with food, she would probably have to take up sky-diving or drag-racing.  Thank goodness for grocery stores and cookbooks.

#2 gets her excitement in life the same way unspoken fortune cookie phrases do.   Monogamously.

What do you do when you need excitement in your life?

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