What’s the Word for ‘I Didn’t Plan for This Period?’

Period today.

Guess I’m not pregnant this time.

Good practice, though, right?


Blood makes the grass grow*.

But grass is not a baby.

And I want more kids.


Diapers make good pads,

if your other option is

speaking Italian.



So that’s that, for now. We’ll wait a few months to try again with the old hanky panky (by which I mean paying our Reproductive Assistance Center 2,000 Euro to transfer an embryo,) and in the meantime we’ll enjoy our long weekend in Milan.

Yes, I really did use a diaper as a sanitary napkin last night. I couldn’t find an open grocery/drugstore and couldn’t get farther than ‘serviette’ and ‘sangre’ in explaining what I needed to the proprietor of the only place open on our street, the tobacconist. The diaper (size 3 disposable is recommended if you’re planning on trying this at home,) worked a treat.

*for the non-Quakers, this comes from a rugby chant: ‘Blood makes the grass grow. Kill, Quakers, kill!’ More info on Quakerism, which sounds like a cult but is really a nice, non-proselytizing religion with an emphasis on pacifism and social justice, can be found here.


Upon review, the last post might have been misleading regarding my position on Birkenstocks. Let me be clear: I love them wholeheartedly, and I am covetous of them every time I see them (talking to you, Nancy, Anke, Katharina, untold others.) I do not have any not because I don’t want them but because the Gizehs I had just after college were so utterly perfect that a lifetime of Gizeh-less summers is the only true punishment for having left them behind in Santa Barbara when I skipped town in 1999 after my boyfriend dumped up with me. How many of the exact same $100 sandals is it ok to buy if you only barely used the first ones? None. That’s how many.

Don’t cry for me, though, because yesterday I got to go to a Power Yoga class where the teacher told us to breathe like a dragon through the left nostril, and then later I got to go to Talib Kweli show where I danced like a … hmmm… let’s say I danced like someone who cooly arrived at the show as it was beginning rather than someone who arrived at the show two full hours early. Yeah, I was the third person there. I drank like 5 cranberry-and-sodas and had plenty of time to stretch out a little and practice blowing dragon fire out of my other nostril.


ps. Anyone seen the movie Obvious Child yet? I’ve watched the trailer (that’s where the idea of being dumped up with comes from,) and it looks terrific.

The Fartorialist

Today’s a Sunday in late July, and we don’t move to Milan until September or October. In terms of packing, I’m still in the ‘Oh, I should get my tupperware back from Peter and return his umbrellas’ stage. We’re headed to Milan on Thursday to look at places to live. Tobias wants somewhere charming with green space and a reasonable commute to work and airport; I’m hoping to find a neighborhood artsy enough that my extra ten pounds look deliberately counterculture instead of just sloppy. Hard to communicate that to the real estate agent while insisting that we be within walking distance of the school that we haven’t picked yet. (Want to cast your vote? There’s a British school with a good reputation, an international school that sounds lively and warm, and a German school that sounds… effective.)

My feet are suffering because, with only a few months before the move and a visit next weekend, I can’t really justify buying shoes anywhere but Milan so I’m spending the Hamburg summer either sweating in wintry boots or getting the last few miles out of some blown-out sandals that only stay on if I shuffle. (See above re: sloppy.) It’s going to be hilarious when I get to Milan only to buy those goddamned thong Birkenstocks every 32-68 year old woman* is wearing in Hamburg right now.

Speaking of which, anyone else seeing lots and lots and lots of Hammer pants this summer? On the way to the train yesterday, I counted 8 pairs of black and white-patterned summer-weight Hammer pants, PLUS 3 black and white-patterned summer-weight Hammer-esqe jumpsuits (one strapless, one button-up, one with straps.) I’ve also been seeing lots of bubble suits (the shorts-plus-top combos that have elastic waists and a loop over the neck to keep the top up.) It’s been hot lately, I get it, but I cannot recommend wearing these while biking. It’s not the look, it’s the road rash potential. My experience in the 1982 Pledge-a-Mile Children’s Bike Ride for Charity taught me that the last lap is never worth it, that bubble suits and bikes don’t mix, and that you get extra ice cream if you have recently acquired scabs on your knuckles, wrist, elbow, shoulder, scapula, upper ribs, hip, knee, ankle, etc.

*this is very nearly not an exaggeration. They are ubiquitous. I’ve seen men wearing them. These. 

I’m actually holding off on the Birkenstocks because I have this dream of having a pair of sandals custom-made for my ever-so-special feet such that the sandals are perfectly stylish, perfectly comfortable, and perfect for every occasion. This is where my Italian skills might be a bit limiting. ‘I want them to be flat and yet flattering.’ ‘Impossibile!’ ‘Yes, but I can’t walk in a heel.’ ‘Impossibile!‘ ‘But I have two little kids to carry and I walk all the time everywhere and I want to be comfortable.’ ‘Non impossibile, basta indolente! Go get some Birkenstocks!’


Ready for Summer

We won’t have any pregnancy news or not news until July 31st, and there’s nothing left of the World Cup but the parades, so let’s turn our attention to the children in situ.

At Max’s therapy appointment today, the therapist and I were talking about the progress he’s made in the last few months, which is substantial. He’s still far, far behind his age cohort, though, and even at this rate of gain he’s falling further behind. When I made a comment to that effect to the therapist, she gave me a ‘falling behind? What the fuck are you even talking about? What, exactly, is the destination we’re racing towards here?’ look. I apologized by explaining that while for Frida we were hoping for either the Olympics (rowing or soccer, not gymnastics,) or a plush academic fellowship (science or fine arts, not psychology,) with Max we just want him to be happy. I then stumbled to add that we wanted Frida to be happy, too, of course, goes without saying, I’m saying it just to be clear, yes, we really want her to be happy. And well adjusted. And happy.

***quick question – they won’t have the internet in 20 years or so, right? So it’s ok to write this stuff about today’s one and two year olds? k thx.***

Today’s exchange gave me a bit of a fluster for two reasons. 1.) I don’t usually think of myself as someone who is so clumsy with the finer points of NOT COMPARING YOUR GENETICALLY DIFFERENTLY ABLED CHILDREN and 2.) it didn’t really sink in until today that the thrice-weekly therapy we’re doing with Max is to help him be happy now. We’re not working on walking so that he can maximize his future potential, we’re working on walking because walking is fun, and running is even better.


You know what’s nice about seven Euro? It can buy you a decent haircut. Sorry, Max, for spending those €7 on pâté. This is what I did to him yesterday.

I thought I could finish up with the clippers. I couldn't.

I thought I could finish up with the clippers. I couldn’t.

Another Max

What good might come from Brazil’s 1-7 drubbing by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals? Allow me to describe a timeline of events that may or may not have been totally contingent on that loss.

Tuesday, 9:45 pm. Kids are sleeping, babysitter is set up with fast internet and leftover gazpacho, Betsy and Tobias leave the house to have World Cup Date Night, Semi-Finals Edition.

Tuesday, 10:30 pm. Germany scores their fourth goal in quick succession. Tobias and Betsy are pleased with the first two goals, surprised by the third, and kind of horrified by the fourth. And fifth. Don’t be mean, Germany!

Tuesday, 10:45 pm. With the game comfortably won before halftime and a babysitter in place for another hour or two, Betsy and Tobias order a second beer. Talk turns to Life Situation and Future Planning.

Tuesday, 11:00 pm. ‘Babies sure are cute. And fun. And they sleep a lot.’

Tuesday, 11:01 pm. ‘Hey! We have 5 frozen embryos left over from when we got pregnant with Frida. What the hell, right? Let’s try for another one.’

Wednesday, 10:00 am. Betsy calls the fertility clinic to arrange a consultation, begins to explain the complicated decision matrix around Max’s surprise conception, Tobias’ vasectomy, Max’s diagnosis, and the storage of embryos when she gets cut off by the receptionist saying that they would be pleased to offer an appointment tomorrow.

Thursday, 11:00 am. Ultrasound shows 11mm uterine lining, 21 mm right ovary, unremarkable left ovary. Doctor describes these as ‘perfect’ and says we can start the embryo transfer next month. Betsy coughs politely and asks if perhaps, given the 11mm uterine lining, this month might be an option. Doctor coughs politely, calculates his yacht payment, and agrees to an immediate commencement.

Thursday, 6:00 pm. Immediate, in this case, means a womb-readying trigger shot that very evening! Six o’clock on the dot! Go! Go! Go! Sign here! Pay here! Jab there! Except they forgot to include a syringe so, rather than a calm, sterile injection in the privacy of her bedroom, Betsy gathers the kids, sprints to the after-hours pharmacy, buys a needle and syringe from the astonishingly skeptical pharmacist, finds a cafe with a stroller-friendly restroom on the ground floor, wedges herself in the bathroom stall with the two kids, breaks open the glass vial, mixes it with the magic powder, draws it up, swats the empty toilet paper roll away from Max’s mouth, tells Frida to please not touch that toilet brush, and gives herself a nice subcutaneous 1cc shot in the belly. Which bleeds like crazy all over the waistband of her white summer pants, but who cares because with two kids (never mind three,) anything white has to be thought of as semi-disposable.

So here we are! Appointment at noon on Wednesday for the transfer, and plenty of time to freak out before then. It does occur to me that, with the move to Milan in September/October and the attendant language learning, house procuring, and orientation to schools, doctors, transportation, and special needs services, we might have plenty to do without being pregnant. As with other recent life decisions, this one feels like a win-win. With five frozen embryos and a vasectomy, we don’t have more than five tries. If no pregnancy results from them, we’ll revel in our relatively easy schedule and take advantage of our ability to take the family swimming with a 2:1 adult-arms-to-kids ratio. If we do get pregnant, then awesome!


When I asked Frida what she thought about us maybe trying for another baby she said, ‘Another Max? Oh, YEAH!’