Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jet lag mimics pregnancy symptoms

Yes, it's true and leave it to me to be the one who discovers this. Flying back and forth from Shanghai to my midwestern city is at least a 17-hour proposition, on top of a 13-hour time difference. I've flown to Europe a bunch and am never affected this badly. But, it's a lot farther to Asia. Soooo... when I first did it in December, it totally wiped me out, but it wasn't until this trip that I discovered that the symptoms of jet lag are eerily similar to the early stages of pregnancy (not that I've ever been pregnant, but I've had enough fertility drugs in my system to understand and obsess over every little twinge).

#1 - you're exhausted. For me, anyway, it's an exhaustion like none I've ever felt. Way worse than the feeling of partying all night or pulling an allnighter in college. I can barely stay awake much past 9pm and there have been a couple of times where I literally don't remember falling asleep. I just pass out. Thank goodness this has only happened while I'm already in bed.

#2 - you're moody. It's probably a result of #1, but if you look at me funny right now, you are equally likely for me to bite your head off or for me to give you a hug. I have also cried at all Olympic footage no matter what the country or event, and I was sobbing at a story last night about a blind Husky who still pulls a dogsled because she loves it so much and can trust her teammates.

#3 - you're ravenous. Mostly it's because I should be eating breakfast at 8pm, lunch at 1am and dinner at 8am, and I can't override my body's feeding clock. I'll wake up at 4am, or 6am and be ready to eat anything and everything in sight. Yesterday, I think I ate almost every two hours. Thank goodness I've been hitting the gym.

#4 - your bladder fills quickly. I try to stay super-hydrated on flights, but the downfall to this is that you're constantly using the urine/disinfectant-smelling cramped toilets on the plane. I usually try to drink a lot a day or two after as well, so I'm running to the restroom as much as any baby-bellied babe.

#5 - you're achy and swollen. It's because you're cramped up for 17 hours. My feet puffed out like crazy and I almost couldn't get my shoes on when we landed. But should a plane ride, even for that duration, really make your boobs sore? Hmmm...

Case closed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Troubles carried away with the khom fai

On the second night in Phuket, I noticed some glowing red lights in the sky, slowly creeping through the upper atmosphere. I wondered if they were UFOs, or even satellites that could be seen from earth since the sky was so clear. They were neither. They are khom fai, or fire lanterns, that people in Phuket lit and send off to carry their troubles and bad luck away. The Thai release the khom fai into the night sky to mark special occasions (this one for Chinese New Year). We noticed them for two nights and on the third night saw a family selling them on the sidewalk near the beach. How could we not participate in this beautiful traditional Thai practice especially when we were ready to get rid of the bad luck that has surrounded our Vietnamese adoption and that of the 19 other children?

We paid the darling child who was helping her parents sell them, and followed the family down to the beach. The mom helped Nick get it ready for launch. It was made of tissue paper and a little bamboo as support with a ring of what looked like condensed newspaper. Nick took a lighter and lit the ring in several places. Much like a hot air balloon, as the fire intensified, the lantern filled with hot carbon monoxide, making it expand and ready for take off.

We bowed our heads and prayed before Nick let go of the lantern, and off went our troubles and bad luck into the tropical Thai night. A light breeze made it take off quickly. We watched it for probably 10-15 minutes, and I'm sure it was several hundred feet in the air and traveled a few miles before the orange glow flickered out, disintegrating the entire lantern. Ironically, the wind carried it southeast of us - in the direction of Vietnam.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Year of the Tiger = Fewer Births

Thus far, we’ve had an amazing trip to Thailand, and have discovered the busy metropolis of Bangkok, the quiet and peaceful environs of the northern province of Chiang Rai as well as the sunny, clear-watered beaches of Phuket island.

The one thing I haven’t found is any useful fertility tips. Usually on my Asian travels, I can pick up some Buddhist advice or modern recommendation, but none yet. They do believe that snakes and elephants are lucky, so I’ve done my best to be kind to both while we’ve been here.

I did find an interesting article, though that the leader of Singapore is calling for couples to have more children. Yes, you heard that right, the Prime Minister asked for his citizens to get busy.

The city-nation saw its lowest birth rate ever in 2009. And, it may get worse before it gets better. The majority ethnic group in Singapore is Chinese, and many couples are superstitious about having children born in the Year of the Tiger (which just started with the Lunar New Year on Sunday) because it is regarded as “holding risks and uncertainties.”

In an effort to encourage more births, the government is launching campaigns and offering incentives (Not sure what, perhaps tax breaks or free IVFs) to provide a “pro-family environment.”

Singapore is a fairly first-world country, so it bothers me that instead of campaigning for their own less fortunate, helping the poorer nations that border the country (or if they’re so worried about the declining population, open the border and allow some immigration to the country), or advocating for some other noble cause, they’re promoting procreation. I’m no sociologist or psychologist, but persuading people to have more children could result in more child abuse, feelings of resentment, etc. I really don’t see much of an upside here.

Boy, I’d hate to be an infertile there. On top of all of the pressure you put on yourself, you have the leader of your country pushing for pregnancy. Perhaps I would just walk around with a fake belly (a la Will Schuster’s wife on Glee) to avoid being harassed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Flying to the land of the Thai

I'll most likely be taking a break from writing for the next week or so because we're flying to Thailand in the morning for a much-needed vacation. We're heading north first to jungle trekking, mountain biking and elephant riding and then down south to the beaches on Phuket.

I'll be sure to report if I hear of any new or unusual ways to boost fertility. Many Asian countries have definite ideas about things you can do like rubbing the lionness' cub and drinking warm water here in China. We'll see what Thailand has in store.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A little class, please

You may have noticed the ad to the right of my column for the Infertility eClass. In her brilliance and creativity, my dear friend, the Infertile Mind, is putting together her second eclass on infertility. The first one "Surviving the Hellidays" was a raging success, so she's now offering a shortened version of the class - and it's free. Yours truly will be the sidekick to the Infertile Mind in this class - a Robin to her Batman, a Tonto to her Lone Ranger.

Anyway, it is a very interesting and healthy way to get out some of the frustrations, emotions and dreams that many of us infertiles have - that no one else understands. Commentary from the last class was refreshingly honest, poignant, creative, sometimes even sarcastic and bitter. The beauty of it is that there are no judgements within the class, and I've never found another place, where everyone else "gets" exactly where I'm coming from so clearly.

Seems like every assignment I did or others did, I could feel myself nodding and saying, "You got that right, sister!"

So, take a peek at the Web site, and seriously consider taking some time to do something for yourself in March.

I hate to be too hokey, but March brings new life with Spring, and if you have had a crappy winter, this might be just the thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Couples Retreat

I'm all for a good, funny Vince Vaughan movie, especially when it's a dual project between Vince and Jon Favreau. Swingers is still one of my all time favorite movies.

So, when I saw that the movie Couples Retreat had those two and Jason Bateman, another favorite of mine, I was all ready for a little sophomoric humor and good one-liners. Well, the movie isn't that funny, but maybe because part of it strikes close to home.

If you don't want to know about this movie, stop reading here. I won't give everything away, but there is one critical detail that I need to discuss.

The whole premise of having these four couples on the retreat stems from the strained marriage of one of the couples, and the reason: they were having trouble conceiving. They rope their six friends into a relationship retreat in Tahiti in hopes that they will decide whether or not they should stay married.

It made me think about one thing that I never had to worry about while I was going through all the nutty infertility stuff: my marriage. I'm not saying things were a breeze when getting negative pregnancy test, after negative pregnancy test, but I never once had to question whether or not my marriage would make it through.

In fact, many couples separate after going through the trying times. There can be a lot of guilt, resentment and blame. (See Mad Men entry from a few weeks ago).

If anything, I think that my marriage got stronger, but I know that the dreaded beast of infertility can put holes in good relationships. Stay tough infertiles. Don't let it break you down.