NIAW: Resolve to Know More About Surrogacy

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and here I am posting at the end of it (non-conformist!). I struggled with wanting to post but having no topic and then having a topic but no time. The resulting post may seem useful or not. Happy or not. So here are a few thoughts I have about surrogacy.

  • You will realize the degree to which our stories about motherhood revolve around the physical: morning sickness, weight gain, stretch marks, contractions, labor, tearing, healing, nursing, leaking, hormones. Despite having a baby, the end result, there will still be times in which you find yourself mute and still unable to participate in conversations.  Articles, stories and conversations about the first few weeks of motherhood almost always revolve around the physical transformation and realities of being a new mother.  I get it – the majority of women who become mothers will experience pregnancy, labor and delivery. But it stings for those of us in the minority – will we always be on the fringes?
  • You will need to develop a thick skin as pundits, trolls, ethicists, attorneys, anyone with an Internet connection and half a brain (or less) debate the ethics of the method you chose to build your family and declare that you bought your child, took advantage of an economically disadvantaged woman and are pretty much a human trafficker.  You try to ignore these comments and opinions because they know nothing of your life and what it is like to live this. To actually make these decisions. While these comments rage on, you look at your little boy playing on the floor in the kitchen and feel incredibly blessed for the gift of him.
  • You will cringe as articles that could do serious harm to the already complex reality and confusing perception of surrogacy gain wide-spread media attention.  The latest is, of course, the rise of social surrogacy and whether it’s OK for women to choose surrogacy in order to avoid pregnancy or avoid harming their careers or if they are selfish beasts who don’t deserve to parent the children they wish to pursue. I have mixed feelings about social surrogacy, but it makes me wonder if it reinforces a belief some may secretly hold that I and other women who went the surrogacy route are selfish and didn’t try hard enough. At the very least, it hurts surrogacy’s perception and causes tongues to cluck.
  • As scientists publish about epigenetics and the role the uterine environment plays in subsequent generations, you will have heartburn and anxiety, wondering if your inability to conceive and carry a genetically-related child will end up changing the genetics of that child and future generations. At the very least, let’s just say guilt over whether you are being a good parent starts very, very early. 8 cells early.
  • You feel exhausted thinking about trying to have a second child because that means finding another gestational carrier, starting the process over again and spending a lot of money. You will wonder if going through the process is fair to your first child and if he deserves the resources and time you would spend more. You will again envy people who have second and third children easily, even if it includes popping down to the clinic for embryo transfer. And you aren’t proud of that envy.

But then you realize how your child has pervaded every area of your life. His art is on the refrigerator. You spend more on his clothes than your own. You obsess over his diet and agonize over school choices. You wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without a plan for his nightly routine. His smile & sunny mornings set your day. Frowns & tantrums make you want to hide.

But he is here and he is wonderful. I thank god or whoever for science Every. Single. Day. I am immensely grateful for the technology that allowed me to overcome my severe infertility. I’m forever indebted to the scientists who pioneered and perfected IVF because without them, we would not have our son. And we are forever grateful and humbled by our amazing gestational carrier who went on to carry a 3rd surro baby.

I am in awe of science and stunned, thrilled that it made me a mother. My experience is why, frankly, science can do little wrong IMO.

Surrogacy is unusual. I get that. But you never know what you are willing to do & accept until you are in that position.

I guess my message for NIAW is that surrogacy isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

I wouldn’t have my son otherwise, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Bring on your comments and debates. I welcome them.

Because you don’t know until you are in that position & that is something we would all do well to understand.

On the Eve of Breaking Bad’s Final Season

My infatuation with meth will come to an end very soon.


The final season of Breaking Bad starts tomorrow night.  We are soooo excited about it, especially since I realized that not having cable will not deter us from being able to watch the show very soon after it airs (ahem HBO and Game of Thrones). It’s funny that these are the things you think about when you don’t have cable any longer. Also, it points out how this whole cable subscription model needs to end and likely will end soon, but I digress. People don’t necessarily want free TV but they do want to be able to see the shows they want! I don’t think that will fit on a bumper sticker :-/

Bidding adieu to Walter White and family. Wow. So dysfunctional, yet so relatable. Who hasn’t wanted to flip off the day job and say “screw the establishment! There must be a better way?” Granted, illegal activities aren’t usually the best way to accomplish this. But who am I to judge?

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about this series and the rekindled love for science & chemistry it gave me (dear readers, I used to profess that I did not believe atoms existed. Can you imagine?), but for now, I want to honor the show that brought me such enjoyment on the eve of its final season.  Here are a few awesome, amazing, possibly stupefying, links:

If you are watching the final season, let me know what you think!

Perfect Vision, Shedding and What I Learned Over the Holidays

My new supply of contact lenses for my left eye came in yesterday, and I cannot express adequately how much better it feels to have both eyes corrected appropriately.  It literally makes me see 2013 differently.  That might be a bit of hyperbole based on my euphoria at not having to squint or hold my head a certain way to avoid eye strain, but I almost did cartwheels down the hallway at work this morning after I put in the new left contact.  I’m fairly certain that doing so would have ended up badly, especially since our hallways are narrow and I haven’t done a cartwheel in years.  Feel free to picture me doing cartwheels though.  Beautiful, straight-legged cartwheels much better than anything I ever did in reality.

While our 17 days off were hellacious, they weren’t doom and gloom every minute.  Since we declared our independence from the scourge known as Time-Warner cable, we have been taking advantage of the free shows on Amazon Streaming and watched a ton of great programs over the holidays.  And bonus, they were primarily educational!  We got in some learnin’.   It’s funny because I used to scorn Nova on PBS when we had cable, but now the 8 seasons available are our go-to viewing.  I was also excited to find out that several seasons of Deadly Women as well as Infested were available for free as well.   Here are a few things I learned over the holidays:

  • All of our heavy metals came from space
  • If you start to detect iron from a dying star, get out of the way because it’s about to collapse and may go supernova on you.
  • Humans have only 23,000 genes.  Ears of corn have more genes.
  • It is possible to injure the brain in such a way that you no longer dream
  • It’s possible our brain cases expanded, allowing our brains to grow larger because in humans, the gene for a strong jaw was deactivated unlike in primates
  • If you live in an apartment complex infested with cockroaches and only one apartment refuses treatment, that’s enough to allow the infestation to grow no matter how much the complex is treated
  • Saturn’s rings are made up of the remnants of an early moon ripped apart by the planet’s gravity
  • Time does slow down slightly if you are moving
  • If you discover multiple life insurance policies on you of which you were unaware or your spouse has been married several times and is vague about their whereabouts, you might want to check into it
  • Pluto will always be a planet in our house, damn it

In all seriousness, I highly recommend Nova’s 2-hour episode “What Darwin Never Knew.”  It is fascinating and mind blowing.


I didn’t come up with resolutions for 2013.  I have some specific ideas of what I want to accomplish and/or change, but I don’t want to codify them.  Some friends have come up with a word or theme to describe their focus for 2013 and after thinking about it, I decided my theme is “to shed”:

  • Shed weight
  • Shed negativity
  • Shed doubt
  • Shed baggage
  • Shed distractions

Usually I dislike January because it is such a come-down after the holidays but this year, I like it.  I appreciate how squeaky clean and new it is.  It makes be believe I can bathe myself in it and wash 2012 away.  It makes me think I can have a better year than last.  It makes me think of snow and how pristine and cleansing snow is.

Three days into the new year, and I already feel better.



Breaking Bad, Manufacturing and Meth

It probably won’t be a surprise that I have a Google news alert setup at work on “NC manufacturing.” Usually it gives me relevant news on manufacturing in the state, which I will then disseminate through the organization and possibly put on our website. Sometimes, though, the alerts include items on meth labs found and arrests made because the articles use the terminology of “manufacturing meth.” I giggle when I see the meth items because it seems so silly for them to show up in my news alert on manufacturing, but it’s technically accurate.

Meth is a manufactured drug. All drugs – legal or illegal – are the result of manufacturing because they fit the definition of taking a raw material and turning into a finished product that has value. The pharmaceutical industry is part of the manufacturing sector. If producing meth were legal, it would be categorized under NAICS code 325 (pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing). Heck, if meth production were legal, my organization would be chomping at the bit to help them make their processes more efficient, study their supply chain and even help them enter new markets because meth is a growth industry in NC. Then we could survey those companies to identify the economic impact of our work and make our federal funders happy.

This post has taken a strange turn.

Jimmy and I share slightly obsessive tendencies. When something interests us, we immerse ourselves in it, especially when it comes to entertainment (No, we are not cooking or taking meth. Promise). Last summer, we bought the entire series of The Office, a show we never watch in prime time, and watched every episode in order every night after Daniel was in bed and during nap times (we’re ignoring the post-Michael Scott era). Then it was Downton Abbey season 1 and season 2. Again, every night and nap time. Our new obsession is Breaking Bad (every night and nap time). THAT is why meth is on my mind.

I’m so fascinated by the premise of Breaking Bad and the process of making meth. I did not enjoy chemistry in high school and was frustrated by the math involved. I didn’t understand chapter 2 on mole/mole and mole/mass ratios and thought that would be ok. Little did I know those concepts formed the foundation for the rest of the class. Oops. I also told my chemistry teacher that I did not believe in atoms. I do, truly, but I still marvel how scientists could predict their existence and calculate them hundreds of years before they had the technology to see them. Chemistry might as well be magic as far as I’m concerned. My brain doesn’t work that way.

But I’m fascinated by Breaking Bad. While the chemistry Walter White teaches to his high school classes is boring and inaccessible, watching him make incredibly pure meth because he understands and can wield the chemistry behind it is sexy. He is sexy. His brain is sexy.

When I trained to teach high school English, I focused on trying to make literature and its lessons and meanings as relevant as possible for my students. I made note of Shakespeare film adaptations like Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet, O, and 10 Things I Hate About You and Jane Austen adaptations like Bridget Jones’ Diary and Clueless (dating myself here). I used a clip from Legends of the Fall to bring alive the horrors of WW1 and trench warfare depicted in All Quiet on the Western Front. I played “Imagine” during my unit on existentialism. And honestly, maybe that’s just how my brain works. Always trying to make connections. A wealth of useless knowledge you know.

Science struggles with the same issues of relevancy. So does manufacturing. At work we constantly try to find ways to illustrate the importance of manufacturing and its coolness through plant tours, blog posts and pictures. I’ve even created a Pinterest board. I wish that that high school students could watch Breaking Bad in their chemistry classes. Obviously making an illegal drug is not the message to impart to them, but watching the seductive, beautiful process of taking raw ingredients and making them into flawless meth could bring home the lesson that science and chemistry are relevant and important. Necessary. Required.

In high school I had friends who turned a princess telephone into a bong. That was an impressive feat of innovation and engineering, and I wished they had applied that same focus and ingenuity to their school work. They are willing to do that work to create a tool for an illegal drug; why can’t they see the connection to what they learn in school?

This post is clearly rambling. Breaking Bad is a good show. I’m not cooking , dealing or taking meth. I guess I wish that our educational system was a little more real. We have serious, serious issues in this country, and we’re going to need students to be engaged and connected to what they are learning in order to create the next generation of problem solvers. To understand that science is cool and is not abstract. That manufacturing is amazing and the bedrock of our economy and society. That books aren’t boring and dusty but contain truths as meaningful today as hundreds of years ago.

Have I worried you?

What TV show or movie do you find yourself oddly obsessed with?