Sunday, May 29, 2011

In which our heroine says cooks, says goodbye to her best friends, and celebrates her new degree

Here's to a beautiful, sunshine-y day!  It's been raining most every day since we returned home, so as I sit in the family room now I have our house's double-doors thrown wide open to let in as much light as possible.

It's been a fun but emotional few days.  We sent our best friends from medical school stayed with us for two days and we had a wonderful time hanging out, eating or trying to find someplace that sells frozen yogurt, and cooking.  I taught her how to make my matzah-ball soup of bicontinental fame (the secret is that the longer you cook it, the better it tastes, and baby carrots just don't cut it) and my challah -- really a good friend from Israel's recipe.  She taught me how to make what we call "the Rachel Ray thing," a scruptious pasta dish that involves roasting grape tomatoes and garlic cloves in lots of olive oil and salt, tossing the tomatoes with angel-hair pasta, and using some pasta water to make a paste out of the garlic, which you then also toss in with the pasta.  Then you add mozzarella.  Mmmmm.....I meant to add fresh basil but it was too late.  That's for next time.  We even got manicures and pedicures.  Not something I would ordinarily do -- in fact have never done of my own volition - but I will say it is fun to look at pretty nails and not my typical amateur filing job with no polish because I haven't the patience to let it dry.  Meanwhile, the husband half of our best friends was supervising their movers and running errands.  I like this division of labor.  (We did feed him the fruits of our culinary labor, so I guess we're not too terrible.  And she did help with the cleaning of the apartment.)

Sadly, we then sent the two of them off the Washington, DC where they will be doing their respective residencies.  I know they're only a phone call away, and we will visit each other, but we won't be able to meet up spontaneously at least once a week, and we'll be busy interns.  I miss them already.  At least I do have another good friend who will be doing her residency at the same hospital as I will.  I have a feeling we'll need to support each other.

Yesterday my parents threw me a beautiful open house in honor of graduation.  I originally intended to have something simple at my house, but it ended up being a fairly large party at my parents' house.  No complaints, though. We almost ran into trouble since we called the restaurant at the last minute to arrange to pick up food, but fortunately our second choice came through and the weather held out just long enough.  I tried to visit with everyone but it was hard; I hope I didn't leave anyone out and nobody felt neglected.  It's challenging to make everyone feel welcome!  I am really grateful to everyone for sharing in this simcha (happy occasion) with my family and me.

Today's agenda consists of a walk, thank-you notes, and turning bananas into banana bread.  Tomorrow is going to be great!  We are invited to a barbecue and then...I get to meet Faith Fitzgerald!!!!!!  She is the internal medicine equivalent of a rock star, and a colleague of my parents is bringing her in and inviting my parents and me to dinner.  And...said colleague is apparently a gourmet cook.  I met Dr. Fitzgerald at Internal Medicine 2009, when she did a Professors in Action case about bromium (I think.) But then I was one of many audience members.  Now I will actually get to bask in her brilliance.  The unfortunate corollary is that she will realize that medical schools are producing incompetent interns-to-be, but oh well.  I'm still super-excited.

And now everyone is super bored of reading this update, I'm sure.  So have a wonderful day and that's it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

...and that's Dr. Mim to you!

As I suspect it's highly unlikely one can get buzzed on half a glass of champagne even at my weight and being a near teetotaler, I think this buzz is primarily due to...graduating medical school!  I still can't believe it -- me, an MD.  A doctor.  With all the privilege and responsibilities of the profession.  I used my new initials on an email today for the first time and it was so COOL to see them in black and white.  (Okay, actually in second grade I once signed MD after my name because my mommy did it, so wasn't that just what you did?)

The ceremony was lovely -- in a beatifully-restored 1920s movie theater now used for the performing arts and also the same venue used for my mother's medical school graduation - and the reception was very sweet, and then our dear friends came over to visit and enjoy my unfortunately less-than-successful cake.  Oh, well.  The company was the fun part, and we baptized my new Arabic coffee set.

Now it's bedtime after a wee bit too much sugar.  If I can sleep.

Mim, MD signing off!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hello all!

Tomorrow I become an MD....sort of.  Technically medical doctor degrees cannot be conferred until June, but tomorrow is our medical school's official ceremony.  I can't believe it!  The days may go by slowly, but the weeks and the months just fly.  It's exciting and terrifying at once -- am I really prepared for what's next?  But I am undeniably thrilled to walk across that stage tomorrow.  And the champagne reception to follow?  Definitely a plus.

As for Operation Baby, I've learned a little more about what happens if you're lucky enough for the implantation to succeed:

Day -3: egg harvest, followed by fertilization (+/- intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
Day -2: find out how many eggs are fertilized, how many meet criteria for implantation/freezing
Day 0: implantation!  Gestational age by LMP is 2 2/7 weeks
Day 7-ish: pregnancy test
Day 11: beta-hCG level 1
Day 13: beta-hCG level 2: (should be double level 1)
4 weeks gestational age: heartbeat!
6 weeks gestational age: first ultrasound; count the number of gestational sacs
***also the age at which surrogate's maternity insurance takes effect; have to deposit the premium
12 weeks gestational age: 1st trimester complete!  Need to start the parentage application process
14 weeks gestational age: must have will in place naming legal guardian

Sometimes counting can be fun :o)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Two flights and a short drive home from the airport (thank you, Daddy!), we found our kitten waiting at the door.  It's always sad to leave Israel, but it is SO nice to be home!  I really missed my family after two weeks.  We said hello to my sister and brought her some chocolate, then we went by my aunt to eat lunch with my grandmother (second mother, really), aunt, uncle, and their three little ones.  I got the best welcome: four-year-old S____ ran out the door to greet me, her face painted like a butterfly from last night's ice cream social.  I guess it's comforting to know that whatever happens, I will always have moments like that.  We went inside and had a delicious meal of spaghetti bolognese, courtesy of my chef aunt (or at least she should be a chef).  A big hot meal after a long flight is so satisfying -- especially when it's topped off with a chocolate babka.  Yum!

After that it was home to nap, followed by unpacking, followed by a nice hot shower and a cup of tea.

That's about it.  We haven't any news yet, but hopefully soon.  Have a wonderful weekend!
No news's challenging to focus on anything else.  I know we won't hear anything for a few more days, but I wish we could just know, either way!  Oh, well.  Our surrogate asked us to send a picture of us so that she can show her youngest son who will be the new baby/ babies' mommy and daddy.  I found a really nice picture from our best friends' wedding where we were bridesmaid and groomsman (and got to walk down the aisle together :o)  and sent it to her.  I'm glad she helps prepare him in advance because a six-year-old must have a hard time understanding all this.  From what she tells me, though, he helped her administer the injections so she has clearly been involving him, which is great in my opinion.

Meanwhile, we continue to overeat and visit our way across the country.  We went up to Jerusalem yesterday and as is customary left a note in the Kotel (aka Western/Wailing Wall).  It was warm and sunny, but as Jerusalem is on the hills, there is a breeze.  We also wound our way through the shouk.  Arab men sit on stools outside little shops and are variously pushy or pleasant.  They sell everything from coffee sets and Judaica items (candlesticks for Shabbat, kiddush cups, etc) to skirts to belly-dancing outfits and galabias to spices and tea.  We bought a silver-colored coffee set, spices, and tea, which I hope make it through customs without a problem.  The challenge for me is that one is supposed to bargain in the shouk, and I am not used to or skilled in the art -- and it is an art.  I did fairly well yesterday but only because I knew not to be too eager to buy, and because we had a better offer from a neighboring store.  I then pretended to ignore several men hawking skirts and jewelry.  It's funny -- the pushier they were, the less I was interested; they intimidated me.  I was also amused that one called me a little girl.  I know I look younger than I am, but still...on the other hand, I was very pleased that everyone addressed us in Hebrew, meaning they did not think we were tourists.  Yay!  I like blending in.

We also ate one of the items on my list of Things to Eat before we leave: megulgal!  It's a word meaning "rolled up."  Basically, one takes a fried pastry-dough bread called malawach, puts tomato sauce and cheeses and a hard-boiled egg inside, and rolls it up (assuming you want the pizza variety -- the addition of humus is a nice touch, I discovered yesterday.  It comes piping hot and we went back and forth eating with our hands and with fork and knife. where can I find my statin?

Speaking of medicine, I have been shamefully lazy this vacation.  I read at best ten pages of Harrisons.  But I did find myself trying to explain cholelithiasis to a friend of Husband's family whose daughter is miserable from attacks and wanted to understand a bit of the pathophysiology.  It was a struggle in my second language but I hope I helped -- I'm not sure.  We also had to take Husband's grandmother to the hospital with a very painful, enlarged, thrombosed hemorrhoid.  They opened it and she is thankfully much improved.  She's had a rough few months.  Husband's grandfather died in December and she is terribly lonesome for him.  They married when she was only seventeen, so they were together nearly all their lives.  At least our presence helps.

Anyway, this very random and rambling post needs to end as we are off to meet a friend for lunch, after which Husband is going to visit his former workplace and I will sit in a coffeeshop and maybe work on my novel.  Happy almost Friday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I'll admit it: the suspense is killing me!

Okay, I'll admit it.  The suspense is driving me insane.  I haven't been able to write more than a paragraph of my short story.  I refresh my inbox incessantly to see if maybe, just maybe, Surrogate emailed me with news.  When I saw that she emailed us yesterday I held my breath -- maybe, just maybe, she'd gotten an early positive result?  But no, she was just asking us to send a picture.  (See previous email.)  I can't focus on anything today.  I just visited several websites about surviving the two-week wait.  Except, they were all written for women who are supposed to carry the baby/babies themselves.  All the advice about taking early pregnancy symptoms with a grain of salt doesn't apply to me.  All I can do is wait for email. I can't even call Surrogate because we're in Israel.  That's probably a good thing.  I can see myself calling daily asking if she "felt" pregnant, and if she'd taken a test yet today.  I know from my one home pregnancy test that ideally it should be a first void (ie first urine of the morning).  So since it's now 8:30am her time, I'm guess she's already used the bathroom at least once.  And she hasn't emailed me.

But maybe she slept in today?  And maybe she hasn't taken a pregnancy test yet?  Or maybe she just hasn't gotten to her email yet today?  And yes, I know full well that it's too early to know.  But the waiting is driving me crazy?  It's the only thing on my mind.  I wish that just willing her to be pregnant would make it happen.

I wish I had advice for Intended Parents trying to survive the wait.  I haven't made it through yet.  Anyway, the day 11 bloodwork won't be until next week.  So even if she doesn't turn positive, there is a small flicker of hope until then.  The only thing I can extrapolate from the websites I visited is that it helps to keep occupied.  Good luck.

But that's the problem.  I don't want to hope.  Hoping hasn't helped thus far.  It's when my hopes are highest that things go badly.  And that's what scares me.  I have too many visions of getting an email, of calling my grandmother and Mama, of telling people that IT WORKED!  And I am afraid those positive thoughts will lead to nothing.

Worst case scenario: The implantation doesn't take.  We have to tell people and accept their condolences.  Then we wait another month.  Our contract covers four IVF cycles.  So if this one failed, we move on to June.  And if that one fails, we try for July.  And then August.

Statistically speaking, four cycles should lead to a pregnancy.  I don't know what we will do if not.  Adopt, I guess.  If I can convince Husband.  We chose surrogacy because he wants to have a biological child.  Who wouldn't, given the option?  But if that doesn't work...I am not ready to give up the idea of becoming a mother.

But for now, we wait...

Monday, May 9, 2011

We will change (mourning) into songעוד נהפוך לשיר and...a website worth visiting IF you don't mind gaining weight just by looking.

Today is Yom Hazikaron, memorial day for those who fell building and defending the State of Israel and those killed by acts of terror.  Last night at eight the sirens went off across the country.  Everyone stood silent for sixty seconds.  Then each city had a ceremony; there was also a national ceremony in Jerusalem.  We went to the local ceremony.  Nearly everyone wore the traditional white shirt and dark pants of Israeli ceremonies.  The beautiful sad songs that mark this day and the reading of the names, the lighting of the flame, the laying of was sad, and I couldn't believe how many have fallen just in Kiryat Bialik.  Starting last night and until eight tonight the television will broadcast the names of all the fallen instead of regular programming.  The radio will play some of my favorite music -- it's sad, but also lovely melodies and many of these songs are only broadcasted today because they are so sad: in particular, the Medic's Ballade.  We had another moment of silence today at eleven.  Tonight, though, we celebrate 63 years of statehood.  The barbecues will work overtime, the beach will explode with people, and there will be live music and fireworks everywhere through until tomorrow night.  It's fascinating -- sixty seconds separate the saddest day of the Israeli year from the happiest.  But it's fitting -- we mourn those who fell, but we are grateful that their sacrifice led to the creation of a Jewish homeland.

We haven't heard anything regarding Operation Baby, but I will update as soon as there is news.

And, to finish on a sweet note:
I am telling you, it is worth checking out.  And yes, they have a table of samples :o)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, especially to my own mother and mother-grandmother, who are amazing and wonderful beyond compare and for whom I am grateful for everything.  Also to my Bubby Lilly and Aunt Jean, and my Bubby Ba, who I miss and wish could be here with me.

To all the other mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day to you too, and to everyone out there who wishes she could be a mother, I hope that in the future, you can count yourself among them too!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Big Day Approaching!

Very, very sleepy after a busy weekend that isn't yet over, but has been a lot of (very caloric) fun.  I haven't time for a proper update but the bare-bones version is, they retrieved fifteen eggs on Thursday, and eight of them successfully fertilized.  Two are hopefully going to be implanted VERY SOON!  We are praying and hoping and I'm waiting very impatiently for a positive beta-hCG.

Shavua tov (a good week)!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

יום בהיר של שמש Fun in the Sun :o)

Hi again, everyone!

I have concluded that Israel is synonymous with overeating.  There are those who would say I could use two weeks of overeating; I disagree wholeheartedly, but nevermind.  I will say we are having a delightful time.  Today we went to the beach in Haifa.  Hof Camel (Camel beach), to be exact.  Apparently the official beach season began today.  The water was frigid in my opinion and refreshing in Husband's.  But the waves were fun, and there as a pretty good showing considering that it was hot but not disgustingly so, it was a weekday, and many people were still at work.  The paddle-ball players were already out so we had to dodge them as we walked along the beach.  It was also quite windy, and we dried off in only five minutes.  But how wonderful!  And it was CLEAN since it's only the season's beginning.  By August there will be plenty of litter along the shore.  I must admit I was shocked to find the water cold because it is the perfect temperature when I come in the summer -- but I stuck it out for at least fifteen minutes, which is a lot for me.  And that excludes the fifteen minutes it took to get from my toes wet to my neck wet.

We told Husband's parents about Operation Baby, minus the egg donor.  We aren't sure how they would react and they will never know if we don't tell them.  But my mother-in-law is very accepting of surrogacy, which is a blessing.  She has decided we will have twins.  From her mouth to God's ears, I say.  In fact, she also found an article in Yediot Aharonot (one of the main newspapers) about raising twins.  Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not.

I would love to write more, but it's nearly 2:00am here and we have a wedding and a drive down to Be'er Sheva tomorrow.  It was once home to Abraham.  We are not likely to encounter our forefather, but we are planning on having dinner with Husband's father and stepmother, and their children.  Thus it's time for sleep.

Good night!  Or as they say here, layla tov!

Monday, May 2, 2011

שלום לך ארץ נהדרת Heloooo, Israel!/ יזכור Yizkor/ Baby news!/ Happy Birthday, Husband!

Goodbye, School of Medicine!  Last OSCE?  Check.  Last theory exam?  Check.  (Note to self: studying really is required to honor an exam.  Oh well.)  Evaluations done?  Check.  Next stop: GRADUATION!!! I still can't believe I completed the marathon called medical school.  Wasn't the white coat ceremony yesterday?  Am I really smart enough and knowledgeable enough and caring enough and hardworking enough to accept the responsibility of patient care?  (NO!)  Ready or not, though, I will cross the stage on 24 May and become an MD.  At least I have two months to prepare for internship.  There's a lot of Harrison's that needs to happen between now and then.

But the best part of finishing medical school is that I am writing from ISRAEL!  Husband and I are here for two weeks visiting family and friends, with some beach/overeating/hiking/shopping thrown in.  (Ironically, my sister-in-law's husband suggested that this vacation is ideal baby-making time.  If only he knew...)  Although I wasn't born here and didn't grow up here, it always feels "home."  Especially given that today is Remembrance Day for the Shoah (Holocaust) and the Bravery (eg. Ghetto Warsaw uprising), I am grateful that we have a homeland, and I remember the six million Jews and five million Gentiles who the Nazis killed.

I'm including a beautiful poem by Hannah Szenesh, a young woman born in Hungary who immigrated to what was then Palestine, joined the Paratroopers of the Jewish Brigade, and was later capture and killed by the Nazis after parachuting into Europe to try to rescue remaining Jews.

הליכה לקיסריה

אלי, אלי,
שלא ייגמר לעולם
החול והים,
רשרוש של המים
ברק השמים
תפילת האדם

Walking to Caesaria

My God, my God,
That these things may never end:
The sand and the sea,
The rush of the waters,
The crash of the heavens,
The prayer of man.

And here is the Jewish Partisan Song's first verse translated as best I can from Yiddish:
Don't say that you go your last way,
Though leaden skies conceal blue days,
Our long-awaited hour still comes,
And our march will make a sound: We are here.

זאג ניט קיין מאל אז דו גייסט דעם לעצטן וועג
הימלן בלייענע פארשטיין בלאייע טעג
קומען וועט נאך אונדזער אויסגעבענקטע שעה
ס"וועט א פויקט טון אונדזער טרוט
מיר זיינען דא

Apologies for the sad but necessary digression.  To counter it, we have baby news!  The Big Day, aka embryo transfer, is to be Friday or Saturday.  I hope everything works out!  I am extremely nervous about becoming a parent and honestly doubtful that I am up to the challenge/responsibility -- but then, we aren't actually expecting yet, and the embryos might not even implant successfully.  Our surrogate said she wants to start doing home pregnancy tests on Day 3.  I didn't have the heart to tell her a positive result is highly unlikely before day 7, day 5 at the earliest -- but perhaps I'm wrong anyway?  Needless to say, the letter of the week is beta, as in beta-HCG.  

So if you're out there reading this, thoughts/prayers/crossed fingers/any other good luck charm appreciated for Friday and Saturday.  We will update with the latest when we have it.

Goodness, and I almost forgot -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL, SWEET, LOVING, NOT TO MENTION HANDSOME, HUSBAND!!!  Mazel tov, until 120!