Tag Archives: babies

Y is for yo-yo, yo-k?

I’m not pregnant. Again. And I’m sad about it. Yesterday was pretty rough. Today I am sad, but my friend Marie made me smile (hugely and genuinely) and my sister has a ridiculously cute new hair color that I’m in love with and my friend Kristin liked the cookies I brought her and my husband and I are taking his parents out for dinner at a (central-Wisconsin-style) fancy place in Point tonight… and overall, I have a million and one reasons to be happy. So I’m not sinking. I’m not drowning. I am dealing.

And that’s a huge step for me. A yo-yo-er.

Next illustrative story…

One afternoon this week, at work, I got prank called by an endocrinologist. He put on a fake accent, called from another physician’s office, and pretended to be someone he was not and then laughed hysterically at himself as I got my footing back underneath me when he told me who he really was. I was literally taking notes for this “new” physician who wanted my help…

It was super weird. And super funny. We both cracked up.

And then we talked for a while for seriously about the importance of perspective when considering clinical data related to false-negative rates for thyroid biopsy in the context of nodules larger than 4 cm in size.

A far cry from the former formality of all my emails that began, “Dear Dr. So and So… lots of professional words… Thank you for your time, Me Me Me, PhD.” Followed by nearly incessant joking with my office mates (I needed an outlet!).

Tuesday’s conversation with the endocrinologist? That’s moderation. Funny. Serious. Everything in between.

Final illustrative story…

The weather this week has been absolutely lovely and sunny and cool and I’ve gone for several (incident free!) jogs. During one such jog this week, I took THREE puppy petting breaks. Three.

I also stopped to take a picture of this sweet bird's nest!
I also stopped to take a picture of this super sweet bird’s nest!

It was wonderful, but not the point.

The point is that I did NOT stop my RunKeeper (it’s my app for distance and time and I love it so much– I love making it map me while I mow the lawn, back and forth and back and forth, it’s hilarious) even once during a puppy petting or photo taking break. It just ran. The clock kept ticking while my feet stopped moving and it made my time slower… and yet. The time and the distance are not the point.

This is what it looks like when I mow the lawn-- hilarious to me.
This is what it looks like when I mow the lawn– hilarious to me.

End illustrative stories… now, the point.

I have generally not tended to live my life that way. I’m usually at one end of the spectrum or the other– filled with hope or in complete and total despair. Too many jokes or too much seriousness. So much running that I crap my pants or no running at all for fear I’ll crap my pants. But this moderation thing, it’s so much better.

With respect to the big things, my mental health, my physical health, my work, these are places where yo-yo-ing from up to down, one end of the spectrum to the other, has never been good for me– yet it’s always been my default. That’s where I find moderation to be most key (key-est???), and where it’s often hardest (most hard???) to find.

Don’t get me wrong, living life on the end of yo-yo, with the ups and downs, fits and spurts, can be awesome for things like canning (pickle/tomato/apple marathon– ready go!) or sewing (it’s almost winter– time to go pick out some new fabric!!). Turning that yo-yo into a gently swaying, much more even keel, pendulum-style instrument is much more valuable in some arenas though. And I’m getting there.

Canning-- a good place to yo-yo. From left to right, top then bottom, apple butter, dill pickles, ketchup, green beans, and tomatoes. 100% of raw material provided by my in-laws!
Canning– a good place to yo-yo. From left to right, top then bottom, apple butter, dill pickles, ketchup, green beans, and tomatoes. 100% of raw material provided by my in-laws!

I’m getting there with mental health. Yes, part of it is biochemical control (better living through chemistry) and part of it is therapy (with a therapist I didn’t want to like, but do), but honestly, most of it is time and experience and patience with myself…

I’ve spent over two years trying to start a family and every month so far has ended in sadness. Sadness coupled with a headache and cramps and discomfort that all seems so unfair. Life’s not fair though. That’s not part of the terms and conditions. Life is life and it’s weird and circuitous and out of our control for the most part. And that out of control thing is key when it comes to staying off the yo-yo. I can’t be in despair when I have no control. I know that I’m doing everything that I can do, and that’s literally all that I can do (short of illegal things like stealing babies or black-mailing my sister into sending me one of hers– chimps do that, you know, I read about it in National Geographic). I can be sad. I can be hopeful. I can be both simultaneously… a little more of one or the other at times is ok, but I don’t need to go all the way over the top in either direction.

This is the chimp that stole some babies. Not a terrible idea... except a really terrible idea.
This is the chimp that stole some babies. Not a terrible idea… except a really terrible idea.

I’m also getting there professionally. I know more people, I am more comfortable with more people, I am more comfortable with myself…

At work, I was nothing but a ball of nerves for about a year or so… especially around physicians. Turns out, I was basically just being a total Dorothy to the Great and Powerful Oz– it was just a man behind a curtain. Some physicians still seem to prefer the “Dear Dr. So and So” deal, but more often, they seem to prefer when I behave like myself– sometimes silly, sometimes serious. Exclamation points and winky faces and jokes in emails, book recommendations in both directions, hugs at Cattails when I see my most favorite residents, cookies and recipes and Valentine’s day gifts. All of that with good writing, prompt service (as much as possible), and a willingness to be as helpful as I can be. I’m good at my job, and (hopefully) likable and personable at the same time.

And finally, I’m getting there with my physical health…

I’ve been a runner since I was young– maybe sixth grade. My first 5K was maybe the Belleville Strawberry Festival or the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run with my friend Kelly and co. (Where “and co.” = Emily and Danielle and Christin, most likely, but I’m fuzzy on that, so we’re going to go with and co.)

My friend Kelly sent this super old photo on one throwback Thursday. I’m in love with us as baby runners. So cute.

Since then, I’ve always always always stressed over time and distance and intensity and frequency and when I couldn’t live up to my own expectations… I stopped. Stopped entirely. Most recently, I couldn’t run my favorite distance on my favorite route without have GI issues, so I stopped. Turns out, though, if I’m careful about what I eat, run at a comfortable pace without pushing myself too hard, and make planned loops with a quick escape route to my house every three-quarters of a mile or so, I can go pretty far/pretty long… and get this: I can even enjoy it!

And here’s something really crazy: by being patient with myself and super experimental, I have even learned to enjoy many vegetables! No, not onions. But lots of other vegetables… and that’s a big deal. I don’t have to force myself to eat an iceberg lettuce-based salad drenched in ranch dressing (yuck), but I looove pretty much any green preceded by “baby” or “mixed” with some chia seeds and an Asian-style dressing.

My favorite dressing... from the 21-Day Tummy by Liz Vaccariello. I don't dig the premise (at all), but some good recipes.
My favorite dressing… from the 21-Day Tummy by Liz Vaccariello. I don’t dig the premise (at all), but some good recipes. Turns out, I’m not as opposed to rice vinegar as I am to white vinegar. Who’d have thought?

Patience and time, when it really matters. Yo-yo when it’s just for funsies. This is why, for me, I’ll take my thirties over my twenties any day. So much more time, experience, patience. It’s good.


Speaking of fun yo-yos… in sewing, yo-yos are these little dealies:



Growing up, my cousin Mary, me, my cousin Ashlee, and my sister Abby were all relatively close in age and we passed clothes, especially cute little dresses, down and down and down amongst the four of us. In their infinite wisdom, my mom and Auntie Pam kept all those little dresses thinking they’d be great for making quilts some day. My mom spent last summer making all those little dresses into yo-yos (even the velvet and corduroy ones! dang!) and then turned those yo-yos into four quilts– one for each of us.

Look at how amazing this quilt is:

Specifically, the quilt hanging on the wall. BUT, my amazing mama also made the duvet cover on the bed. And I crocheted the blanket on the end  (brag).
Specifically, the quilt hanging on the wall. BUT, my amazing mama also made the duvet cover on the bed. And I crocheted the blanket on the end (brag).

It’s so ridiculously and unbelievably beautiful and meaningful and I love it so much. My mom is incredible. This is the kind of thing that makes me continue to hope for that family– so that someday I can do something like this for my sister’s girls and their cousins, my kids. My someday babies 🙂

Curly Lambeau, my sweet, silver-lined, puppy girl.

At this point it’s pretty safe to assume that when I miss big chunks of blog time it’s for one of two reasons. (1) Work got crazy and life got insane or (2) something happened to my dog. Since work finally calmed down a bit, this absence can be attributed to reason number 2.

As you’re likely aware, I have not yet been blessed with any babies of the human variety (ugh, we should really chat about that at some point). But I do have a dog.

If you have any human children or find yourself lacking in love for all things puppy, you’re probably going to hate me a bit for saying this right now, but that’s ok… my dog is my baby, and I totally treat her like one.


I absolutely adore my Curly girl and love her more than I love myself. I’m pretty sure that if a car were careening toward my Curls, I’d jump in front of it to save her without a second thought.

Curly came into our home in October 2012, the same weekend my friends Ellen and Rob got married (such a happy weekend!), and my husband and I have been absolutely in love with her ever since. She’s a high-energy, super happy, double doodle (her parents were a golden doodle and a labradoodle) with cream colored curls befitting of her name (although she’s actually named for Curly Lambeau, the founder of the Packers).

Last fall, we started noting problems with Curly’s knees and our local vet recommended surgery to repair patellar subluxation (her knee cap is not where it should be). Doing what we thought was best for our sweet girl, we took Curls to an orthopedic surgeon in Appleton where she had her first surgery in October 2013.


It failed.

And so did the next.


And the damage got worse after the second failure, necessitating a more extensive third surgery.


Which also failed.

Last Thursday, I took Curly back to the surgeon noting a decrease in her willingness to use that leg and the x-ray painted a rather grim picture, worsted only by the picture the surgeon painted me. Essentially, I left with two options, including doing nothing and hoping for some sort of adaptation to the new anatomy that would allow Curls some function in that leg or… amputation.

Ugh, my stomach.

The surgeon was apologetic, but resigned. Those were our options as far as he was concerned and that was that.

I had to call Seth and tell him the news. And then I had to drive the 2 hours home from Appleton, mulling it over in my head and nursing a nagging stomachache. I called my sister on the way home and, forgetting she’s preggo, ended up making her cry (hormones and all…), but she really is the best pup-auntie (or p-auntie– read it out loud, ha!) ever and it really helped to chat with her. Later on I talked to the incredibly kind and generous animal-loving folks I work with who were super encouraging and suggested we seek a second opinion at the University of Wisconsin – Madison vet school.

And that’s where we spent our day yesterday. So glad we did! We don’t necessarily have good news, per se. But we do have a new found cautious optimism based on the extensive examination and imaging studies they performed, the shocking amount of time the orthopedic surgeon was willing to spend with us talking and drawing diagrams and showing us 3D models and such, and the willingness of the folks in Madison to collaborate with the previous surgeon in Appleton as well as others to really think this through and come up with some better options (better than amputation, anyway) for our girl.

It was a long and exhausting day, but it was definitely worth it. And while I’m constantly worrying about the decisions we have made (Curls is essentially worse off at this point than if we’d never done surgery at all all– did we make the right choice?! should we have gone to Madison sooner? would they have done anything differently if we had???), I had a long car ride last night on the way home to think about what this has taught us, Seth and me, as future parents to more fur babies (pleeeeease, Sethy?!), human babies (hopefully), and as leaders of our family unit (said in my dad’s alien/robot voice, usually reserved for comments such as “hello, daughter unit…”).


  • Second opinions are a good thing, medically or otherwise. It never hurts to get someone else’s take on something. Especially something big and important. (Like a career change and cross country move.) But even sometimes things that aren’t. (Like whether or not you should include a funding statement on a poster if there was no funding.) Knowing what we know now, I think we would definitely have had an additional medical consultation for Curly earlier. But when I think about it, it’s the same thing for my GI woes– it wasn’t getting better, so I kept pursuing alternatives until finally I found someone who did the right tests and asked the right questions and got to a diagnosis. When I have questions, or am afraid that the doctor might have questions of his or her own, from now on, I’ll be more willing to seek alternative advice, opinions, or just general thoughts. It never hurts to ask.
  • Collaboration is so worthwhile. Oy, this is ironic. Seriously. Group work? I’ve never liked it. Never. I begged and pleaded my way out of it through elementary school, I stressed and worried my way through it in middle school and high school, I just did all the group work myself in college, and made sure I had a very solitary, dependent-on-no-one kind of thesis project in grad school. And then, I entered the real world and figured out why all those teachers had been trying so very, very hard to get me to participate in a team setting for all those years– because it’s necessary and it produces better results. Every project I work on now is a team effort and cultivating good team relationships has become a key aspect of my daily life– and thank goodness for it! I’d be l-o-s-t without the biostatisticians and programmers and budgeting folks who can do all those crazy things that just hurt my head to even think about. And I suppose it’s truly no different in medicine, human or veterinary. I’m sure Curly’s first surgeon is top notch and used to success. He should probably have consulted someone else or suggested that we do ourselves, if not after the first revision, than definitely after problems arose with the second. That’s what they’re doing for Curly down in Madison, because that’s what’s going to result in the best care. An introvert’s nightmare, true, but there’s definitely some merit to this whole collaborative practice thing.
  • You don’t need much to be truly happy. Curly has been through a lot. Her first surgery was October 16th and she’s spent the past 5 months cut open, stapled and stitched closed, bandaged up, wearing a cone, confined to her kennel, limited to short leash walks with a sling, and pretty much continuously drugged. I’ve pulled at mats in her fur and cut her hair myself (and even accidentally nicked her once! it was the worst!!! I felt so horrible!!), I’ve spent an entire night wiping her backside and washing her blankets, I’ve sprayed her with stuff that stings and fed her stuff that’s bitter. Yet, through all of that, Curly still loves us and she’s still ridiculously and unreasonably happy. She goes crazy and tries hard to sit still despite her frantically wagging tail every time we walk in the door. She brings us toys and blankets to play. She bounds through the snow stopping to eat a bite here and there. She gives kisses and nuzzles my hand when it falls over the edge of the bed at night. She’s just such a happy girl. And that’s what every veterinary employee we’ve seen in the past couple of months has been amazed by– she should, by all accounts, not be this resilient. But she is. And thank goodness! We love, love, love our happy girl!


  • Pets are a great source for giving and getting unconditional love. I love my pup. I love her like crazy. I know she’s not a human (seriously, I do know that) even though I often treat her like one. My mind is on her constantly and even if she ends up with no back legs, I’ll feel bad only at the thought that it could be somehow my fault, never about her condition. Because it truly doesn’t matter to me. She’s perfect, exactly as she is, no matter how ultimately functional or irreparable her leg ends up being. Taking care of her after surgery can be hard, but it’s worth it. Even the tough cares (seriously, the diarrhea after surgery #2 was not a joke) are totally worth it and done without a second thought because they’re done for her and I love her. Curly has taught me, for certain, that Seth and I are capable of great love– both for one another and for our family, whether fur or flesh. It’s a reassuring thought!



This has been a tough few months, for no one more so than Curly, I’m sure. But she’s just done so ridiculously well. We can’t explain it, but it seems like she knows we’re only trying to help her and that trust is amazing. (The only thing she doesn’t trust is that the treat your holding doesn’t have a pill inside of it– that still requires some trickery. Trickery or salami.) I’m certainly not glad for any of this, but I am grateful for the small reminders day in and day out that our household is a happy one, bum legs and all!


Coming up in the near future (in no particular order):

  • A second look at STEMinity
  • A more inclusive definition of family
  • The adult version of “If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands”
  • A book club quarterly review