essays are a pain; genies are amazing

The day began like most Mondays. I arrived in my office a few minutes before 8 o’clock, I fired up my laptop, I signed in to my class management system to start grading essays, and headed out to check on the troops. This is my morning routine, and it is especially important when I am avoiding the essays I wanted to finish grading last week.

The troops were fine; none needed me bothering them with my quirky sense of humor, so I went back into my office and began the unbearable: grading essays for my online English course. I provide feedback, which is largely ignored. I proceed on to likely break some hearts.  It’s not the goal to break hearts, but it happens. Online teaching (and learning) is really hard.There is no tone of voice, but the students don’t seem to believe that. There seems to be a widely held belief that I am mean. Take my class face-to-face, and no such belief, but online, I am Professor Dragon Lady.

I have a stand up desk, and it allows me to provide feedback while standing. Standing is better than sitting when essays are good. This sounds great, but the essays were just too bad today. And the pain began. Oh man did it hurt.

With this sub chorionic bleed, I was told if I have any cramping or pain, to let my doctor know. I could not tell if I had eaten too much broccoli last night, read too many bad essays this morning, or had cramping, so I called.

By noon, I was back in my favorite ultrasound tech’s exam room. As if she were a genie, I made three wishes: 1. please let the baby have a heartbeat; 2. please let it be the right speed; and 3. if you don’t mind, I’d like the sub chorionic bleed to have resolved.

Shazam! She’s a GENIE!

  1. Baby – growth on track! Life is good;
  2. Heart rate – 174 bpm – heart attack inducing for me, but perfect for baby; and
  3. Sub chorionic bleed has resolved!cutie#3.jpg

Baby is growing and measuring exactly on track. I still have a bit of discomfort and occasional sharp pain which I hope will subside as soon as these essays improve. Thank you for holding us in your hearts. It means more than you know.


Young and Interesting

As confusion subsides, and exhaustion abates, I am starting to realize that I am pregnant. I am less foggy than I was, and life is beginning a lovely rhythm. However, that realization is largely in that background. I don’t really seem to have time to just enjoy this moment this week, so right now, I am going to take a deep cleansing breath and love this moment, this baby, this unexpected joy.

That felt so good. Thanks.

I think I will do that a little more often.

The awesome, non-pregnancy things that happened this week were:

  1. Cutie #2 started saying “I’m sorry”. And since she has a tendency to injure me unintentionally, she had the opportunity to say it many times.
  2. Cutie #1’s sight word list includes the words “as”, which when sounded out, instead of memorized, makes him say “a$$”, then giggle and say, “Sorry, Mom. That’s a bad word.” No, my love. It’s “azzzzzzz”. You’re just fine.Screenshot 2016-09-25 06.22.21.png
  3. I had the chance to present at Kern Down Syndrome Network yesterday. I hopefully helped parents avoid the struggles we have had. At least they know they are not alone.
  4. We met two new families at Kern DSN. My heart is full.
  5. Prince Charming is working on finishing up projects so his wife doesn’t lose her marbles. He is an amazing man. Marbles are so hard to come by these days.
  6. Our Club 21 Walkathon donations are starting to roll in! Team Reyes is on the map!

Overall, it’s a great life. I couldn’t have planned it, guessed it, dreamed it, or created it if I tried. There are more twists and turns than I expected, but that keeps us young and interesting.


Golden Pregnancy

You can call it whatever you want: geriatric, advanced, elder pregnancy. Not I.

I am having a Golden Pregnancy with increased monitoring to watch an exciting subchorionic bleed shrink and resolve of its own volition (at least that is what you are all hoping for now).

No need for alarm. I am not alarmed, and you don’t need to be either. No drama for this Golden Mama.

Screenshot 2016-09-15 16.38.06.png

And now, I am hungry.



Taking a six and a half year old to an early ultrasound


img_7840Prince Charming pulled Cutie #1 out of school a touch early, drove up to Bakersfield and met me in the parking lot at the doctor’s office. He slept in the car and was unpleasantly groggy when they parked.
“We’re going to see the baby”
Not interested.
“I know you’re tired, but I need you to get out of the car.”

Sullen silence.

This is not a child who lacks words for nearly everything. He is creepily like his mother this way. Try arguing with yourself. Horrible, right? Welcome to my world.

We had a little time beforehand, and we needed to make a four-year well child visit for Cutie #2, so we walked over to our pediatrician’s packed office and took care of that. Thank God, “Wild Kratts” was on. Thank you, Okezie Pediatrics, for showing PBS in the waiting room. Cutie #1 feigned a smile, sat down and watched his favorite show.

Then, we had to leave before the show was over. God help us. Seriously. Help us. Sullen Cutie got up, moped, dragged his feet, and walked out. Seriously, he is a Mini Me.

We got into the ultrasound room, and our tech got us started. I could see out of the corner of my eye that #1 was transfixed on the screen. Our clinic has a truly swanky ultrasound room with resplendent decor and overstuffed furniture. It would be better with movie theater seating, popcorn and cup holders, but I digress.

Our UST (Ultrasound Tech) announced that my uterus is twisted. Oh boy. Thankfully, not understood by the audience. We’d need to do a vaginal ultrasound. Oh boy. An unanticipated anatomical lesson awaits…

Sparing you the details, Cutie #1 was momentarily distressed, but relaxed after a quick, honest, and concise explanation.

Then, Cutie #3 appears on the screen. I am in love. Deeply, madly, passionately. Again. Like only a mother can be. #1 is unimpressed.

“It looks like a monster”
I smile, “Yes, it kind of does look like a monster.”
I look at our UST, and say, “I guess bringing a six-year-old in here can be interesting.”
She, too, is smiling, “They are the best. I love their imaginations.”
In the background I hear, “I’m six and a half.” Yes, you are. Sorry about that.
She’s the perfect tech for us. She’s still smiling.

Cutie #1 goes on the describe the developing younger sibling in various ways I hope never come up again during an argument, and I chuckle. He’s right. Humans are not the most esthetically pleasing at 7 weeks in utero.

And we have a heartbeat…

And we have a heartbeat! And a sonogram photo– but I swear Prince Charming has it, and he is certain that I do, so I guess that may (or may not) magically appear soon.

Prince Charming, Cutie #1, Cutie #2, and I got to hear Cutie #3’s heartbeat yesterday afternoon! It was whooshy, just like it’s supposed to be. Baby, currently an adorable (Cutie #1 thought #3 looked like an alien– I assume he meant an ADORABLE alien) bean-curved embryo, is measuring at seven weeks, so it is likely that the May the Fourth due date will stick, but like I said last time, 1 & 2 both arrived at 38.5 weeks. We shall see what lies ahead.

When I heard baby’s heartbeat, it became much more real. Holy cow. There is a baby inside of me right now. That just blows my mind. We may still have three kids: our great compromise. Incredible.

We are grateful for this incredibly good luck!

Still pregnant

img_7836 (L.A. Zoo and Cutie #1)

Today is another Monday, not my favorite day of the week. We spent the weekend doing weekend things. Club 21, our incredible Down syndrome community, on Saturday, LA Zoo on Sunday. We don’t take the iPad, or as I call it, “Crack for Children”,  out much, so our kids do odd 1985 things like talk with us, talk to each other, and observe the world. Car rides from our isolated, but lovely, mountain community, to our events in Los Angeles County are generally 1.5 hours or more in the car, so we have time to spend together. Cutie #1 sang random songs. Cutie #2 wrote letters in her mini-notebook, I knit, through the exhaustion and nausea, and Prince Charming drove.


I am clearly still pregnant. YIPPIE! For me, being pregnant involves exhaustion, total forgetfulness and a queasy stomach. BOOOO! I’ll celebrate the developing human, but I struggle to celebrate the queasy. It also includes fewer pieces of clothing to choose from each day. Some formerly pregnant friends are going to spot me some maternity clothes, and all should be well in the pants department soon.

What does “still pregnant” look like this week? On Friday, I had an intake appointment and blood draws. I had the opportunity to opt in to complete prenatal screening for trisomies, like Down syndrome. For the first time, I will actually do it. Since Cutie #2 already has Down syndrome, I feel pretty confident in my ability to do it again; however, having a bit of information beforehand this time is not the worst thing ever, especially if we have to deliver in California (dread).

The best part… we found out our estimated due date is May the Fourth. YES! #StarWarsDay. While neither Prince Charming, nor I believe that Cutie #3 will be born on the appointed day, but the idea of a Star Wars Baby is so cool.

Tomorrow we have our first ultrasound. It’s depressingly called a “viability ultrasound”, you know, to make sure the pregnancy has a shot. Since we don’t really know how far along I am, my OBGYN ordered an early ultrasound. (“Early ultrasound” sounds better than “viability ultrasound”, right.) We are hoping for a little fluttering being to show up on the screen tomorrow. Our fingers are firmly crossed. If you have a minute, cross yours for us.

Fifteen years ago

Each year, September 11th brings an aching nostalgia to me. Not for the events on that horrific day, but for the ease with which the world traveled prior to those attacks.
my grainy istanbul.jpg
On September 4, 2001, I moved to Istanbul, Turkey, to teach English at a gorgeous campus overlooking the Black Sea. Koç University has a stunningly beautiful campus. My lojman (faculty apartment) looked directly at the Black Sea, and I could spend hours in my living room, glancing out at the sea. It was a place of dreams and imagination.

Istanbul is an incredible city. It is vibrant, cosmopolitan, ancient, and wise. It is, by far, my favorite city, and I hope with my whole being that someday I will be able to take my family to my old haunts so they can enjoy it as I did. Rumeli Kavagi, Aya Sofya, Ortakoy, Istinye, Bebek, Bagdat Caddesi, Istiklal Caddesi, the Adalar, and my beloved Sariyer, the calm fishing town at the northern end of the Bosphorus where I lived my everyday life. The town that taught me Turkish. Not academic Turkish, but enough to pronounce my students’ names, buy my vegetables at the Wednesday market, and not get cheated by taxi drivers.

But the world, and Istanbul, are not the same as they were fifteen years ago. Travel is less enjoyable and much more frustrating. Islam is misunderstood by wide swaths of the planet, and travel brings real concerns and dangers, which appear on the social media circuit and cable news outlets quickly, and without much journalistic fact-checking.

When I left for Istanbul, a week before the attacks on September 11th, my parents walked me to my airline terminal. To my recollection, there was no screening or TSA. To my knowledge, all I had to prove was that my bag fit in the overhead bin. It was an easy and innocent time.

The flight was completely forgettable. It took ten hours. Minneapolis to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Istanbul. And just like that, I was in Istanbul. My boss generously picked me up at the airport.

I remember driving through the Roman aqueducts on the way in to the city. I remember seeing the Bosphorus for the first time, bustling with ferries and fishermen. I remember going to my first Turkish grocery store, Cima, right on the Bosphorus. I don’t think it’s even there anymore. I remember images, smells, sounds, and these all make me love Istanbul even more, well most of them did.

I remember being so very happy. Istanbul helped me meet one of the few life goals I had actually stated. I wanted to live somewhere else for a while. Not forever, just for a while. It is very difficult to know yourself, truly know yourself, if you do not challenge yourself. For me, that meant a new language, a new culture, and new experiences.

And then, one week after I arrived, it happened. My innocence, trusting nature, and happy were challenged with a highly coordinated attack. My family was worried about me, after all, I was the one in a Muslim country. I still don’t see the logic there. I was worried about my family, back in the country which was attacked.

Turks, who had already endured ten years of attacks by the PKK with a death toll over 30,000, knew all too well how it felt. They were kind and compassionate. I had random women walk up to me in Carrefour (something like a Walmart) and hug me, kiss me on both cheeks, and cry. They were devastated that this could happen. And they had hope that because this happened to the US, that maybe it could stop everywhere.

That is clearly not what happened.

So what is the lesson in all this?
Love, not hate.
Exploration, not devastation.
Courage, not fear.

If I can remember to take life’s challenges with love, exploration, and courage, instead of hate, devastation, and fear, I will be fine.

And so will you.

Peace to you today, and always.

You may wonder…

You may wonder what our due date is, or how far along I am. That’s a reasonable question. Short answer. I don’t know.

Then, you might wonder, why share this news so early.

Here’s the long answer.

Miscarriage and Stillbirth are still taboo subjects in our culture. That needs to change. Women miscarry every day. According to the March of Dimes website, between 10-15% of known pregnancies result in miscarriage. I guarantee you every one is remembered. Each one is grieved, and each one is a loss. Many of these losses are the result of chromosomal conditions. Cutie #2 with her chromosomal condition has made it so far. She made it through a rare congenital condition, and we are knocking on wood.  We only live one day at a time. That’s all we get.

If we are so incredibly lucky (and I specifically say lucky, as I refuse to say blessed and thus blame God for every miscarriage and stillbirth suffered by my loves around the world) to bring our baby home, it will be with the deep knowledge that it could have gone differently. It could still. And it’s all worth it. Each day is worth it.

I love many who have experienced unspeakable pain, and I may still. My fingers are crossed. Today I am pregnant. Let’s celebrate!

So, why would I want to share this excellent news at such an early date when I know all too well how fragile life is? I share because I want to celebrate each moment, and I know that moments are fleeting.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply confused.


Help exists for  Stillbirth and Miscarriage, please reach out. If you have more resources, please send them to me, and I’ll post them.


Compassionate Friends




The Pregnant Pause


The Pregnant Pause

The North American English phrase “pregnant pause” is nowhere to be found in the Oxford Dictionary; it’s not in the Longman, either. Thankfully, did not let me down. Here are two definitions proposed by the faithful followers of Urban Dictionary’s website:

  1. “A pregnant pause often occurs when something that requires a sarcastic response      happens, but no one quite knows what to say or do.” (Urban Dictionary, online, jcsavestheday August 22, 2008 )
  2. “Delay in speech used to give one time to consider the consequences of a             statement.” (Urban Dictionary, MichelleM Sept 30, 2006).

There you have it. The pause in conversation between you and me for the next number of days, weeks, months, or perhaps years when a blank stare occurs mid-sentence will forever-more be referred to as a “pregnant pause”. You know I would want to make a sarcastic response, but my brain will not allow it. Perhaps this delay in speech will allow you time to let the brilliance soak in, but more likely, you will join my in my confusion. #EmbraceTheChaos #EmbraceTheConfusion

I don’t need a “mommy brain” explanation. I’ve read the Dr. Serrallach’s work on Postnatal Depletion, too. Hippy dippy? I’m not sure, but it feels real today.

If we are lucky enough to be together, you with your delicious craft beer, and me with my delicious large glass of ice cold water, please know that you will experience a pregnant pause through me.

You are welcome.

Enjoy my Chronic Confusion.

Chronic Confusion

Since Cutie #2 was born with her designer genes, something inside me has been unsettled. I wanted to be able to tell our story, but I also didn’t want to confuse her story with my own. As a result, I’ve collected (in my own brain) many stories which I’d love to share with you…assuming my forty year-old brain lets me retrieve them at the right time.


How did that happen?

Somehow it did. And almost immediately my brain failed me. For years, my optometrist has told me, “Just wait. Your eyesight will be like this when you’re forty.” And he would proceed to change that confounded machine to the blurriest possible settings. Seriously? What a fun job! Mess with people and get paid for it.  Another career for my next life.

So clearly, it came as no surprise to me when my brain failed me. I couldn’t remember what I was doing. I couldn’t focus on work, advocacy, children, husband, house, work, did I mention work? My brain was failing me.

I didn’t hesitate; I immediately made an appointment with my Internist. He nodded, listened, ordered myriad tests for thyroid, hormone-imbalance, allergies, everything. I could see on his face the “look”.  You know, the one that says, “What does she expect? She’s forty.” To his credit, he didn’t utter the words. I even complained, “None of my pants fit! All of a sudden! It’s not fair. I just went shopping in Minnesota where there is no tax on clothes!!! It was less than a month ago.” Again the “look”.

I left my appointment and sat down in my car. I glanced at the checkout paperwork the doctor’s office printed.

Reason for visit: Chronic Confusion

At least it didn’t say, “She’s forty, what did she expect?” Insurance would never cover that condition.

It dawned on me a few mornings later that I might be entering the lovely and relaxing time of perimenopause. My monthly visitor was again late. Just in case, I thought I would do a home pregnancy test. I had two nearly-expired ones left from our procreation days. No problem.

First one – colossal failure. Not enough of a sample.

I took the last test with me, peed in a public restroom in a location which shall remain nameless and before I could zip up my too-tight pants, I was pregnant.





Excuse me? What was that?

Now I’m giving myself the “look”. However, this look includes “What have we gotten ourselves in to?” We have two fabulous kids: one who hates wearing jeans and one who rocks designer genes. Why not add one more to the mix?

Welcome to our Chronic Confusion.