Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Boston has become like a second hometown in the last 6 years. Monday's bombing shook me and like many, I felt so sad and sickened by people who could do this.

Before 2007, I had been to Boston one time, to visit a friend from high school at Boston University. I don't think we even did anything in Boston proper, but went to a college hockey game, that's it.

In 2007, my New York cardologist told me there was nothing more they could do for me. I asked for a second opinion, and she gave me the names of three adult congenital heart doctors, one in Philly (CHOP), one at the Mayo Clinic, and one at Boston Children's Hospital. Boston was closest so I decided to try there first, and then work out to the others (especially since Mayo seemed like the best place, just because it's the MAYO). But I never got to try any others out, because Dr. Mike at Boston Children's Adult Congenital Heart Clinic was just the most awesome person, and since then we have been through so much together.  He was there during my first pregnancy before my second open heart surgery when things didn't look good for me or the baby, and I remember him telling us he wished it wasn't professionally inappropriate to have us over his house because he knew the pain we were in.  He oversaw my 2009 second open heart surgery, promising me that they could "fix" this, even though Columbia Presbyterian had written me (and my life) off. He did three more of my heart catheterizations, putting stents in, until he was able to give me the green light to go and get pregnant again. I never managed to hang onto a pregnancy, but being able to try and get pregnant, even if not succeeding, was so much better than never been allowed to try at all.

For those not from the area, Boston Children's is attached (literally) to a number of other hospitals, via glass "bridges" - including Brigham and Women's, Dana Farber Institute, etc. So even though my surgery was at Boston Children's, my recovery was at Brigham and Women's, and Dr. Mike has privileges there as well (he is Harvard Med affiliated, so has a number of privileges, I assume), and he would visit me daily in the hospital. Brigham and Women's was as great as Boston Children's in their care of me was fantastic. It was why I knew I wanted a gestational carrier who would agree to give birth there, because it's such a fantastic place - not only a Level 1 Trauma Center, but a Level 3 NICU unit.

So in a way, Boston Children's and Brigham and Women's has given me 3 lives, my children's and my own. And I despite the tragedy of Monday, I was so glad those injured were so close to not only BWH and Boston Children's but all the hospitals of Boston that are so fantastic. And not that Dr. Mike would likely have much to do with trauma victims, but I know how much those doctors care about their patients. About 30 of the injured were sent to BWH and 8 injured children were sent to Boston Children's.

I was last in Boston about 11 weeks ago now, and it's not like I'm there all that often. But I have spent so much time in the Copley area whenever I am there (we would priceline hotels for the Copley area since we often went the night before an appointment since it was such a drive) so I feel so sad the site has become such a crime scene and I pray for those killed affected by such a cowardly person or people.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Money and Taxes

Ugh...taxes are due next week. Oh, I'm sure you all know that already. We are usually so ahead of the game; filing by March 1st is usually considered late for us! But not this year...this year we have 5 days to go and still haven't filed. Obviously we've been busy, but we really need to get it together. It's just taking us a long time because we have additional things to worry about.
As usual, filing for my little side business, which isn't anything much, but it's still additional paperwork.

Then, filing for adoption expenses. We never finalized (obviously) but we still put out some money towards it, so we can claim our 2011 expenses this year. That is going to be nice, since it's a credit. I asked for and got a letter from our agency detailing our expenses, just in case we are audited. It's almost $4K so I am very excited to get that back.

Finally, medical deductions. Ugh. So I've read lots of mixed things on claiming surrogacy expenses. Some people say yes, some people say no. Tax people. I'm not a tax person, but I am an attorney so I went looking for some case law on it. And from what I've found it seems like if you have "medical infertility" then you should be able to claim it. So we're going to try. Now, my ILs paid for a good portion of it (because we never would have been able to) but we probably paid about 1/3 of it ourselves. I went through all of our receipts and bank statements for the last year and added up our expenses. It makes me want to cringe. Almost $80K from beginning to end.

And honestly, that's pretty good for surrogacy. For that we have two children, and no unexpected expenses. One adoption would have cost us $32K so in reality it's not bad at all. But thank God for my inlaws without which we NEVER would have been able to do this. (even if I do complain about them a lot :)

But trying to sort out all this stuff has taken a lot of time. We even considered filing an amended return but I think we'll get it done on time.

Ugh, taxes. And money. I hate them both.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mother's Helper

L and I have hired a mother's helper - really a friend of ours who is out of work right now. She's only going to come 2 days a week for 5 hours per day, and only until I can handle things a bit better, so I'm glad it's someone I know instead of hiring someone we don't know. Definitely more comfortable. She came for the first time today and it was awesome. I got so much done around the house and I think it was better for the girls too - they actually got more time being held and interacted with. Usually I change, feed, put back down quickly because I have to do the other one, and then if they are both "down" I have a few minutes to do something around the house, but it's so stressful and I've really felt bad that they don't have that much time with me.  Or anyone. But today I had time to sit with each one of them for awhile and have some girl talk, while A was holding the other one. It was great! And I had real adult conversation as well - win win :) Plus she's doing things exactly the way I want things done (I'm so anal) and I showed her my cloth diapering technique and it's all good!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm So Cranky

It's the lack of sleep getting to me. I can't wait to give these girls their last feeding tonight and go to bed.

Yesterday was the WORST day. It ended with me crying on the floor at midnight, which woke L up (who had only gone to bed the hour before).

The girls were fussy all day. Actually, fussy is putting it lightly, they cried, no, N SHRIEKED the entire day. I was at my wits end.

My work BFF (we no longer work together but this is how I identify her) has given us tons of her frozen breastmilk that she saved for us from when she was pumping last year. It's been great, and the girls have been gaining a ton on it. We used the Months 2-6 (age of her daughter at the time she pumped this milk) no problem, in fact the girls loved it. But it ran out and we recently got Months 7-9 from her, and the girls, N in particular, are just so much more fussy on it. I don't know why. They say that any breast milk, even if it's later in age than your actual baby can be considered better than formula (in terms of immunities - it's the same in terms of nutrition). But something in this milk was really bugging them. M was doing ok, but N seemed to be getting more and more fussy by the day, culminating in yesterday. So I dealt with her all day screaming, then L comes home from work and of course helps out a bit,  but he has to go to bed early (it wasn't even early yesterday because he was helping me so much because I was so frustrated even before he went to bed) so I'm up with them till the early morning hours.

He's in bed and N again is screaming, and the thought of having to deal with her for the next few hours AND doing it all again in the morning just put me over the edge and I went into meltdown mode. It's at times like these that I get so so negative and start thinking about certain people (ahem, my MIL) who never offered help (not like she'd ever be there at midnight anyway even if she did so heaven knows why I go there in my thoughts) ...and I just started crying. L wakes up and finds me crying on the couch with Natalie who is still screaming and then I just felt so guilty on top of it, the boy needs to be up by 5am to do the morning shift with the girls while I sleep till he leaves for work and he's up at midnight. He can't get her to stop crying so he tells me to get M and we'll put them in the car and go for a ride (supposedly the best thing to do for a colicky baby). But of course, it's almost time for M's feeding so I can't go so he takes N by himself. I feed M the breast milk and she's fine with it (for being the smaller baby at birth her stomach seems to be able to handle a lot more than N's) and then put her bed and she falls asleep no problem.

At that point I say screw it in terms of the milk. I make up a pitcher of formula because it's at least consistent and I just have this feeling there's something in the breast milk bothering her.

L comes back about a half hour later with a quiet N, thank God! He goes back to bed. But she's totally awake and she soon starts crying again - I figure she's hungry I feed her the bottle of formula. For the first time all day she's totally quiet after I finish feeding her. I put her to bed and she's still quiet. OMG!

We had a bunch of breastmilk still thawing in the fridge so I gave it to M all day who tolerated it just fine and kept N on the formula. Today was a totally different day! Happy babies, babies who napped, I got stuff done (including starting cloth diapering again, I guess that's another post) was wonderful! I totally felt like I could handle the world! I think N was fussy for about 1 hour and I felt my mood drop so much for that one hour - it's crazy how much it goes up and down! Then she was "good" again and I felt I could do this for weeks on end with no break if it kept up like this. Craziness.

We still have some more 9 month milk in the freezer downstairs but I think we're going to keep it there until they're closer to 9 months. I don't know what could have changed in my work BFF's diet in those few months but obviously something was different. It can't be a dairy intolerance because the formula is's so weird.

Now poor L ends up getting about 3 hours of sleep because M woke up at 3:30am and he's morning shift (I had just gone to bed the hour before) so I feel horrible. So today I made him go to bed as early as possible - seriously, he still hung on until 10pm. I really hope they will both stay asleep until 5am tomorrow (today)!

The lack of sleep is catching up with me as well and as I already said, I can't wait to finish up the feedings and go to bed.

But today I've:
  • done laundry
  • taken a shower
  • given the girls a bath
  • organized cloth diapering stuff
  • cleaned out dresser drawer (it had turned into a "junk drawer" where we kept piling papers)
  • paid bills
  • wrote out a few more thank you cards/given a donation online/sympathy card
  • done 16 feedings
  • changed 20 diapers
  • ordered stay dry liners for cloth diapers
  • washed I don't know how many bottles
  • requested birth certificates (just realized I had to send in a form and payment!)
I am sure to the uninitiated (i.e. person who works who doesn't have newborns/kids) this sounds like a very easy day - but this is a rock star day for me now!

I hope tomorrow is a good day too. I could use a few in a row.