Mornings with Sam + Follicle Count

It’s 6:45 a.m. I’m in the middle of a dream that’s complicated, emotional, and fantastic: after tearily dropping Sam off for his first day of kindergarten, I’ve encountered a teleportation beam, out of which my husband, Thor, emerges. “Where have you been?” I demand as the schoolchildren and staff begin to crowd around us. “Asgard,” Thor tells me. “And Hel is coming here to destroy earth.” Sure enough, Cate Blanchett is outside, in all of her made-up glory. My Husband Thor looks concerned and manly, but I squeal in delight: that’s Cate Blanchett, guys. That’s Cate Blanchett. She’s like. The embodiment of awesome, even if she is trying to destroy the world. I’m going to go give her a hug.

And then a pair of alarms go off simultaneously. My alarm plays “Wait for It” from Hamilton, kind of my theme song for the last two years of infertile misery. I groan and fumble for my phone; I should’ve known it was just a dream because my brain somehow thought that Thor was played by Chris Pratt, not Chris Hemsworth. Stupid brain, confusing the Chrises.

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(get with the program, brain. Hemsworth is Thor and is “dusty roadtrip in the desert” hot. Pratt is Peter Quill and is “Star Wars and Chinese food” hot)

Across the hall, Sam’s alarm goes off, too. The alarm was supposed to tell him when he was allowed to get out of bed, as he’s had this tendency to get up and demand attention at 5 a.m. Yesterday, when he tried to do that and Kyle told him to go back to bed until 6, Sam fell silent and then woke up again at 7, very put out with Kyle. “I fell back asleep!” he scolded.

This morning, though, Sam’s sleeping in, and I don’t blame him. It’s a gorgeously rainy day. The weather is cool and damp, and it’s the perfect day to stay in bed until at least noon, listening to the patter of rain against the roof and the windows, snuggled up in far too many blankets. Kyle rolls out of bed and goes to open Sam’s gate, a safety measure against our rambunctious three-year-old who doesn’t quite understand why falling down the stairs would be a bad thing. A beat later, I hear a shuffling of tiny feet, and then Sam hefts himself up onto the bed. He’s not quite awake yet; his eyes are wide open, but his face is still flushed and his expression is still serious.

He curls up on Kyle’s pillows next to me. “Hi,” I say. “Hi,” he says, and then asks me to pull the blankets over him. Why? “My legs are covered in Han Solo ice cubes,” he explains. He’s cold.

“Did you have a good sleep?” I ask. He nods. “What did you dream about?”

“The Death Star,” he answers. He always dreams about the Death Star. It’s his favorite thing.

“I dreamed about you,” I tell him.

He finally smiles drowsily. “Mommy, can we check the weather?” he asks. This has started to be a thing for him, checking the weather every day. He doesn’t know what most of it means–temperatures and radars and barometric pressure and stalled fronts–but he likes to see the pictures of clouds and sun and rain and thunder. I pull up my AccuWeather app, which I use almost exclusively since the Weather Channel app decided it wanted to forget where I was geographically.

“It’s going to be rainy today,” I tell Sam, pointing to a tiny picture of a raincloud, “and it’s going to be chilly out. There may be a thunderstorm this afternoon.”

He lights up. “I love thunderstorms!” And he does. He got his father’s genes in that area: Kyle, who grew up in Dallas, sleeps best when there’s a rumble of thunder outside. I grew up in Massachusetts and can’t sleep through even the gentlest of thunderstorms. Go figure.

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Speaking of Kyle, he gives Sam’s hand a tug. “Let’s go downstairs, buddy. I’ll get you some breakfast.”

Sam jerks his hand away and wraps it around my arm. “No! I want to stay with Mommy today!”

Kyle and I exchange looks and then shrug. “Alright,” I tell Sam, “but I have to get ready to go to the doctor and then to work, so I can’t play with you, okay?”

Sam nods and follows me dutifully as I shuffle through my morning routine. I have to leave early today, so I rush through the process, wasting too much time on uncooperative hair and trying to find my favorite socks. Sam asks all manner of questions: why are you wearing that? Did you put your boobs on? Can I have a hair tie? What does “chilly” mean? What day is it?

I answer the last one as we gather ourselves to go downstairs. “It’s Monday,” I answer.

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“Monday? Is that a Mommy and Daddy day?” Sam asks. He’s being a little too eager on the stairs, and I resist the urge to take his hand and steady him. He’s not falling, I remind myself, he’s just hurrying.

“No, Monday is a school day. We have to get you ready for school.” Once I say this, his face falls. He wants to stay home with us he argues, and loudly. I imagine that Kat is in her room, covering her head with a thousand pillows to drown out the cacophony that follows.

“I! DON’T! WAN! NA! GO! TO! SCHOOL!” Sam howls as Kyle tries unsuccessfully to change him into a pair of jeans. He eventually gives up and goes to the kitchen to work on Sam’s lunch, and I try to cajole Sam into the jeans.

“It’s a fun week at school!” I tell him. “Look, you’re going to do Halloween things, even though it’s July! You’re going to make trick-or-treat bags, and you’ll get candy and wear masks…”

“I! DON’T! WAN! NA!” he continues, though now he’s sniffling and calming down, sitting on my lap. Another minute or so, and he’s back to his usual self, though now victoriously pants-less and mildly concerned that we ran out of Mickey Mouse waffles. Five minutes later, he’s playing “pewer nap,” a game that involves him lying on the ground with his pillow, blankie, and favorite lovey (“Puppy”), and also the laser gun that Kat got him for Christmas.

“Is Auntie awake?” he asks of Kat, and when I say no, he says, “Okay, I will just pretend to pew. Tell me where to pew.” I point at the corner, and he aims his laser gun and says, “Pew! Pew! Pew!” shooting down imaginary enemies all over the place.

I have to rush now; the pants incident has eaten up a lot of time, and I’m running late for my doctor’s appointment. IVF monitoring today, and though it’s early in the cycle, I’ve had early ultrasounds take half an hour before, between counting follicles and finding follicles to count. I gulp down some breakfast (Pop-Tarts and cranberry juice, I’m so healthy) and my medication (antidepressant and prenatal vitamin, I’m unironically healthy), and then it’s kisses all around before I sweep out the door…

…and sweep back in because it’s pouring rain, and I forgot my umbrella. “I love you guys!” I call over my shoulder. “Have a good day!”

“I love you!” they both answer. “See you tonight!”

And that’s my morning with Sam and Kyle. It’s a trade-off: I have to leave earlier to get to work earlier, whereas Kyle has more flexibility. On the other hand, he doesn’t get home until almost 7 most nights, and I get home early enough to have a nice evening with Sam. Still, I miss the mornings. When I was at home, Sam and I would cuddle together after Kyle left. We’d play games and watch all the network TV available to us–he particularly liked The Price is Right and Ellen. Sam has always been a delightful morning baby, and I miss those precious early hours with him.

The precious early hours this morning belonged to the IVF clinic: a blood draw and ultrasound to check my follicle count. Currently, I’m sitting at around 20 tiny follicles, but those don’t count as much as the larger ones will in the days to come. I’m waiting for a phone call from the nurse, and she’ll tell me how many there were, how my progesterone and estrogen are looking, and what my new medication instructions are. With any luck, I’ll have a nice quick cycle, a smooth retrieval, and good news. Until then…

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