It turns out my clean, agile, software developer livin’ is helping me stay sane as we move into parenthood. I can see that it would be easy to be let yourself be sucked right into the tumbling, rumbling avalanche of YOU NEED THIS that follows a positive pregnancy test. Every baby website has a hundred (sponsored) products to shove at you. Every baby-stuff-selling store has a list of Must Haves that is a mile long. The baby shower tradition (a rather uniquely American one, I’m learning) is for the mother to be downright smothered in a pile of baby stuff, essential and frivolous. All the recently-minted parents have bushels of baby goods they’re looking to ditch… erm, hand down. And naturally each parent found those one or two lifesaver items that they will insist we need… and there’s curiously little overlap there, so if we listened to all that, we could open our own baby store with all the stuff we’d accumulate.

Most people love this. It is the way of our people. But it just doesn’t sit right for me, I do not like collecting material possessions. (I can see the irony.) My style is more of a do it lean, do it yourself, keep it simple aesthetic. After a couple decades of doing application design and development, I can smell an over-engineered problem pretty easily, and lemme tell you: baby-having stinks of over-engineering to high heaven.

That said, of course there are some things that we really do need. In the approach to software development I use, you start simple at first—stupid simple—and only add in new features in an incremental fashion, when a real need is truly justifiable, and add them in priority order. This is how you make sure that the important stuff gets in there, instead of being sidetracked into adding features that seem important but wind up unused or irrelevant.

So, okay, what does my baby TRULY need? Food, shelter. That’s kinda really it. Food has an easy answer, it’s what my boobs are for. Shelter, well, we’ve got a house. Done. We’re pretty much guaranteed to succeed right there.

Ah, but the boob route may not be so simple. There’s a learning curve there. It may take time for my milk to come in, there could be latching problems, I may find myself incapacitated if delivery goes sideways. I may need to pump breast milk, so I’ll need a pump, and bottles, and nipples. And a way to sterilize the bottles, and warm the bottles. And storage bags for my breast milk. And a drying rack for the bottles. And nursing pads for when my breasts leak. Am I going to need nipple shields? Oh, and nipple cream, because ouch. And a special nursing bra, but which style? This mother insists on one style, but this other mother insists on a different one. Better get both! Oh dear, what if I can’t get the milk going fast enough? I’m going to need formula, just in case. And I was lactose intolerant, so what if my girl is? I should get soy-based formula, too, to be safe. Hm, we’re going to need bibs. And a car adapter for the breast pump. And this paddle game. And this chair. And this magazine. And… and…

If we were building a piece of software, someone would have spat out the words “feature creep” right around the words “I’ll need a pump.” Feature Creep is the bane of every developer’s existence, it’s how interesting ideas and good intentions make a project balloon into something unwieldy and undeliverable. Good developers know to nip it in the bud quickly. If you try to anticipate everything in advance, you will anticipate the wrong things, and you will fail. Instead, you keep yourself flexible (“agile” in programming parlance), and react calmly and realistically as new desires enter the picture, always keeping a weather eye on the large picture. You continually remind yourself to keep it simple, to do just the bare minimum first, and to add in a new idea or a new feature only after considering how much you really need it, and why. Now this approach, I like.

Okay, back now to the boob & house solution. We do know that the hospital will not let us leave unless we have demonstrated that we have a properly installed car seat. I can get behind this, we will likely want to take our baby places. That becomes our highest priority after boob and house. Car seat. So that’s the first thing we purchased (actually, my Mom did. Thank you, Mom!).

The kid is going to want to do some sleeping, and our floor is pretty hard. The guidance for SIDS prevention suggests that the best option is to have the baby sleeping in the same room as you, but not in the same bed. Like security considerations in software development, safety considerations are a constant running question in the background, and are a key quality concern. We keep it simple—stupid simple—but not unconscionably simple. So, some research is done, and a co-sleeper bassinet is selected. A crib, well, a crib can wait. Don’t need it yet.

The Baby Stuff Selection process has been happening for us in this way for the past few months. Question, research, prioritize, occasionally select, and even more rarely, purchase. It’s not just about saving money, it’s as much (more?) about saving space, saving sanity, just living streamlined. What happens when I need formula after all? Well, I go to the 24 hour supermarket that stocks lots of different formulas and is half a mile from our house. It’s not exactly a looming catastrophe.

This isn’t to say that we’re not going to do a full preparation before the baby comes, I know now is the time and it will become harder later. We’ll get the crib sorted before she’s here, but since it’s lower priority, we’ll make sure we take care of higher priority questions first. And thankfully, while purchasing isn’t my style, researching totally is, so I’m having fun reading up on all our options in case we need to make decisions quickly.

I figured out a few weeks ago that I need to keep in mind a lesson learned from our wedding. There, too, I did not buy into the Matrimonial Industrial Complex, instead opting for a simple, homemade affair. I had naysayers, so many naysayers. And I had a wonderful wedding, and wouldn’t change a thing about it. This is scary, uncharted territory for us but I need to be true to myself and do things the way that feels right for me. My instincts have steered me true in the past, and more likely than not, they will again.

And my instinct says I do not need much.

p.s., I do like traditions, and I really like parties, so we are having a little celebration. Check your Facebook event invites for The Trottening 2, and RSVP if’n you can. If you want to be even more traditional, we do have a registry. Please, please, please no pink!

El Draque Falso, a.k.a. The Fake Drake

Most of you know that I spend every Tuesday evening at Smuggler’s Cove, a truly excellent rum-focused, tiki-flavored bar here in San Francisco, owned by my dear and old friend Martin Cate. This tradition of mine predates the existence of Smuggler’s Cove. Before the Cove opened, I was spending every Wednesday at Forbidden Island in Alameda. Before that, it was every Monday at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. Before that, it was Wednesdays at Tiki-Ti in Los Angeles. It all started waaaaaaay back in 2003, when I was spending every Tuesday night at Fu Kun Wu in Seattle.

It’s been an anchor in my week that I can no longer imagine doing without. While the ostensible focus is on cocktails, that’s never really been the point. It’s about knowing that at least once a week, I have something social happening, a chance to see friendly faces, tell tales about the week that’s passed, and oftentimes make new friends. It’s handy that no one needs to make special arrangements if they want to catch up with me, they just have to find a free Tuesday and show up. Before I had this, odds were good that these thin, wimpy days of the week would go to waste, maybe watching television, or playing solitaire. I’ve had a near-decade of non-wasted Tuesdays and Wednesdays, days when beautiful human connections were made, and I feel really good about that.

So, how does a woman whose social life is anchored by cocktails go about being secretly pregnant? I was going to need help. As soon as I peed on a stick and got a double line, I told Rich, then I told my Mom, and then I told my Bartender: Steven Liles.

The menu at Smuggler’s Cove is about 85 drinks deep. Tiki drinks have lots of interesting mixers: citrus and other fruit juices, spiced syrups, the works. I’ve long argued that tiki bars are the best place to go if you don’t drink, as the non-alcoholic drinks are fantastic. However! Week after week of juice-heavy custom drinks were going to raise eyebrows. At Smuggler’s Cove, people pay attention to what you’re drinking, because the menu itself is such a conversation piece.

Steven has been a godsend. He’s been able to make secretly virgin versions of a surprising array of the drinks on the menu. He tweaked the color using cinnamon syrup to bring in the brown color rum would have added. Even drinks served on the stem with a heavy amount of base spirit, he managed to re-concoct for me (A virgin El Draque! That’s just advanced.). Every drink has been delicious, and even week after week after week of virgin drinks, I’m not at all tired of them. He was mindful of any moves that could give our secret away, using particularly delicate slight of hand to minimize potential exposure of my bill, in case anyone noticed the suspiciously low cost of my drinks. He regaled my friends with tales of what a “pro drinker” I am, spacing out all these “heavy alcohol” drinks with the occasional non-alcoholic.

In short: he got really into it.

At times the show was too convincing. One night as I was leaving after having three rounds of drinks with some friends, they offered to walk me to BART… before I could think, I blurted out, “oh, no, I’m driving tonight!” They gave me well-earned, skeptical squints, and I muttered something about how one of the drinks was non-alcoholic, and the others were really pretty low alcohol, and I’d managed to eat a big meal before coming out…

So! I’ve been dying to tell you: Steven Liles is EVEN MORE AMAZING than you knew. (And just think what he’s capable of doing WITH alcohol!)

Nota bene: I will keep going to Smuggler’s Cove on Tuesday nights until it becomes physically impossible… which is looming ever closer. If you’ve been meaning to come out some Tuesday, make it some time in the next few months! I always announce earlier in the day on Twitter & Facebook that I’ll be there (I only miss maybe 5 weeks out of a typical year), if you want to be extra sure you’ll see me. I typically get there around 8pm, and stick around ’til 10 or so.

New Trott, at 11 weeks

After two years of trying, and failing, and trying, and failing, and trying, and failing… we’ve finally stumbled on success. I’m 12 weeks pregnant, and I’m due on January 11, 2013. We are vacillating between stoked, thrilled, scared, cautious… the standard slate of emotions. Ack ack ack… we get to have a kid! (Hopefully!)

While it took us longer than we wanted, our struggle hasn’t been nearly as struggle-y as others with infertility often face. Since our problem remained unexplained, we had very little to work with, but eventually we got there, so now that seems to be behind us. For the curious/interested: I had my polypectomy, and nada, we tried some rounds of Femara, that didn’t do anything, then I had an HSG, next cycle had bupkis, then we were scheduled to do IUI. In preparation for the IUI, I was back on Femara, this time at double the dose. A business trip and a weekend lined up inconveniently with my ovulation, and we couldn’t do IUI that cycle — but it turned out that the old fashioned way (combined with the recent HSG & Femara & reduced stress with a lightened client load?) finally worked for us that cycle.

Symptom-wise, I’ve *almost* gotten off easy. I haven’t puked (knock wood), only have mild and manageable nausea. I’ve been able to eat (boy, have I been able to eat), and I’ve mostly been sleeping fine. Symptoms that have been present, but really only annoying: frequent urination, constipation, bloat, BLOAT, gassiness, mild headaches, occasional pinchy growing cramps, dizziness, shortness of breath. The hard one, the one that has me knocked for a loop, is fatigue. “Fatigue” sounds so gentle, soft and mild, and it’s not. It’s basically been 3 a.m. for me for two months straight now. Worst of all: it’s left me unable to program. I simply need more brainpower than I have right now to do my groovy Making Stuff In the Computer thing. That has me terribly sad, and frightened… I have lots of work to do, and I really, really want to be getting it done NOW. Fingers crossed that I get my mojo back in the next few weeks.

Okay, enough of the bummer stuff… most importantly, baby-wise, everything seems to be cooking perfectly. Haven’t had any scares, not even any spotting, and the baby has been looking great, measuring on track and all that good stuff. The scan at top was done a week ago. The little thing sure was wiggly and active. We couldn’t get a good picture, but seeing it live, it looked fantastic and really healthy… the doctor said it’s as good as she’s seen. My Mom came down from Oregon for the scan, I’m so glad she got to be there and see it in person (this is her first grandkid). We don’t know the sex yet, but probably will in a month or two, almost certainly by mid-August.

Rich has been awesome and supportive and wonderful, but you know that. Every day, I feel awfully glad to have him as the father of my kid. This is going to rock.

Hey, loved ones, you look like you would enjoy an update from Trottomatic.

So, we’re working on adding another Trott. Two Trotts is an awful lot of fun, and we figure three would be a kick. And can you imagine what a darling, spazzy, gangly little creature we could create? We can’t either, so we’re gonna make one and see what we get.

Or rather, we hope to make one. We’ve been trying for a bit more than a year, and we’ve been Really Quite Seriously Trying for about 10 months of that. Daily temperature taking, graphs, the whole nine yards. It’s been slow, and obviously… unproductive. We first started working with our lovely primary care physician oh, nearly a year ago. We got bumped up to the infertility big leagues this past spring, and have been working with a really wonderful OB/GYN, whom I adore.

I’ve gotten pretty darned acquainted with my inner equipment. Between my own daily tracking and the slew of diagnostics, the data says I should be an OB’s dream. Periods are like clockwork, always have been. Ovulation is similarly Germanic in its precision, with temperature bumps associated with convenient mittelschmerz and spotting confirmation. Uterine lining is nice and cushy (“luscious!” per my OB). Progesterone levels are totally baby-friendly (“gorgeous!” again says beloved OB). Ovarian follicles are plentiful (ultrasound tech says I “have the ovaries of a woman ten years younger!”). Morphologically speaking, my uterus looks right out of a textbook, a nice uterus-y shape, no signs of endometriosis. Rich also passed his tests swimmingly (BAH DUM BUM!).

This is all well and good, and nice to see and hear, except for that it paints a picture of a woman who really should be pregnant right now, and I’m not. Based on the tweaks, twinges, temperatures and tests, our best guess is that everything is working right up to or around implantation. We’ve definitely had some near misses, including one confirmed pregnancy that didn’t quite stick.

One itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, 7mm possible culprit is an endometrial polyp found smack dab in the middle of my uterus. Studies between small polyps and infertility have been inconclusive, but anecdotally, some people have had luck getting pregnant after having small polyps removed. (Also, my periods have been gradually becoming more painful, and the polyp is a likely contributor.)

So that’s our next step. I’m going in for surgery next Tuesday. If that doesn’t do the trick, next round is fertility drugs.

Infertility is a funny thing. It’s a nearly universal experience, yet pretty underrepresented when we connect with our friends and loved ones through conversation. There are a lot of factors there, I suppose. For me, the experience of having people ask “so, what’s new?” on the same day I had a miscarriage, and my replying “oh, nothing really!” just amplified the surreality of what was going on, in a way that was deeply unpleasant. These were people I loved, some of our dearest friends, and I felt like I was lying to them. And heck! I’d had a miscarriage, but it also meant I had been pregnant! I’d finally had a chance to take the old V8 out for a spin! So the pregnancy didn’t take… it still was a pretty significant First in my life. That’s not worth some discussion? “Oh, nothing really! Nothing is new! Nothing at all!” Fuck that.

So, I tried the silence route, and it’s not for me. Not that I’ll be blabbing about it left, right and center, because that’s snoozeville for folks who find it irrelevant. But with the folks who are really close to me, I’m more likely to talk about it now.