Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CSI: New Jersey or Six Degrees of Separation

I'll just cut to the chase. I like to say that although our twins were born in Texas, they were built in a factory in NJ, at least that's where our fertility clinic was located. In June of 2005, 3 months into my pregnancy, I received an email from my college roommate asking me about the clinic where I was impregnated as she sent me links from several articles that had just appeared in the New Jersey newspapers. The story goes something like this:

Apparently sometime in 2004, spread out over the course of a week, 3 suitcases washed up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Found inside the suitcases, wrapped in green plastic trash bags were the parts of the dismembered body of a man later identified as William McGuire. Forensics later showed that he had been drugged, shot, and cut up meticulously with a reciprocating saw. They speculated that the 3 suitcases had been tossed off of the Bay bridge and had floated around, never washing out to sea (much to the dismay of the murderer or murderers) only to be washed up separately; thus the body parts having to be fitted together like a puzzle. Upon questioning the wife, Melanie, she revealed that her husband had 1. over the past year become increasingly 'menacing' in their marriage, 2. liked to gamble and had accumulated horrid debts, 3. threatened her on the night of the closing on their new $500,000 house, and then 4. disappeared and she hadn't heard from him since. Within 2 weeks of his "disappearance", she had filed a restraining order against him and then filed for divorce. His car was later found abandoned in the parking lot of an Atlantic City motel.

It was revealed that Melanie was a nurse at RMANJ, a prominent Morristown, New Jersey fertility clinic. The clinic was founded by an old friend of mine from high school, hence our connection, and we were coincidentally sent there by our specialist here because it is considered one of the best in the country. We traveled back and forth across the country to the clinic several times to see Dr. Richard Scott who has great success rates with fertility-challenged women. It also so happened that Melanie was secretly carrying on a 2 year affair with one of the other doctors at the clinic, a Bradley Miller.

Well, last night the story was on Prime time "Family Secrets". It had also been on "48 Hours Mysteries". Melanie, after a year long investigation, was arrested and charged in 2005 with her husband's murder. She was recently tried and found guilty of chopping up her husband and is awaiting sentencing. Bradley Miller apparently wore a wire and turned state's evidence against Melanie but in the meantime continued to have an 'intimate' relationship with her. This is one of the juiciest tales of murder, adultery and betrayal that I have heard of in a long time. Of course there are no witnesses to the crime but the 'coincidences' are undeniable. She sure seems guilty to me. Major points include: 1. She had purchased a handgun in PA days just days before Bill's disappearance, 2. the suitcases were hers, 3. a blanket from RMANJ was found wrapped in one the suitcases, 3. the trash bags match those found under her kitchen sink, 5. they have Melanie on motel video-tape parking her husband's car in Atlantic City late at night...the list goes on. Wow, this is so worthy of a prime time Law & Order or CSI episode. Just do a Google search for Melanie McGuire and see what you come up with.

Back to the less than 6 degrees: In March 2005, Evan & I flew to NYC to spend a week going back and forth to RMANJ to get pregnant. When the day came, the embryos were cooked and ready, I arrived on a Tuesday afternoon for the transfer. (I promise to write a play-by-play report on this fertility struggle at a later date.) I was led down the hall, belly full of water to prep for implantation. As we passed Dr Scott's office, he was seated at his desk - not in scrubs - but beaming into a TV camera lens, obviously doing an interview and too busy to deal with me and my already anxious uterus. They led me to the waiting gurney and a masked doctor entered. He showed us a photocopy of 4 blastocysts and said: "Hi, I'm Dr Bradley Miller and I'll be transferring these 4 embryos and we'll hope for the best."

Well the best happened: I became pregnant with twins and Evan and I are the happy parents of Credence and Zelda. A few months later, Melanie McGuire was arrested, Dr Bradley Miller stopped working there and the rest is a prime time true crime episode. We never saw Dr Scott again but I hear he still works there and has a very high success rate.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Have you ever seen the movie Night of the Hunter starring Robert Mitchum? It is a creepy film-noirish classic about a wacked-out preacher. He has love-hate tattooed on his fists. Eventually this look was replicated by rappers, rockers and punks everywhere. Anyway, when I was little our Nana made the best apple cake. It was this awesome apple pie-like concoction that was kept in her pantry in a large deep cookie pan. The apples were not too sweet with just enough cinnamon. The crust was perfect: chewy not too flaky. It was perhaps my favorite thing in the world as a child. I used to say "I love Nana's apple cake." My dad, always the pragmatist, soon put a stop to that. He would answer "You obviously like Nana's apple cake a lot but you can't love an inanimate object. Love and hate are very strong words that are reserved for people." I quickly replaced love with 'strongly like', 'adore', 'admire', etc when speaking of food, clothing and carnival rides at Fairy Land. We grew up in a household where we freely said that we loved each other. We still say it today. My nieces say it before they hang up the phone and I'll teach it to my kids. But then there's the hate issue.

Today I looked at the front page of the newspaper as I bought my croissant and bananas at Jo's. I saw that Bush had vetoed the embryonic stem cell research bill. I felt the H-word rising in my throat. I will freely say that I think he's an idiot. He is perhaps the worst president in the recent history of this country. He has no vision of the big picture and runs amok with his sniveling, snide, snorting remarks to his "folks" out there who still will listen to him. Aside: Is there anyone out there that still supports him? Because if there is, I would be interested in hearing - in a sane logical conversation - why! I bite my tongue when I hear his name - oh, how I want to use the H-word. I don't want my kids to grow up using it where people are concerned. They are free to hate homework, brussel sprouts and prune juice but we'll have to employ 'loathe', 'strongly dislike' and 'abhor' when it comes to people. It takes way too much energy to hate and so I'll end this by saying that I detest George Bush with a passion. AND, I'd like to see what he would do if Barbara SR and her big ole' pearls came down with Alzheimer's or dear daddy George developed Parkinson's. Or how about HIS precious twins? Would he start singing Nancy Reagan's tune if one of the girl's went blind or perhaps lost a limb or became paralyzed? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just had to add this...

You Are Pinot Noir

Sophisticated and worldly, you probably know more about wine than most drinkers.
You have great taste, and you approach all aspects of life with a gourmet attitude.
You believe that the little things in life should be cherished and enjoyed... and of the best quality possible.
And while you may take more time to eat a meal or tour a city, it's always time well spent.

Deep down you are: A seductive charmer

Your partying style: Refined. And you would never call it "partying"

Your company is enjoyed best with: Stinky expensive cheese

Why we do it...

For those of you with kids - or not - we all must at one time or another think about why we do it. Sometimes I think that it's just so we don't have to think about the shitty things in our lives...paying bills, medical issues, buying, selling, food, clothes, WE feel, what we look like, getting enough sleep. The days when I just want to crawl in bed under the covers and not leave my house, when I can't decide what to wear or how to grow my business, when my personal life feels flat, when my intellectual challenges hold no interest or I can't muster the strength, time or space to be creative - I just look at them. My kids.

There are all kinds of reasons why people have/raise children: to carry on the family tradition/name, the biological clock-yearning thing, because it's what humans do - bla, bla, bla...

I really think it boils down to making us think about something other than ourselves. I no longer matter except on an existential level.(yes, sure a happy, healthier me will add inspire and nourish the development and growth of my twins) But I can tell everyone out there to just "Leave me alone" so that I can concentrate on the wellbeing of my little creatures. Isn't it great?

Just a thought. Sorry for the ramblings.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The inmates were running the prison.

So, upon our return to the RMH after our weekend in Vegas, we were moved to a slighty bigger room - at least we could fit in 2 porta-cribs! Our daily routine consisted of waking up - whenever! - our Texas schedule went out the window suffering from time difference + lack of our beloved nanny's time clock + living together in one room. We took our breakfast downstairs in the kitchen, thanks to these chairs: Phil & Ted's Me Too! (highly recommended for jet-setting toddlers). They can accomodate up to 35 lbs of toddler but fold up flat, weigh less then 2 lbs and can easily be packed into a suitcase. I really appreciate good design.
Dining out even for a quick lunch is difficult with twins at this age...i.e. there is no "You eat while I walk the kid around the patio". It basically consists of shoving the food in your mouth while you each monitor one twin who is ready to explode at any moment. I really do think that it's just the age - but I will add that Zelda definately has a harder time of sitting still for no reason. Nothing to look at for entertainment. Once she's done, she's done. Up and out. Things to do... So our meals, when not taking day trips, were all eaten at the RMH.

Segway into the inmates: have you ever smelled chicken legs boiled beyond belief then sauteed in cheap corn oil in an old frying pan at say, midnight?! Our first room was up the stairs from the kitchen and I had to sleep with a pillow over my nose. Why are these people cooking at midnight? Why is a child bouncing a basketball in the bathroom at 9pm when my baby is recovering from surgery? Why is a mom vacuuming at 10pm? - actually 9:58pm, I think she knew the rules. Our second room was a bit more private and we gracefully settled into putting the twins to sleep at night and then feigning sleep on the bed near them since they knew we were there. When they finally were asleep we would pop in our latest Blockbuster DVD and try to keep our eyes open long enough to make it to the credits.

Despite my bitching and the disorganization of our accomodations during this particular trip, I must say that we love the Ronald McDonald House organization. This was our 3rd trip staying out in their Pasadena location. Evan spent a month there when Zelda was 3 months old and living in the NICU at Huntington Hospital while I lived at RMH in Houston for 3 1/2 months. Their generosity, hospitality and support for families with children dealing with medical issues is without compare. By the time we had left Pasadena, we had met families with a child suffering from bone cancer, a little girl with facial dysplasia, a 12 year old boy with paralysis from a gunshot wound to the head and his dad who were the only survivng members of their family killed by bandits in Honduras and a couple whose baby, with an immune disorder, lived inside the hospital in a sealed environment. All of us are families from different economic and cultural backgrounds that are linked by out-of-control medical bills and travel away from home, and yet wanting the very best for our children.

Evan and I are so very, very lucky that Creed and Zelda continue to grow and thrive.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Our big fat, Medical Vacation....

Whew! What a trip: take 2 highly opinionated, creative, active adults and put them with 2 crazy, learning-to-do-everything toddlers and shake 'em all up. Put them in one room at the Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena, California for over 2 weeks and intersperse their stay with medical appointments, a surgery and a procedure and what do you get? Almost but not quite murder...

It was wild but we did have some fun.
Upon arriving, we were checked into our 10' x 10' square room at RMH. It had 1 double bed - that's it for 4 of us. "There must be something wrong!", I assumed, "I called ahead"! But there was literally no room at the Inn for several days so we hunkered down and snuggled up. Zelda slept in a Pak n'Play and well, Creed: he slept in the closet! We made him a little pallet of blankets and after he would fall asleep on our chests at night, we would move him into his little hidey-hole and just leave the door ajar until morning. Of course under the circumstances, he was only 2 feet from our bed so we could see him as he slept. After the first night, the New Jersey in me came out and I immediately put in for a room change. This was not acceptable!

We checked in with Dr Tawansy who delighted in seeing the progress of the twins. Zelda smiled, did her little 'River Dance' steps while Creed charged around his office. Zelda's surgery was scheduled for the next day. It went off without a hitch. He performed a vitrectomy to clean a hemorrhage out of her left eye. Theoretically, her left eye is her 'bad eye' with little chance of vision. The retina was never properly formed and there is little or no vascularization. We have the surgeries to keep her eyes healthy. They seem to be growing despite her micro-opthalmia and Dr Tawansy was able to measure her eyes, photograph them and estimate an appropriate prescription for some new spectacles. Luckily her retinas have remained re-attached (she had retinal re attachments performed last summer). The most difficult part of this most recent surgery was her waking up from the anesthesia - it was harder than ever. She was miserably writhing, crying, trying to rip out her IV and refusing to eat. Of course, you are not allowed to leave the hospital after a day surgery until the child can drink something and Zelda simply refused. I think it's a toddler thing. Creed had a similar reaction this time as well - and never before, in all of their surgeries, have they ever reacted like this. The poor little pumpkins!

We decided to drive to Las Vegas for Memorial Day weekend and stay with Michael & Sean. Michael is Evan's cousin and he lives in an amazing house in an old Vegas neighborhood called the Scotch 80's. They have done a gorgeous job remodeling this over 5000sq ft house and they are excellent hosts. Evan had a few contacts to make - he sold 2 vintage neon signs as home decor - so it was both business and pleasure. We spent a lovely day at the Turnberry Country Club and the twins enjoyed swimming in a very chic and extremely warm swimming pool. Evan & I enjoyed margaritas! The road trip/traffic was hell on the highway from LA to Vegas and back as it was the holiday weekend. Notable sights along the way included: the Converse sneaker outlet in Primm, NV where they twins aquired their first pair of All Stars, the aging "lot lizards" (that would be prostitutes) in Barstow, and the Alien Jerky shop (I loved the combination of selling beef jerky with a Roswell twist) in another little town whose name I have forgotten.

Back to RMH, safe and sound after a long weekend, we readied for another week of day trips around the LA area and visits with Dr Tawansy. (to be continued...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Promises, promises...

We have been back from California for almost a week now and I promise that I'll update tomorrow. For now I'll leave you with a few highlights of our "medical vacation" - that's what I'm calling it since the twins officially only had 2 procedures as outpatients and the rest of the time was spent entertaining the toddlers and trying not to kill each other. So, think: dr's appointments, eye surgery, Memorial Day weekend in Vegas, more dr's appts, Rockin' Baby Shop, downtown Pasadena, thai food, antique shops, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, the Watts Towers, the LA County Museum, Fred Segal, Kidspace, Applegate Gallery, Santa Barbara, eye procedures, lots of movies rented from Blockbuster, lots of Pirate Booty, avocados and meals in the kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House.