A surefire way to offend a room full of pregnant woman

I learned a valuable lesson recently.  When dealing with pregnant women, it’s sometimes best to keep certain thoughts to yourself, even when those thoughts may be factually accurate and supported by science.

Let me explain.  A few years ago, before I discovered yoga, I fancied myself something of a runner.  I was no Dean Karnazes, but my weekly mileage often soared into the double digits.  I envisioned a future filled with health and happiness, jogging strollers and Gu packs, spandex onesies and body glide.

All those dreams disappeared one cruel day at the TriBeCa Equinox.  Fresh off a sub-60 minute 10-K, I set out to become the world’s chubbiest sprinter by employing a training theory called “Speed Work.”  To do speed work, you supposedly just start at a nice warm up pace and then add periods of sprinting followed by a nice easy cool down.  I did my first speed work session on a treadmill.  I began with a nice warm up at 6.0 MPH and, when the time was right, cranked that puppy up to 6.2.  Whoa baby!  I had that thing  humming!   I loved speed work!

I’m a very logical person, so the next week when I tried speed work, I thought I should progress to see whether I’d improved.  Indeed I had.  I did my short warm up at 6.0 MPH and then steadily increased the speed to about 100000 MPH.  Here’s a video of what happened:

About half way into my last lap of speed work, I pounded my foot into the treadmill belt and screamed out in pain.  Fine, it was more of a yelp.  Or a whimper.  But holy hell did it hurt.  I limped off the treadmill and immediately consulted a medical professional, WebMD, where I learned that I definitely had either cancer or scoliosis.

Some more research and a trip to an actual doctor confirmed my worst fears.  I had something called Morton’s Neuroma, a thickening of the nerves between the third and fourth toes.  Anne still questions the existence of this condition.

Although I am prone to exaggerate things, I hope you’ll believe me when I describe the pain.  It felt like there was a little pebble in my shoe and every time I took a step, the pebble caused me a slight degree of discomfort.  On some mornings, the pain got so bad that I would take one, or maybe even two Tylenol.  On the worst day, I had to use extra strength gel capsules.

You might be asking yourself, “why is Rob talking about Morton’s Neuroma?  How does this relate to offending pregnant women?”  Good question, and believe me, I know exactly what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “why is this jackass trying to predict what I may be asking myself right now.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t know anything about me.  I wish he’d just write about yoga again.  Or interview Ryan again.  That guy was funny.”

Well it turns out that studies have shown that Morton’s Neuroma may be as painful as childbirth (refer to the section on symptoms).  Lucy Waite, a well-established blog commenter over at the Angry Orthopod summed it up best.  She said, “[The] only comparison [to Morton’s Neuroma” is natural child-birth, which I did four times.”

A comparison of pain - Morton's Neuroma and Child Birth - Drawing by Rob Pollak

Who knows if the pain caused by Morton’s Neuroma actually is anything like child-birth.  Lucy Waite, that’s who.  But in case you don’t believe her, then let me give you some helpful advice:  If you ever find yourself in a hypnobirthing class where scared pregnant women are discussing their fears about pain, just keep your mouth shut.  I promise you that they will not feel comforted when you say, “Actually, I’ve had a Morton’s Neuroma, and according to studies conducted by researchers at KimsFoot.Com, it is supposedly just as painful as child-birth.  I didn’t think it was so bad, actually.  In fact, a little cortisone should clear it right up.”

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Epididymis Isn’t a Greek Philosopher and Other Lessons I Wish I Learned in Health Class

A drawing of the IVF process by Rob Pollak

I learned a lot about life in 9th grade health class. I learned that condoms go on bananas, drugs are bad, and girls immediately get pregnant if you look at their boobs instead of their eyes.

Through a lot of trial and error — and one horribly embarrassing conversation in which I insisted that the Fallopian tube was part of a trombone — I now realize that health class didn’t teach me everything.  Particularly when it comes to pregnancy.  That’s because a wrestling coach who was coerced into teaching one semester of health may not have been the best person to teach me.

All of this is just a long winded way of saying that my wife Anne and I have spent the last few years trying to have a baby.  It all started when we realized that there were times when kids could actually be cute. (Overalls, yes. Spit up, no. Sunglasses, yes. Afterbirth, no.).

And since the entirety of my knowledge of human biology came from that health class, I was surprised at how difficult it was to add a little one to the family.  Believe me, after we pulled the proverbial goalie, we gave it a valiant effort:

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As it turned out, you don’t get a baby just by watching clips of trains driving into tunnels, geysers erupting, or fireworks exploding in midair.  The real process involves way more than that.  For many people, it can take years, involves elaborate scheduling, and includes a monitor that measure ovulation on a 3 point scale.  If you pee a 1, you watch reruns of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  If you pee a 3, well let’s just say that one time Anne peed a 3 while she was in Delaware and I was summoned across three state lines.  It was perhaps the greatest moment of my life.

And for us, none of that seemed to work, so the process involved asking for medical help in the form of in vitro fertilization (IVF).  As if pregnancy wasn’t already scary and overwhelming enough, the IVF process is complex and intimidating.  When Anne first called to set up an informational meeting, the nurse walked her through the schedule of an entire IVF cycle, our child’s birthdate, the theme for his first birthday party, the song he’d dance to at his wedding, and the massive inheritance he would receive from the proceeds of my million dollar blog.

If you’re freaking out at the level of oversharing that’s happening in this post, don’t fret.  My intention in writing this post is to remove the veil of secrecy that prevents people from talking about this process and to help others navigate it.  Because, for me, it took a while to realize that the lesson from high school Health class — that pregnancy is easy — turns out to be wrong.  Pregnancy and fertility are way more complex and terrifying than I had ever imagined.

A drawing of the IVF process by Rob Pollak

Orientation and Background Testing

If you also didn’t pay attention in your high school biology or health classes, then you may be in for a surprise when you start the IVF process.  Thankfully our experience began with orientation, which consisted of an extremely patient nurse walking us through an interminable powerpoint presentation.

After the orientation we were herded into the blood room. I call it that because it’s the room where women go to provide vial upon vial of blood to a staff of nurses who constantly ask for their birth dates.  That first day, I watched a nurse remove 25 gallons of blood, one 2-ounce vial at a time, from Anne’s vulnerable little arm.  The experience looked terrible, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to participate.

A moment later, however, the nurse asked me if I was Jewish.  She probably had racially profiled me based on my massive schnoz, superior intellect, and yamulke tan.  I answered yes, but was unprepared for what happened next.  She sat me down in the chair, alcohol’ed up my arm, and stabbed me in the vein with an olympic javelin sized needle.

Moments later, when I came to, a group of amorphous blurs in scrubs were shoving smelling salts in my face.   My shirt was sopping wet with sweat, and I had achieved a level of paleness that bordered on translucent.  Our IVF experience was off to a great start!

A drawing of IVF by Rob PollakBecause I had thoroughly embarrassed the family, I was pleased to find that, from that day forward, my only responsibility was to hold Anne’s coat.  Anne, on the other hand, was the subject of constant examination.  Most of which involved a small army of doctors sending the Hubble telescope into areas of Anne’s body that she would be uncomfortable having me mention on the internet.

Up next:  Part 2 – Actually, there was one other thing I had to do… My trip to the Boom Boom Room (Follow my facebook page to receive an update when I post)

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I feel relatively ambivalent)

Look, we can argue for days on end about whether Maya Angelou is real or not and whether her prediction about the end of the world is correct, but I’m not taking any chances.  So like I always do when the apocalypse is upon us, I’m going to use the upcoming end of days as a chance to air some grievances and get some important things off my chest.

So in order of importance, these are the things I need to say before the world ends (FYI – May contain SPOILERS):

1)  I wish I had participated in Movember at least once.  As a hairy beast, I probably could have grown an epic mustache.  Instead, we can just look at this fake mustache I wore to a bachelor party and imagine what could have been.  Oh, the possibilities.

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On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t ever do that again.

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A Birthday Video for Anne

There are many reasons why being married to me is very difficult.  Probably the least of which is that I have a blog and take advantage of that to poke fun at my lovely and amazing wife, Anne.  As my reader base has grown from zero to slightly more than zero, I’ve come to realize that some people may only know the Anne presented on this blog – That is, the sour milk swilling butt of all my jokes.

While it’s true that Anne is the source of a lot of entertainment in my life (which I do exploit in my constant attempts to become internet famous), all of the jokes and digs come from a place of love.  I always hope that the takeaway from my relentless and hilarious jabs at Anne is that I think she’s the greatest person in the entire world.

So as Anne celebrates her birthday this week, I decided to honor her in the only way I know how:  By making a poorly sketched web video wishing her a happy birthday and explaining once and for all how great she is.

It may be the best thing I’ve ever done, so I hope you enjoy it and make Anne a viral sensation on her birthday (which is actually the 25th, but I can’t wait until then).  That would really buy me a lot of credibility the next time I call her out for drinking a chunky glass of milk.

Happy birthday Anne!