Biology 101

Last Monday my beta was 460-something and there was talk of a D&C if the number continued to go up or didn't fall much further than 300 or so. Today my number was just 3, so I've bottomed out and don't need to return for any betas. I wasn't surprised to hear that my number had tanked so rapidly, as I've been testing once or twice a day with cheapie strips (BTW – Wondfo, found on eBay at $20 for 100, are quite reliable and sensitive for internet cheapies) and the lines faded dramatically each day. Two days ago there was nothing, and I confirmed yesterday with a leftover FRER and that also was stark white.

Now that I've bottomed out, I'm clear to start BCPs again. My nurse coordinator said this: You're good to start your birth control pills now, because now that your hormone levels have tapered off you're completely back to normal and you could get pregnant, so you'll want to be careful. I had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing. My normal is not normal-normal. Get pregnant without BCPs? That's still funny.


Right this very moment, I'm in this house alone, with no one but my snoring dog here to make noise. Frank is at school and my sister just left to take el Cinco out to play softball and then to get ice cream. When was the last time I've been in this house alone? Uuumm….hmmm. Have I ever been in this house alone? This might be a good time to mop the floors, but instead I'll go do something really productive like take a nap.


A few nights ago, I helped Frank take notes on the crusty-but-cutting-edge-for-its-time video The Miracle of Life for his Human Biology class. Was that documentary supposed to be a comedy? Because between the overuse of simile (and I quote: The egg waits in the folds of the Fallopian tubes and is seen just ahead, with warm, reddish tones like a sun peeking just over the evening horizon or Seminal fluid, seen here with the appearance of pancake batter on a hot frying pan) and stupid couple ballet scene which represented sex, I could not stop laughing.


There is a drainage ditch which marks the boundary between my house and the neighbor's and leads into the lake behind my house. The geniuses who constructed the ditch didn't assure that it was angled properly in a slight, downward grade towards the lake. There is a bit of a dip in the middle, so there is a stretch of about ten feet that always has a couple inches of standing water. Apparently, some frogs thought that this might make for a fine location to set up their personal fertility clinic. A couple of weeks ago, the kids noticed that there were THOUSANDS! OF TADPOLES! RIGHT NEXT TO OUR HOUSE, MOMMY! COME SEE! "Surely," I quipped, as I was being dragged by the hand out of the house, "there aren't thousands of tadpoles in the ditch."

Oh, but there were. I leaned over to peer into the gutter and THOUSANDS! of tiny, black, overgrown sperm-things were jutting around all through the water. I could not believe how many tadpoles there were. The inner science geek/teacher in me got all giddy. "This is a GREAT chance for us to witness with our own eyes the life cycle of a frog!" At once, they all chattered excitedly all that they already knew about the metamorphasis of frogs and how excited they were that we get to watch them grow.

Kyra, Jaiden, Jordan, and TJ each are keeping "Frog Observation Logs" in which they are drawing pictures and writing descriptions of the changes they see in our tadpole friends (their idea, not mine). I haven't been out there to see them myself in about a week, so yesterday they dragged me out to see them. Natural environmental hazards like birds and survival of the fittest and wayward basketballs have dwindled the THOUSANDS! down to a few hundred. What once looked like slender, black sperm are now about twice as large and have swollen, elongated heads and slightly shorter tails. They're also now green, with all the mottled markings of your average toad.

Where the science nerd in me was once excited, the inner nutcase is now also somewhat creeped out. I am equal parts Smart One and Complete Fucking Idiot, because it only just occurred to me yesterday that those HUNDREDS of tadpoles will grow into FROGS and they will eventually grow arms and legs and will SEEK LIFE ELSEWHERE. Like, in my yard. On my sidewalk. On my windows (every summer, we always have a few visitors who like to plaster themselves to the windows at night). The marvel I first felt about observing the changes in the sperm-tadpole-almost frogs dulled into a slight chill when I imagined opening my door in a few weeks and seeing my front yard overrun with slimy frogs. I couldn't help but think of the Former IMen King short story called Rainy Season. Below, the WIki synopsis:

A young husband and wife on summer vacation rent a house in a small town called Willow, Maine, only to be warned repeatedly (if vaguely) to leave by the local inhabitants. They do not comply and, having purchased groceries, return to the house. They never learn the price for prosperity the citizens of Willow must pay: every seven years a husband and wife will come there from outside and will stay, despite protests, to become sacrifices during the rainy season. When the "rain" starts, the couple does learn the nature of the precipitation: an army of grotesque black toads the size of footballs, armed with needle-sharp teeth, and able to chew through doors and walls…

Is your skin crawling? Mine is. Now, I once caught a couple of bullfrogs when I was around the twins' age, placed them in a brown paper grocery bag, and asked my mom if I could keep them as pets and I don't mind catching frogs with the kids (Kaelyn likes to find little ones when I'm working in the yard and she brings them to me in her cupped hands like they were little gifts) and then kindly send them on their merry froggy way, but the thought of a freaking horde of frogs living JUST NEXT DOOR is spooking me out just a bit. If I go quiet all of the sudden and you hear one of those "News of the Weird" reports that a couple in southern Georgia was eaten by mutant, killer frogs, you'll know what happened to me.


Speaking of sperm (sort-of) and life cycles and whatnot, I have not yet had THE TALK with my kids. My mother had THE TALK with me at such a young age that I don't remember ever not knowing how babies were made. Out of curiosity, yesterday as I was curling my hair I asked Kyra if she knew how babies were made. She brightened right up with her I-know-the-answer-to-this-one-because-I'm-a-smarty-pants-and-I-remember-everything face and she explained, with intelligent gesticulations, "Well. The doctor takes the egg from the woman and the sperm from the man and he mixes them in one of those dish things in a lab. And then he lets them grow for a few days, and then the doctor takes the embryos and he puts them back in the mom where they might grow or they might not grow. Kind-of like when we plant flower seeds, sometimes they grow flowers and sometimes they don't. So if the embryo keeps growing, then it grows into a baby. If two embryos keep growing, then they're twins, like me and Jaiden are twins." Then she crossed her arms and sat down on the edge of the tub with a crooked, aren't-you-so-impressed smile on her face which communicated the idea that she knows she's the shit.

And clearly, I have some explaining to do.

14 thoughts on “Biology 101”

  1. I remember that video! Oh, the things I could teach my biology teacher right about now. Sigh…
    In 2nd grade, we teach the frog life cycle. The kids love it! I love it. I tried having them in a tank in my classroom once, and they were a stinky mess. We also do the butterfly life cycle, and every year I order larva and keep them in a net for the kids to see the metamorphasis. It’s VERY cool!
    Ah, summertime. 🙂

  2. Kyra’s explanation is 100% accurate for some people, just not for everyone.
    I’m sure she’s heard something about sex. I wonder what she thinks it’s all about if it has nothing to do with baby-making. Since it has nothing to do with baby-making for me, I sometimes wonder what it’s all about myself.
    Four more words: Exodus. Plague of frogs.

  3. Of course she’s the shit! My mom always put of “the talks” with me. It was always I’ll tell you when you’re older. I’ll be 30 in July and I still don’t know how babies are made. Or what that freaky monthly thing happening is.

  4. Love it…hell Kyra knows more than a lot of people. Hey…I’ve had to do the TALK once already. I’m an old pro. Why don’t you head up here and I’ll do it for you?

  5. frogs are one of those things you only think you wanna hold. creepy!!
    i’ve thought about talking to the kids about sex and making babies (HAHA! there’s a connection?!?)…and i always think about having to add the, “BUT…that’s not how YOU came to be…”

  6. Alexicographer

    Wait … are you saying that’s not how babies are made?
    If you’re looking for some light summer reading ;), Emily Martin’s The Woman in the Body offers, among other things, a great analysis of how eggs get described (in medical textbooks!) as passive beings waiting … quietly (and chastely) while the aggressive! assertive! manly! sperm! overcome all nature of obstacles to reach them and the very strongest! sperm of them all gets to impregnate the egg. And of how it turns out not to be that simple (who knew?).

  7. Frog Fertility Clinic! Dude, you are in TROUBLE.
    Was the video narrated by Troy McClure?
    OMG, that talk has me reeling. Kids are so fucking smart. Bella asked me the other day, “Mom, how do people NOT have babies?” ???? So I went through some do this by choice, others because they can’t. I think that’s what she was after.
    I have some serious splain’ to do, too. Sigh.

  8. LOL…OMG, about a month or so ago, tadpoles started appearing in our backyard, but they aren’t normal-sized ones, they’re big bullfrog tadpoles in all different stages. I came home from work and my hubby had constructed them a “home” so that he could keep them as pets in the backyard until they matured. He was so proud of them. And then he started going “tadpole hunting” at night with a flashlight. He is an 8 year old in a 27 year old body. He should come hang out with your kids.

  9. I love frogs! But having THAT many in my backyard would be cool at first, then..not so much! Those suckers are LOUD! And I must have my beauty sleep, ya know?
    HA! She explained it perfectly! You should have her teach a class. Maybe some people would understand better and not say stupid things.

  10. As soon as you said how many tadpoles I freaked. FROGS!!! ahhhh!!!
    (hugging you tight over the body reset as I know the emotions are complicated)

  11. I absolutely LOVE Kyra’s explanation. In fact, I think she needs to offer it up in her health class as the “alternative” — sort of evolution vs. creation science? This is biology vs. reproductive science. She clearly IS one smart cookie!

  12. Holly (imomx4)

    Oh Moxie…this last part about Kyra had my Dh and I giggling!! I just love your blog…I hope you never stop writing!! Also, I wish you the best of luck in your new adventure of trying to match again!! ((HUGS)))

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