Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All I want for New Years is ...

... a drink. Believe it. I'm normally only a 1-2 drink girl. Love to throw down a couple with friends, but on a day-to-day basis, I could take it or leave it. I'm all talk, no tolerance. And now since I'm not drinking (just in case, you know), of course I'm craving alcohol.

To top it off: We're headed to the in-laws for a week's vacation starting New Year's Eve.

No, it's not what you think. I love my in-laws. But I once found my mother-in-law at 9 in the morning with a large coffee cup ... and a gallon of vodka. And my father-in-law retired from a national brewery after 30-plus years. These two like to booze, and they like their company to booze with them.

So how to handle the inevitable drink offer without raising suspicion?

At Christmas with my family, I accepted a glass of wine with everyone else. Took a couple of sips, and midway through dinner whispered to my husband that he needed to help me. I meant discreetly. He heard, "Chug down your glass, and grab mine."

So we've talked about how, what I really intended, was for him to discreetly drink his down a little more than mine so I could discreetly trade glasses with him.

Man, I could use a drink. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Patience is a virtue

So, I'm officially in the two-week wait (aka 2WW). Of all the months we've been trying, this is the first month where I really feel ... almost excited. I'm afraid to allow myself to feel too excited, actually, for fear of disappointment. But the numbers indicate our odds improved something like three-fold, so success is a real possibility this time. Part of me is glad we didn't know how bad the odds were previous times. Another part of me is frustrated we wasted extra months before going the next step.

Now to just keep my crazy at bay. Last night, I thought a bath might help me relax, but I was so afraid of the hot water roasting a (maybe) burgeoning bean that I propped my body up the entire time so my belly was not under water. Think: crab walk. Yeah, not at all relaxing.

Note to self: Next bath, don't fill the tub with so much water.

Also note to self: Stop Googling "early pregnancy symptoms." Every day that passes, I keep waiting to feel something ... different. Do my boobs hurt today? Do I taste metal? Could that cramp mean implantation?

Patience, girl. Patience.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The big "I"

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in 2000. At the time, it wasn't a big deal. I didn't have any of the outward side effects: acne, excess body hair growth, weight gain. And I was thrilled it meant I didn't have to worry about getting knocked up on accident.

This was, of course, before I met the boy. And before that biological clock everyone talks about started ticking loud enough to annoy me.

A few years ago, house hunting in one of the most expensive markets in the U.S. forced me to try to project my life five, 10 years out. And though I wouldn't admit it even then, most of my hazy predictions included an extra room and a fenced in yard just in case.

When we moved back to my hometown, it was for the purpose of stepping off the career track. For spending time with friends and family. Before starting our own. Publicly, I maintained the "Children? Hell no!" facade. Privately, the desire grew stronger.

I wasn't good at staying off the career track. In fact, only six months later, I was promoted two titles up, right back onto it. That delayed the (still unspoken) family part another two years, the bare minimum to prove myself and build up the social capital needed to (hopefully) keep professional doors open should motherhood become a reality.

In August 2008, I went off the Pill. We told ourselves it was to see if my sex drive would improve. (It did.) A couple of months later, we got honest with each other. Due to my preexisting diagnosis, we didn't wait long to see a reproductive specialist. By February, my PCOS diagnosis was reconfirmed. I started Metformin, a diabetes drug that's been shown to regulate cycles in women with PCOS, due to prevalence of insulin resistance. Unfortunately, its side effects include gastrointestinal hell. It made me so nauseous I couldn't even go to work. Then I ended up needing emergency surgery for a thrombosed hemorrhoid (embarrassing!). That took Metformin off the list of options completely.

(I later learned my glucose tolerance testing levels were perfectly normal, so Metformin was far from required. Some endos think all PCOSers have some form of insulin resistance. I did start periods the first two times I tried Met. So maybe there's some truth in it. But since learning of my test results, I don't feel bad about not being able to tolerate the drug.)

At our next appointment, my RE suggested Femara (generic: Letrozole). Most people have heard of Clomid. My RE said Femara was reported to have fewer side effects and reduced the risk of multiples. A plus since, with my under-5' 1" frame, I wasn't interested in risking more than one at a time.

I waited a few months to start the drug because my plus-nine-months planning put maternity leave at the worst possible time at work (right in the middle of a once-every-five-years project I was coordinating). But we kept "practicing" all summer. Truth was, I was secretly charting, and deliberately seducing the boy at optimal times. Still, nothing happened.

When I finally started Femara, I was optimistic. But each month, when I landed back in the doctor's office, I became more depressed by the unfairness of it all. A cyst that flared up around ovulation made intercourse most painful when it should have been most effective. Everyone else was getting pregnant, seemingly with little effort. Why should the two of us, who did everything "right," draw the short straw?


It's a tough word to type, much less say aloud. Particularly as a closeted wannabe breeder. But that's what we're up against. Both of us. On our fourth cycle of Femara, we've been talked into intrauterine insemination (IUI) to give the boy's swimmers a better chance.

So tomorrow, the boy will get intimate with a cup. And a doctor will get intimate with me, shooting selected swimmers as close to the target as possible.

I should be thankful the timing fell on a day when I can sneak away from work without being noticed. I should be thankful my husband was able to get off work to be with me (it would suck if his child was conceived and he wasn't even there).

But there's no euphemism for it. Infertility sucks.

Who am I?

I'm that girl who never dreamed of getting married, settling down and having children. In fact, I dreamed the opposite. I dreamed of traveling the world, of writing, of wielding my sexual power over as many men who would fall for it. Of loyalty to friends first, all others after. Of complete and total independence, unfettered by man (or family) drama.

Then, in full-on prowl mode, I met a boy. A nice boy. At a bar. And I felt a connection like nothing I'd ever allowed myself to feel.

He stuck with me when I went back to college, with all those life-changing, eye-opening, "aha" moments that define the liberal arts experience. Revelations that change your world view, and elevate your self awareness.

Ultimately, he followed me to three states. And finally back to the state (and city) where it all started.

Five years into our marriage, we have the house. The dog. And the careers. Now what?

At last, sweet Sadie sleeps

Our first dog, Sadie, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of mammary cancer in July. The vet gave her two weeks to three months.

Two months past her expected expiration date, Sadie continued to have good days and bad days. Saturday was a bad day.

This I learned upon waking up, when my husband informed me she had trouble going to the bathroom and didn't eat. I knew when I saw her she was in pain. Laying there, she didn't even wag her tail when I approached. Her eyes were red with pain, and from lack of sleep. We'd talked about The Decision for several weeks. We knew we'd have to decide before leaving for vacation New Year's Eve. I thought we'd have Christmas together.

But Sadie was having a mother of a bad day. And neither of us was ready to face it.

A few hours, half a Moons Over My Hammy and some coffee, we stopped by the vet. Paid for the home visit and cremation. And scheduled the end as late as possible: 5 pm.

Sadie's last hours included hugs and kisses and lots of pets. A warm shower to wash away the crusty scabs and serum that pulled her skin and caused her pain. And, for the first time, a homecooked meal of hamburger and rice.

We were trimming the tree (which had sat naked in our living room for four weeks) when the vet arrived ... early.

Everything happened so fast, but this I remember: Sadie was a fighter til the end.

The vet warned us some animals cry out in fear during a brief period where they can hear, but not see. Not our Sadie. After lying prone for several hours, she stood up when the catheter was placed. And crumpled on her pillow seconds later, midway through the injection. She never closed her eyes.

Her last vision was of my husband. Her last smell was of his hands on her head. Her last touch was my hands stroking her back. The last words she heard were ours: "You're a good girl, Sadie."

A few moments passed before I noticed the absence of the quick, shallow breaths that plagued her last few months — either from pain, or spread of tumors to her lungs.

The vet pressed her stethoscope to Sadie's chest and said, "Her heart has stopped."

And so did mine.