Friday, August 31, 2007

Fighting consumerism with more, better consumerism

In The Old Country getting ready to go to school for the first time meant finally getting your hot little hands on a school uniform. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, that uniform, but I am pretty sure that was because of the most excellent cultural conditioning and of what the uniform symbolized-- the entry into that cooler than cool club-- rather than its actual aesthetic. Because its actual aesthetic? Not so much, at least not in its everyday version, what with its brown and black color scheme.

The point of this particular trip down memory lane is that in this country the hallmark of sending a child to school, and to Kindergarten in particular, is (correct me if I am wrong, of course) acquiring a lunch box. Have you tried that lately? Because I am apparently completely out of touch with the recent developments in the lunch box evolutionary history. I remember plastic or metal, but mostly plastic, with some design or other on it. Now it's mostly cloth with insulation on the inside. I was, to my credit, aware of the increasingly popular merchandising of said lunch boxes with beloved cultural icons of the generation. I mean, what Dis.ney release would be complete without a corresponding lunch box or three?

But still, I believed that equipping my first-born with a lunch box that would be both practical and acceptable, in that I would not be subjecting myself to the daily danger of either falling into a diabetic coma due to its unbearable cuteness or throwing up due to its disgusting gender and cultural conditioning, would be a relatively easy proposition. And so armed with this overly optimistic expectation we set off for the big box toy store OF DOOM (I am totally cribbing Niobe here). The choice of locale, for the record, was due to my aunt bestowing upon Monkey a gift card to the said retailer OF APOCALYPSE. If you are curious as to why I believe that place to be truly EVIL, you should try walking in with a five year old girl. Because I find that even the best-behaved and mature of them turn into whiny whining whiners when confronted with the overabundance of the pink! displays! of! Bar.bie! merchandise! OF DEATH. But I digress.

So we went there. And found nothing, and I mean nothing, we could agree on. Lunch boxes merchandised with the characters Monkey wanted to take home and I could put up with were just impractical. And the one shape of the thing I thought would work for our purposes didn't come in any characters she was interested in investing with the awesome responsibility of guarding her sustenance and simultaneously telling her classmates who she is as a person. Or something like that. We left sans the lunch box.

That was over a month ago. A little bit later, while Monkey was enjoying her time with grandparents, I found an excellently practical lunch box at a price club where we shop. It zipps along the top, rather than on the side, it is roomy, and it comes with three containers, all fitting neatly inside, one even with extra insulation for promised maintenance of thermal state of its contents over extended periods of time. When Monkey got back, I took her to the store to show her what I found and to have her select from among the multitude of available choices (pink or blue-- original, I know). She didn't want anything to do with it. It was too plain. We would decorate it ourselves, I promised, it will be the best lunch box ever. I suppose it is a sign of Monkey being five and under the illusion that mom knows what she is talking about that she agreed to this plan.

The plan, though? It was not exactly well-formed. I thought stickers or stencils. I was aware that regular stickers won't do, since the outer surface is covered with cloth-like thing, but I had vague notions of stickers that would stay, the extra-strength stickers, if you will. We struck out at our favorite local toy store, but they did suggest an art store. I know, DUH! So we went, and OMG! Stickers! Everywhere! Plus, on sale, so you know-- rock on. We spent some time choosing the stickers. D@ra was clearly coming home with us. But we had a long talk about one of those Princ@sses whose role in a D.isney classic comes down to looking pretty and waiting for the awesome prince-- about why she likes her (pink dress, pretty), but would she want to be friends with her? In the end it came to choosing two out of three-- D@ra, her pal Di@go, or the infamous pretty in pink airhead. And can you believe it? The princess went back on the shelf!

So we took our loot home and went to town on the poor lunch box. It came out pretty well, if I say so myself. Here is the front view:

We do have a ton few stickers left, but that's ok because I plan to try scrapbooking some time before I am 60. In the end, I didn't save any money compared to buying an expensive kind of a lunch box, but I hope that this was a worth-while experience. This will at least probably be the most original lunch box in her class, and maybe, just maybe, this exercise planted an idea in her that it is actually ok to check the "none of the above" box every once in a while. Or even add it to the choices yourself. And then check it.

P.S. And here is the rest of our handiwork, going counter clockwise around the lunch box:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Strange days

Today is my grandfather's birthday. The one Monkey is named after. Last one he celebrated was eleven years ago. Well, celebrated is a strong word for it. He was in a hospital, the same one he would die in nine months later. Stupid accident due to profound negligence by the driver of his medical transport-- the one that was taking him for his dialysis, the very procedure that was drastically improving and prolonging his life-- left him paralyzed and started his slow but maddeningly irreversible slide towards the end. A product of a second-cousin marriage, he was not a well man. But neither was he a timid man, a man to be cowed by life. I wonder now whether it was my general cluelessness or that ever-present twinkle in his eyes that caused me to never consider, despite his many illnesses, that he might die. Until that fall or even winter that is, when he wasn't improving, when every step forward necessarily brought two back, never, not even once the other way around.

Yesterday was my cousin Jay's 26th birthday. My grandfather's only grandson, my favorite and closest cousin. The day of my grandfather's funeral he was a shell-shocked teenager. JD poured him some vodka at the memorial lunch after the funeral. It seemed to help. He is funny and quick and fun. We are not as close as we once were, what with living half way across the country from each other and having busy and not exactly problem-free lives. I miss him, though.

Tomorrow is the seventh monthaversary of A's death. I miss him too. A lot. But this last month has been hard in a new way too. Even though I thought, in my rational mind, that we might have some trouble conceiving this time, I don't think I had really confronted fully what that would mean. As we were leaving the hospital, the nice nurse who was walking us out said "Maybe we will see you here in two years or so." JD got upset that she said two years. I didn't-- I understood that she didn't want to pressure us but wanted to give us hope. But in truth, I didn't consider then, or for a long time after, what it would mean for me to still not be pregnant today. I am now. Considering and confronting, that is.

I had a meeting at Monkey's new school today. I asked to meet with the teachers to talk about how they would handle any talk of siblings, babies, or pregnancies in the classroom. The meeting ended up including also the principal and the head of lower school. They wanted to know what we wanted done or not done. They reassured me that they will be mindful and watchful whenever such topics come up, that they will be sure to validate Monkey's sadness if she chooses to express it, that it will always be safe for her to talk about her brother. I was worried about two types of kid reactions to finding out about A-- not believing her/dismissing her loss, or getting freaked out. They assured me that they will be prepared to handle both. They also wanted to know what she likes to do, what brings her joy. It was actually a little funny to hear the sound of four pens getting picked up in unison when I said something apparently key. Like "English is not her native language." They also emphasized even before I had a chance to bring it up that they will make sure that A will not become Monkey's identity, that she will not be "the girl whose brother died" to them or to the kids. I feel a lot better about school now.

There is a number of trees growing all bunched up together just where I turn onto the street leading to my street. A few days ago I noticed that one of them, a scrawny one, one whose freedom to grow and spread its seed has obviously been grievously abridged by its more bushy-crowned neighbors, that one was starting to show some color. I thought that was both a little weird and a lot cool-- an early messenger of fall, well hidden by its bossy neighbors, I thought it was my secret. I love fall, and I looked at it as a way early sneak preview, a promise of a real treat. But today I had to go a little north of us. Well, my car had to go, for a scheduled maintenance, and I just couldn't let it go by itself. So I drove north, just a little, mind you, and was dismayed to see how many trees were starting to show color there. I guess my "far away" fall really isn't so far away. How did we get here?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If at first you don't succeed...

The tests are back. So, yesterday at 4pm
hCG was negative

Which, as far as I can tell means one of two wildly divergent things. Best case: second ovulation, and the egg is not even doomed yet. Worst case: revenge of the PCOS, with no ovulation this cycle at all. Which pretty much would mean that after years of working hard to minimize the number of doctors I have to have close, personal relationships with, or deal with at all, I would finally be forced to find an RE.

Way back when my PCOS was diagnosed, I had numbers you could put in a textbook-- insulin resistance, elevated testosterone and estrogen, and LH that stuttered into the half-on position and got stuck there, no ovulation, no passing go, no collecting $200. Nearly a year of dedicated low-carbing, vitamin and such taking, exercising, etc. later I finally started to ovulate, and my LH was doing what it is supposed to do-- start low, rise, fall, trigger ovulation, rinse, repeat.

With my jumpy thyroid (which mean jumpy body temps), charting would be much like Lady Macbeth getting up every morning and forgoing her morning cup of tea in favor of intentionally smearing blood all over her hands. Or nothing short of a recipe for driving myself mad, and fast. So I usually go by the symptoms. The symptoms that I learned to recognize by correlating them with results of blood tests, and thus, predicting LH behavior, not ovulation per se. So if I got stuck in this freakazoid position again, I don't really know what to do except find an RE. Which stresses me out because 1) I've had loads of bad luck finding doctors who I like, mostly, I admit, because 2) I refuse to not worry my pretty litte head about things; not to mention that 3) in my experience, wait times for good specialists around here what's the word?.. oh, yes-- suck, they suck, in that they tend to approach the length of the elephant gestation period.

Looking at this handy graphic and this most informative chart, I am worried that the relatively low progesterone number supports the raging PCOS hypothesis, rather than second ovulation hypothesis. On the other hand I am having weird sharpish pain in my left side, and I am trying to talk myself into believing it to be ovulation pain. And this, sad as it is, is what is keeping me relatively sane for now.

In the end, the plan from this point on is pretty simple: take another set of blood tests next Tuesday to see both what LH is doing and whether progesterone becomes elevated, which would indicate that ovulation took place. If it does, we wait to pee on yet another stick. If it doesn't, we drink more pink grapefruit margaritas (those are seriously good, yo) and look for an RE.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

WTF? (Updated: Now with more WTF?)

Dear Internets, I need sage counsel.

Let's review, shall we?

CD22-- LH=14.2
CD35-- negative HPT
CD36-- negative blood test
CD39, today-- still no period.

So since I have never had a luteal phase longer than 15 days, I ask you, dear Internets, WTF is going on here? Do you have any bright ideas? Because I only have one, and it's not pretty-- ectopic.

And, dear Internets, if you happen to agree with the above self-diagnosis, what was your experience with how long one is to wait to try again after misoprostol? In the spirit of me knowing what my next freakout is to be, of course. Note, however, the exemplary restraint I am currently demonstrating by not asking Dr.Google this or any of the other questions that I am sure I could use to keep myself occupied for hours this fine evening.

And yes, I am going to go for another blood draw in the morning, provided AF still doesn't show. I also did a progesterone test on Thursday (CD36), but didn't get the results yet. Hopefully I can get those in the morning too.

So go ahead, lay it on me-- what do you all think?

Update: Progesterone on Thursday, CD 36 was 0.6, which means AF should've been here Friday, as expected. My GP is stumped, so she took another test. With progesterone, LH, and FSH for good measure. Unfortunately, the results won't be back until tomorrow afternoon.

Thank you, all, for your comments. I am much less freaked about the possibility of ectopic now. Considering S's version of double ovulation however, at this point I can only, as they say in the Old Country, bite my own elbows. Because if that's what this was, that's a perfectly good egg, wasted.

Friday, August 24, 2007

If these walls could talk

We had company on Wednesday night-- the family of one of Monkey's classmates. Hannah, the little girl, came up to Monkey at one of those summer events, and then I spent the rest of that event talking to her dad. The girls asked for a playdate, and so after some emailing, there they were, at our house. They are a very nice family, and I hope the girls get to be friends (they say they already are), and I wouldn't mind getting to know the parents closer too. Heck, even though it was the BFN day, and I was glum and grumpy for most of it, I not only had fun while they were there, but I also felt better even after they left. Which is saying something because...

Hannah is the only future classmate of Monkey's who doesn't yet have living siblings. I say "yet" because I think mom is pregnant. She wore a loose-fitting shirt, but at some point we were standing around looking at the computer screen (yes, nerds, freely admitted), and she rubbed her belly in that absent-minded way pregnant women have, that absent-minded way that gave me away last fall to some friends. I would guess she is about 4 months along. If I am right (and JD thinks I am right), than it is pretty unavoidable that at some point the girls will talk about babies in tummies and how some of them don't make it.

Lori wrote a lovely post recently, about the photo albums that record the life of her family, and that most significant of gaps in the album from the year that changed everything. As I told Lori in the comments, our photo albums are not nearly that organized. But it was that post I was thinking of on Wednesday as we gave our guests a house tour. Monkey's drawing of our family as it should've been, the one she started while her brother was still alive, but finished after he had died, the one she said I couldn't take because she would finish it so we can hang it on the wall in his memory, that drawing is in fact on the wall, right as you come up the stairs. Hannah's mom looked at it and asked who drew it. I told her it was Monkey, but didn't volunteer anything else. I wonder, though, whether she knew. In the "small world" category, a co-worker of mine, S, is a good friend of theirs, the fact that we figured out at that school event where I also mentioned that I had a tough year and am taking it easy job-wise this year. I wonder whether they talked to S...

A's room, too, is a strange ghost-- in a house that is not exactly sparsely decorated, it is at once indulgent and spartan, brimming with life and echoing with silence, frozen in a state rooms don't usually stick to for more than a couple of weeks. You see, my dad finished re-painting it, lovely shades of yellow and light blue, not too dull and not too bright, exactly a week before A died. It is these colors that make it indulgent and alive. The other side of the room's vibe is due to its furnishings, or lack thereof. The crib never made it down from the attic, so the only furniture in that room is the dresser that doubles as a changing table, a narrow shelving thingie from I.KEA and a single bookshelf on the wall.

I've had to work hard to reclaim that room, to be able to walk in and out as needed, to just have its door open. It took JD a very long time, much longer than me. But on Wednesday I found myself in that room with our guests, talking about a literacy system for the Old Country language that JD put in that room when he was cleaning. Notably, not talking about why there is an obviously freshly-painted unoccupied kid room in my house. And I was OK.

I still am. I just wonder whether it is obvious to others that my house speaks of love and loss, of big dreams, shattered dreams. I wonder whether my house is as articulate to other people as it seems to me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My very own pity party

As I believe I mentioned before, I like to know where my next freak out is coming from. I expect tomorrow to be CD1. If this next cycle is short enough, it will be the last time we get to try before we have to stop to ensure that I can make my sister's wedding in June.

I also work on an academic calendar, which means that if it doesn't work next month, I am pretty sure I will have to give up on applying for permanent positions designated as starting in September '08. I am taking this year easy because I absolutely have to. Taking more than that "easy" can't possibly be a good career move, can it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I didn't sleep well last night. Monkey crawled into bed with us at some point, which she hasn't done in a while. It took me a while to wake up enough to understand what was going on and to get JD to take her back to her own bed. After that I had bad dreams. The last one, right before waking up, was not about pregnancy, but about being alone-- there was supposed to be a wedding (not clear whether mine or someone's close to me), and lots of things were going wrong, and then it was off. And then I think JD was there asking me to go somewhere with him, but I was really upset, and said that everyone should leave me alone, I want to be alone. Which I both did and did not want. I woke up just then, and marched into the bathroom grumpy because I pretty much knew what the test was going to show-- I was alone.

I haven't cried yet. I have just been glum and frustrated. I went shopping for the supplies to cook the dinner tonight, and oddly, I felt the tears coming on when I was driving home and heard an interview on the radio with a self-described "child of the Challenger generation" on her novel about the same subject and yesterday's safe return of the shuttle with the first ever educator in space, who was, 21 years ago, the double of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who never made it. I don't know what that was about, but I didn't think it would be helpful to cry while driving (not that I hadn't done that before or anything), so I managed to block it then. But I think at some point today I need to cry. Maybe with the margaritas.

Pink Grapefruit Margaritas

Sometimes a rough take off is just a rough take off.

I am really starting to hate the HPTs. This one was so virginally white, I couldn't even begin to guess as to where that second line should've appeared. I am not bothering to go for a blood draw today-- I will be near my doctor's tomorrow, and I will come in for a draw then.

We have company tonight, so it will probably be civilized wine at dinner, and margaritas after they leave and Monkey goes to bed. I bought the mix a while ago, and had foolishly began to hope that I wouldn't get to try them any time soon. Ha! I'm going to put a substantial dent in that bottle tonight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flying high and other exercises in divination

When a week ago we decided that I would go to my parents' with Monkey, it meant two things on top of that simple statement-- 1) no mid-luteal progesterone draw, and 2) we fly back on day 12 past ovulation. That's today, and we are home.

The last couple of days in the Parent City have been rainy and miserable. Didn't stop Monkey from having loads of fun, of course, but it did mean a rocky take-off this morning. And a severe case of nausea ever since. Which may or may not mean anything other than we had a rocky take off this morning.

My boobs are a little sore, I had a few mild episodes of nausea in the last couple of days, and this morning I had heartburn, which only ever happened to me before when I was pregnant with A. But, and this is brought to you directly by our friendly neighborhood TMI department, I also had strange secretions today which I hope were not evidence of corpus luteum dissolving. Because that would indicate not only this cycle going bust, but also a somewhat troubling shortening of the luteal phase. Now, isn't this fun?

I was trying to talk myself into postponing the ritual peeing on a frog... err, stick until Thursday, but seeing as I don't have that mid-luteal progesterone number, I think I should try to get two blood draws in this week. If the stick says there is a point to it, of course. If it says there isn't, I think I will still do a blood draw just to avoid wondering about a chemical, like last month. So that's tomorrow. And until then it's all tea leaves and coffee grinds around here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Far out

I gather that it is a rather common experience for bereaved parents to become hyper-aware of all the dangers lurking out there, those that threaten our partners, our living children, our parents, our friends. The dangers, they can be more or less real. More as in "Honey, I don't think it's a good idea to play with the ball in the middle of that busy 8-way intersection-- a car is bound to come along at some point in the next 1 to 2 seconds." Or less, as in "I am sure that mosquito carried the West Nile virus and I am going to die any moment now." Or anything in between. It's no wonder, of course-- in most cases the death of our children was unexpected, an aberration, a fluke that so rudely and irreversibly impressed upon us that for every 99.9% statistic with a large enough sample space, that 0.1% means real people, real families, real pain. And, it can be you. It's not going to be a lesson easily forgotten.

When I first became aware of this phenomenon, though, it seemed to me I was a poor student. I sat on one of our couches, looking at JD sitting on the other as if he was an alien because right then he might as well have been-- he had just finished telling me why he was planning on pulling Monkey out of gymnastics whether or not she would be cool with it. He was afraid of a training accident, occurring at an unspecified later date, when she is on the team and too hardcore for words. In fact, in the early days the only concession I made to this mindset was that every night when I went in to check on Monkey before going to sleep myself, I had a cold, sinking feeling in my stomach until I could hear her breathe. A therapist one of my rabbis recommended told me that was because I was reliving the moment right before the nice doctor in the triage told me she didn't see a heartbeat on the ultrasound. Once I knew what it was, it never happened again. We only saw the guy that one time because I didn't check thoroughly enough whether my insurance would shell out before making the appointment, and we paid for it out of pocket. Best almost $200 I ever spent in my life.

Somehow though I am much more aware now. I worry about longish-distance drives, especially when Monkey is in the car, but not only. Granted, my father is not what you would call a cautious, defensive driver, but I didn't used to worry about my parents making it to our house from theirs. Now I do. Curiously, I don't seem to worry about my sister when she is driving, even though she has been in three accidents in the last nine months or so. Is it because I think she has satisfied her quota, and the others haven't? I even worry about flying, just a little, but still-- that was never in my arsenal before.

And I am not of too high an opinion of my body these days. I had a plan to exercise myself down to a reasonable size before we try again. I fixed our machine in the basement and bought a couple of new exercise DVDs from the company I used to like years ago. I even started exercising. And then my thyroid went haywire, my heart rate went dangerously high, and that was that. I sit here full 30 lbs heavier than I was when I got pregnant with Monkey, 20 lbs heavier than I was when I got pregnant with A. That 10 lb difference in there was the legacy of my PCOS kicking into overdrive towards the end of my breastfeeding Monkey, the reason I had to stop, in fact, cut in half with the help of medication and some exercise, but not, obviously, vanquished.

The thing about trying (and this here is not by any means a revelation) is that you spend some part of the month wondering whether you might be pregnant and acting accordingly. Some of it is kinda nice, like making JD clean up the fish food I inadvertently dropped on the floor. I mean, he was the one who told me it was poisonous to people. But some of it is a pain in the ass because the absolute last thing I would want to do would be to mess with the implantation magic voodoo, and thus no exercise. I should exercise in the first two weeks of a cycle, I know I should. But even putting aside my cold that seemed to have been overnighted, gift-wrapped and all, from a rather hot place populated with rather unpleasant characters, it's not like my head is usually in a good enough place to get with it once the countdown starts.

So the result is that I am not either fond of or confident in my body. It's not that I hate it. In fact, I have been making a conscious effort to be nice to it. I am just giving it a break, a discount, if you will. Not asking of it more than I am guessing it can handle. Or more than your average 70 year old can handle. Which is, in itself, rather depressing, don't you think?

But something happened two weeks ago that I am still trying to wrap my head around. The cold had been hanging around for a few days then, and since I didn't yet realize it had smuggled in its friend tracheitis for a very unsatisfying threesome, I was looking forward to kicking its bum ass to the curb in a few days. JD left for the rented house on Friday (where his parents have been hanging out with Monkey the previous week), my parents arrived at our house, and the original plan was that I would come on Saturday with my parents, and we would hang out through Sunday evening. But I was feeling bad enough on Saturday that I opted out of going then. On Sunday morning I woke up still stuffed up and coughing, but feeling better enough that the prospect of a nice dip in the ocean and an opportunity to see Monkey for a few hours sounded like it was worth the two hour drive. As a bonus, friends of ours were renting a house nearby that same week, and I knew that they dragged their catamaran sailboat out with them, so there was a possibility of a ride as well.

So my box of tissues and I made the drive. When I got there, everyone was at the beach. I went for a dip with Monkey, JD joined us, and some horseplay and general debauchery ensued. Soon the catamaran came in to change passengers. JD and Monkey got on rather sooner than I realized I should be taking pictures, and off they went. I looked at the rapidly diminishing form of the dark-blue sailed cat, and thought about the fact that I forgot to bring a book and that I didn't think to take any pictures. And then, before I thought any of it through, I grabbed our water-proof camera and headed for the ocean.

I used to be a competitive swimmer when I was a kid. I still have pretty good form, and water is very definitely my element. This was a bay beach and the tide was on its way in. I remember realizing at times that I was over shallow spots and stopping for a few seconds. At first I tried to keep my head above the water because I didn't have my swimming goggles, and then I gave up and just swam, alternating rhythm of proper breast stroke familiar and comforting, dark blue of the cat's sail far in front of me reassuringly constant. When I finally looked back I realized that just like that I was closer to the cat than to the shore, but pretty far away from both. I don't know how long it took me to get there, but I do know that I was not afraid or even concerned. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would be ok. It was then that I decided that my preferred resolution would be to get close enough to the cat to take some pictures and to then climb aboard, but that if I didn't catch them, I would just make for the shore. I knew I would be ok either way. It might have taken me a long while to get back ashore, but I was in no hurry.

Just then the cat tacked and headed for the far side of the shore line, and I aimed to intercept it on the way. In a few minutes it was clear that I wouldn't be able to sneak up on them-- the cat was going too fast. I had to settle for getting their attention, and it turns out that a solid metal camera body on a bright sunny day can be useful for that. It worked, and they headed straight at me, which meant I could finally take the shots I swam all that way for.

Before climbing on board, they tried to pull me behind the boat, you know, water ski-style minus the skis. It was fun for a few seconds before I couldn't avoid breathing in the water any more. Once I got on, Monkey told me she was scared I would drown. I actually laughed, and we talked about how I taught her to swim, and how I am very very comfortable in the water. When we got to the shore, Monkey and I read a book in the tent, and then she went to play in the sand and I tried to fall asleep.

There was this family right next to us on the beach, a large family with a whole bunch of adults and one little girl, maybe 18 months old. The adults dug her a sizable hole in the sand and a shallow arm towards the advancing ocean. As the water started to fill the hole, coming in, as designed, via the shallow arm, the adults, I swear-- all of them-- took turns saying the same thing, in the same annoying tone of voice, "Miss Carlie, there is water in your office." The girl cried every time they said that, and they laughed, every time, and told her that's how it was supposed to be. The little girl's mother than asked for a bucket of water from the ocean to build some silly-sand figurines on the sides of the "office." It occurred to me then that there were more organisms in that bucket of water than people on that whole beach. I found that thought comforting enough that I was able to ignore the family next to me and drift off to sleep.

Later on that afternoon Monkey and I took the last cat joy ride of the day. The wind was not much to speak of, so neither was the speed of the boat. But out there on the ocean Monkey asked if she could actually stand on the boat rather than just sit. Zack, our friend, the captain, and all around nice guy, told her that she can even sit on the hull. And sit she did. Smiling ear to ear, swinging her feet in the water, until, of course, she got cold and we missed making the turn. We caught what remained of the wind eventually, completed the turn, and headed back towards the shore. Monkey spent the ride back dancing on the deck. When we were close enough to the shore to be seen, she climbed back onto a hull and we signaled to JD to take some pictures.

Was it just a nice summer day? A very nice one? Another step towards taming the great risk aversion monster? Is swimming simply outside of my present view of my body? A one-time-only exception? It didn't make me want to run marathons or anything, but I am still thinking about it. And what about you? Are you hyper-aware? And what do you do about it if you are? Besides loosing sleep, I mean.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why do I do this?

Why do I need to procrastinate myself into a corner in order to get work done? Not all work, but some very important work.

I still haven't submitted that close approximation of the final draft of the report for the project I was doing at my (now old) job. When I left the job, I was sure I would have it wrapped up in a week. Before I left, I thought I would have it done before I left. Of course my double whammy-- bacterial and viral illness-- did not help, but there was also a fair bit of procrastination involved.

My parents are going back home tomorrow. Monkey has asked to go with them for another visit before school starts. Unfortunately, if I let her go by herself, they wouldn't be able to get her back here almost until the end of the month. But she and they really want her to go. So I am suddenly leaving town in the morning-- driving with them and Monkey, so that the two of us can fly back early Tuesday morning.

Which means I am not sleeping (much or at all) tonight-- I have to take that nearly complete draft to the office in the morning, and I have to finally pack up my desk there. All before we leave, which has to happen not too late in the morning-- it's at least a 9 hr drive to the parents' house.

I know I shouldn't have procrastinated myself into this corner, but I did. Hopefully at least this will mean me finally being rid of this report in the morning.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The plot thickens

Or, perhaps, this post should be titled WTF?

Today is CD 26. More to the point, Thursday, the day I went to see my GP and donated a couple of vials of blood to the cause, was CD 22. About a week before that (on CD 14, if you are counting) as I was waiting for ovulation signs and got, instead, bad thyroid results and a cold, I had to give up on this cycle altogether. After that, I wasn't paying very close attention because there was, you know, no point.

Except that because I find that it is good to know what the next thing I will develop a neurosis about will be, I then proceeded to calculate when I might be able to test in the next cycle, and whether I would be able to test before Yom Kippur. It is the holiest day of a Jewish year, and the day on which we fast. But a number of religious authorities exempt pregnant women from fasting because of the concern about pre-term labor and miscarriage. I did not fast the year I was pregnant with Monkey or last year, when I was pregnant with A. So I wanted to know whether or not I should/could fast on Yom Kippur this year. Reasonable, no? And if both this and next cycles turned out to be the length of the previous one (31 days), I should've been ok to test before the holiday. So here I was-- not paying attention, but paying attention. And thinking, with each passing day, that if I didn't actually ovulate yet, I was less and less likely to get to test before Yom Kippur. But c'mon-- I had to have ovulated, right? Because otherwise this cycle was getting ridiculously long.

So then Dr. B called, and gave us the go-ahead to try again. And that very same day I though I had pre-ovulation symptoms. And then I proceeded to tell myself that it simply can't be, it was my mind screwing with me because we now could try, if this cycle wasn't dead. Which it certainly was, right? It had to be dead because if it wasn't, if the symptoms were real, it would mean a cycle of 37 or 38 days long, and I just never had an ovulatory cycle that long. Or that wildly fluctuating. But since I was going to see my GP the next day, I figured what the hell, and asked for LH and progesterone tests to see what was up.

I got the results today. Hahahahahaha. LH spike last Thursday. On CD 22. So two things-- this cycle is not dead (the cries of "The cycle is dead! Long live the cycle!" are going off in my head), and this cycle is going to be 37 or 38 days long. Crazy, on both counts. But I guess good crazy, under the circumstances.

And now we wait.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I am. Slow, that is. It didn't occur to me until yesterday morning that my summer cold has been hanging around for way too long, and that coughing that badly for that long was not exactly usual. Bronchitis? Can't be bronchitis, I though. And it isn't. It's tracheitis, which is essentially the same thing, only higher up. If I thought of this possibility earlier in the week, I might have gotten to see my doctor earlier, started antibiotics earlier, and may have been feeling well enough to join my family in the rented house where my parents have been hanging out with Monkey this week. As is, I am sleepy and tired, and still coughing, and am home alone. Hopefully I will feel better after today's dose of antibiotics, and will be able to get some of the chores done that I have been putting off this whole week.

One good thing about this stupid bacterial infection, though, is that since I have to take antibiotics for it, the very selfsame antibiotics, since they are already in the general neighborhood of my bloodstream, should be doing double duty and clearing out any strep B squatters that might have moved in since the last eviction notice was served. And because of Aurelia's brilliant suggestion then, JD is now on the same antibiotics too, just to make sure the squatters get the message.

My GP also ordered a whole lot of tests yesterday, and I was hoping that at least some will be back today. But none are, so as far as getting any more information, we're on hold until Monday late afternoon.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New plan

Dr. B called yesterday afternoon, right before I had to run out the door, so I didn't get to tell you about it until now. I do believe I've mentioned before that Dr. B is the bestest doctor in the whole world. Well, he still is. We talked for probably close to 20 minutes, and the verdict is that as long as TSH comes back to normal range, we can try. And if we do get pregnant, he will monitor my condition closely, and go from there. We talked about both possibilities-- what if I go hyper while pregnant? what if hypo? We have a plan for both. Nice to know that, to feel included in the discussion, to feel confident with those plans.

Speaking of which, he wants me to keep my appointment with Dr.BigShot. He says it can't hurt, and since they are pretty much the center of thyroid universe over there, it may help. But Dr, I said, he couldn't be bothered to read the tests. So Dr. B said that he gets the frustration, that he sometimes has trouble getting a doctor's attention too when it has to do with his family, but, he said, you're tough, you can take them. I had to laugh at that. So I am going to keep the appointment, but I don't have to stop trying in the meantime. Would've been nice to have this plan in place a week ago, but I'll take now.

I am going to see my GP today. She has an EKG machine right in her office, so I am fairly sure she is going to do one of those, as well as take a couple of blood tests. Dr. B wants her to draw for anti-thyroid antibodies as well, and I am pretty sure that one is going to come back positive.

So that's all for now. I will update when I hear the results of today's tests.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Being an adult

I went to see my rabbi yesterday. I have been thinking of going for a while, but with everything that happened in the last week or so, this was a particularly good time to go.

High Holidays are coming up. The annual time of reflection and renewal. The time when we ask forgiveness of those we have wronged in the past year, and, most relevantly to me this year, the time when, on the eve of Yom Kippur, in the year's holiest (and one of the shortest) services Kol Nidrei we absolve those who have wronged us, but have not asked forgiveness, of any punishment on our behalf. This is so relevant to me this year because the person I am concerned about forgiving is my MIL.

I have alluded to, but haven't written about her here. Details are not relevant. Suffice it to say that while her and I have never really gotten along since Monkey was born, the hurt she caused us when A died is head and shoulders above anything she has done before. It was bad enough that afterwards it took me months to allow Monkey to stay overnight with them, and it is bad enough that when I think about any possible new baby, the only thing I block on is letting her into the room with that baby. And yet I know that come September 21st, I am supposed to forgive.

This, Rabbi R. said, is why honoring your mother and your father is the hardest commandment. I haven't heard that before. And it makes a lot of sense. But it doesn't make it any easier. It was a long conversation, and at one point I said,
"so basically what you are saying is that I am supposed to be an adult."
"But it's hard, and I don't want to."
"Yes, and yes, but you have to. That is the work of this month."

Rabbi R. also said that I am misunderstanding what forgiveness has to mean in this context. Five years ago, when this question first arose for me, I came to define it as being allowed to remember and to protect myself against possible future hurt, but not holding emotional attachment to past hurts. I think I have been mostly successful with this formulation over the past five years. And yet, for a while now, I knew it wasn't going to cut it this year. Not holding an emotional attachment to the hurt my MIL has delivered this year felt like a betrayal. Of my son, of my family, of myself. It still does. Rabbi R. has a new formulation for me now-- forgiving in the context of Yom Kippur, she says, can mean understanding that this person is never going to change and freeing yourself from the emotional attachment to that concept. Or, you know, being an adult.

I find myself, right this minute, resentful of having to do this work. Of having to do all this additional emotional work because this woman is who she is. I am tired and I am cranky. And I. don't. want. to. But already I know that I have to, and that I will. I don't yet know how, but I do know that I have to find the way.

You know, being an adult is not all it was cracked up to be.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I hate this dance, this negotiating between doctors to try to get to see one earlier than five weeks from now. The players: my GP who is out on vacation till tomorrow, so this is really her office, my OB who is smart and quick, and concerned, and the endocrinologist my OB wants me to see. But OB's nurse could only get me listed for September 19th when she tried last week. So I am trying now. Got a hold of the endocrinologist's secretary, had my doctor's office fax over all thyroid tests since April. The secretary calls back to say that the doctor doesn't think I need to be seen before September because my thyroid is normal now. Get this, normal! No, it's not, I say. Look at T3. He was looking at TSH, she says. Yes, I say, but look at T3-- that indicates a problem (one my OB spotted at once, which is why he wanted me to see this clown in the first place). Can you have your referring doctor write an email? I will try.

This is exactly what I hate-- being more with it than medical professionals who are paid big bucks to be with it; needing to explain to said medical professional what they are seeing on the blood tests, which is their job to read; getting upset because said medical professionals can't be bothered to look at three numbers instead of their usual one, even after being told what the diagnosis is, the diagnosis that necessitates looking at three numbers because the one? It changes slower than the other two. It's called a leading indicator. Look it up in the dictionary, moron.

My OB's nurse just called me back and got an ear-full. In the end, I asked her to have Dr.B tell me exactly what he was hoping the endocrinologist would do for me. Because I don't think this one is going to be a good fit. My GP can probably refer me to someone else, or to no one at all, depending on what it is my OB wants. If it's just waiting till I am no longer hyper to conceive, I can do that. If it's something fancier than that, he is going to have to be clear on that. Because it turns out I can't deal with idiots anymore, even if they are well-respected doctors.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Requiem for a cycle

Dr. B, aka the world's best doctor, doesn't want us to try this month. He wants my thyroid under better control before we try again, and he recommended that I see an endocrinologist. So that is that.

I have conflicting feelings about this. On one hand, I understand. And I certainly don't want to make the next pregnancy any riskier than it will already be. On the other, the only reason anyone knows what is up is because I pay attention. If I ignored the subtle signs last week we would still all be under the illusion of my thyroid leveling off last month and it being safe to try. And if we did get pregnant, Dr. B and company would then set to work managing my condition. And statistically, it would likely work out. But statistics are no comfort to me now. And I did pay attention, and we do know what is going on.

I feel like stomping my feet and banging my fists, and chugging a Cosmopolitan. Of course, given how sick I am, I would probably end up coughing up a lung way before I ever got to the cocktail. Damn!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving

Do you know how pissed off I am right now? Probably not, since you don't yet know what my blood work from last week indicates. Or why I had said blood work drawn. So let's take it from the top, shall we?

  • Noticed slight agitation
  • Measured pulse, noticed it to be elevated over the course of 3 days
  • Went to get blood drawn for thyroid hormones (and yes, drew hCG just to be safe-- negative). That was last Friday.
  • Took until today to get the result. My doctor is on vacation, only the office manager is in, and working reduced hours.
  • Results? Looks like the start of another hyperthyroid episode. Wheee!
  • So this looks like the second round of the postpartum thyroiditis. Double wheee! Because you know what you shouldn't do while hyperthyroid? Ding-ding-ding! Get pregnant. Fun.
  • I also caught JD's cold. My heart rate has not been below 100 in several hours.
  • I just spent over an hour googling and PubMeding the heart medication I still have left over from the last go-round. Things I found out?

    • I can take one tonight and it would still be ok to try later this week.
    • Unless, of course, the heart rate stays high after the cold leaves.
    • Cause it might be teratogenic.
    • Because I appear to have arrhythmia left over from my last encounter with hyperthyroidism, I may end up on heart medication throughout the second and third trimesters. And closely watched for the first.

So back to my original question-- do you know how pissed off I am right now? That's right-- pretty fucking pissed off. My plan right now is to take another heart rate measurement. If it's still over 100, I will take the large dose of the medication I was given in case of emergency before going to The Old City. If it's below, I will take the smaller dose I was on at the time. I will call my OB's office in the morning to see what they think. I may have to go see the cardiologist too. I have a feeling this month is a bust. Which, assuming the heart rate thing resolves itself will give me only one try before we actually do have to stop for two months to accommodate my sister's wedding. The feeling I was trying to avoid when I asked my doctor for permission to try after 5 months rather than 6 was the feeling of only getting one shot at this. So yeah, lovely. No pressure.