Monday, September 29, 2008

In which I reveal I am a big fat liar. . .

Ok, ok. I give up.

I'm knocked up.

If you couldn't immediately tell that from the new tickers, the creepy dino baby (sorry it's going to look like that until 7 weeks, and will remain creepy until about 10-12 weeks. thems the breaks.), and the obnoxious pink Due in June blinkie I'm rocking from the sides, then I have to assume something is wrong with your eyesight.

Or that you aren't really reading too closely, because you should have been able to pick up on the super high temps and the lack of period before now. I've known since last Sunday and have said nothing, not because I enjoy deceiving you, gentle readers, but because I had reasons for waiting. Ah, just a moment, and I will walk you through the glorious path I trod to pregnancy-dom.

You already know about the temp spikes, so we'll just jump right in to Sunday, Sept. 21 and that random jump to 98.1. That was awfully high, so I went and immediately peed in a cup, which is after all what one does when they are attempting to procreate and have a major temp spike.

I took a $tree test and an internet test. They were both negative. Booo, hissss. But I couldn't get that temp out of my mind. So I broke out the First Response Early Response I'd been saving up, and took it. A word about FRER, if I may (and yes, I may). One of the things I've always enjoyed about pregnancy tests is watching my pee mix with dye and change colors and wash across the viewing panel, and watching the lines get dark. I find that fascinating. FRER doesn't do that though. It's weird. At first I felt vaguely disappointed but now I really like them. Instead, wetness moves across the screen and a vague line appears that gets darker and pinker. Kinda cool.

Anyhow, you are supposed to read the results at 3 minutes, which I think is dumb. I watched the control line change with interest, then set it down and went on my way. After about 5 minutes, I went to check it and . . . there was a faint, faint line. The conversation went like this:

Me: Uh, honey? Uh, OMG.
DH: Yeah? What is it?
me: Um, is this a line?
dh examines test, and frowns.
dh: Yeah, I think so. It's pretty faint though.
me: What color is it? It's pink, right? That's a pink line! OMG!
dh: I dunno. It's awfully faint. I'm not sure there is a color.

I must've examined that test in the sunlight a million times. It looked pink to me. But I had those negatives, so I wanted to be cautious. So out we went to buy more tests. Another box of three FRER and a box of three WalMart Equates, which good good marks.

Home again after lunch to pee (oh, dear lord, did I have to pee since I'd been holding it for three hours). I took 5 tests - FRER, $tree, internet cassette, Equate and a digital. Clear +, faint +, faint line too faint to call (but until then, including the test I'd taken earlier, not even a shadow or evap line, so I was encouraged), faint +, Not Pregnant. Hrm. Well, three positives in addition to the earlier on multiple tests probably meant I was pregnant, but both DH and I were trying to be cautious and not too hopeful. After all, chemical pregnancies happen and I had only just realized that 10 dpo is awfully early to learn these things. . .

I did take one more FRER that night, and it was the darkest line yet; even Dh admitted it was clearly pink. Light, but clearly there. I went to bed thinking, "Holy shit. I'm pregnant. At least for today."

* * *

Monday. Yeah, this is going to be a freaking long post. Settle in.

I woke up to the alarm. DH took my temp and muttered, "Huh. Well, it probably doesn't mean anything." I asked what the hell he was talking about and he reluctantly told me that my temp had dropped over half a degree. I freaked the fuck out. Did this mean chemical pregnancy? Is that what was happening here? Those positives were pretty faint, and I got a Not Pregnant on the digital. Ok, it was only 10 dpo and they are less sensitive (or at least that particular, older batch nearing the expiry date was), but now I had a massive temp drop at 11 dpo, and my period was due to start the next day or the one following. My heart was racing and sinking and I ran downstairs and peed in a cup. I spent the next forty minutes alternatively taking tests (one at a time) and staring at them, shaking. I got clear positives on FRER, $tree, internet cassette, and on Equate, once I took the damn plastic cover off. Oh I know you aren't supposed to do that, but I couldn't tell if there was a line or not, there was a bad glare. It was really clearly there and pink once I removed the cover. Again though, the digital said Not Pregnant and I was really worried. Dh tried to comfort me, but I was just too freaked out.

Eventually we had to go to work, and for some reason, not even realizing I'd done it, I stuck the clear positive FRER in my purse. I found it later when I went to get my wallet to get coffee. I feel dumb, but I also felt better looking at it. It was not my imagination. It was there, it was real, it said yes, and it was the darkest one yet.

When we left work, I asked if we could please stop and get more tests and another digital. I was concerned, and we wanted to save one of the remaining two digitals to give to my mom when we told her (which we totally didn't do, btw). I couldn't take that last one and see Not Pregnant again, and I was feeling anxious. DH humored me nicely and we stopped at spooky without power Target and got another box of 3 FRER and the only digitals there, FR Gold digital. As you know from previous posts, I'm not a fan of the Yes/No thing they've got going on. I think Positive or Negative would be nicer.

Anyway, I cursed all the way home (took an hour because the traffic lights are all still out) and I had to pee badly. Finally arrived, peed to my sweet, sweet relief and took another FRER. This time the line was almost as dark as the control, so I gulped and did the digital FR. It came up YES, and I whooped and shouted for joy. DH rolled his eyes. He's believed this was our cycle since ovulation, and thought that 10 positive pregnancy tests ought to be enough to convince me. I won't say he's wrong there or anything. . . But I was freaked out.

* * *

Tuesday. Temp went back up. Tested again, although already feeling better and fully resolved to put the thermometer (crackpipe) down for good. All the tests (almost the last of the $trees and Equates) were clear, vibrant pink positives. The digital gave me a blissful Pregnant, and I'll admit that was a sweet moment.

I called the midwife, Jackie, that day, but the birth center was still closed after the hurricane. I have spent the remaining time in wonder that I am pregnant and that my boobs hurt so much. After so much fear early on, I am striving each day, each moment to simply enjoy this pregnancy, however long it lasts. It's not easy. I am a worrier and I freak out easily, but I'm trying hard.

I'll talk more in separate posts about telling people, especially my mom, and about what symptoms I've had both in the 2ww and post-BFP. And I've got lots and lots to say about how I'm feeling, but this is enough for now, I think. The major stats follow:

We're calling the baby Chickie or Chickadee. I'm due June 4. I'm excited, DH is excited, we're both feeling good. He thinks girl, I think boy, at least for now. And wow. SO much more to come.

I'm pregnant! I'm actually going to have a baby!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why I don't like Digital Pregnancy Tests and the other exciting thing we're doing on our trip.

So here's the problem with digitals:

They often aren't as sensitive as plain old line tests. Some are - the newer generation of ClearBlue Easy Digital and First Response Digital are supposed to pick up at 25 mIU/ml of hcg. Do they? Well . . . probably. The newer ones. But I had 4 of the old ones that registered 50 mIU/ml. More on that in a moment.

Also, they are ridiculously expensive, imo. Granted, the lack of squinting and comparison and the clear statement is nice, but I could buy 18 DollarTree tests (more accurate early on, I might add) for the same price. . .

And let's talk for a moment about the messages on those digitals. CBE has Pregnant/Not Pregnant. It's blunt. I think seeing Not Pregnant is actually worse than not seeing two lines. Negative seems nicer to me, less beat you over the head with your non-pregnified status. But worse than Not Pregnant is the hideous FR message of Yes+ or No-. No? NO? Harsh man, really harsh.

So, as it may be becoming clear to you, I've had a little experience with these little digital tests. I bought them and stashed them for confirmation purposes. I got a little excited when my temp jumped up so high and thought to myself, "Self. Temp is really high. Symptoms are there. Why not go ahead and use one of these digitals you have socked away? After all, they expire in October, so you might as well get some use out of them and lots of people have gotten early positives on them, and even though these were manufactured awhile back, they still say test 5 days sooner. And wouldn't it be great not to stress over whether a line is pink or not? Whether it's an evap or not? Clarity, self, is a nice thing to have."

So I took one, hands shaking in fear and excitement, staring at the little hourglass for the full three minutes only to see 'Not Pregnant.' I was really disappointed. I mean, I can tell myself a lot about digitals and their sensitivity, and early testing and how only this % of women get a positive at X dpo and how I'm not 100% certain what X dpo is, and so on. But it does not matter, because it was hard to read. It hurt a little bit more.

So yeah. No period yet. But I don't like digitals. I expect it will be worth it to get a positive, but in terms of confirmation, it's just an expensive perk, really. Because by the time you can be sure it will register you period is going to show up or you'll have a clear line on the test, you know?

Bah, I say.

In other, happier news, the final big piece of our trip is having pictures taken. We've never ever had professional pictures done, and now seems like a good time. There is a photographer from Austin that will be coming out to meet us and we'll be doing up some pics. I'm silly excited about it and haven't any idea what the fuck I'm going to wear. I have some shirts I like, but I want to look good and I fear just looking fat and stupid. But this photographer is so good I don't think it'll be possible for me not to get at least a couple of good shots.

Tonight, we have to pack everything, do a load of laundry, Febreze and vacuum, clean up the cat litter, clean out the car and clean the bathrooms. General stuff you do before a trip. Not looking forward to it, but I am looking forward to tomorrow!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And here we go on this rollercoaster ride!

Back up to 98.1! Wooo!

I'm feeling pretty good right now. Just sort of hanging out, waiting for the trip.

Have I peed on a stick yet? Well maybe I have and maybe I haven't.

*waggles eyebrows*

Wouldn't you like to know?

Ok, so yeah, of course I have.

The results?

Well, I can say that the first tests were negative. But I'm feeling really optimistic right now. I hesitate to take tests without knowing what dpo I am for sure. Tired of negatives. If I was right about 9/11 being ovulation day, then I would normally get my period today, which I haven't.

Another day or two should tell us.

In the meantime, let's wait on that and focus on the trip!

I've talked a little about the food (did I mention the Chinese place? Lemon chicken and moo goo gai pan, and the best crab rangoon and wonton soup EVER), but here is the other thing we're doing Saturday: the spa!

Last year we had a couples massage which was great for me, but which DH thought was kind of dumb. So this year, I got him a package called the Gentlemen's Excursion - it's a little massage, stretching, relaxing sort of thing. I think he's going to like it more than a traditional massage; I hope so anyway. He's at least going to humor me.

For me, I booked a one hour massage and very, very badly needed pedicure and manicure. The appointment is at 3, and we'll be done by 5:15, so then we get out of there, go back to the hotel and get ready for our dinner at 7:30. I looked at the steakhouse menu again today and I started drooling. I'm guessing that is a symptom of yumminess rather than pregnancy though. ; )

At some point in there, we'll go visit with Nellie, Dh's sister. And we'll see my momma; the dog is staying with her Too bad he won't be all wiped out from playing with Dad's dogs as he normally is. I hope he's not too big a handful for her.

That's about it for the moment. I'm so looking forward to this trip, and also to a hopefully positive pregnancy test.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And then it comes crashing back down.

Temp dropped to 97.5. Still high for me, still well above the coverline, but disappointing. Did that before the 98.1 though, so I'm not totally without hope. I'm just cautiously waiting to see what happens.

In good news, the sore throat is completely gone, so I don't think (between lack of feeling warm and no swollen glands) that I was sick, so who the hell knows about these random high temps. I do hope they are high again tomorrow though, I'm itching to pee on stuff. I'm trying to hold out though, after the fiasco with the evap lines from Cycle 2.

So, about our trip. One thing we will do is have a picnic! Part of the package we purchased includes a packed picnic basket for two. It's jammed full of stuff; the deatils from the package show that it includes sandwiches, water, pasta salad, potato salad, dill pickles, potato chips, fruit, and cookies. Ok, sounds good, right? Well, lemme tell ya. That was enough food for 10 people last year. TEN. We ate three meals and assorted snacks out of that last year, and it was divine.

The food the entire trip will be divine. They make and serve a 'hot country breakfast
each morning. And they aren't messing around. It's a heavy, full, hot, balanced meal guaranteed to make you leave some on your plate and not want to think about food again until mid-afternoon. Utterly delicious and filling and satisfying.

We also received a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Same place we went last year, an upscale steak-house. OMG. I had the best mushroom soup of my life there. I wanted to lick the bowl clean and ask for seconds. We ordered the soup, entrees (I had fillet medallions and shrimp, DH had a T-Bone) which came with an enormous wedge of iceberg lettuce and homemade dressing, and each ordered a side (I ordered grilled beefsteak tomatoes stuffed with gorgonzola and chives, DH ordered Creamed Spinach) and we had to take 2/3 of it home, because there was so much food.

Saturday is going to be a heavy meal day for us, because of breakfast, the picnic, and the anniversary dinner (maybe it will celebrate more than one thing?!). The reason we decided to do it this way instead of spreading it out a bit is simple - we'll have my favorite Chinese place Friday night, and then we can pick at the picnic lunch Saturday after breakfast and only eat a little bit in preparation for dinner and then we'll eat about half at dinner, and have at least three more meals over the rest of our stay from that stuff.

Genius! And delicious!

In related news, after a trip to the post office tomorrow or Friday, I'll be picking up the last item for our goody bag. I have some new lingerie and the rest of the stuff. And I picked up several bathing related items - three different kinds of bubble bath (two for me - I intend to use the bath at least twice a day, in various formats - one for dh and I) and fizzes and soaks. Now all I need is a good book or two for my bathtime! I shouldn't need one for bedtime. . . ;)

Can you tell I'm excited? FRIDAY!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another temp jump!

98.1 today. That's the highest ever. Yesterday it dropped back down to 97.6, and I felt sort of bummed out, even though that's still high. Today, it jumped back up there. A full half-degree. Suffice it to say, I've never, never, ever seen it that way. Dh muttered 'Holy Shit!' when he saw it, and I agree.

The only reason I'm not feeling more optimistic? My throat is really sore and has been since Friday evening. I haven't seemed to be running a fever, and my glands are not swollen. I have a lot of sinus drainage and no congestion, and can only guess that the drainage is related to the soreness. Tylenol has helped (but oh, how I miss Advil - that will be my consolation if this cycle is another bust), but meh! Not enough. I'm trying to drink lots of water and warm liquids and I dug out my old-fashioned horehound drops. I'll swear by them for throat soothing.

In other potential symptoms (whether that is potential for pregnancy or PMS, I refuse to say), I have tender breasts. Not sore, as they usually are, just heavy and feeling full and tender. I have very little cramping, though a quick glance back through my charts indicates that I normally have cramping every day at this point. There are twinges, but that's it. I also had to pee nearly every hour yesterday and felt really sick to my stomach a couple of times. However, since we ate some fast food (and not enough veggies) and I was drinking lots of clear fluids to help my throat, I have to believe that these 'symptoms' are easily discounted.

Not having the internet easily available (this comes to you courtesy of Panera's wifi, btw. Love your baked egg souffles, Panera!) has both helped and hindered. I haven't spent hours obsessively pouring over charts in FF's chart gallery or staring at pictures of pee sticks to determine whether or not they are positive (did you know you can do that as a game? It's awesome! Unfortunately, the link is saved at work). I haven't spent a second at However, I haven't been distracted with other things I do online, so I've been actually analyzing myself more.

It's an exciting time, and we'll hopefully have an answer soon. The one problem is that because of the hurricane, I can't be 100% sure of my O date. I set it myself, but I could be off by two or three days, and I won't know until just before my trip. I think I'm right, naturally, but. . . the doubt lingers. I suppose we'll know if I get no + and no period when I expect them, eh?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Generalities and A Discourse on Charting and Why I Finger Myself Daily

First and most importantly - our vacation is in a week. ONE WEEK. This time next week, we'll be near San Antonio, having just arrived (or being about to arrive) at our hotel; where we spent our honeymoon. The room we stayed in then, and where we also stayed last year, is being converted into a breakfast room, so we have moved into the brand new Carriage House Suite. Just opened, formerly a spa. It has a massive shower for two, which we plan to enjoy. It also has a massive bath for two, which we will enjoy in the carnal sense (it's exciting to put some fantasies that are not otherwise possible into action) and in the sensual sense. I have a book I've been saving and about three different types of bath soaks. We can't take baths in our tub at home, and until it's replaced, this is going to give me fond memories.

I'll talk about some of the other neat things we'll be doing each day next week leading up to the trip. I'm really excited.

Second and nearly as importantly - I had a major, major temp spike today. Up to 97.9. Which is unheard of for me in over 5 years of charting. I can't prove it, as I charted on paper for much of that time, but Dh agrees. The 97.6's I'd been seeing were definitely on the high end, but this is unprecedented and makes me exceedingly hopeful. I am actually uncertain about whether or not to continue temping, as I want to see what happens, but fear disappointment if/when it goes down. I'm feeling so optimistic that it is becoming difficult to remind myself the important things - that one temperature doesn't mean anything, that 4 cycles isn't a long time, that if I am not pregnant this time, it's ok. I keep repeating that I can drink during our trip if it's negative. I'm so, so tempted to test, but it's still 8 dpo. Too early.

And finally - what you've all been waiting for -

A Discourse on Charting and Why I Finger Myself Daily

By CottonSocks, age 28, ttc#1, cycle 4.

The thing that is important to note about charting is that it is not for everyone. Not everyone is able, due to circumstance, happenstance, or what have you, take their temperature at the same time every morning or get the necessary amount of sleep before taking their temperature.

And that is fine.

Not everyone is inclined to chart for a variety of legitimate reasons. They prefer the spontaneity and mystery, or they feel that since they are healthy, with no reason to suspect infertility and not in a rush to get pregnant soon, that charting is more effort and more scientific than they want right now.

And that is fine.

Clearly, billions of women over the course of history have gotten pregnant without the aid of a bbt and or Of course, most teenage pregnancies are the result of 'oops' rather than taking advantage of the 'fertility window.' Many women get pregnant quickly without difficulty, and many doctors still say that charting is too complicated, stressful, or unnecessary and recommend avoiding it until there is evidence of a problem.

If someone does not want to chart, that's ok with me. I will still try to help them out, if I can. However, it's difficult to help someone who has no idea when or if they ovulated or how long their cycles are or whether or not they are really late. About the only help that can be given is sympathy and a repetition or variation of the following advice: "Take a home pregnancy test. If it's negative, wait three days to a week and take another. Call your doctor after 60 days with no period. Be advised that it may just be a long cycle/anovulatory cycle/coming off birth control screwy cycle and that your doc may or may not want to see you at 60 days without a period."

The problem is that I can't magically tell whether or not someone is ovulating and whether or not they are pregnant. I can't tell them when to best time sex for optimal chances of conception. I can only tell them to be patient and test.

Part of the problem, and a notion that is quickly corrected by reading either Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF, not to be confused with the much missed TCBY) or the FAQ's and Tutorials on is that every woman as a 28 day cycle and she ovulates on cycle day 14. Unfortunately, many women still believe that mathematical forumla (which is the mean of an actual normal range of cycle length, 21-35 days, and a mean of the actual normal range of luteal phases, 12-16 days), and freak out when their period shows on cd 25 or hasn't appeared by cd 31. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there that at least exploring the theories behind charting clears up.

I think this is a fundamental issue that gets glossed over whenever people are recommended to read TCOYF instead of getting direct answers. Even if one chooses not to chart or not to start charting, there is a big segment of TCOYF that explains how the menstrual cycle works and lays out when you can get pregnant and when you can't. In essence, it's information we women (and hell, men too) should know, but often don't, due to misinformation and poor health programs in public schools.

Who doesn't want to know how their body works, at least on the basic biological level? And that is the other piece that takes us to the heart of charting. Charting reveals a wealth of information. In addition to the obvious - helping you learn the signs of fertility so you know when ovulation is approaching and then confirming that ovulation has occurred - charting can identify potential problems that can impact fertility. For example, if you chart, you know whether or not you have a luteal phase of the normal length to allow an embryo to implant. You know whether or not you are producing the fertile quality cervical fluid that nourishes sperm and allows them to swim towards the egg, instead of trapping them at the cervix. You know when your period is late because of possible pregnancy versus being 'late' because ovulation has not yet occured. It is possible to get a more accurate due date - which is very necessary in these days of early ultrasounds and unnecessary medical interventions (especially when it comes to things like being post-dates, or the opposite, planning an early induction or c-section)

Here is my real life example. I ovulated on cd 25 this cycle. That is nearly 2 full weeks after I 'should' have ovulated. If I am pregnant and my practitioner dates my pregnancy from my last menstrual period, then I will be considered 2 weeks ahead of where I am. It means unnecessary panic when we go to hear the heartbeat and it's not there, or when the baby is measuring too small. Since I know when I ovulated, as near as we can without ultrasound monitoring and drug triggers, we can adjust my lmp and have accurate pregnancy dating.

Charting is not difficult. It involves reading a book or the online equivalent of a book and learning about the science behind charting. It involves going to bed at a reasonable hour so that you get at least three hours of sleep before you take your temperature. It involves setting an alarm to wake up for a minute to take your temperature in the morning. It involves marking that down somewhere (often online). It involves checking your cervical fluid, either internally (as I do -hence the crude term 'fingering myself') or checking the toilet paper to see what the color, consistency and amount of the substance that your body naturally produces is.

I know, it's gross. Well, it doesn't gross me out, actually, but then I've been doing it for five years. All I can say is, yeah sometimes body secretions are gross, but we all live with them. I use hand-soap - look into it!

For me, I have not found charting stressful at all. I find ttc stressful, I find stress stressful, I find not knowing what is happening and whether or not things are well-timed stressful. I like knowing what is going on - even when the answer is 'not much'. I can take comfort in knowing that I didn't ovulate last cycle, but that I did this time. I can relax in the knowledge that I have done all I can do to get pregnant. I am relieved that if I need intervention to help me get pregnant, I can take my charts and help eliminate some initial, painful, expensive tests from the list, because we'll know I've ovulated and that we've timed things well.

Do I sometimes find humor in the situation? Oh, yes. DH has walked in on me bent in odd ways, fingers up my vagina, trying to feel my cervix for texture and openness. It's funny, it's a little odd. But it gives me a wealth of information - and it gives me a way to know intuitively whether or not we have a real chance, or not. When to test, when to expect my period, all of that. It's a relief to me.

Do you have to do it? Not if you don't feel like it. Will I advise you to read the book and do it? Yes, if you ask questions about timing sex or when to test or whether or not you might be pregnant. Ignorance is not attractive, and it seems to me that someone trying to conceive a child would be interested in at least the basic mechanics of charting, even if they choose not to go full force right away or at all.

Thus ends my discourse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


So today we came to work. There are downed trees, few people are here, given that evacuees haven't come back, that power is still out and gas a very precious commodity. People are angry about the situation, and I'm curious to see how it turns out. It's a new president and nearly everyone, even her supporters, feel this was mismanaged badly.

As for the cable, the severed cable was not repaired and was yanked out of the ground by the winds, off the outside wall it was attached too, and slammed into our window. Fortunately no damage down, because it only had 2 feet to build up momentum. It could have been bad. A call to the company revealed that we don't actually have an appointment Wednesday, but have been rescheduled to Sept 23, naturally without being informed. No service breaks either, though this is all their fault.

I plan to call and issue very loud complaints and threats (though empty ones, because of the increase in cost in switching cable and internet providers) and at the very least get a) an apology and b) a free month or more of service or upgrades and c) someone out to fix the line sooner, because that is plain unacceptable, imo. I get that things are crazy and there is power out all over, but first, get it right the first time so this is a non-issue and don't lie repeatedly about when it will be fixed and don't be rude to me because you fucked up. This is a service we are paying for - how dare they treat us this way?! So I need to call and raise hell. Sigh. I hate confrontations like that, but I think it's necessary. I fear DH will make terroristic threats if he talks to them again.

Oh, and I'm firmly convinced I ovulated. Temp was high today - first day we could take it since Friday) and cervix has been low and closed since Saturday, and there is no cm. So, I ovulated in time for my trip and we had lots and lots of sex before and on ovulation, so I'm hopeful cycle 4 will work and we can listen to people crack hurricane baby jokes and tell us we should name the kid Ike or Tina (cause we survived Ike, geddit?). We'll see, of course. But I'm hopeful. If it doesn't work out, well, at least we'll enjoy our vacation, right?

We're doing ok. I am glad it's all over, but I feel restless. Definitely not ready to work, which makes it convenient that no one expected us to work today. I'm glad to have gotten it all out of my head and recorded somewhere, so I can remember this for next time. Though I hope there won't be a next time for a good long while.

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow, and Other Assorted Woes, Part 5 - the Aftermath.

Saturday - Dh and I just sat around for awhile, eating some random stuff, drinking water or sodas for a bit. We opened the blinds and I was surprised by the amount of debris in front of our house, in our courtyard. DH decided to go exploring for a bit, and the dog wanted out too, but I refused to let DH take him until he's seen what was out there first - after all, the dog can't wear shoes.

DH checked out our patio, and it was covered, absolutely covered in small branches and leaves, and one of our gate boards had split down the middle, but we were otherwise fine. DH let the dog pee, then sent him back in to me while he explored. I urged him to check on our neighbors and ask for D batteries while he was out, since the clock radio didn't work and since we only had 4 of the 6 batteries needed for our cd player/radio. I tried to get a signal on my phone to call or text my family, but no dice. I was frustrated and very angry to learn that DH had spoken to his family earlier but neglected to contact mine - as I said, "You mean the side of the family that actually likes us and cares for our well-being? You could at least have called my mom, who must be frantic hours later with no word, and who would have called everyone else!" He was properly ashamed.

Dh reported that the complex looked like a warzone - large branches down in the courtyard, one oak tree split in half (for all intents and purposes), someone's fence down in entirely, an uprooted tree in another courtyard, but no evidence of damage in our complex. On the other hand, outside our complex, across the street, a carport was ripped to shreds, pieces of it in our lawns, and a funeral home's fence and carport destroyed and part of it's roof shredded. Later, on Sunday, as we drove around a bit to recharge our cell phones in our car, we'd see massive damage to billboards and awnings and signs, all in the street and littered throughout parking lots around us.

At one point, I stepped outside to charge the phone and try my family and found a knot of my neighbors talking and waving me over. I didn't know them but by sight, but we talked for a couple of hours, our dogs playing together, getting out energy, seeing who had what supplies and checking our own to help each other out. After awhile the rain stopped and mosquitos started and we all wandered back inside.

We sat and sat and sat for awhile, reading, dozing, eating some of our supplies, trying not to open the freezer or refrigerator to keep things colder longer. We ate the pizza we'd ordered Thursday night and stashed in the fridge and other stuff like onion dip and hummus that would go bad if power was not restored soon. As night approached, it dawned on me that the baby swing we'd set up for training the dog ran on D batteries and we did what you aren't supposed to do and mixed them with the new ones and finally had a link to the outside world. We'd listen for an hour or so, and then turn it off for a bit. The gist of it was there was not much to report, but hearing it was relieving. We lit a bunch of tealights in the decorative screen that had been a (surprisingly useful) wedding gift from my mother and in the wall sconce DH had hated putting up, and had enough light to play Yahtzee and read by. We went to bed when they began to flicker out.

Sunday was much the same, though we did bust into the frozen shrimp as it was beginning to defrost. We were fortunate that it was cool outside, so the indoors didn't get above 80. The lack of air movement was still a bit stifling and we were beginning to have cabin fever, but we read, and washed in the sink, and ate, and again at night, played Yahtzee. I had managed to get text messages out to key people and had tried making calls all day, but the cell phone coverage was sketchy at best. We went out driving for a bit Sunday evening for a change and to charge the phones, but it was scary. People weren't paying attention to the 4-way stops and there was debris in the roads. We sat in parking lots for a bit and then drove just up and down our street until the phones were charged. By this time, we'd received word that we were expected back at work Tuesday, and were infuriated and discussing that ad nauseum.

DH and I had both hoped that we would have electricity restored quickly, because of our location - near a news station and a hospital - but were beginning to feel discouraged as Sunday closed. I realized that our candles would be gone in two more nights, and the thought of another warm night with no blankets and no shower (because it's simply too dark in the bathroom with no overhead light to bathe safely) was depressing. I should say we tried to keep our spirits up and be patient, and we were very grateful for having running water, even if we couldn't drink it - no problem, as we had plenty of bottled and had filled every vessel we could before the power went out- but having only intermittent news from outside, and that mostly consisting of 'we don't know when power will be back' and the blame game between the city and FEMA over the PODs of ice and meals and water was wearying. The contents of the fridge were spoiled and the freezer was beginning to defrost. We agreed to clear the fridge out in the morning and to break out our new grill and have hot sausages and hot chocolate and croissants in the morning.

Unfortunately, we could not get the coals to light. Bless his heart, DH was so earnest and so upset that it wasn't working correctly, especially since we'd looked forward to it. Discovering a large puddle under the fridge dripping from the freezer only made it worse, because it meant the little we had left that was not in the form of granola bars or bags was in danger because we couldn't cook it. It also meant that our supplies were running seriously low, because things like rice or pasta were useless without heat to boil the water. We were starting to get snappy with each other from our enforced captivity and boredom. Granted, even with power, our options were limited, but something other than reading (which was uncomfortably warm upstairs and simply uncomfortable downstairs for long periods of time) seemed warranted. Shortly after a temper flare over nothing, DH and I agreed it was time to clear our patio, since the fridge had been cleared out, we noticed that a Centerpoint crew was in our complex, the next courtyard over, where a line had fallen into the trees at the back of the property. We cheered. DH spoke with a neighbor who spoke with the crew - her understanding was that once the pole was replaced and the line reattached, they believed we would have power restored. Dh and I felt restored, but apprehensive. Someone would go check to see that the crew was still there about every fifteen minutes. Other neighbors did the same and we noticed that we weren't staring at the crew with gratitude or watching because of boredom. People stood and glared, arms crossed, tense, the unspoken message being "You better not leave until this is fixed." Inevitably, one trip out, DH found the crew was gone, and his anger boiled over. I tried to be the calm one, to speak reason - they may have taken a break (they'd worked for over 4 hours at this point), they may have needed more parts, there may be another portion of the line down further up or down, they may need to restablish power at a central point first, but we were both feeling strained, the hopefulness of earlier draining away. We ate some cold thawed sausage, and more dried fruit and nuts and then about 4:10, an hour after we discovered the crew was gone, there was a blip and a whine and the power was back!

We danced and yelled with happiness, and shouted. DH rushed to the kitchen and heated the rest of the sausage in the microwave, while I turned on the computer. We threw our sweaty clothes in the filled washer and let it run, and then we turned the AC way down and took showers. We debated going to the store - we needed milk, eggs, spinach, broccoli, buttermilk, mayonnaise and bread, and we'd be set for the rest of the week. We didn't know what would be available, but we decided to take the chance, at least for some variety over what we'd been eating. We didn't find perishables or produce, but we were able to get some evaporated milk, some Bisquick, and soup that could cook in the crockpot and mayo to make tuna and chicken salad. And lots and lots of chocolate.

We reveled in the power last night, and felt relieved that we had survived, and in the end, it hadn't been so bad. Not something we wish to repeat of course, but we made it intact. There are things we know to do differently next time (get ice, get self-starting charcoal, freeze soup and meat earlier on), and things we know for certain (we can survive a lower grade hurricane and days without power, but if we have kids, we're gone, and if it's more severe, we're gone).

We were extremely lucky and we know that. We feel our blessings. The damage to our house could have been very bad if the carports had come loose, or the trees blown in a different direction. Many, many people are still without power and won't have it for a long time. Our petty irritations fade when compared to the people who lost their homes entirely, or worse are still waiting to hear, because things are so bad they are not allowed back in to see the damage.

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow, and Other Assorted Woes, Part 4 - The Storm.

Did I mention that my temp spiked Friday morning? It was barely noticed in the midst of the impending hurricane, but it was in the back of my mind. A small jump on temps, but a jump right into my normal post-O temps. And sure enough, my cervical fluid was drying out, becoming more scant and more sticky, and my cervical position was changing too, though more slowly than I am accustomed to experiencing. Throughout our preparations, my mind would pop back to that and laugh ruefully about the fact that I would be unable to confirm ovulation anytime soon, since the storm was to hit us in full force about 3:00 and I temp at 5:30. But, we had batteries for our clock radio, which was to be our link to the outside world, so I comforted myself with hopes of checking on Sunday. DH and I joked about a hurricane baby and promised to have sex again before the storm, but in the end, I was far too keyed up. We joked about Valium being the only way I could deal with the increasing tension and storm advice we were receiving.

About 6:00, we stopped working on the house. The dining room table, and the room itself, had not been totally cleared and none of the house dusted, but the bathrooms were sparkling, and the floors done (for the most part) and the final preparations of moving our patio furniture inside and tying up the trashcans had made any more work difficult. I conceded when DH pointed out that for something to come through our dining room window, it would have to leap the carport and hit at a very odd angle. We also knew that people were starting to lose power and we had dishes to do, dinner to eat, the dryer was still running, I wanted to fill the washer with water for washing ourselves, and we both needed showers.

As the wind began to pick up a little, as the storm was moving towards Galveston, we did these things. I now realized it was only a matter of time until we lost power, though I'd vaguely expected to have it until the hurricane itself hit us. We ate, we fidgeted, we talked about sex and a movie, though we made no moves towards either. DH told me he was proud of me for staying so calm, even though I was scared. I told him I loved him. I called all my family, intending to tell them I loved them, and that we would turn our phones off when the power went out, to preserve the batteries as long as possible, but somehow, I didn't manage to say 'I love you' to any of them. Nor did they to me, though we normally end conversations that way. The conversations were short and somewhat grim, reminding them of preparations we'd made, telling them we were ready, and trying to reassure them and me that it would be fine, that our house had been through more than one hurricane with no damage and it would be fine. I think if we'd said 'I love you' it might have seemed too big and too scary and it would have admitted what we were trying not to say, which is that this is a scary, dangerous thing over which we had no control, though we'd done all we could.

DH took a shower, and in a scary moment, slipped and put his kneed through the side of the tub. He was ok, except for a lot of bruising, but the tub is pretty much destined for replacement as soon as we can secure a loan to cover that. The dog had had a very, very long walk earlier in the day, as a guard against needing to go out when the edges of the storm came in. Whether he was tired from that or simply picking up on our tension or something in the air, he was unusually subdued and quiet, occassionally seeking affection, and then returning to the nest of couch pillows he'd created. I took my own shower and cursed myself for not getting conditioner at the store, and wondered how long it would take before I could shower again. I was not eager to linger though; the news station near us had suddenly lost power because of a downed line and I was feeling jumpy that it could happen to us at any time.

We continued to fidget and sit and look at each other; we were glued to the news, which hadn't changed in three hours, except for getting darker. The wind began to pick up and I noticed that the gusts were registering at near 30 mph. This really frightened me, because I could see the tree outside our window and how it was blowing and I thought we would surely not have windows in the morning.

DH was tired and talked about bed, but I was scared. First, my side of the bed is next to windows, so that was not comforting. Second, if we went to bed, I feared I couldnt' sleep without being drugged (just Advil PM, nothing hardcore, but that shit knocks me the fuck out, kwim?), and if I was drugged, would I be able to get downstairs if things got bad? There wasn't space under the stairs for one of us to stretch out, let alone both of us. But stretching out on the couch, near the two story windows I was expecting to be shattered at any moment was hardly reassuring either.

In the end, we waited until 11:00 pm, when the power went off, and we took our flashlights upstairs. We had tried to move the dog's crate from the living room to the kitchen, where we felt he'd be safest (we'd also intended to shut the cat upstairs in the bathroom, so we could quickly get downstairs into safety and not have to worry about herding animals). However, this disturbed the dog like nothing else. It was outside routine, and we were keyed up, and the lights and sound were gone and the flashlights distracted him and he yipped short sharp yips until we put his crate back where he felt it belonged. Then not another whimper from him all night. We went back upstairs where we got into bed and I clung to my flashlight, trying to read a book for an hour or so, but being distracted by the suddenly very loud sounds of the increasing wind. DH was snoring beside me.

I was exhausted, but I could not sleep. I could hear the wind and rain and see the trees blowing and was waiting for the moment - as if it would be clearly defined - the actual hurricane would hit.

Nevertheless, I must have dozed at some point, because a boom awoke me (we now think it was the massive oak tree in the courtyard splitting). It was about 3:00, according to the cell phone DH checked, and the storm was in full force. The rain sounded like someone throwing gravel against our windows, there were crackes and thuds and at one point, I thought I heard the sound of the door opening, and the alarm beeping, though I assumed it was my imagination. I lay in bed, rigid, listening to the wind howling, swirling, cackling, occasionally wondering if that were the sound of a train engine or tornado. I was desparate for a radio, but we found when we had gone upstairs that the radio was out, despite the battery - it was back-up only. I felt isolated, tucked away from the world, and though DH tried to comfort me and hold my hand, he was soon dozing again and I just lay listening, listening. Eventually, there was a bit of regularity to the sounds of the howling and the gravel and I dozed, only to be awoken just before 5:00 with flickering lights and the sudden sound of voices. It took me a moment, but I realized our power was back on!

I raced downstairs, turned the AC down, turned the fans on, and realized I could smell wet - the mingling of rain and churned earth. I looked and sure enough, the back door was wide open. I shut it again, made sure it was locked and went into the living room to watch television. The wind still howled, and I was surprised. I had waited for the eye, hoping for the respite, but the radar image showed that the worst of the storm was still over us, and time-lapse showed it had been since about 3:00. I don't think the eye ever passed over my house, just the storm lingering over us as the eye turned a bit northward. I turned on the computer, and was lucky enough to get an unsecured connection, but every time I attempted to post anywhere, the power would flicker off, then back on again. The computer had battery power, but the wireless signal would fade then return. I did post one message on one board before we lost power for good, thirty minutes after it came back.

We were disappointed to lose it again, but I could sleep now. I knew it would be over soon, and the house had stood this long, I figured we'd be safe. The locked door blew open again, and DH secured it with the deadbolt (which we still need - otherwise, a hard push swings it open). It was still raining when DH got up for the day around 9:00 and still dripping when I got up around 11:00.

We had survived the storm, and now we had to survive the aftermath.

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow and Other Assorted Woes, Part 3: Preparation

One thing I left out of my previous entry was that we had had an appointment for Comcast to come replace our cable/internet line on Friday. This was necessary because the grounds crew for the complex mowed over it again. Because the last time it was replaced, the Comcast contractor didn't bury the line properly. My dh called and raised hell and got us an appointment for a week from the time we found the severed wire, which was a small miracle, given that it normally takes three weeks for a re-wire. But of course, most businesses were boarding up and shutting down and sending their employees home on Friday, and understandably so. It's not like you can order OnDemand porn without electricity, after all, so it was hardly pressing. Nevertheless, when we called Comcast on Thursday, we were assured that we were still a priority and that we were one of the few appointments that had not been rescheduled and they would be there between 11:00 and 2:00.

We awoke Friday morning, sleepy but ready to get going. Dh took over the outside work of preparing the patio and securing the outdoor things while I took on the storage closet we planned to hunker down in. Our goals for the day were to be as ready as possible. I wanted all the laundry done, the dishes done, the bathrooms completely cleaned and the dining room table cleared off before the tropical storm force winds were expected to hit. I wished we could go in search of batteries and ice, but we had to stay and wait for the Comcast crew. Dh called again at 11 and was assured again that they were coming out.

We cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned. I ran out of cleaning materials and needed new gloves and Comet to really work on the toilet stains (I'm not entirely sure why it was crucial at that moment, but the bowls were stained and nothing else worked, so I figured I would give it a shot - worked like a charm, btw. Comet and elbow grease has those bitches looking like new - better than they have since before we bought the place, that's for damn sure). We debated about a quick run to CVS up the street, but it was 1:00 and they hadn't showed yet. DH called them again and was reassured again that they were coming, and they warned us the crew might be late, but promised they would be there. We went ahead and ran to CVS and were back in 10 minutes. We kept working, putting clothes away and vacuuming, mopping, getting the stuff from the storage closet placed securely elsewhere. The guest room/nursery is packed with shit we need to get rid off and the patio set from our balcony (that has seen better days).

The house was looking better than it had in ages, though the dining room was (and still is not) completely cleared. We were getting tired and taking longer and longer breaks.

Why so focused, when I haven't had energy to clean in weeks? DH is convinced I was afraid we'd die and FEMA would come in and judge the dirty house. Which, lol, is not true. It was a couple things. One, knowing that we needed the kitchen and bathrooms to be clean, in case we had to tend to injuries and needed a sterile environment. Two, knowing we might be unable to flush the toilets for awhile and that if they were clean to start with, it would be easier to bear. Three, knowing that if something came through our dining room window, everything on the table and in that room would be a projectile. Four, knowing that we'd be stuck without power for days, possible a week or more (so they were beginning to tell us on the news) and that I wouldn't be able to clean without water or being able to bathe afterwards and that the heat would be too oppressive to make frequent climbing of the stairs or closet reorganization palatable and that I would be distraught at the state of the house after the days without power. Finally, it was an effort to remain calm. I was starting to get seriously concerned about the wisdom of our decision. My parents were frequently checking in and during each conversation they asked if we were sure we wanted to stay. It was weakening my resolve, just as the news was forecasting more dire circumstances than they had previously.

So why did we stay? Well, as the first entry in this series should make clear, we were pretty resolved not to enter that hellishness again, especially compounded by having a dog and cat in close proximity in the backseat. And while I'm not one to be mulish about my property, since we're insured, I was a little loath to leave it there, knowing we have big 2-story windows in the living room and that the liklihood of hurricane damage was higher than I was comfortable leaving behind.

Additionally, the news was quite sobering. A massive storm surge was expected - at the time, they were predicting 20 ft. That is a wall of water 20 ft high hitting Galveston Island. Now, I'm not going to tell you where in the greater Houston area we live, but it is NOT in the storm surge zone. Those people were in real danger. They, and other people likely to be adversely affected by flood plains needed to get out. The best thing the rest of us could do is swallow down our fear and leave the roads open to those people to get to safety. Yes, we were afraid, but this was no Category 5 hurricane. On Wednesday and Thursday, they kept repeating that while citizens were free to do as they would, it was highly recommended that those of us not in mandatory or even declared voluntary evacuation zones stay put and let those folks get out who needed to get out. A big portion of what caused the Rita evac debaucle was the fact that a whole lot of people who really didn't need to evacuate were frightened by Katrina a month before and rushed to leave. It caused big problems. The news was taking a much different tone than it had withRita - it was trying hard to be calming and reassuring, consistently referring to the emergency set-up prepared by Gov. Rick Perry in San Antonio, and repeating the phrase - "Run from water, hide from wind." and comparing Ike to previous storms that Houstonians had weathered with aplomb. They reiterated that we should prepare to be without power for a few days and have our supplies - and we had that.

We felt, given all that, that we were best off staying put. Now mind you, the closer we got, the more nervous I got. After all, I think it's hard to look down at a storm bringing winds in excess of 100 mph and be sedate about it. And now that people were pretty stuck where they were, the news focus was changing. Things I had not understood before were popping into place. For some reason, I had expected that the storm would be like most others, only more intense. I had not planned to shelter in the crawl space under the stairs for 6-12 hours, which is how long they were now telling us storm force winds would be around. I was not prepared for the noise of things or for power to go out before the storm hit. Silly things like that, but it was increasingly worrisome to me.

It's hard to explain to people who weren't in the hell that was that Rita evac or to people who weren't listening to our news coverage and the urgency with which they were telling us to 'shelter in place' that there is logic and sanity behind a decision to still still as a storm that is 500 miles wide, with 100 mph winds, a massive kinetic energy creating potentially the worst storm surge in local history bears down on you. My parents were not sympathetic to my growing fears, telling me they thought all along we should have evacuated. But now it was too late.

Comcast never showed, btw. We talked to them again at 2:00, again at 3:00 and were told what we'd been told the other 3 times - the crew was behind, but they'd be there. Be patient, and they'll be there, yes, we promise that they'll be there. The final call at 4:00 was the one to say what we'd been expecting all along. They weren't coming, awfully sorry, but hey, they rescheduled us for Wednesday! DH was livid, and I was too, but I couldn't blame them too much. My fears were too heavy to care much about cable that wouldn't be on for much longer than a few hours anyway.

Up next, dinner and the calm before the storm.

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow and Other Assorted Woes, Part 2: Thursday

So, Wednesday, we in the greater Houston area took note that Ike had shifted course from earlier in the week and was now becoming a bit of a threat to our area. We were still on the far side of the 'cone of uncertainty' but we were all wary and watching the weather. Brazos County was taking no chances, now that they appeared to be a prime target and mandatory evacuations were ordered. Each new model run, about every 4 hours for those of you unfortunates in land-locked states who will never deal with the nail biting uncertainty of 'Will it? Won't it?', shifted closer towards us. The first wave of alarm came through when the GFDS model became an outlier predicting a landfall near Galveston/Houston with G/H getting the dirty side of the storm.

Meanwhile people were beginning to realize that though Ike was a cat 1/cat 2, the actual kinetic energy of the storm was much more intense, capable of producing a much stronger storm surge than normally seen with a storm with lower windforce. In fact, at points on Thursday, the kinetic energy at the center of the storm was higher than that of Hurricanes Katrina and William, both of which were highly destructive. Galveston called for voluntary evacuations and people began to get nervous.

Dh and I had discussed the possibility of getting additional supplies and trying to get a camping stove or small grill Wednesday night, but because I worked late decided we would wait. We did fill up our car to be safe.


Thursday morning brought news that the models had shifted closer and we became increasingly nervous. I watched the models shifting and began to get a bad feeling, but Dh and I had discussed it and knew that we were not going to get caught in a Rita evac again. We had a good basis for supplies and agreed that we'd hit the store as soon as work closed. We listened to the Harris County/City of Houston press conferences, learned that there were now mandatory Harris Co. evacs of low-lying areas and made a bet on when we would close. Based on past history, we expected to close at noon, so that employees could get out or get supplies, especially since schools were beginning to close. I lost the bet, and $10, when our esteemed new president kept us until 5. We were furious - there is a hurricane headed towards us and we are expected to stay?! The head of my division called and said absolutely not - he wanted the office cleared by 3:30, and damn the president. My direct supervisor was already gone, having been in a mandatory evacuation zone. I was one of the last to leave, working hard to get just a couple more things in, and of course, my dh couldn't leave until he had coverage for his office, but most of his employees had checked out.

I was nervous now. We needed more supplies if we were truly going to be without power for a few days, and we weren't leaving until 4:00. People had been out all day, and while we'd heard many stores had been restocked and brought in more essentials, who knew? While we hurried to our favorite HEB, dh and I discussed what we most needed. I put my foot down to alcohol - we could go across the street to a liquor store for that - and too much fresh produce or refridgerated goods. We fortunately already had tuna, granola bars, crackers, and things like that that were already depleted. We'd not counted on the bread aisle being empty.

We went ahead and got fish for dinner Thursday and picked up some rice and pasta, and I grabbed a bag of frozen, cooked cocktail shrimp and a container of cocktail sauce. Previous experience has shown that they can help the freezer colder longer and can be eaten (and enjoyed) cold when they defrost naturally. We also got little smokies and fully cooked frozen sausages. Snagged sodas and fruit and vegetables juices to make the water last as long as possible and got goods for chicken salad and soup (though we were able to make neither before we lost power). I snagged some wraps and one sad lonely loaf of artisan bread for the inevitable sandwiches.

I was able to grab the last small baby grill and we rejoiced that we'd have the ability to heat food and boil water. We added charcoal and paper towels to our cart and were off. Once we got home, we realized that we did not have lighter fluid for the charcoal, so we made a run to Target. On the way, we stopped at La Madeline's and snagged freshly baked bread and croissants for the next couple of days. At Target, we got lighter fluid and more candles and Nutella (mmmm) and realized we needed more D batteries. The city appeared to be out of them, but we were able to top off our gas after all.

We went home tired and ready to move forward with our hurricane preparations, especially since all models were converged on Galveston/Houston. The bright lining was we were no longer on the dirty side of the storm, we were on the eye path. I wouldn't know until later what that meant. We went to bed feeling somewhat optimistic.

Comcast Sucks, Hurricanes Blow, and other assorted Woes, Part 1.

Ok, so I'm going to break this into separate entries, so I can be detailed, but I don't know how many there will be. Bear with me.

Let's start with a little background so you can understand some of our thought processes. I've lived in the greater Houston area for 10 years now, and never once faced a major storm that actually hit here. I was around for Tropical Storm Allison, but it didn't affect my neighborhood at all - in fact, I had to watch about 2 hours of constant storm coverage to understand what was happening and reconcicle the bright sunshine outside my apartment with the massive flooding 15 minutes up the road.

Dh was living with me just before Hurricane Rita showed up to wreak havoc and prove that Houston's hurricane plans left a bit to be desired. It was about week before our wedding. Initially we hadn't planned to leave at all. But people were so freaked out at the thought of another Cat 5 storm bearing down on a major city that even seasoned hurricane survivors were flipping the fuck out and telling us to get the fuck out of the city. Work closed at noon on Wednesday to allow people time to prepare, and despite having already hit the store for food and water, we decided that since our wedding was out of town, we should be there too. After all, we had no way of knowing whether or not we would suffer damage to the car or what shape the roads would be in and whether or not they'd even be passable. We felt safe enough in our second story concrete block apartment, but when our families urged us, that tipped the scales. We took a nap, then worked for 4 hours to pack and make our apartment ready for our absence and the storm. At midnight, now Thursday, we were ready to go, and the car was loaded and we were tense and anxious, but I was exhausted. I didn't know how I would be able to drive the 4 hours needed to get to San Antonio area and our families. So we thought it would be in our best interest to nap.

So I napped. 4 hours. We loaded the disgruntled cat up in the car and left at 4:30. We had no trouble getting to the highway, we had a straight shot. We got on I-10 and. . . sat there. It took 3 hours to move from our street near the beltway (so, already nearly out of Houston as a starting point) to the next street up. It took over 12 hours to make it to Katy, normally a 20-30 minute drive. I held it together until that point, but then the sun was shining directly in our window, the air conditioning had given out two hours before, the cat was panting and hyperventilating (and he was 13 at the time, already an elderly fellow), we were sweating and had had nothing to eat but canned tuna and nothing to drink but warm water. I let the cat out of his carrier to coax him into drinking some tuna water, and pissed him off by pouring our drinking water on him to cool him off. I had to pee and there was no way to do so, the cat on my lap was even more warm and we were sitting, with the storm still headed towards us (though beginning to make it's eventual shift northward). Our cell phone was low on power and we had no car charger. Our worried parents were continually calling to check in. I was getting nearer and nearer to hysteria, though I'd been perfectly calm until this point. Something startled the cat and he raced up my arm to get to the backseat where he could hide - digging his back claws into my upper arm for traction. Between the pain and the paranoia, I lost it and in that moment, truly believed we were going to die there. The cat would die from heat stroke and it would be all my fault, my fiance would die and I would die, and we were going to die on I-10 because we wanted to leave for our stupid wedding.

I sobbed hysterically for nearly an hour while my darling husband (almost, anyway) tried to drive and soothe me. My mother suggested we get out and join the contraflow, but it would have taken three hours and we were low on gas as it was. We believed that if we could just make it to Brookshire, we'd end up ok, because the highway goes from 4 lanes to 2 in Brookshire and then traffic would be moving. When we got there, we saw the gas station all lit up and being under a quarter of a tank, decided to go. Only after waiting in line for an hour and depleting most of what was left in the tank did we find out that there was no gas. I sobbed again and we pulled over after a bridge, in the glow of a traffic light to rest. And at that moment, the battery died. Then the cell phone died.

My husband and cat and I were stranded on the side of a road with no way to get a jump or gas or call our families. I finally gave in and slept for a few hours while my husband tried to flag down a car to jump us. We hoped to make it to the next town up and try to get a room, using the money we'd saved for our 'honeymoon' - there was no room available in Brookshire. I finally had to pee, and my husband shielded me with a blanket while I squatted down in humiliation a few feet away from the car, in full view from the headlights of other cars passing us. I was calm again, though we had no way of knowing whether the storm was still coming, I was hopeful that someone would not leave us on the side of the road, and we'd heard rumors of refueling trucks making their way along I-10. Around midnight, a nice family pulled over and let us use their cell phone and I called my dad with a scheme - he could get gas and bring it to us - even 5 gallons would have gotten us most of the way home. I had it all laid out - if he drove up to Austin, then took 290 out, then took the beltway, he could get on I-10 and to Brookshire - couldn't miss us then. I relayed it to him, but then the family had to go, so I had no idea if he would come or not. I was desparate, and we were stuck. It hadn't occured to me at the time that he had no gas containers or any liklihood of finding any at midnight in the sleepy little town he lives in. He did try to trace the route, but got no further before luck intervened.

Having turned off our cell phone allowed for just enough juice to place a couple of calls around three am, and we got hold of DH's brother who had stayed in Houston. He gave us a couple of people closer to us to try calling, but when we had no answer, he and his roommate got their extra gas, loaded up and came to rescue us. We smelled horrible at this point - the cat had peed and pooped in his carrier, poor thing, and we reeked of sweat and fear and tuna. We didn't care. It was such a relief to have help. They got us started, but even better, they gave us gas to get back and also a backroad into Houston, which we couldn't have found on our own.

We arrived back at our apartment 26 hours after leaving. We threw the smelly carrier on the porch and took showers while we each updated our families. We slept through the non-event of Hurricane Rita (our apartment got a sprinkling of rain) and gassed up the following night, hit up a store the next day to round out our woeful rations.

I still have the scars from the cat, and three years later, it's difficult to remember the trauma without scorn or laughter from our friends. We were never able to fully convey the hallucinations of the heat or the pervasive fear that lasted us through so much of the trip. The hours of worriedly watching the gas tank get lower and lower on fuel, knowing we couldn't get more. Sitting there, foot on brake, inching along. The sweat and heat and promise of showers and food whenever we got home. The worry of our families and the fear we tried to ignore until I broke down from pain and fear.

We have laughed about it. We point out our spot every trip home. I laugh at DH about flashing his penis inadvertently at a long line of cars when he jumped out to pee at one point. He laughs at my hysteria, and three years later I can, too. To a degree, but he knows as I do that I have never in my life felt so certain that death was looming. We both count that 'evacuation' as one of the worst events of our life.

Ever since, we've kept at least minimal amounts of supplies, quickly stocking up whenever a storm threatens too closely- Humberto a year ago, Eduoard weeks ago. Of course, being one of the handful of Jericho fanatics out there, our list has gotten more refined over the years. We stocked up for Eduoard, less out of concern over that than concern that our hurricane kit was barely adequate. So we had plenty of batteries, water, canned/non-perishable food when it became clear on Thursday that Ike had decided it wanted to play chicken after all.

Thursday is up next.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Holy EWCM, Batman!

I feel like a leaky faucet. I am dripping with eggwhite cm.

Mmm, betcha loved that piece of intimately overhsharing information!

But seriously. It's true. True enough that I almost want to go back and change my previously recorded cm to dry, because

Unfortunately, I may not get to take advantage. DH is depressed right now, after his trip home. I predicted it. He's been unhappy at work and feeling blue about his earning ability, and his family always makes him feel worthless when it comes to his job (hey, at least he has one. We are doing just fine, thanks.) and this was no exception.

So he's been quite unhappy the past couple of days and I've been upset as well, because I can't simply make it better. I don't know that trying to conceive is the best idea when one of us is suffering from depression, though we both believe it to be largely situational, and he is working to correct the situation by widening his job hunt. TTC can be a pressure-cooker situation in itself, and if money is his concern, I don't see it disappearing when our little bankrupter implants in my uterus, kwim?

I asked him directly last night if he wanted to put ttc on hold for awhile until he was feeling better about things and he said absolutely not. I maybe should have pressed harder, but frankly, I was relieved. We've put this on hold for a long time, and putting it off again would make me resentful. Not that we wouldn't, if it were the best course of action, but I left the decision to him and he wants to go ahead. He agrees that our current financial situation is ok, and while he hates his job and wants out, he's already doing what he can, so putting it on hold will only make him feel worse.

So we went ahead with sex last night, and I'm really hoping to take advantage this evening as well. And not just for the fertility. I know I was really upset after our conversation, hurt because he was hurting so much, and coming back around to having sex made both of us feel reconnected and a lot better about the situation. Not surprising - studies have shown that people who have more sex are less depressed on average.

I'm still trying to convince DH to apply for other sorts of jobs and convince him that he doesn't have to find a long-term solution sort of job right now or go back to finish his degree if he doesn't want to do so. He just needs out of his current job. He can move elsewhere in our company and work there for a year or two while he sorts out what he really wants to do and takes steps in that direction. It doesn't have to be a permanent and forever move. I hope that hits home - he did seem slightly more cheerful after we talked about that - because it's true. He's young and still has plenty of time to move around and find a job that really gives him career potential, and while that probably won't be our company without a degree, at least a new job can give him some additional stimulation and new challenges while he sorts things through, you know?

Anyhow, I hope I am being helpful, supportive and kind to him as he struggles with things. He was to me for the time that I was in his current shoes - no interviews, no idea what to do, in a secure but dead-end job. It's an awful place to be, and depressing as hell. I want to make it all better and of course, I can't. So I'm doing what I can to help him find love and strength and let him know he's not on his own and that whatever he does or chooses, I continue to love and support him.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why I love my mom, by CottonSocks, age 28

My mom is fabulous. As I labor here and not work, she is home cleaning my house. Organizing and cleaning. Because when I called her last night to ask frantically if almonds were poisonous to dogs (because the damn bag of them burst and flew everywhere and my cable and internet were down, having been mowed to pieces earlier in the day), and had a mini-breakdown on the phone about how things are just awful right now, she asked if I wanted her come visit this weekend while DH is out of town.

I jumped for joy.

Now, understand, my mom doesn't coddle me. She gives me space and frequently makes me clean up my own messes, but she's always been there for me as support, a shoulder to cry on, and occasionally with a loan of money or time.

I will never forget the weekend I had food poisoning and DH was visiting family (mind you, this was when we were dating, so he wasn't living with me at the time), and she was coming to visit and I woke up at 2 am feeling queasy and again at 4 am at which point I started vomitting and having bad diarrhea. I called her at 6 am and when she answered, all I could do was sniffle and wail, "Mommy, I don't feel good!" And she was there four hours later (it's a four hour drive) with Immodium, ginger ale, crackers, and most importantly, Emetrol. I was running a fever at that point and was having weird dreams and was stark naked because I was so hot, and she took it in stride and took care of me.

Now I need some help and she's free, so she drove out this morning and sent me off to work while she helps us out. I appreciate her willingness to help and her willingness to step back and let me make my own decisions. I appreciate her support and her non-judgement of my choices. I appreciate her willingness to love my husband and her nice nature.

I know I should probably feel badly about her driving out and cleaning my house, but frankly, I'm too relieved and grateful to mind. And it gives me a chance to spend time with her (instead of doing 8 hours today, I'm doing 4 and 4 tomorrow), which I haven't been able to do since June.

She's just a lovely woman. The truth is that she does this for me, but she would do it for anyone who needed her. I'm not going to say she was a perfect mom, because she wasn't, but when I think of the sort of relationship I hope to have with my kids, it's what I have with my mom - open, friendly, loving, supportive and long-lasting.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So I finally have an answer and it's nope!

Whew, what a relief. I'm a teensy bit disappointed, but after three days of questioning what the bleeding hell was up with my temps and my freaking body giving me all sorts of conflicting signs, I had a temp drop to a normal pre-O temp today. I'm likely going to discard the aberrant temp in favor of not enough sleep that day, and keep checking my cervix. We should have had sex last night (and the night before), but since I haven't o'd after all, I'm not overly concerned about it. We'll do it today. Fluid has been weird. Watery, some ew near cervix - very wet, but in a way that is weird for me. Hopefully I'll ovulate soon. I'll try hard to exercise this weekend in hopes of kick-starting the ovaries.

Oh shoot. I just remembered that dh is going out of town this weekend. That means we have to have sex tonight and squeeze some in before he leaves tomorrow, and then we have to do it Sunday too to catch everything. Fark.

In other news, I only have one more Saturday left for the department, yay! I'm just about done there, as there is little left I can assist with. I'd like to go in and just reorganize everything, but I'll settle for not going there ever again.

The trip is looming and I am getting more and more excited about it. I'm still crossing my fingers that we can avoid my period by pregnancy, late cycle or early cycle. Whatever, I'm not picky. I ordered a variety of fun adult novelty items (not really that scandalous, mind), to surprise dh with, and I want to use them! Also getting the trip together, which is fun and exciting. We have booked a fabulous photographer to take some fun, candid professional pics of us at home and I'm really looking forward to that. I think she really gets what we want and will be able to capture it.

So, today, I'm in a surprisingly good mood. Hope it lasts!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ugh, USA Baby sucked.

We went in knowing what we wanted to buy - a specific glider (that also swivels and reclines). We'd been there previously, so we even knew where in the store it was located and the rough price, etc.

The entire thing took 2 hours. Partially our fault, because we opted to finance the purchase - it made more fiscal sense, since their financing offered 90 days, same as cash. But it took an absurdly long time and for most of it, we were sitting around waiting on the sales rep to return and assist us. That was frustrating. And then there was a hold-up with our credit check, which infuriated me. We have an excellent credit rating. It's never taken so long before, not even when I bought my last car and had no credit and co-signers and everything.

In the end, DH was seriously frustrated and I said, "I know we didn't plan this and we'll be a bit stretched thin, but we are NOT coming back here ever again. We're getting the second glider today and we can get it in the brown furry fabric you wanted." Fast and done. We wanted one downstairs for the living room and one upstairs for feeding the baby, but in our room. It took a long time to agree on one chair, and USA Baby was the only place to order it. Might as well get the other at the same time so we would be finished.

They did give us a discount for that, which was nice. But the two things that bothered me about the experience (apart from the wait - though they were busy, so we could have been patient if it were explained to us that they were busy or short-staffed or something): One, there was no apology whatsoever. No 'sorry for making you wait', no 'i'm sorry, I need to help these folks and I'll be right back with you' - nothing. That annoyed me a lot. Two, the sales rep looked at us askance when we inquired about financing. We could easily have purchased the chair in cash or on our card, but the fiscally sound thing was to open the credit line and pay it off on time. It annoyed me that she looked surprised when she saw our application and it listed our monthly net income. I would assume lots of people do financing for such large purchases, so why look down your nose at them?

Other than that, we enjoyed a nice lunch and after that experience, we went shopping so I could redeem some coupons with Lane Bryant. I cleaned up in there. $400 worth of merchandise for $200. Wooo!

And for all the hassle, I'm excited about our chairs. They are exceptionally comfortable, well made chairs. The one for the living room is microsuede, the color is paprika. It looks like, well, paprika. The one for the upstairs in our bedroom is a furry chocolate brown fabric. It's . . . interesting. Not my first (or fifth choice) but DH loved it and the color fits in, and it's upstairs anyway, so big deal. They should be here in 6 weeks.

Wouldn't that be ironical?

So following our anovulatory cycle of despair, I've been watching my body warily. There is no telling what it would do, so I needed to pay closer attention than normal to the fertility signs. I had some fertile fluid with medium cervix right after the bleeding stopped, but it dried up quickly. It seemed we were in for a standard cycle, but then there was some genuine eggwhite fluid. We chose not to have sex, because we were tired and figured there would be plenty of opportunity, if previous cycles were any indication. Sure enough, back to clearly creamy fluid for a day or two. Then the weird in between, more wet than creamy, but not clear enough to be watery or stretchy enough to be eggwhite fluid. We still didn't have sex, because I wasn't looking forward to another sex marathon and was ready to push it off.

Then clear ewcm/watery fluid. Coinciding with a weekend! We had sex Friday and Saturday and it was fun. Those days also had cramping near my ovaries. I didn't mark it as ovulatory pain initially, remembering back to the first cycle ttc, which was following an anovulatory cycle. Low and behold, I had lots of ovulatory pain leading up to O, because of a cyst. I figured this was probably more of the same, though it was more intense than the other.

I felt yesterday that I was very wet. Dripping almost, not to be too tmi. I wanted to have sex, but dh passed out on the floor and given that he was that tired, and all my other cycles have had so much fertile time, I skipped it. I figured we could just stay in our regular timetable of 2 on/1 off. I stayed up late on the holiday night, working on a story I'm writing. I was pleased with it, so much that I only just snuck to bed right before 2:30. I temp at 5:30, so that's cutting it awfully close. Of course, experience has shown me that roughly 2 -3 hours of stillness is enough for an accurate base temp, so I didn't think much of it.

That brings us to three hours later, when DH fumbles to put the thermometer in my mouth and I finally grabbed it from him did it myself, and the temp was 97.2. That is a big jump over my previous temps. That's a standard post-O temp from me (though we learned roughly two weeks ago that that doesn't mean much, as I had a big inexplicable jump and started my anovulatory bleeding). My cervix seemed lower. My fluid was back to the creamy/watery thing again, so neither were much help in trying to interpret the temp, and we're back where we always were, which is that we'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

I finding it ironic, because if I did in fact ovulate, then I did it on cd 14. And if I got pregnant, that would mean getting pregnant on a fucking textbook perfect cycle, after the anovulatory cycle from hell. And from only 2 acts of intercourse - well, we did it again this morning as a precaution (if temps stays up, then it might have been close enough to ovulation to catch the egg, and would make me feel minimally better about not having had sex last night, since the difference in time was about 9 hours; if temps drop, then we've already had our regularly scheduled sex today). I think it's terribly amusing, really.

Annoying, but amusing.

Of course, I can't quite squash the hope that it's all worked and I am going to find out I'm pregnant in 10 days. I don't want to go on that ride again, but the seed of hope has been planted. As I just pointed out to DH, if this was ovulation, and it doesn't work, it guarantees that we would be period-free for our trip, and moreover, most likely in the fertile window. Creating an anniversary baby would be a great gift. Oh, I hope, I hope, I hope.

Ok, then, hope out of my system, and now just curiousity to see what happens next. After all, I may have to discard that temp as sleep deprivation if nothing happens tomorrow. If that's the case, well, we'll just keep doing the things that are making us feel better - eat very well, get adequate sleep and at least some exercise.

As a form of self-torture, dh and I are about to go spend our holiday at a baby store, ordering the swivel/glider/recliner I've had my eye on for months. After hitting up a big local furniture store closing sale and not finding anything we like so well, we've decided to bite the bullet and order the chair. I think we may finance it to lessen the blow, but we really do need another piece of furniture in our living room, and unfortunately, the baby store is the only place in town to order this manufacturer. So I'm excited, but also sort of bummed. As often as I meandered through baby stores on the pretext of shopping for friends and relations over the previous year, I've not once stepped near one since we began ttc. I'm afraid it might make me sad. The stuff we've bought doesn't make me sad, but this might. Oh well, I'm getting a new chair out of it, and we may be able to find a dresser for DH.