Thursday, January 28, 2010

Long time coming

I've never shared Gabriel's pictures with a wide audience. I have no desire to do so, really. He's beautiful and perfect, and while a small part of me wants everyone to see and know that, the much bigger part of me says No. Halfway because I don't want to share him (he's ours and the pictures are about all we have left and it's a selfish impulse, but there it is), but also because I want to protect them. I do not want anyone to see them and feel scared or disgusted or uncomfortable.

However, I compromised with myself. I still have no intentions of making his picture public online. The people I want to see the pictures have had that opportunity, I believe. But we haven't done anything else with the pictures yet, and I've felt a growing pull to do something. After some thought, we decided that we wanted to display Gabe's picture here in our home, and have tried to find a thoughtful and non-confrontational way to do it. Just in case anyone ever, you know, visits us. On one hand, I don't give a shit what people think about me displaying my son's pictures in my house. On the other, I still do not wish to see anyone recoil or be unable to hide their unpleasant reaction.

After some more thought and deliberation, and the kindest offer from a friend who does brilliant photography and also volunteers with NILMDTS, we're figuring out what we want to display. She has already pulled together a beautiful small storyboard that I will be giving to my parents, and is editing our favorite picture for us - we already have a frame and will display this next to the box with his ashes in it. She's also going to create a sort of collage of pictures and images for our hallway.

But really, truly? The best thing she's done for us, I will share with you. She offered to create a digital image of Gabe's footprints if we could send her the card they were on. We did, with some trepidation. After all, if that were lost, a really important piece of Gabriel would be lost to us as well. But they did arrive safely, and she has given us a fantastic gift - his feet. We won't be able to ever lose them now, no matter what happens. We'll always have them with us.

Eventually, this will end up in a frame next to something else for my office, I think. I have an idea or two, but am not ready to put it out there. But this - this is worth sharing.

Kangaroo feet indeed. In the 4x6 print, they are true to size - a little bigger than my thumb. My son had big feet to go with his loooong arms and legs.

Thank you, Katie. We are so grateful to you. I don't know if we'll ever be able to express what you have given us by helping us with these.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weird statistics

So in fixin' up my FF account (I realized my stats were all kinds of thrown off by things like ectopic and chemical pregnancies and such. So I went through labeling and excluding cycles and noticed the following:

In May, should it take so long, we will have been trying to conceive for 2 calendar years. Obviously, I've been pregnant for big chunks of that time, so it's not necessarily an accurate representation, but it's so strange to think back to my mindset at that time and how eagerly I approached trying to conceive, certain that by now I'd have a baby in my arms and confident in my superior charting knowledge to get me pregnant as quickly as possible. Blissful arrogance and naivete, back when a pregnancy test still meant a baby would make an appearance about 39 weeks later.

This is the 10th cycle trying to conceive. If you count the anovulatory cycle, and if you count the cycle post-ectopic where we weren't really trying but had sex once during the fertile window (in this instance, I am including November's cycle where we weren't directly trying but did have sex with inadvertently excellent timing).

Anyway, there is a point here. Nine completed cycles, 4 separate pregnancies. Eight cycles if you throw out either of the cycles mentioned above (one for lack of effort/timing and the other for no lack of effort but no possibility of pregnancy), four pregnancies. We're averaging 50/50 here, or just over or under. That is just insane.

We really are pretty good at getting sperm and egg to meet up. In fact, depending on how you look at it, we are 2 of 3 with perfectly timed marathon sex, possibly even 3 of 4 if you consider the last cycle excellent timing (it's debatable depending on when I actually ovulate, which we will never know for certain). The secret to getting pregnant for us appears to be having sex to the point of exhaustion.

I suppose that should cheer me up some, as it indicates that if we keep making love/fucking/tappin' that ass/doing the deed/having sex/engaging in marital discourse/participating in acts of intimacy/insert your own phrase here as you choose. . . we should get pregnant again. What happens after, well, we've traveled that road once or twice recently.

Also? Despite all my efforts to move ovulation up? The average day of ovulation minus the pregnancy cycles is 22. With the pregnancy cycles it is 25. The cycles themselves? Ovulation occurred on cd 25 (post-anovulatory cycle, so if you prefer, it's in the 50's), cd 35 (post-miscarriage, 10 'extra' days of bleeding tacked on), cd 26 and cd23(we think). So . . . maybe it's not really worth worrying over, especially seeing as how it does not appear vitex is making any difference for me at all.

Other tidbit of interest? Ovulation pains noticeably begin between cd 8 and 10 - and in all but one cycle were on the dominant ovary side (which is left more often than right. Three pregnancies from the left side, one from the right - that was Gabriel). Average time between first ovary-related pain and ovulation? 2 weeks.

Nausea seems to come early and frequently during the lp of pregnancy cycles but has made an appearance outside those (with less intensity and frequency). Frequent urination is about 50/50, showing up early in two of four pregnancy cycles. Tender breasts in non-pregnancy cycles seem to stop about 9 dpo, while skin seems to clear up around 12 dpo in pregnancy cycles, but only after my period shows up in non-pregnancy cycles.

I don't know how I feel about these breakdowns. Sort of depressed more than anything, I guess. I'm trying to be optimistic and simply present and not let things get too far ahead of me (you know, cart then horse).

So I'll go home tonight, take an opk, which will be negative no doubt, but hey, good to get started, right? I'll take my evening dose of folic acid and vitex. We'll do a load of laundry and work on folding some of the clean laundry. Maybe I'll talk DH into having sex, mostly for the fun of it (it's been awhile). And then I'll go to bed and wake up again tomorrow and take that as it comes.

Looking up?

Don't want to get my hopes up too high just yet, as it is still only Monday morning, but so far things are already better than yesterday and better than last week by far.

1) A full, good, restful night of sleep.

2) Having made some progress on a slow project at work.

3) Contact from the seller of the opk's apologizing profusely for the error and telling me I can keep the box of 7 free of charge and they will ship the originally ordered box of 20 this afternoon.

So here's hoping things continue on an upswing. I could use a good week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeling discouraged.

I just feel sort of downcast, like the fates are against us.

Little things, like, oh, all the unsuccessful pregnancies and the complications stacked against us. Like the chemical pregnancy (and the fact I'm still spotting a week later). Like the fact that I optimistically ordered more vitamins and vitex, and a new box of 20 digital opk's. And the vitamins aren't here a week later and I'm running out of folic acid and vitex and the opk's arrived and they screwed up the shipment and sent me a box of 7 instead of a box of 20, and time is not on my side much longer.

I just begin to feel frustrated at being in this situation again. I hate the wondering and the worrying and the nail-biting. I hate the fact that if things go normally, I'll miss October as a potential due date entirely. And that we're running out of time to have a baby in 2010 at all. Why that matters, I've no idea.

Further complicating the swirling thoughts and emotions everytime I think on this for very long is the thoughts of what next? What if we can't get pregnant with a baby that sticks around longer than a few weeks? What if we get pregnant with a baby that dies too, because my body fails again?

And there aren't a whole lot of answers. Adoption, possibly. But we are nowhere near the point of being able to consider it, financially. And we are not ideal candidates, both of us having had mental health problems in past, me being as fat as I am. And unfortunately, as related to infertility, we don't have a whole lot more luck, because while there are ample fertility treatments and protocols out there, many of them relate more to sperm meets egg than to retaining a pregnancy. We're already working on the pregnancy part, so that leaves us with few options. Honestly a gestational surrogate is about all that's left and while we are both open to the idea, the cost is well beyond our means right now, and possibly for years to come.

And you know what is the worst part? The things that swirl into my heart that I'm afraid to say. The whispered answers to questions like "Can you be happy without children?" and "Is this life with DH enough for you or not?" and "How many more losses until you've had enough?" and "How much pain are you willing to take?" and "If this goes on and on, how will it affect your relationships?" Questions to which I do not have answers or am afraid of what the answers may be.

I wish, not for the first time, that I had a crystal ball and the ability to see into the future. Because I cannot consider not trying to have children, not while we still have some hope that I can do it and no hope we can afford the alternatives. But for the first time, I feel truly hesitant. I really wonder if we are doing the right thing and how we will feel in the end. Which, really depends on the ending, doesn't it? Easy to see it as worth it all if we hold our child in our arms. Easy to wish we'd stopped sooner and saved ourselves the hassle if we can never be parents to living children.

It's hard to have faith that this will happen for us, but we're still moving ahead.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

God Help Us All

Not only is Jonah convinced that cats fall from the sky (the overlook), he now has reason to believe that if he barks loud enough and long enough when Barnabas decides to hop onto the ledge to stare down at us lowly humans, then he can summon the cat. Or better yet, convince him with his whining, wheedling, ear-drum-shattering barks, to come play with him.

Because Lo! He barked, and Barney did come. And landed on the chair right in front of him, where (in Jonah's mind, anyway), they exchanged pleasantries (loud, joyful barks of welcome mixed with cries of distress and loud and insistent hissing) and Barney commenced a game of boxing (clawing desperately to gain some space between them) and a rousing game of chase (Barney ran up those stairs faster than I would have though possible).

All in all, a rousing success, in Jonah's eyes. And an experience he is quite determined to repeat, hence the soulful, mournful stares directed firmly upwards and loud, joyful barking and back-end-wriggling-in-delighted-anticipation whenever Barneybutt (the most used nickname at present) makes an appearance on the ledge. He often leaves in sheer disgust because he just wants to enjoy some quiet superiority, but Jonah will bark so.

On the bright side for us humans who grit our teeth through this and remark on how they have to work it out amongst themselves, Barney is more and more willing to come downstairs and his reticence with Jonah seems to have dissipated somewhat since learning he won't be eaten by Jonah and knowing he has the advantage in speed and hops and the safety of a gate.

Still. My ears may never recover.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Date-a-versery

Eight years ago today, Dh came over to my apartment for a relaxed evening of fun between friends. I cooked him dinner (veal parmigiana) and we played Life, and I drank a whooooole lotta wine because he didn't care for the Pinot Noir I bought. He drank beer, but a whole lot less than I did.

We got to talking in late hours, and the talk centered around what we both liked in the opposite sex. Which eventually led to how much we liked each other, which led to a drunk kiss.

Which led to where we are now.

Pretty happy, even when he does stupid stuff like not read a bill carefully and gets our cable shut off for fifteen minutes inadvertently. And even when I do stupid things like set the oven on fire or start a fire with the flue closed.

Eight years. Long ride. Still love him.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The biggest ass in the world.

I started spotting last night. Faint, but I knew at that moment.

In that moment, looking at pink on the toilet paper, I felt the biggest wave of shame and embarrasment I've felt in a long time.

The tests this morning confirm it in big bold letters: Not Pregnant.

Spotting has continued, symptoms have disappeared, I expect my period at any time today.

Chemical pregnancy.

Now all I need is a third term stillbirth and I complete the pregnancy loss card.

Too bad the only prizes here are self-loathing and shame for having ever opened my mouth (as it were), for having one second of hope this would work for us, for daring to believe.

I cried as hard as I've cried in months last night. I feel like such a failure. I feel like a moron. I feel like I have let my husband down. The only thing I want more in the world than to be a mother to a living child is to make him the father of one.

Instead I have ashes in my mouth and a black hole of bitterness welling up inside me. Maybe later I can think about how many pregnancies end so early and how it's not my fault or something. Right now all I can think about is how hurt I feel because this is just fucking mean. I could have dealt with not being pregnant this cycle. That's fine. But to make me go through that agony of inconclusive tests, and then this? It is so unnecessary. So cruel.

I am wondering what I did to make the universe or God or who the fuck ever do this. I can't believe things are just random, because then I'd have better odds than this bullshit.

I'm planning to call the doctor anyway, if for no other reason than to get a prescription for Zoloft. It is clear to me that I am not ready to come off anti-depressants and I am not going to attempt this again without a prescription I can take uninterrupted.

For now though, I'm going to go beg the earth to swallow me up instead of trying how to figure out how to tell a group of lovely people on the internet who have wished me well that I was just kidding, apparently.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Disguise

Right now I feel the need to buy a trench coat and Groucho-style pair of glasses/fake nose/mustache, a new pair of large, dark concealing sunglasses and a hat to hide my hair.

In other words, I need a disguise.

I'm trying to hide out and I'm not convinced it's working. The irony of being 4 weeks pregnant and reading posts about first appointments and what to eat and why you should never ever wash your face with anything containing salicylic acid you whore that values clear skin over your child's brain! when I had expected to be holding a newborn isn't lost on me. However, it is lost on many of these random newbies who are fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked and dewey-eyed with wonder at their newly matnernal state. Not only do they not know me, they don't know my history. I want to hide amongst them and pretend to be excited, but I feel more like the crotchety old lady who is shaking her fist in ire at the young'uns and what they're coming too. I'm afraid to say too much, lest I freak people out. I don't much enjoy being a horror story or a cautionary tale, a word of warning about what can happen, even when you do everything right.

And then there are the congratulations and well-wishes that flooded in when I got caught trying to be sly somewhere. Oops. At my size, stealth isn't generally optional. . . but I cannot tell you how lovely it was. How warmed I felt, how teary I got. And how badly I wanted to screech, "SHHHHHHHH! Stop it! Be quiet! Don't say anything! The universe might hear and realize it overlooked me this time and and something bad will happen if you don't shut up because the fates will find out they skipped me. Shhhhhhhh, please, please be quiet."

Even here. . . 4 weeks. So. . . paltry. So tiny. So unreal. I still expect to see my period any moment. I evaluate symptoms and sit on my hands to stop myself from taking another test. It doesn't mean anything yet, you know? No period, a positive test (and that was pretty faint . . . well, the other brand was more clearly positive, but still . . .). When I think of it, my mouth goes dry and I think - now is when the placenta is separating and starting to form. You know assuming it's not already died. Oh, God. I need more folic acid. And baby aspirin. Would it really be bad to down the whole bottle? I need to . . . to . . . to do something to make this happen the way it's supposed to.

I feel like an imposter, a fate-tempter, a fraud. I have to get it out there, I have to talk about it, so it doesn't eat me, consume me, carry me away forever. But I feel so guilty. The congratulations are so nice and so scary. It feels like so much pressure. The first congratulations from someone who was unaware of the drama behind the tests made me think, "For what? I've not done anything yet. I haven't even had a beta yet! I'm going to be so embarrassed if the betas are bad." I feel like people are so happy for us that I'm destined to disappoint everyone. I mean, we don't know anything yet and I'm so far beyond a positive test = a baby. I barely believe it = a pregnancy.

I feel like the girl who cried wolf. I asked a question on a pregnancy after loss board and someone was shocked that I would say anything before 12 weeks. She suggested I start a new blog just about pregnancy and post there for now. I gave my screen a blank look. Uh, isn't that the primary purpose of this place? Oh, right, she doesn't know me. Right. Well, no. That won't work. And what difference could 12 weeks make? 20 weeks and a perfect u/s made no difference. There is no safe place, there is no safe time, there is no release of breath and sigh of relief. Even in life after loss there is innocence, apparently, but not for me. So what matter if I keep it to myself or no?

As I repeat over and over, what will be, will be. Whatever is going to happen is already in motion and I can do nothing to alter the course that has been set. But perhaps if I just stuck my head under a blanket . . .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Me too, buddy, me too.

So I've had a little time to let it sink in. At first I had a huge grin plastered to my face. We were happy last night, and I was a little teary. Today has been one long pendulum swing from excitement to sheer, unadulterated terror.

I'm happy. This is what we wanted. Or if we'd deluded ourselves about that, we did a damn fine job. While I knew it would be hard, this first 24 hours has me quailing about how the next few weeks (I cannot see beyond that yet) will go.

I'm grateful for the friends who have been readily available to talk me down the past couple of days; otherwise, I might be climbing the walls by now. I just want to know what comes next, I want to prepare - either for an ending or for a beginning. It's all I can do not to google awful things, not to take another test, not to compare the lines, not to read too much into things.

I'm trying hard to stay calm and think of anything else, not let myself be consumed by this to the exclusion of sanity. After all, I have a ton to do next week at work and that needs to be my focus, not this thing over which I have no control.

* * * * *

DH had to work today. That wasn't great for me. I wanted him here with me, to hug me and reassure me, to stop me from spinning out and letting my imagination run wild.

After my friend Tam spent an hour (or, uh, so) talking me down, I decided I needed to set aside the laptop for the evening, and take my mind of things. Pull out a project (the blanket I've recently undug to work on, completely coincidentally to ttc again, or perhaps one of my fairytale cross-stitch pieces that have sat idle for years now, maybe even paint). Something handsy, anyway.

I picked up Dh and threw out my plan - yummy dinner, another go at the apple bread for eating tomorrow, a snuggle and a movie while I work. Perfect!

And he sadly reminded me of his plans to go out this evening with some friends to a going away party. Right. Completely forgot. I never intended to go, as I have never been close to this woman and am kind of trying to avoid someone who would be there. It's awful of me, but I can't quite bring myself to put myself in her company right now. She's just too liable to say exactly the wrong thing and leave me crying or steaming, and so I'm keeping our interactions to the innocuous and superficial and electronic for now.

So we had dinner (it was scrumptious). He offered to set me up with a movie, but I demurred. It was less a movie I needed than a distraction. Than him. He offered to stay, but I said no again. He needs to get out on his own sometimes.

So before he left, he gave me an enormous hug and cupped my face in his hands and said, "Honey, I know you are worried and fretful. But I want you to repeat after me." I rolled my eyes, but took a deep breath. "DH is the most wonderful, awesome husband in the world." I laughed and said that was hardly helpful. Looking smug, he raised his eyebrows and said, "Maybe, but I made you laugh and you can't worry when you laugh."

* * * * *

The poor doggie is never happy when one of us leaves without him, and he seemed especially unhappy about DH leaving. Probably picking up on my mood.

We crated him temporarily while DH left and I let him out about 5 minutes later.

He has spent the evening sighing and whining. He is either on my feet or at the door whining. When I let him out, he stands there staring at the gate, clearly waiting for Daddy to come home. The world just isn't right, in his view, when one of us is gone.

I understand, Jojo. I feel like things are better when he's here, too. He keeps me sane and laughing.

He's right. I can't worry when I laugh.

Clarity, at last.

Positive. Faint, but clear, on two different brands of tests.

For now, I am 4 weeks pregnant.

What I am telling myself, over and over, is this:

What will be, will be. Whatever is going to happen has already been set in motion, and all we can do is hope and pray and have some faith.

And I hope you don't find it weird when I say that today, I felt Gabe smile at us, and I know he's as happy as we are.

Friday, January 15, 2010

So there has been a question about the tests I'm taking.

First, temp went up this morning, back into the previously triphasic territory.

Today is into late period territory, based on the original ovulation assumptions. A friend pointed out that it is possible I did not ovulate and that is true. Apart from the complications presented by the thermometer issues, I was traveling and holidays are stressful and it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility to think that while I had signs of ovulation and what appeared to be a temp shift, I may not have.

No way to know, short of bloodwork.

Well, anyhow, some people in the world apparently don't believe in evaporation lines, which was surprising to me. Or don't know what they are, or something.

I've been hearing that Dollar Tree - previously my cheap test of choice, FRER being the gold standard and ClearBlue Easy Digitals being the ultimate reassurance - are having mixed reviews lately. More people reporting evaporation lines after the time limits, more people reporting phantom lines during the time limits, a few cases of the ever-rare false positive. . .

The problem I've had to date is that I'm getting lines that form within 3 minutes (per their directions, lines generally form before 5 minutes and test results can be read then). They are visible, even at book length (some further), when held straight up or laid flat on a level surface. But they aren't necessarily pink. Well, the one I took last night might generously be described as faint, faint, faint pink if one is feeling magnanimous and standing under strong lights.

So it leaves the question - is it positive or is it an evaporation line? It doesn't fall easily into either category.

Commonly, evaporation lines form after the time limit of the test, when the antibodies have dissolved or broken down and left a microscopic indentation in the test - leftover dye that wasn't fully wicked away (and it happens, which is why tests discolor when left out) settles in the indentation and can appear to be a faint colored line in the results area of the test. It's not a real positive though, even if one gets a stunningly clear positive two days later, because the hormones are done and gone by then.

Less commonly, evaporation lines form during the test limit time. Often in this case, it's a matter of over-eagerness and hopefulness, combined with lighting issues. There is always a second line on the test (unless it was manufactured improperly). That line is usually not visible unless it's positive or you have excellent eye sight. However, sometimes that line appears more readily when not positive because of dye passing over it (common in my experience with FRER - you can see the line very well as the liquid passes over, and it either gets darker to be positive or fades when negative), or the liquid makes it easier to spot and light makes it appear reflective. Sometimes the indentation of the test strip is more pronounced, producing a shadow or a shadowy line. Sometimes there is a grey strip that appears where the antibody strip interacts with liquid, but isn't actually positive.

These are often disappointing, as there can be excitement when you think you see a line, and disappointment as it fades. Or it can introduce the question about what you are seeing. In reality, my experience with this sort of evap line is that this is the one you have to squint to see, the one you have to twist and turn and hold up to the light at just the right angle to see. And if you have to do all that, you shouldn't really count it a positive.

However, that's not always the case with these sort of evap lines. Sometimes ghost lines - visible lines that you can clearly see, but aren't really the right color - form during the time limit and the reality later becomes apparent that it wasn't a true positive (perhaps attributable to chemical pregnancy, perhaps a faulty test).

My recent tests, as I mentioned above, tend to be in the last bit there. It's quite frustrating, because if I were truly pregnant, then I would be expecting hcg to double at such a rate that the test would give a definitive result (even if definitive is still faint - the darkness of the line truly doesn't matter, provided it is the correct color and shows up clearly in the correct time frame).

I'm going to take a more reliable test soon, but I really hate seeing Not Pregnant, and if that is so, it doesn't answer the questions about what is going on with my body. At this point, it could be any of the following: did not actually ovulate; did not ovulate when I believe I did, despite the chart; am not pregnant; have chemical pregnancy; have abnormal pregnancy; have late implanter; have slow grower; have bad tests; have late period. . . on and on it goes, my friends.

To illustrate my confusion, and the dilemmas I'm having here, and to convince you that I am not just crazy (Dh sees these lines too, and believe me, he is not shy in the least about saying he doesn't. And these are a recent development in the last 2 to 3 days. I have had clearly negative tests this cycle already.), please take a look at the following four links to Fertility Friend's hpt/opk gallery. My tests are identical to these.

The first two are from their 'Error Test' section:

The following two are from their 'Positive Test' section:

I'm sure you will note, as I did, that these all look precisely the same. Because the gallery is self-posted and self-edited and there are no links back to charts, it is impossible to say with certainty that the first two are in fact errors (meaning, evap lines) and the second two are in fact positives (meaning, the woman in question was in fact confirmed pregnant).

You see why I feel frustration over this? Adding to that is the fact that were it not for the inconclusive tests, I feel pregnant. Bloated, vaguely crampy now and then, nausea when I get hungry, very tender breasts. . . on and on. And most of all, no period when I expect it. I have only once, in approaching 7 years of charting, had a luteal phase longer than 12 days. I can't recall ever being wrong about having ovulated (versus not), at least over a sustained period (say, more than a week).

And yet, I persist in limbo-land. It's not a lot of fun here, guys. So here is the plan:

I will see what develops over the weekend. If my period shows up, no harm done. No big deal, relief to have an answer. If my period does not show, call to the OB for a beta draw on Monday. Because by that point, I will be quite late and should have a clear positive or some kind of answer about what is happening.

Despite my annoyance and irritation with the uncertainty, I am in a surprisingly good mood. Whatever is going to happen is entirely out my hands right now, and while that frequently drives me insane, today (at least) I am shrugging about it. Because there really isn't much other option, is there?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No news to report

Wish I could say no news is good news, but in this particular happenstance, no news is merely (totally, consumingly) frustrating.

I knew all along that the moment the thermometer broke, I was screwed. We bought a new one, but it threw the previous temps into question, and there is always the possibility of a new thermometer picking up higher or lower overall. So I relied on other fertility signs and felt like I had a pretty good handle on things.

A four-day window for ovulation, I can work with that.

Today is 12 dpo on the last plausible day of ovulation.

And . . . nada.

No spotting, no staining, none of the usual (starting, say, 10-11 dpo) changes to cm that indicate a period is looming. Temp dropped some, but is still well over the coverline, and has held steady over the past three days (though it's worth noting that this temp is one that in past cycles would be coverline/pre-O). I've had cramps off and on. Earlier today I had cramps and though, ok, finally, here we go. Only . . . they stopped.

And as for the tests . . . oh my. Negative, negative, negative, heeeeeey, what's that? Uh, honey? Do you see that? Huh, I see something. Evap? Maybe? Noooo, it's not really pink, if I'm being honest, but it's clearly visible. Uh, yeah, it did form in the time-line. Well, I don't know what it means, honestly. It should be pink. Maybe it's too early?

Sure, maybe it is. Which could fit with the weird bloating, the oddity of tender breasts past the normal point, the skin clearing up on it's own, the on and off nausea. . .

. . . except that one expects the subsequent test to be darker, clearer, more definitive in that case. And that hasn't been my experience. Two shadowy lines I guess I'd have to call evaps on $tree tests (which I'm unfortunately hearing may be turning more prone to that sort of nonsense) and a shadowy not-pink line on FRER (where I usually see nothing). Basically - not positives. I'd like to pretend, but no. They are not positive. However, because apparently I am unsatisfied if all things related to reproduction are not satisfactorily dramatic, not negatives either, not exactly. I mean, yes, I guess, but UGH. GAH. FUCK.

The fear is lurking at the back of my mind, like a vulture waiting to swoop. The thing is that this is most similar to the cervical ectopic. And that is scary as fuck, especially knowing what I know now, which is the extent of the damage caused by that fiasco of a pregnancy. Knowing that is possible, and I am at an increased risk for ectopics generally having had one (though, honestly, the risk is much smaller to repeat a cervical pregnancy and smaller for other forms of ectopics as well) (not that I've ever been on the right side of numbers, and what about that, universe? if you're going to fuck me reproductively, the least you could do is make it up to me in lottery winnings). . . phew. Trying not to think of it.

Because at this point, whatever will happen is all set in motion. My period will eventually start (or not), tests will eventually turn positive (or not), the potential pregnancy is implanted and growing where it will (if that occurred). All I can do is try not to work myself up over it.

Yeah, I know, ha ha. But I'm trying, and that's something at least, right?

* * * * *

In other news . . . this was the conversation on the way into work this morning.

DH: I didn't sleep very well, how about you?
Me: Eh, not the best ever, but not bad. I definitely had a really nice long stretch last night.
DH: Oh, that's good.
Me: Yeah, I think Barnabas was behaving himself more last night.
(note: Barney's been banished to the bathroom -say that 10 times fast- the past two nights for egregious violations of our simple code of ethics, ie, don't fucking eat me or claw me while I'm sleeping, asshole. It goes for all members of our family, in fairness)
DH: *snort of disbelief* Really? I thought he was a little shit last night.
Me: Oh? I guess he was bugging you instead of me then, because he left me alone most of the night; at least until early morning.
DH: No, he was all over you all night. Hell, when I came to bed, he was standing on your chest and throat grooming himself. But you did seem pretty dead to the world.
Me: Really? I never noticed. Well, hell, as long as he's not waking me up, I don't give a shit. This arrangement could work out yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

There is a fire burning in my oven.

Yes. Like as I type.

No, I'm not concerned.

Yes, I'm ready to cry.

No, I don't think that means I'm pregnant - yet another reason I want to sob. I've never been emotional when pregnant. I've always been emotional when my period is coming. Fuck.

What happened?

I wanted to make apple bread. For breakfast. We're trying to eat both a little better and more fiscally responsibly, which entails things like making a loaf of spiced bread to eat for a week of breakfasts instead of stopping at McDonald's three times a week (it has to be portable, as we are frequently running late).

I found a recipe or two, evaluated them, found one I liked and tweaked it based on others I'd seen. One difference - adding vanilla, and cinnamon and cinnamon chips in place of nuts (I don't care for nuts in my bread).

Only the apples we bought were bigger than average. So I intended to only use two of the three. Only I was having issues and getting frustrated, so DH offered to chop them up for me while I started the batter. That was fine. Only he didn't know I intended to use only two apples and cut up all three and they all ended up in the batter because I wasn't paying close enough attention. It was way too much. But it was also too late.

DH convinced me to try baking it anyhow, see how it turned out. So we put it in with the note to check in thirty minutes.

When we did, we found it had risen to overflow the sides, but a crust hadn't formed yet, so apples, batter and cinnamon chips had simply dripped in large clumps onto the oven.

As cooking time continued, they began to melt, then smoke, and eventually catch fire.

The 'bread' remains half-cooked and instead of apple pie, my house smells like smoke. And because it's a self-cleaning oven, we'll just have to set it to clean and allow it to burn everything off at high heat this weekend. It's the most gawdawful smell you can imagine and it lingers for days.

Fucking awesome. I score really low on domestic goddess scales this week. Most likely not pregnant, a hovel for a home and now no fucking breakfast and the smell of smoke for days to come.

To be clear, the fire was out before I'd finished typing half of this. The oven is in no way damaged that we can tell. We will clean it before we use it again to be safe.

And yes, I'm in a pissy, pissy, weepy, clingy mood and I'm disgusted with it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Today was the original of Gabriel's multiple due dates. Today was the day based on ovulation. Today was the day I secretly loved and wanted for his birthday, because I'm a number/pattern geek and I loved that 1+9=10. Same reason, I suppose a Sept. 1 birthday would be cool.

I approached today, this whole week, with a bit of caution. Unsure how I would feel or what I would think. Not wanting to put pressure on the situation to feel a certain way.

And now it's here.

And I feel . . . okay.

'Okay' and 'fine' seem to be my new catch phrases. It is what gets said a lot when people enquire, it's what got thrown around a lot in my last therapy session. It's how I feel.

When I pause, I still feel sadness. There is always a tiny ache, a hole where Gabe should be and isn't. I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't lain in bed, and wondered how far my flesh would have protruded, how uncomfortable I'd be in the end, how it would feel to have a real life-size baby curled inside me. How I would be feeling now. But it's only slightly wistful, and often more clinical and detached than anything. Like wondering how one would feel to win the lottery or to be held at gun point or to witness an accident.

You are emphatically not in that situation and so to ascribe feelings to it is a little unreal, a guessing game. That is how our lives with Gabe are now. Our reality is not January and no sleep. It's August and tears. I think of Gabriel as a grinning, drooling, toothless baby, a four-nearing-five month old, or not in flesh or age at all. Sometimes he's a toddler, sometimes a full little boy. Often smiling or laughing, often eager and curious, and mischevious. Those things I extracted about his personality from the short time we were with him, brought to life on the canvas of my mind.

I'm curious to see G's baby, interested to watch him grow, to have a visible reminder of what Gabe would be doing now, but again, it's with clinical detachment, curiousity, not a desperation to know or filled with sadness.

I miss him. I miss him when I don't feel his presence nearby. I miss what our lives could have been, but feel less often plagued with what should have been. It is how it is, full stop. I still have unsettled feelings about this reality, but I don't fight it.

Dr. K calls it healing.

Today just feels like wrapping the last bit up. I'm not saying I'm done grieving or all over his death - I expect August to be a difficult month. It's just that I have looked so forward to 2010, to new starts, to trying to conceive again, that my mind isn't dwelling on Gabe right now. It's on the future, which has potential and is, dare I say it? Bright? Certainly, reaching and soon passing this last milestone, it feels unfettered.

My first thoughts this morning weren't about the date or about Gabriel. It was about whether my temp was going to be high enough that my chart would be triphasic (it was, though I need one more temperature to confirm triphasic; at least it confirmed that the super high temp of yesterday was not a fluke involving the repeated efforts to get Barney because he was confined last night and I slept in peace). My next conscious thought was about testing, whether it might be too early (it is, especially if I ovulated at the end of that four day possible window). Then I thought about breakfast and which project to tackle today. Then I mentally said, "Good morning, Gabe. Love you baby." And came downstairs intent on looking through cookbooks to plan our next week's meals.

It truly wasn't until I sat down to write and thought about contradicting myself to write about my chart that I thought, "Oh. OH. Oh. Right." and knew I had to explain and explore how I am feeling today, of all days.

And it can be summarized as such: at peace. Thanks for asking, I feel fine. No, really. I'm . . . okay. And I smile. And mean it. And my little boy grins at me from somewhere beyond my sight.

* * * * *

Adding . . .

One of the kindest notes I received after Gabriel's loss was from a friend I had made online. When I lost Chickadee, she arranged to have a gift certificate waiting at a favorite restaurant, so we would not have to worry about a meal. And when Gabe passed, I opened my email one day to find a notification from March of Dimes stating that she had made a donation in Gabriel's name. I cannot tell you how grateful I was, or how kind I found it.

If you are thinking of Gabriel today, I would encourage you to consider also making a donation to March of Dimes. The research they support is phenomenal, and the strides made because of their dedication to helping mothers have healthy full term babies is astonishing. Of course, we hope that prematurity may someday be eliminated, or hope beyond hope that someday babies born as early as Gabe may have a chance at survival. It doesn't have to be today or in his name, just something that if you ever have a little extra that I would ask you to consider.

We have done so today, as we will do every year on his actual birthdate. It is one way we can honor him, and love him and live true to being better people for him - by possibly helping others. I like to think of this as our love letter to Gabriel, ever evolving, always being written.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I have survived thus far.

I made it through the dropping temps and managed to dress myself, get out to the car, drive to work, park, walk into work all without freezing to death.

A miracle!

(It is cold as fuck though, just to be clear. So cold, in fact, my hideous sweater from home is in my office as we speak, so I could have something warm to layer with today. And believe me, the lurid salmon and watermelon colored stripes are beyond ugly. But it's warm!)

Just wanted to let everyone know, lest you be picturing the horrifying scene from that weather movie with Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhal (the Day After Tomorrow?) where the ice shows up so super fast and freezes everything that it encroaches on the screen like a white tidal wave? And downs helicopters and crap? Yeah - that didn't happen here, nor did I wake to the sound of hoof-beats approaching.

I did have to wake a few times to shove Barney off my head. Prince always preferred to cuddle near me and lay on DH's head. Barney appears to have this reversed. Hmph. We're working on it. At least now, he gives soft little gentle licks to my face instead of the full on grooming he was trying before. But we're still working on the 'Do NOT jump on Mama's head and wake her and lick her in the middle of the freaking night, no matter how much you love her' part. I tried patiently explaining that if I'm having a bad dream it could mean he gets tossed across the bed, and Mama needs her sleep, and and and then he started licking his balls. So I'm not sure the message was received.

I hope this weekend is a warm snuggle one for all. God knows we plan to stay in most of the time. You know, on the off chance that the ice begins spreading so quickly that we'll die just by seeing it, unless we can burn our library to provide heat.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's the END of the WORLD, people!

Lock your doors!

Run for your lives!

Don't forget to throw out your dead Christmas trees!

Wait, what?

Oh, right. Houston temps are going to dip into the 20's/30's tomorrow and Friday.

Clearly, that is a sign of the apocalypse. We are all going to die.

What's that you ask? (especially if you live not-in-Houston)
- No. No, it's not going to snow. Or ice. Or sleet. Well, there's like a 30% chance of precipitation overnight, but that's it. That is legitimately worrisome, because most of us truly don't know how to drive in those conditions and people are stupid, which makes for dangerous situations.

But no. This is just a cold snap. A 'hard freeze' they are calling it.

Don't get me wrong - just as with extreme heat waves in the north, people down here are not often prepared for extreme cold. While you see down jackets make appearances in the 50's and while I even dig out a pair of gloves and a scarf for the 40's and layer up and even wear closed-toed shoes . . . this is legitimately cold. And not everyone has central heat or is used to running their heater constantly (or necessarily maintaining their heater well). Fireplaces are generally more decorative than utilitarian, and there is a brisk business in space heaters around this time, which disappear from store shelves around the end of January.

So, some precautions need to be taken. Reminding people about proper use of space heaters and not poisoning their families with carbon monoxide or using chimenerias or outdoor firepits indoors, etc etc. is all a good idea. Explaining about how to dress in layers - and not overheat your children - is also a good idea. Mentioning that trying to thaw ice by throwing hot water on the windshield (so it cracks) is a bad approach, fine.

But that is not the news coverage we're getting. Not at all.

Instead, it's Chicken Little-ing left and right. People are flapping their hands and freaking out. For real - a whole minute segment was devoted to getting rid of your Christmas trees, lest they catch fire, on the local news last night. And I'm not talking about the common sense 'dried trees can be fire hazards, so don't leave them around forever'; no, I'm talking about getting rid of your trees specifically because this Cold Front to Rival the Tenth Level of Hell (which is a frozen lake, and Judas, Brutus and Cassius are all being constantly eaten in the mouths of Satan - thus, the fates of those ultimate traitors who betray country, friend, ruler and God) could mean a stray spark from a space heater or fireplace could catch them on fire. This morning, local news reporters were on scene at schools to see who had opened early to turn on the heat, even though the extreme cold doesn't hit until tomorrow morning. The tagline for one channels morning show was ominous and forboding - "What are schools doing to keep YOUR CHILDREN SAFE during the cold weather?"

Uh, turning up the heat, maybe? Just a wild theory.

It's funny and sad in a way. But getting to the point of absurdity. It's gonna be cold. For like, 2 days. And then still chilly and all, but not that big a deal. While we aren't all accustomed to these temperatures, I have a feeling we can deal, you know? At least, I assume if humanity made it this far, including through an Ice Age, and in far less technologically inclined times, we can persevere.

* * * * *

In other news, of the fishing/imaginary/maybe not/fingers crossed variety - and about all I plan to mention of our ttc efforts/2ww nonsense - I am experiencing a fair amount of nausea off and on. Waves of 'oh, gods, where is the nearest trashcan' type nausea. Especially bad yesterday, while I tried not to vomit on my boss, and then unpleasant this morning. While if I were to have read this on a message board a year ago, I'd have scoffed mercilessly at the biochemical impossibility of such a thing, being only early in the timeframe in which normal embryos implant (meaning the levels of hormones could not possibly be anywhere near the point of being high enough to cause physical reactions), now having been through this at least once before with this type of nausea (and hearing then that it happens to other intelligent women who charted and weren't psycho or even excessively, obsessively hopeful), it gives me pause.

I think we had a good run this cycle, but the thermometer issues mean I have only a window for ovulation covering about 4 days. There simply isn't a way to be sure, which frustrates me some. So, we wait. We hope. We remind each other when we discuss it that if it's not this cycle, that's ok. We can try again (though minus the green tea, which I think is extending my fertile cm, and I don't really necessarily need it, and which could inhibit folic acid absorption, which is a larger concern than previously), and will try again.

Besides, I'm exhausted and still adjusting my sleep to earlier waking times (I simply don't feel tired and ready to sleep early enough to get enough hours yet - it's getting there though) and also adjusting to leaving Barney out all night. He was fine in NB, but back home, he's more playful and insistent throughout the night - most likely as a result of our being out of the house for 10-12 hours a day. At least he's decreasing the obsessive face-licking, as we both push him off of us when he attempts it as we are sleeping. It's sweet, it's affectionate on his part, but it's unwanted at 3:00 am. Especially at 3:00 am when it interrupts a lovely dream. . . Anyhow, my point at the beginning was that the nausea may simply be a reaction to fatigue and/or the amount of caffeine I've attempted to ingest to keep me awake at work the past couple of days.

But I'm hopeful it's something else. And that is all I will say about that until there is something actually worth talking about on this subject.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Home Again

We made it safely back home, eventually, to a house that was still standing.

The holidays are over, thankfully and regretfully.

Much nicer holidays than I expected to have, but a relief to put them behind us and enter the New Year, even if it does mean returning to work with nary a vacation in sight.

I'm too tired to repeat everything, but here are the highlights:

- DH finally, on our fifth married Christmas, and our eighth Christmas together, has managed to pull together a selection of gifts entirely on his own that were awesome and perfect. Well done, sweetie. Primary features included Sex and the City and Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince. Hours of fun for . . . me! Despite loathing SATC, and coming close with HP, he got them for me anyhow. Also, mint chocolates, which he thinks are nasty.

- M&Ms makes a mint chocolate specialty version called Mint Thrillers. They're tasty, with a soft shell and white melting mint interior. However, the mottled green and black on the soft shell? That could go. I prefer, myself, with my strange little idiosyncracies, not to eat food that visually reminds me of severe mold and mildew problems or of lichen. I know it's weird. But there it is. Those things look gross, so I eat them with my eyes closed. When I offered one to my mother (another mint chocolate lover), she actually recoiled in disgust. Well done, M&Ms, well done.

- At one point I threw my back out. Not having sex, fortunately, as that would have been hard to explain, but that didn't much matter, since I could not explain how it did happen. The worst part wasn't the back injury though that was terribly painful and had me walking around like an arthritic monkey for a couple of days. The worst part was when I applied a heating pad to my lower back and the inner part poked through the covering, and unbeknownst to me at the time, scratched the hell out of my ass. Later that night, while I was in bed, there was a persistent blistered/hot sort of feeling that made me continue to roll to my side (which pulled my back and hurt). I figured I must have burned myself with the heating pad, stupidly, and wondered why I hadn't noticed before. When I mentioned it to DH, he asked to see, and found the scratches. It apparently looked like my ass had been on the losing end of bet to make me Barney's scratching post. All I know is it hurt and made me feel stupid.

- We managed to have a lot of sex, mostly while my mom was working. If it sounds like a pair of teenagers creeping around, well, it felt like that too. Imagine the fun we had we disrobed only to hear the door open again and my mother's voice calling. I had to hide DH in the bathroom because he was buck naked. I am nearly 30 years old and have been married for approaching five years now, and have had three recent pregnancies. I think it's safe to assume my mom knows I have sex, but damned if I'm going to publicize that to her (um, you know directly. She doesn't read this completely open blog, thank God).

- The back injury was not my only injury, or my worst injury. Because I'm awesome, I also severely injured my elbow/arm. How, you may ask? Bowling. Oh, yes, I suck that much at bowling. We went bowling with all the brothers-and-sisters-in-law-plus-overtired-niece-and-nephew on New Year's Day. It was surprisingly fun - mostly because I suck and had no chance at being competitive and the kids were in the other lane and my BIL and SIL that I formerly haven't gotten on well with have discovered I'm not quite the stuck up priss they thought (we bonded over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, though I think Mike expected that I was unlikely to have a sense of humor over the retelling of one of my favorite stories. On the contrary, I found it very entertaining), and so we had a good time. However, I was frequently in competition with my 3 year old nephew for worst score (yeah, THAT bad, y'all). Anyway, at some point I overextended my elbow or something, because it was twingey when we quit bowling, got more sore as the afternoon progressed and come bedtime, I was in tears and unable to bend the arm or fully straighten it, let alone find any comfortable position for sleeping. Copious amounts of frigid cold ice, a heating pack, half a bottle of Advil gel caps, it bends and straightens just fine and is merely sore now.

- We learned a dominoes game. And bought dominoes. Good times.

- We also learned a new dice game. But we didn't buy the dice. It's an old game called Farkle. Apparently people used it play it back in the day. I have taken to randomly yelling Farkle when the mood strikes. It's a great word to substitute for Fuck, even when my mom is fully aware of what I'm doing. Also fun just to shout at people. Go on, give it a go. FARKLE! See? Fun!

- The banana bread was outstanding, and the fudge was terrific. The cookies were . . . well, let's just say I gave DH aaaallllllll the credit for them. The nuts were awesome.

- My brother is one funny motherfucker. And also amazingly gentle and thoughtful. It was a pleasure to spend time with him.

- We went out for a nice dinner at the place we've been to celebrate our previous anniversaries, but were unable to get to this year. And holy fuck, was the food as amazing as ever. One of the most expensive meals of the year, but worth every penny (the fact we always have a full meal for the next day from our take home doesn't hurt that). After much agonizing, I chose a large filet over the ribeye, and I do not regret it. I know a lot of beef lovers scorn a filet as being tender but flavorless, but this one . . . my God, the filet cut like a hot knife through butter and the quality of the beef is such that the flavor was beyond amazing. And the homemade ranch dressing on the wedge of cold, crispy iceberg lettuce? I would have licked my plate if I could have. And the shrimp in garlick cream sauce appetizer? I felt no shame in asking for extra bread to sop up the sauce. It was THAT good. I'm plotting about how to save up money to eat there again for our birthdays. . .

- We saw Sherlock Holmes on NYE. And holy shit, it was even better than I expected. I heard updated and re-envisioned and sort of shrugged. I think it's been billed a bit like an action movie, and it's sooo much more. Gone is the pedantic, assholish, stuffy Holmes of fiction and BBC movies - Robert Downey Jr and Guy Ritchie did a fucking amazing job of making Holmes interesting and likable and flawed while still maintaining a terrific balance for Holmes enthusiasts (Irene Adler! Moriarty! Lestrade! swoon!) and the reinvention of Watson as someone other than a bumbling idiot was terrific. I absolutely loved it and not only would consider paying full price to see it again in the theatre, but I would love love love a sequel. Brilliantly done.

And, I think that's it. Yeah, I know. Freaking long. Still, you'd be amazed how much I left out. It was exhausting, but fun. Now I need only win the lottery and I can go home again permanently.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lost Doggy.

Not ours! Poor thing though.

We were driving back to my mom's house with Jonah, having just picked him up from our version of doggie day care - my dad's house.

As we rounded a long curve down a hill, a fluffy white dog darted in front of our car. We slammed on the brakes and didn't hit it, but it looked like it had been recently groomed and may have had a collar and we were concerned about it.

We got to Mom's, crated Jonah, grabbed treats and a towel and went back out, hoping to find the dog again. If it had a collar, then it belonged to someone and maybe we could prevent it from being hit. God knows if Jonah ever got out, we'd pray for someone to do the same for him (and that is why his collar with his identifying tag stays on at all times, the only exception being bathtime and why I need to take the bell off Barney's collar and put it back on him).

We found him again, again in a near miss, only with a different car. Dog was running back and forth across the road, in a really bad place. It would be really easy to hit him blindly - a lot of deer get hit out on that stretch of road. It took some coaxing, and he ran away twice, and it was clear he was not, in fact, wearing a collar.

(Inserting a note to say - we aren't foolish. Had the dog shown any sign of injury or aggression in any way, we'd have been out of there and on the phone with animal control. We have no desire to pen a terrified or angry dog or risk rabies ourselves.)

In the end, DH was able to get close enough to hold out a treat, and the dog responded immediately - sitting down and waiting to receive it. It was perfectly clear that he had been owned before, and recently. We bundled him in a towel and returned to my mom's house. He was perfectly patient and quiet. No aggressive moves, no noise, just waiting and watching. We settled him into the garage and waited with him, observing him for awhile. He was clearly housebroken, had been groomed within the past three months (he appeared to be a poodle mix - his hair was long and shaggy, and the back end was terribly matted and dirty, but it still held the shape of a good grooming), and was used to being inside. He settled right down on a towel and pretty much stayed there. He enjoyed attention and petting, and ate. He appeared well fed and showed no signs of hunger or starvation (he ate the food we gave him, but slowly).

We think he was dumped. Despite being fed, he was too matted to have been well cared for until recently (as if he had just escaped or something). He was so trusting and sweet. Bless his heart.

We took him to the humane society this morning. We don't know if he is perhaps lost after all. Or if he might be ill. And certainly we couldn't keep him. And I think we did the right thing, rescuing him - after all, he's clearly socialized to people and trusting, was dodging into traffic and likely to be hit, and it was also below freezing last night. But I still feel a little bad for that poor dog.

This morning, he was more outgoing, and friendly. He wagged his tail and licked at us, grinned at us and was very reluctant to leave DH's side. He was terrified by the car (reinforcing our opinion that he was dumped), but relieved when we let him out and took him to the shelter. I so very much hope someone adopts him and loves on him because he deserves it.