Saturday, February 28, 2009

Needing that reminder...

This time of year is the hardest time for me each school year. Something about March - I don't know if it's the lack of days off, or the crappy weather, or the students anxiety around the high school articulation process, which has just started...

Last year, a group of students decided to use my white board as my "yearbook page". They all signed it- "Have a great summer!" "I'll miss you next year!" "Thanks for being my teacher!" It was very cute.

But one girl... her note is why I teach. Especially girls- studies have been done that show seventh and eighth grade girls have a decrease in confidence in math and science before they have a decrease in achievement.* Hanna left me this note on my board.

I took a photo of it, printed it out, and stuck it to my bulletin board at my desk. I put it there so, at times like this, I'm reminded that I'm doing something good. And I keep trying my best. We just don't get enough notes like this.**

*If you have a preteen girl in your life, I strongly encourage you to read Schoolgirls by Peggy Orenstein.

**If your kid has a teacher he or she (or you) loves, write him or her a note or give him or her a call. That's what keeps us going...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

One more wake-up 'til the weekend...

I'm feeling a little better today. I'm still exhausted, but less cranky. It's a little less chilly (figuratively, not literally as our downstairs heat isn't working properly) around our house as III and I are getting along better. He has to work tonight, and he also worked Tuesday night, so maybe having some time apart after spending a week straight together is a good thing.

B-dog has treatment today, and hopefully it doesn't give her tummy problems like it did last time. She's such a sweet girl. When I take her to the vet, she sits in the front seat (strapped in with her car-harness). She just loves to be rubbed and petted and seems to enjoy the alone time with me. I just love her so much! I guess it's kind of ridiculous, but I do.

I purchased insurance for M-dog last night through PetPlan. It was a higher cost than the aspca insurance or VPI, which is what is advertised by my vet, but I did a lot of research and a) it got way better reviews and b) while it doesn't cover "routine care" it seems to cover everything else (with the exception of pre-existing conditions, which none of the insurances cover- that's why I didn't buy for B too). They had a number of different options you could choose based on the yearly maximum they would pay out, how much of a deductible you wanted to pay, and what percent they covered. Based on our experience with B-dog and M-dog's own trip to the doggy-ER in December, I went with the higher deductible but 100% coverage. Of course, Murphy's law says that now that I have insurance for him, we won't need it... but if we'd had it a few months ago, it would have been made up for double by the doggy-ER bills.

I'm way behind on my work, but having so much trouble feeling motivated. Alas, I must go grade papers because procrastinating won't make me feel any better...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wishing I could sit on my ass...

I'm super dissatisfied with my job lately. I'm just TOO TIRED.

This week I'm wishing I had a desk job. I've had (busy, demanding, rigorous) desk jobs in the past... but teaching- you can't have an off day. And you definitely can't have an off week/month/semester. When you do, you are judged by the kids, the parents, your colleagues, your administration. I know that's true about other jobs (the colleagues and bosses, at least), I just feel so responsible for the students and when I don't do a bad job I worry I will damage something important for my students.

So right now I wish I had a job that others didn't count on so much where I could sit at a desk and answer the phone and check my email. I wish I didn't have to get up in front of 90 people (even if they are little people) every day and pretend like I'm on top of my game and expect the same from them. I wish I could go to the bathroom whenever I need to and take phone calls from my doctors and my dogs' vet.

This is the worst time of year for me- it's almost March and, especially as a teacher, I hate March. But I seem to get into this funk earlier and earlier in the school year. But I think I'm afraid to make a change. It's the day-to-day vs. the big picture (I have awesome benefits, a great pension plan, and, as many non-teachers remind me, summers off....).

So I'm funky. And cranky. And hope it gets better soon....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Like a pin cushion.

I started acupuncture today. The fertility clinic I go to has a partnership with a mind/body center- they even share a building. I had acupuncture this summer for a few months. While it obviously didn't lead to be becoming pregnant, it did help with the mid-cycle spotting I was having. But it's so expensive... so I stopped. (Which was a bit awkward, since I knew the woman doing the acupuncture socially...)

My period is due 3/10- that cycle will be my first with injectable meds. I decided to completely give up wine (*sniff*) for that month. (It's what they tell you to do, but I hadn't completely yet...), though I don't think I can completely skip the coffee (also suggested). I figured I might as well go all the way and have the acupuncture done too. I took out some money through my school's flexible spending program this year, so I can use it towards the acupuncture. It saves a little money since it's taken out of my paycheck pre-tax.

In other news, I spent much of the afternoon researching pet insurance for M-dog. I don't want to be in the position we are with B-dog where we (well, III) questions whether it's worth the money. M-dog was in the emergency room with a virus or infection of some sort in December, and that alone cost more than a year's worth of insurance would. I did found a page where people can review different companies and narrowed it down to 2. Any of my small cache of readers have pet insurance? Any suggestions?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Then again...

I slept on the couch last night.

Not the actual couch in the living room. In one of our spare rooms we have a futon that is set up as a couch, but it is the futon that was my bed for my first 5 years out of college. It's become where the dogs sleep when they aren't on the dog pillow next to my bed.

I don't feel like rehashing the details, but lets just say that III was a jerk. He was super pissy and I ended up in tears while he went to sleep. I decided to cuddle up with the dogs. I didn't sleep as well as I would have in my bed on a night when I wasn't crying.... but I was too upset and mad to sleep well next to III.

It's one of those situations where he probably feels in the right and I feel in the right... grrr.

I just can't tell if he's just in a bad mood about going back to work or if it's something with me. Last day of vacation, I had stuff to do but I also took some time to unwind from travel and enjoy my last day. I wrote a worksheet and dealt with some stuff with the dogs, but I also read my book, organized my vacation pictures, and caught up on Greys. He uses that last day to do. He cleaned up dog poop, went shopping, looked over tax stuff. So I think he gets pissed like he's doing work and I'm sitting around.

The thing is, I do stuff around the house- I'm mostly in charge of anything dog (medications, food, vet visits, grooming). I also pay all the bills and deal with most of the money stuff. I planned the entire vacation- air, hotel, car... but his tolerance for mess is much lower than mine. Dishes in the sink bother him before they bother me. Stuff that doesn't get put away bothers him before it bothers me. So I think he feels like he does more of that stuff around the house than I do.

I feel like I will never be the "good" wife. I am very right brained when it comes to my physical surroundings. I am terrible at working out organizational systems that I can maintain. If he were to set something up in terms of that, I could make an effort to maintain it, but honestly it would probably eventually fall apart. It is definitely one of my downfalls.

I have brought this up with him before, but when he's not in the middle of it he's very diplomatic and says "oh, sometimes it bothers me, but I deal with it and then blow off some steam by working out or playing video games, and then I remind myself that I have bad habits that you have to deal with too." Which is a really great answer. But when he's having a snit because the dishwasher isn't emptied, and is banging around and not talking, it makes me feel like I am a failure at wifery. And I don't want to bring it up then because he'll end up pissy and I'll end up crying.

So I think that all was a catalyst last night. He didn't say that it was. He didn't say anything about any of that. But that's my interpretation. And when I do tell him that is how I am feeling, he's always all surprised! Before our vacation, some of that was going on, and I finally asked him: "Are you upset with me about something?" His surprise showed on his face. "No!" "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure. Why??" I told him it just felt like he was. I guess he isn't realizing the impact his mood has on me and on the atmosphere around the house....

So not the best day back. My plan for tonight is to go to bed early. Since I didn't sleep super well last night (although M-dog is a great cuddler) and I always have a harder time the second morning back, I figure an early bedtime is probably a good idea...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggedy jog.

Just a short post.

I'm home.

My vacation wasn't near long enough and I'm really dreading going back to work tomorrow. I'm trying to figure out how I can make the net 6 weeks fun and fly by. (Another break in 6 weeks or so.)

B-dog is doing much better. The vet thinks she was feeling sick from the chemo, and then got herself all worked up when I left which lead to the vomiting and fever. We don't have another trip planned at this point until July, and I'm thinking I will keep it that way for her benefit.

On Saturday, when B-dog was still at the vet after an overnight there, III commented on the cost of all this vet work. I can't remember his exact words, but basically he said we needed to decide whether we wanted to spend all this money on her. Spend all this money on "just a dog"- I don't think the "just" was actually said out loud, but that was the message.

I was up on and off all that night thinking about it. Because she's not just a dog to me. I think I may be unnaturally attached to her. Maybe I've become that crazy dog lady! I often wonder if my feelings will change once we have (fingers crossed, fingers crossed) kids... but I'm not sure. I have a friend who was super attached to her pup who now has kids. When her dog had to be put down suddenly (post baby) she was so upset she couldn't even talk about it. Still can't. So maybe not.

But I digress.

Sunday morning I told III that I understood if he wasn't comfortable spending our money (his money...? A lot of our savings was money he had before we were together... I don't think he sees it as 'his' money- he fought his mom to put my name on the account- but sometimes I worry a bit about it...) on B-dog I understood. But she's not "just a dog" to me, so I wasn't willing to put her down just because it was costing a lot of money. I told him I could pick up some tutoring jobs or get another bartending job at a hotel or catering company specifically to pay for her vet bills. It was important to me, so I was willing to do that.

He responded "You don't have to do that. If it's that important to you, it's that important to me. I'm not spending the money for B-dog, I'm spending the money for you."

Reason #3, 456 why I love him.

(Of course, during traveling home yesterday and being the anti-unwinder today, he's driving me crazy. But I'm going to focus on reason #3,456.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Freaking out

We've made it to our FL vacation and this afternoon I got a message that B-dog is vomiting, has some diarrhea, and isn't eating. The last I'd not all that surprising; she tends to do that when I go away. The others do, especially since she had chemo on Thursday. The sitter has taken her to the vet hospital and they're keeping her overnight. I wish I was home with her. I've been trying for the last five hours to keep my anxiety attack from turning into a panic attack.

There's more but I'm doing this on my new iPod Touch and it takes forever. Just not as thereputic as usual.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Don't say it....

I got this article off of Holly's blog (and she got it off of Mrs. R's blog). What a great article.

If you have not dealt with infertility, you can not understand how painful it is. I'm still fairly new to this whole thing, and I am acutely aware that my level of pain is not nearly at the level of those who have dealt with it for years. I think it is really difficult to be empathetic if it is not an experience you have (or possibly someone really close to you has) had.

Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. Most infertility treatments involve using hormones, which alter the user's moods. (That statement is like calling a lion a cat-my husband would tell you that the side effect is insanity!) The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money. Infertility treatments are expensive, and most insurance companies do not cover the costs. So, in addition to the pain of not conceiving a baby each month, the couple pays out anywhere from $300 to five figures, depending upon the treatment used.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.

People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is the method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

There are many reasons why a couple would choose not to pursue this option. Here are a few of them.

IVF is Expensive with Low Odds

One cycle of IVF is very expensive. With all of the hype in the news, many people assume that IVF is a sure thing when, in fact, the odds of success for each cycle are low. Most couples cannot afford to try for one month, much less for multiple times. Considering that it also costs a significant amount of money to adopt a baby, many couples opt for the "sure thing" rather then risking their money on much lower odds.

IVF is Physically Taxing

Undergoing IVF treatments is very rigorous. The woman must inject shots into her thigh daily to cause her ovaries to superovulate. The drugs used are very taxing on the woman, and they can cause her to be become extremely emotional.

IVF Raises Ethical Issues

Ironically, couples who undergo IVF to become parents may have to selectively abort one or more fetuses if multiple eggs are fertilized. Many couples cannot bring themselves to abort a baby when they have worked so hard to become parents. If the couple chooses not to selectively abort, they run the risk of multiple births.

Don't Offer Unsolicited Opinions If They Are Trying IVF

On the flip side of the coin, don't offer unsolicited advice to your friends who do choose to try IVF. For many couples, IVF is the only way they will ever give birth to a baby. This is a huge decision for them to make, for all of the reasons I outlined above.

If the couple has resolved any ethical issues, don't muddy the waters. IVF is a gray area in many ethical circles, and many of our moral leaders don't yet know how to answer the ethical questions that have arisen from this new technology. If the couple has resolved these issues already, you only make it harder by raising the ethical questions again. Respect their decision, and offer your support. If you can't offer your support due to ethical differences of opinion, then say nothing.

A couple who chooses the IVF route has a hard, expensive road ahead, and they need your support more than ever. The hormones are no cakewalk, and the financial cost is enormous. Your friend would not be going this route if there were an easier way, and the fact that she is willing to endure so much is further proof of how much she truly wants to parent a child. The hormones will make her more emotional, so offer her your support and keep your questions to yourself.

Don't Play Doctor

Once your infertile friends are under a doctor's care, the doctor will run them through numerous tests to determine why they aren't able to conceive. There a numerous reasons that a couple may not be able to conceive. Here are a few of them:

  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Cysts
  • Endometriosis
  • Low hormone levels
  • Low "normal form" sperm count
  • Low progesterone level
  • Low sperm count
  • Low sperm motility
  • Thin uterine walls

Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article or book on infertility will not make you an "expert" on the subject. Let your friends work with their doctor to diagnose and treat the problem. Your friends probably already know more about the causes and solutions of infertility than you will ever know.

You may feel like you are being helpful by reading up on infertility, and there is nothing wrong with learning more about the subject. The problem comes when you try to "play doctor" with your friends. They already have a doctor with years of experience in diagnosing and treating the problem. They need to work with and trust their doctor to treat the problem. You only complicate the issue when you throw out other ideas that you have read about. The doctor knows more about the causes and solutions; let your friends work with their doctor to solve the problem.

Don't Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day

With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Isn't this supposed to be RELAXING?

Each year, III and I go on vacation during the middle of February. I have a week break from school, and since for most of my other vacations we are visiting family, we try to take advantage of the February break to take a trip, just the two of us. I love "Vacation III" as I call him. When he is away from home he can really relax. His work phone isn't ringing, his blackberry isn't beeping... he is really off duty and is like a different person. Living in an area where February weather can be frigid, we also like to go south and try to be somewhere warm.

This year we're headed to Florida. Unfortunately, Florida has had a cold snap of its own. Last week I heard it was in the FIFTIES. Of course, that still means no snow or ice, which is an improvement on where we are now, but I was hoping for beach weather. This week seems to be better- mid to high 70s which works for me at the beach. But, so far next week they are predicting in the 60s. High enough to spend time outside but possibly not beach weather...

I find it ironic that we plan a vacation to be able to really relax, but leading up to the vacation stresses me out. I have SO MUCH TO DO in the next two days. Some of it is vacation (and vanity) related (manicure, pedicure, bikini wax), some are vacation logistics (laundry, packing, making the list for the dog sitter), and some aren't related to vacation at all but need to be done before we leave for a week (B-dog's lymphoma treatment, straightening up the house). I'm way behind on grading papers and that's probably not going to get done (as I sit here typing on my blog instead of grading quizzes- have I yet mentioned I'm a master procrastinator? It's one of my major faults.)

I'm also stressed about the money that will be spent this week. We planned the vacation back in August, and it really benefits our relationship to take this time away together. But B-dogs vet bills are now up to about $3500. I just overdrew our checking account, raking in $200 in bank fees. The most frustrating part of that is that we HAD the money- we had $4000 in our savings account and two days after the overdraw we had over $2000 in our checking as well... it was just poor planning on my part, which makes me crazy. Dealing with the finances was much easier when I was the only one doing the spending!!! Now that there are two busy adults it's so much harder to keep track. My finances have always been a big deal and my ability to balance them has always been a sense of pride. It pisses me off when I mess up like this.

So our vacation will just add more money we will need to pay. Flights are already paid for, but we will have the hotel, the rental car, and any food to pay for after the vacation.

I shouldn't complain because there are people who literally don't have the money, and we actually have a chunk of savings that is our "don't touch" money. We'll probably have to touch it this month. But I am fully aware that there are people who can't pay their mortgages and utility bills- vacation isn't even an option for them. My complaint isn't really about spending the money, it's about how stressful it makes me feel. I can't imagine the level of stress if we were really struggling with money.

I do understand the struggling with money, though. My stress and anxiety comes from experiencing that myself for many years. When I was growing up, my dad didn't like his job and wasn't very good at it. He didn't make much of a yearly salary, and my mom worked in a pre-school, which is a very limited salary as well. We were always worried about money. Once I left to go to college at 18, I was basically on my own financially. I had scholarships and loans, but i got very little money from my parents. I had 3 jobs my senior year of college. I was that ramen-noodle-eating young professional my first year of teaching, living with 4 other women in a crappy falling down victorian house for $400 a month (which, in the area where I live is cheap!). I worked several jobs for years and years to save money, first to pay off my credit card debt (which came only from my post college set up- buying a bed, etc after moving out of the dorms), putting money towards my student loans, paying living expenses, all while trying to save money to put a downpayment on a condo.

So even though we are comfortable and don't have to worry about where money for the mortgage, groceries, medications, etc are coming from, there is still this trigger in my head that sees "OVERDRAFT NOTICE" and panics.

So anyway, this post has become really long, but the point is my vacation is stressing me out. Hopefully, the actual week that we are on vacation will be the relaxing time together than we have planned. I'm just hoping I won't lose my mind before we get there!!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Waste not...

I've been trying really hard lately to reduce my waste. At school, we've been talking about trying to do an interdisciplinary unit around environmental issues. Planning something like that makes you think about your own impact on the environment.

So I've stopped using ziploc sandwich baggies and started using tupperware and those semi-disposable-but-still-reusable ziploc and rubbermaid containers. I recently bought an insulated mug from D&D that I can have refilled instead of getting a styrofoam (or whatever those are made from) disposable cup every day.

Water waste is one place I am not making great strides. I admit it- I take 15 minute showers. AND usually I let the water run for a bit before getting in, especially for a morning shower when it takes longer for the water to heat up. I have such a tough time in the mornings, if I tried to forgo my hot showers I might just never make it to work... Toilet flushing too. I live in fear of the toilet getting stopped up, so I sometimes flush twice- in the middle of my "business" or sometimes before, since III has a habit of throwing his used kleenex in the toilet. He doesn't flush them, but if I have to go and it seems like there is already a lot of kleenex in there, I worry about a clog.

Speaking of waste and of toilets, do you poop at work? We have faculty bathrooms, and I would say at least 2-3 times a week I have to go at school. The faculty bathrooms are onsies, so if someone is in there, you have to wait in line outside of the bathroom. I hate it when I know someone is coming in right after I've had a bm. Does it smell? Are there skidmarks? I don't know why I worry about it since it doesn't bother me to go in after someone else has done that. I mean, isn't that what bathrooms are for? One of my school friends refuses to poop at work. If I had that rule, back when I was having some major stomach issues (for about 5 years) I wouldn't have accumulated nearly as many sick days as I have!!! In fact, I've pooped in quite a few bathrooms in the city where I live. I always knew where the public bathrooms were when I was out an about because I never knew when I'd have a "problem". I also practically lived on Immodium AD, but luckily that has been resolved... but the habits are lasting. When I've got to go, I've got to go- work, the mall, restaurants, Barnes and Noble (for some reason I always have to poop when I'm buying books... hmmm)...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

He DOES want to be a daddy! :(

Yesterday, III came home from work. He went upstairs to take a shower, as he does each day.

Earlier in the day, my phone did that "bing-bong" that means I have a text message. I flipped it open, and read "I just wanted to tell you I love you."

When he came down from his shower, he said "I'm disappointed that you got your period today." He saw the tampon wrapper in the bathroom garbage. I said "Oh, so that text was because you were hoping to get some tonight?" and he said "No, I was hoping that you were pregnant."


No, my love. Not this time. Maybe in March.... fingers AND toes crossed...

Monday, February 9, 2009

And in other obsessions....

I am feeling very irritated that a certain one of my exes is getting married.

The announcement was in the paper this weekend, but I already knew because, about some things, I am a total Google Stalker.

This is the relationship that led me to need therapy the first time around. The relationship that initiated the first "secret blog". This was a guy (lets call him R) who was totally unsuitable for me. A guy that I kept questioning whether I should be with him- until he dumped me.

Dumped is too formal a word for what happened. R was going to Iraq. We'd been dating for less than 2 months. We were, as I mentioned, an unsuitable match. We discussed how I did not have it in me to have a long distance relationship (I'd tried)- that it was too hard on me.

So he disappeared. Except when he was drunk. Then I'd get random emails telling me how much he missed me, and that he'd call me. Then he'd get sober and wouldn't. He avoided my calls. I turned into that psycho ex girlfriend. (When we were together, I got to hear about several psycho ex girlfriends, including the one who showed up drunk at his door at 2am and the one who stole his license plate. I was not THAT psycho, but realized how those girls became psycho ex girlfriends- he probably treated them the way he treated me...)

R went away to training, still in the US, and would send me emails and IMs about how sorry he was about the way he treated me and about how much he cared about me and that he always thought that if he hadn't been going away we "would have made this work." On Labor Day weekend we had an IM conversation where I asked him if he had been seeing someone else during the time where he was disappearing from our relationship. His exact words were "No, and I'm not seeing anyone now."

Four weeks later he was engaged to a girl he had been dating long distance for six weeks while he was at training.

I called him on his phone from work, and he answered. He didn't know what to say. I was SO ANGRY.

R and this girl dated on and off for the next two years. (I know all of this because I made the mistake of dating a guy who is from the town where I work- therefore, I had cousins of his in my class and his fiance's sister was in the grade that I teach. Word gets around, even when I wasn't looking for it, and I shamefully admit, sometimes I went looking...) They broke up for a summer then got back together. They had a wedding planned for February '07. By January '07 they had broken up again.

Last Christmas ('07) he apparently got engaged to a new girl. They are getting married this summer.

Does my disgust over this mean I don't want him to be happy? Probably. Ugh, doesn't that make me a bitch? But, even knowing in hindsight that he was never the person I thought he was, and knowing that I am EXTREMELY lucky that he showed his true colors to me early on and I didn't get sucked into an engagement or worse before I found out... I'm bitter. He made me doubt myself- my judgement. The two months I spent with him took me a full year to get over. The guy from whom I contracted herpes was a rebound to my relationship with him (not that that's his fault- it's fully mine for making bad choices. But that particular bad choice wouldn't have happened if I hadn't made the bad choice of dating R). I'm also skeptical as to whether this is going to be a successful relationship for him. When we dated, he pretended to be the person he thought I wanted him to be. From all accounts I've heard, it sounds like he is doing something similar with this woman.

Reading others' blogs sometimes gives me insight into feelings I have that I, myself, have not been able to put into words. This post on Snickollet's blog is an example of that. She explains it far better than I ever could. R was "that person" for me. I don't know if I will ever shake that completely, though I am so happy I didn't end up with him and even though the course of events that led to me meeting III began with R.

I know I should stop seeking out information on him- I get enough by accident- but it is an obsession. Not constant, but periodically, often times triggered by hearing about him from someone or seeing something about him in the local papers...

It's embarrassing. This is not something I admit to many people in real life. But just because I suppress it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And when I run into R at the D&D or when I see his dad at the grocery store or when I hear his name come up in the community, my stomach still twists into a ball and I get that burning pissed off feeling I got almost every day following our break up.

The next 30 days...

Today is CD1- which means I got my period today. Woo hoo. One good thing about the blood tests is that I know before I am expecting my period that I'm not pregnant. So when it comes I'm expecting it...

So after a rough Friday and then spending Saturday at KB's daughter's 2nd birthday party with many adorable little kids and their parents (2 of which are KB's 'accidentally pregnant' friends), I'm starting a month with no fertility treatments. As CD12, the u/s and blood test day in a medicated cycle, falls while we are on vacation, we can't do the monitoring we would need to do.

So my plan is to take this month and try to think about ttc as little as possible. I was initially thinking of temping and all that to see how my cycle is post-clomid, but decided I'd rather try to just really take the month off. Have sex when we want to have sex, not because it's the right day.

In 30 days, it will again be CD1. March 11. (Coincidentally, my sister's due date last year.) We'll be starting our first cycle with injectable meds. Then we can return to my regularly scheduled obsessing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Anxious much?

I believe that I am "hardwired" to be an anxious person. My mom is anxious. (She once called me 28 times in 4 hours when I was on a date and didn't hear my phone. I was 25.) Her mom is anxious. It runs in the family.

I didn't realize until much later that what I was labeling as "anxiety attacks" would be labeled by the medical community as "panic attacks". My doctor told me any physical symptoms ramp it up to "panic" over "anxiety". Oh, you mean when I get really hot and dizzy and have trouble breathing and my stomach twists up into a knot- those kinds of physical symptoms?

About two years ago I started seeing a therapsit about my anxiety. She taught me all these strategies to use when I was getting anxious. (Visualizations, "safe place", putting the anxiety in a box, grounding...) But my anxiety was such that at times it would hit full blown, and I literally couldn't access any of the strategies. Or I'd be in a place (like driving in my car down the highway) where I couldn't just close my eyes and start breathing deeply.

Once, in the car, I was thinking about how I had set up the crockpot for dinner. While I rationally know that crockpots are made to be safely used in the way I was using it, and that some people use them every day, and that we have a very nice model that likely has as many safety functions as any crockpot has, I started thinking- what if it didn't work properly? What if it started a fire? What if the fire spread and my dogs couldn't get out of the house? What if my dogs died because I had to make chili in the crockpot for dinner that night?????

Yeah, full blown panic attack driving down the highway in my CRV.

After 3 days of panic attacks in a row (one because a sandwich I'd eaten gave me a stomach ache and I got concerned about my IBS - which it turns out was misdiagnosed, but that's another story- and why I couldn't eat a damn sandwich without getting sick; one because I was watching Alpha Dog which is just a terrible story; and the final because I had a bruise on my thumb and was sure I had leukemia...) I saw my primary care physician (Dr. J, who, I'll just note, I love, love, love). I had been really unsure about going on meds every day, but she started me on a low dose of Pro.zac to see how it went.

What the hell was I waiting for?

I used to wonder how "normal" people dealt with these situations that caused me anxiety. I mean, doesn't everyone worry that something might happen to their spouse? Aren't most people concerned about their own health and all the scary diseases that can creep up on you? Well, since medication, I get it. It's not that I don't worry about those things, but they don't take over my brain, and then the rest of my body. I'm still only on 20mg of Prozac (which I'm told is a low dose) but it makes all the difference.

A positive side effect I've noticed is that I also cry less. I used to break down if I was sad, angry, frustrated, nervous, etc. etc. etc. (Also runs in my family- most of my female cousins and my sister are the same way.) Now I can deal with these situations without the tears. I am able to deal with, say, disagreements with my boss or with irate parents in a much more constructive way.

Driving home from a movie with a friend yesterday, I started worrying about III. He was working last night at a part of his job which is riskier than others. It was possible I would get home before him. I was contemplating whether I should text him asking him to let me know when he was on his way home. Then I started thinking about bad things that could happen to him. Then I started worrying- what will I do without him if something happened to him?!?!? It's the closest I've come to a panic attack in a long time (though, luckily, it didn't quite get there). But when I pulled up to our house, the lights were on and his car was in the driveway. Ahhhhhh.

Dr. J chose Pro.zac because of all the studies that have been done with pregnancy so that, when (if??) I do get pregnant, I can decide if I want to stay on it. I know some doctors advise no meds, but honestly, considering the level of my anxiety, I think it would actually do more harm to not be on the meds. Stress, high blood pressure, that kind of thing- that's not good either. And pregnancy will definitely give me plenty of new things to worry about....

So Pro.zac is my friend, and I don't plan to quit anytime in the near future. I appreciate that it allows me to live a much more normal life, without the cloud of anxiety and panic that used to surround me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And the hits keep coming...

KB just called me to let me know that two of her friends (one whom I know and one whom I don't) who will be at her daughter's birthday party tomorrow (and both have 2 kids, one for each an infant) are both "accidentally" pregnant. She didn't want me to be blindsided if it came up while we were there.

I don't begrudge others. But I want my turn!!! And I'm frustrated that we have to wait for March to do another cycle. If that cycle miraculously worked, my due date would be in December right around my 34th birthday.

At least 16 of my friends and family have gotten pregnant and/or had babies since we started this process. Two of them twice. And that doesn't include the peripheral people I know through other friends, work, family members... there are probably just as many of those. I want to be happy for each of them, but each one is more painful for me.

I really don't know how people do this for years without losing their minds.

Voice mail.

It's exactly the same every month.

"Hi, it's Donna from Dr. Z's office. Unfortunately I don't have good news. The pregnancy test came back negative. I'm sorry. Call me if you have any questions."


Thursday, February 5, 2009


Tomorrow morning is my blood test. And I'm starting to obsess.

I considered testing this morning at home. It's III's bday today, so I thought what better gift than a positive test? Except... I didn't. I didn't want to deal with a negative (and then a possible 2nd in a row tomorrow). Plus, I'm not sure I would trust it. I'm afraid to get an early positive and then have it be a chemical pregnancy.

So anyway. The obsessing:

I just actually grabbed my boobs while sitting here at my desk. (To see if they were sore- they're not.) Luckily, no one was around or suddenly walked down the hallway past my doorway.

I am feeling crampy though. And I'm not expecting my period until Monday. Of course, with a history of IBS type symptoms, I may just have to poop.

I'm also tired, but what else is new? I'm always tired. Goes with the territory of not being super satisfied with my job. And the 4:45am wake up yesterday to take B-dog to the vet.

And (here's some TMI for you) I'm having lots of *ahem* discharge. CM as they call it on all the fertility boards. Nothing gross or stinky. Just more of it than I usually do. Which for some is a early pregnancy symptom, but isn't necessarily. It's only 12 days past what should have been my ovulation day, and, scientifically, one shouldn't start experiencing any pregnancy symptoms until one begins producing HCG.

Oh yeah, and since I took HCG to trigger ovulation there is always the chance that it is still in my system and tricking me.

I also had some bleeding- two days ago there was spotting. Those who frequent TTC message boards would cheer "Implantation bleeding!!!" Except I had bleeding in the week before my period for the last year or so. But this is the first time it's happened since I went on clomid.

So obviously there is a little niggling voice of hope there... I guess I'm in a "hope for the best, plan for the worst" scenario...

I guess I'll know one way or another tomorrow.... :-/

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sweet Pea

III likes this commercial. He says that the little girl might be the cutest little girl he's ever seen. Even rivaling KB's daughter, who is pretty damn cute.

Lately, when we are watching tv together and this commercial comes on, it's becoming painful for me to watch.

I think III really wants to be a daddy. He doesn't say much- I know he knows I'm having a hard time with it and his priority is to support me. But I think it's starting to get to him too. And it makes me sad that I haven't been able to give him that.

A negative times a negative is a positive.

I know I've been super cranky lately, so I decided it's time again for a list of things I'm grateful for. I'm not sure I can list ten, because I don't want to repeat from my last list (though I'm still extremely grateful for all of those things) but I definitely have a handful of things.
  1. Along with living in an area with great medical care, we live in an area that has some great veterinary hospitals. B-dog is having treatment today and she has been responding really well to all the cancer treatments. The vets and the techs are super nice. The vet hospital she goes to for her treatments is one of three that I know of within about an hour's radius of us.
  2. I recently acquired a new piece of technology for my classroom (well, it is shared between 3 classrooms but "lives" in mine) that makes certain visual things a lot easier and can be used in an interactive way. I'm grateful that the PTO in my school is so active and raises funds for things like that.
  3. I am grateful for my own financial sense. I listen to a coworker who makes all these financial decision that don't make sense, and then complains they can't afford the things they want. I know this is something a lot of people struggle with, and I worked hard to get where I am financially and am proud of it. I know I will always be able to take care of myself.
  4. I'm grateful that we have a vacation planned in a few weeks to somewhere warmer with no snow. I'm so fed up with the weather and with my job, I'm totally ready for a vaca.
  5. I am grateful that some of my favorite bloggers have updated posts for me to read today. :)
Counting the hours until the weekend..... :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It's that time again.

Week #4. T minus three days to blood test. I don't feel pregnant. At all. In fact, if I'm feeling anything, it seems to be I am feeling some of my regularly scheduled PMS crankiness. Seriously- who planned that? Lets have women who are ttc find out they are NOT pregnant and at the same time make them super hormonal and PMS-y. Either someone very evil, or very stupid.

What gives? So far, they have found no reason why I should not be able to get pregnant. My levels on the clomid have supposedly been "perfect". But still no conception. I have a doctor's appointment today to talk about how my levels were this cycle and to discuss what we'll do next month if I'm not pregnant. I think we're going to have to skip next month. If my period comes on it's regularly scheduled day (2/9) then I'll need to have my u/s to monitor my follicles on the 20th. If this cycle is like the others, they would either inseminate the 21st/22nd or the 22nd/23rd. We have a vacation planned the 14th-21st and won't be back until late on the 21st. So it looks like Feb will be a wash. :(

Of course, there is the possibility that I could be pregnant and not know it, and I know this full well. My best friend kept going to the bathroom the day she found out she was pregnant because she was sure she was getting her period. I guess I'm just not feeling very optimistic.

Plus, while we've been trying for almost a year and a half, this is only our third month on clomid (and only 2 of those 3 did we do IUIs) and I know that people go much longer. I just don't want to have to!!!!!!!! Especially when there doesn't seem to be a medical reason for it- or at least not one they can test for, I guess...

III is away tonight so it's just me and the dogs. I have a ton of work to do, and no interest in doing any of it. So wish me luck and a week that flies by...

Evening edit-

So I saw my doctor this afternoon, and apparently my estrogen levels were super high before ovulation- which I guess is a good thing. If I don't get pregnant this cycle, we will have to skip next month because we'll be away, but the following month we will graduate to injectable meds. Luckily, I'm not squeamish around needles...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Today's PSA brought to you by House...

Do you watch House? There are always all sorts of crazy and not so crazy conditions that someone comes in with. I often wonder how accurate the info on these shows is. III hates shows like Law and Order- he finds the happenings on there really unrealistic. I'm guessing doctors feel the same way about shows like ER, Grey's and House.

I like House though. I don't know if it's Hugh Laurie or the puzzles of the diagnoses... so I watch it on USA all the time.

Today's episode had a side story about a man who got herpes and the confusion about whether he got it from his wife or she got it from him, and which one of them it was who must have cheated. He figured out which it was but telling them it was possible to get herpes from a toilet seat and see which one was quick to believe it.

Because you can't get herpes from a toilet seat.

They also mentioned that it is actually possible to be positive for the herpes virus (HSV) and be asymptomatic AND still pass it on to your partner. Which doesn't really jive with cheating storyline then, because, unless both members of the marriage were virgins when they got married (which was not part of the storyline) one of them could have been carrying HSV for their entire marriage and never had any symptoms.

Why do I know all of these details about herpes? Because I'm one of the 1 in 5 adults who has it. HSV2 to be exact.

It was really hard when I was first diagnosed- I was still single. I was already going through a rough time. The guy who I probably got HSV from stopped returning my calls. That was pretty much a sucky time.

I got lots of support from an online forum- I encourage anyone who is dealing with a herpes diagnosis to check them out.

Anyway, here's where the PSA comes in- I'm a big information gatherer. It's part of how I cope. So I learned quite a bit about herpes after my diagnosis. So here are some important facts that everyone should know.

  • HSV1 had generally been considered the oral herpes (aka cold sores) and HSV2 genital. It is possible, however, to get either strain in either place.
  • Many people don't realize that if they have a cold sore and "go down" on someone, that person can contract genital HSV1.
  • As mentioned above, 1 in 5 adults have HSV2. (Some stats say 1 in 4.) Almost 90% of them don't know they have it. They are either asymptomatic or mistake their symptoms for other things. Stats from study.
  • The number of people with HSV1 is a lot higher. It's been estimated at 80-90% of the adult population.
  • This one is a biggie that most people don't realize- even if you ask your doctor for STD testing regularly, you are very likely not being tested for HSV. It is not a part of routine STD testing. In fact, many doctors are hesitant to test for it without symptoms.* (For very stupid reasons, IMO.)
  • If a HSV2- woman sleeps with a HSV2+ man over the course of a year with no protection, she has a 10% chance of contracting HSV2. If he uses an antiviral daily, the chance is cut in half. If he also uses a condom it is cut in half again.
  • If a HSV2- man sleeps with a HSV2+ woman over the course of a year with no protection, he has a 4% chance of contracting HSV2. If she uses an antiviral daily, the chance is cut in half. If he also uses a condom it is cut in half again. (Yep, that's about 1% folks.) Valtrex study
  • If someone has genital HSV1, the chances of passing it on to another person genitally is extremely small. The chance that his or her partner already has oral HSV1 (making it almost impossible to contract again genitally) is quite high.
So there you have a selection of some of what I consider important herpes facts.

If you or someone you care about contracts herpes, remember- it's not the end of the world. It's not debilitating. It's not terminal. And it is so, so common. People don't realize how common it is. Next time you're in a roomful of people, count: "One, two, three, four, herpes. One, two, three, four, herpes." Remember to wear a condom. Get tested for STDs after you've had new partners- better yet, make sure you and your new partner are tested BEFORE you have sex. Knowledge is the best way to decrease that ratio.

*If you ask your doctor for a herpes test, make sure they are doing a type specific blood test. Western blot is the best one to ask for.
**For more info about herpes, check out
The Official Herpes Handbook