Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kitty Discipline

Since I'm not working right now and spend most of my time at home, my cat Walker has become my best buddy. He keeps me company while I'm cooking, cleaning, paying bills, chatting online, watching Dr. Phil, and all the other highly intellectually stimulating activities that comprise the day of a stay-at-home-almost-mom. Although he's not quite as good at conversation as a human companion would be, he does an excellent job of keeping me company. He's normally extremely affectionate and friendly, despite common belief about cats.

Lately, however, he's developing a problem. He's about 4 months old now, and I suspect he's beginning to go through kitty puberty, because he's suddenly become very aggressive. He attacks my hands, scratches them, and bites them so that every surface of my arms is covered in cute little kitten-made puncture wounds. The worst is at around 7:00 a.m. when I'm in that blissful state between sleep and waking and I suddenly feel ten kitten claws digging viciously into my arm.

I'm not very experienced with cats, so I'm mostly clueless about how to train them. I've tried flicking him on the nose, picking him up and dropping him on the floor, yelling "NO!", and even emitting an odd high-pitched scream that makes Eric jump out of his skin. None of these measures does anything to deter the little 4 pound ball of fluff from trying to kill me. In fact, he takes them all as a challenge which he is more than ready to meet. "You like that?" his eyes say. "Well here's some more!"

Yesterday I had a stroke of genius, which experienced cat people will scoff at because they all would have thought of it weeks ago. I keep a spray bottle filled with water near me, and when he attacks I just give him a squirt. It works like a charm. He hates that stream of water with intensity. I'm amazed that he would rather be smacked and yelled at than have a little bit of water hit his fur. And he's definitely learning. Now I don't even have to squirt him; all I have to do is show him the bottle and he's off like a shot. I'm hopeful that soon I'll have my loveable kitten back.

And getting his testicles snipped off will probably help too.

P.S. Thanks so much to everyone for your kind thoughts after my last post. It helps to have your support and to know that my feelings are valid. Love you guys!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bad News and Good News

Yesterday was a difficult day. Eric came with me to the second ultrasound to see how our little ones were doing, and I'm so glad he was there. As the doctor got started I had a sudden feeling that something was wrong. I hate it when my intuition turns out to be right (I much prefer knowing that all my worries are nothing but extreme paranoia and have nothing to do with reality.) Dr. B could only find one baby. The other sac was still there, but there was no heartbeat and it appeared to be empty. The remaining baby is growing perfectly, right on target for size and we could see the heartbeat going strong, a miraculous sight. But it was overshadowed by knowing that there used to be another one, and now it's gone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Yesterday's RE visit was a big one: the first ultrasound. I was extremely nervous all morning, planning for the worst. Eric wasn't able to come with me because he had his second CCNP exam and I had totally spaced that when I scheduled the appointment (my brain is pregnant right along with the rest of me.) Dr. Asmar was the weekend doctor. I just love him, he is like the sweet Middle Eastern grandfather I never had. As soon as he got the ultrasound started he asked, "Now how many embryos did we transfer?" The highly irrational thought that popped into my head was, "Oh my gosh, there are six in there!" Then my brain caught up and I reminded him that we had transferred two. "OK," he said with a huge, loveable smile, "because I'm seeing two here." He turned the screen so I could see, and there they were: two little sacs, right next to each other. I got a picture to take home and scheduled another appointment for next Sunday morning.

Eric was still in the middle of his exam when I got home so I decided to surprise him. I went out and bought two little onesie outfits, and I planned to lay them out on our bed with the sonogram picture in the middle. Unfortunately I took too long shopping and he got home before I could set everything up. (Those cutesy things never seem to work out too well for me: I should just give up.) When E walked in the door he said "Well?" All I said was "You were right!" He's been saying all along that there are two in there and I was convinced there was only one. "I knew it!" he said and gave me a big hug and a kiss. Since I'm always planning for the worst, I had to warn him that it's still early in the pregnancy, and it's common for one twin to simply stop growing. Dr. Asmar explained this to me and I am constantly aware that it's a very real possibility. But right now I'm hoping and praying for the best.

Here's the sonogram picture. Aren't they cute?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Symptoms 'R Us

Ever since beginning our stroll down the hellish road that is infertility, I've participated in several different fertility based message boards. I've formed friendships with the women there that have been incredibly helpful, emotionally and otherwise. At first I could chat with pretty much anyone on the boards and feel like I related to what they were going through. After trying for over a year, I had to start being a little more selective. When you and your husband have been through months of painful, invasive testing and have received a bleak diagnosis, it's a bit hard to be supportive of 19 year olds who are worried that they haven't conceived yet after 2 months of well-timed sex. When someone with three kids under the age of 4 tells you they "know just how you feel," it feels like you've just found out you have cancer and they just got a paper cut and therefore think they understand your pain. So I made an effort to surround myself with people who were either going through treatments, or those who could be sympathetic without being condescending. But that doesn't mean I didn't occasionally stumble across something that made me roll my eyes [insert "annoyed" emoticon].

One of the first stages you go through when trying to conceive is becoming obsessed with your body's signals around the time when you expect your period, and a fascination with the early signs of pregnancy. A lot of those posts begin with questions such as, "My boobs are sore: does this mean I'm pg?" and "When I was washing the dishes I had a sudden urge to drink the bottle of Dawn dishsoap - could this mean pregnancy?" I am always extremely skeptical when it comes to those sorts of things, because I've noticed "symptoms" in my own body many, many times when it turned out to just be PMS, or the taco salad I ate for lunch. And in lots of cases, I'm sure I imagined the symptoms altogether - after all, if you wake up every day squeezing your breasts to see if they're sore, aren't they bound to become sensitive after a while?

So imagine my consternation when, now that I really am pregnant, I'm learning that all those symptoms really do exist. And it seems I'm one of the lucky few who experiences nearly all of them. lists eight of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, and guess what? I have them all. Here's the list:

1) Fatigue. For the last week and a half I've been so tired that I could sleep all day and still not feel rested. After walking up the stairs I need a nap. I feel almost exactly like I did when I had mono.

2) Nausea. My stomach is constantly queasy. I feel better right after eating, but an hour later the sick feeling comes back. I'm lucky that I haven't thrown up yet, but I know there's lots of time for that to happen.

3) Food cravings. Along with feeling tired, this is the first symptom that I noticed. I am an extreme chocoholic, and lately the thought of eating anything chocolate makes me nauseous. A few nights ago Al brought home a box of Dove Triple Fudge ice cream bars. I took a single bite of one and had to throw the rest away because it made me feel so sick. Instead, I've been craving chewy, sour candy, something I don't normally like at all.

4) Frequent urination. I'm told this one gets worse and worse as the pregnancy continues because of increasing pressure of the uterus on the bladder. As it is, I'm lucky if I sleep for 3 hours before having to get up again.

5) Breast changes. Suffice it to say I think Al is going to thoroughly enjoy this one, if they ever stop hurting long enough for me to let him touch them.

6) Cramps. These feel just like period cramps, but much milder. I also have some continuing pain in my ovaries from the OHSS - I guess it takes a while for them to shrink back down to their normal size (on the day of embryo transfer they were bigger than my uterus - no wonder my pants are tight!)

7) Bloating. I've had this one ever since starting IVF, so might not be a pregnancy symptom per se. More a symptom of having hormones constantly pumped into my body than anything.

8) Moodiness. Oh my, yes. I can't watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" anymore because I remain weepy for hours afterwards.

And here are a few more symptoms that are unique to pregnancy after IVF:

1) Welts all over my butt from the PIO shots. These are becoming increasingly painful as Al is running out of non-sore places to inject.

2) Constantly oozing nether regions from progesterone vaginal suppositories. Very attractive.

3) Sticky, gummy residue on my belly and inner thighs from estrogen patches. I've recently discovered that baby oil helps it comes off. Much less painful than scrubbing at that sensitive skin with a loofah.

4) A line of bruises across my belly from my twice a day heparin shots (not IVF related, for my FVL). I look like someone beat me with a baseball bat, and since I'll be doing these injections the entire time I'm pregnant, I can only imagine it will get worse from here.

5) The feeling that this can't possibly be real. After month after month of not being pregnant, being pregnant is surreal. I have to keep reminding myself.

And the one thing that probably sets all IVFers apart from the naturally fertile: I am constantly grateful for all the things I'm feeling. I am unbelievably thankful to be tired, crampy, emotional and nauseous, because of what all of those things signify. I can't imagine ever complaining about anything relating to pregnancy because I'm so happy just to be experiencing it.

Friday, September 10, 2004

La la la!

It's official: I'm pregnant!

I had my beta test this morning and got a call at 1:30 as I was having lunch out with my sister. It was wonderful to be with her when I got the news. I called Eric right away and he was so excited that he started hyperventilating; I had to ask him if he was OK!

I'm still in shock right now. After trying for so long and going through so much to get to this point, I just can't believe it's real. I feel so, so lucky.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

HPTs Are The Devil

I'm totally messing with my own head, all because of those evil little plastic sticks we all love to pee on. You're not supposed to test at home after an IVF cycle, because the HCG injection you're given before egg retrieval contains the same hormone that HPTs detect, and it can stay in your system for up to two weeks. Plus, REs usually schedule the beta test early enough that an HPT might not be accurate anyway.

Even so, I couldn't resist peeing on one yesterday. And what do you know... negative. That's the only result I've ever seen, so I wasn't shocked, and I knew it was still very early, so I didn't lose hope that I could still be pregnant. I decided not to test any more and exercise a little bit of good old fashioned self control until Friday.

But predictably, I broke down. Today I used a First Response test, which detects very low levels of HCG.

It was positive. Instantly positive.

So now, I'm even more confused than before. Is this test just picking up residual amounts of HCG from my injection 17 days ago that the first test wasn't sensitive enough to detect? Or is it really detecting a pregnancy? And in the name of all that's holy, why do I do this to myself? Why?!?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ten Reasons Why I Love My Cat

1) He wakes me up every morning at 4:00 by sitting on my neck and purring loudly. I pet him, and he sticks his head between my boobs and falls asleep. It's our little ritual.
2) While I'm cooking he sits at my feet and talks to me - literally. "Walker, how was your day?" "Mrew." "I can't believe it's already September, didn't the summer just fly by?" "Mrew." "Here, do you want a piece of chicken?" "MREOW!"
3) He falls asleep in my arms with his belly up and his head hanging back. Holy cuteness.
4) He's possessive of me and jealous of Al. Once when we were cuddling on the couch Eric turned to me and said, "Chels, look at Walker!" He was crouched in a dark corner, glaring at us with pure malice in his eyes, which on a 3 month old kitten is actually kind of cute.
5) Like most kittens, he has a Jekyl and Hyde personality: one second he'll be tearing across the floor chasing his rubber ball, and the next he'll collapse on a newspaper and instantly be fast asleep. Ten minutes later, he's up and going again.
6) He sleeps on the side of the tub while I'm reading in the bath. Once in a while he climbs behind me and perches on my shoulder and watches the pages turn, like he's reading along with me.
7) He's friendly with everyone, even people and animals he doesn't know. He even likes the vet.
8) He thinks I'm his mom, probably because we got him so young. He trusts me so much that it makes me feel terrible when I inflict baths on him and he gives me that betrayed look: "Why would you do this to me? Why?" Even so, minutes later he's already forgiven me.
9) He purrs every time I pick him up, even if 5 seconds later he's struggling to get down.
10) He's been my little buddy through this whole IVF process. He tolerates my tiredness and my moodiness in a way no human ever could, and having him curled up on my lap takes my mind off of all the stress and pain I've experienced.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Out of the Closet

Well, it's too late to buy tickets and see it, but this looks like it was a fun show: Infertility: The Musical, the only show to bring you songs such as "Infertile Love Song" and "I've Got Sperm in my Pocket and I'm Talkin' to Eileen." It's kind of cool to me that fertility has become such a publicly discussed issue that people are writing musicals about it now. Since I'm way out of the infertility closet (I've told virtually all my friends and family) I can't understand why people have historically been so secretive about it.

Eric is coming home tonight from his business trip to Atlanta. It's only been a couple of days but I've really missed him. I was a little annoyed with him for leaving me right in the middle of all this IVF stuff, but apparently he was the only IT guy in the DC area who could fix this particular problem, and if he didn't go the entire internet would like, blow up or something. You know, I actually am proud of him that he's doing so well at work. I admire the fact that he's so good at what he does and that his hard work is valued. It's just that I get a little jealous of his time every now and then. Going through IVF has turned me into a big squishy emotional ball of neediness, so it's probably my issue, not his.

On the IVF front (nope, I'm really not capable of talking about anything else right now, sorry) yesterday I found out that my progesterone and estrogen levels are too low. So now I'm wearing two estrogen patches on my inner thighs (super sexy), and supplementing my nightly progesterone shots with twice a day vaginal suppositories (again, sexy.) I won't go to the RE's office again until my pregnancy test a week from tomorrow. That sort of freaks me out. It means this is IT. The end. We'll have an answer: yes or no.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

All Alone With a 22 Gauge 1 1/2 Inch Needle

I just intentionally impaled my right hip with this. Go on, look at it. Be impressed.

Eric is out of town for a few days on business so I have to take over progesterone injection duty for a little while. I just about fainted before I stuck myself with the monstrosity (more like an ice pick than a needle) but once I got it in it wasn't so bad. I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow night; I may have to call my sister and ask her to help. I feel weird about this, because I know if someone asked me to do the same thing it would freak me out. But my right hip is really sore and I don't think I can do it with my left hand. I was talking to my brother about my dilemma and he suggested that to amuse myself while Eric is gone, I should come up with a list of people who it would be extremely awkward to ask to inject me. So far I've come up with: my bishop, the FedEx guy who's bringing me a book from Amazon, any of Eric's ex-girlfriends, and the missionaries. Any other suggestions?

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