Friday, 31 May 2013

Hitting the wall

I think I've mentioned before that I share a communal office with five other people.  A little while back, my officemate Liam (the only remaining non-parent, besides myself) announced that he and his wife were expecting.  As you can probably expect, there's been an awful lot of baby chatter in the office since then.  

I feel like I've actually done remarkably well in dealing with it.   I try to participate when I can handle it, and just pretend to be very busy at my computer when I can't.  I've only excused myself for a little bathroom hideout on one occasion.  This is despite the fact that I've been open with my colleagues about our infertility and could quite possibly be considered justified in asking them to tone it down a bit.  As far as they knew, none of it bothered me in the least.

And to be honest, it really hasn't bothered me as much as I thought it would.  During our self-imposed break from IVF, I've been putting a lot of energy into other positive things like adopting Buddy, enjoying the start of summer and amping up my workouts.  While it feels like last year I used to cry about infertility all the time, since our failed FET I've only had two major breakdowns.  The first was after my friend Derek's IVF pregnancy announcement.  The second was today.

Yesterday, my officemate Liam and his wife had an ultrasound and found out the sex of their baby.  This morning, he waited until everyone was in to do a big reveal: they are having a boy.  Cue hugs and discussion of names.  I actually joined in here, and wasn't too bothered by it.  I was even Googling crazy name recommendations and we ended up having a good laugh.

Later in the afternoon, another colleague popped in to our office to make his own announcement that he and his wife were expecting, and they had just found out it was a girl (side note: this couple had previously had a miscarriage, so it's really great news for them).  The two dads-to-be then launched into a huge discussion of hospitals, birth plans, midwives, and the like.  I actually found myself really amazed by how involved and interested they were in this stuff, compared to the generation of our grandparents or even maybe our parents, when the fathers just stayed at work or sat outside in a waiting room until the baby was born.  Both of these guys were super excited about their babies, and it was really sweet to see.

And that's when I started to feel it.  That all-too-familiar undertow of infertility sucking me down.  Listening to those two expectant fathers, I had one single thought that, in that moment, seemed as 100% certain to me as the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  We were never going to experience any of this.

I fought the tears as best I could.  I was successful, for a time.  Our visiting co-worker left the office, and we went back to work.  But it was too late for me.  The prickling had started behind my eyes, and my nose started to run.  I grabbed a tissue and blotted furtively, not wanting anyone to see.  Then Liam stepped out for a moment.  Everyone else was gone for the day except our officemate James.  Everything was quiet, except for the clicking of keyboards.  If I kept it quiet, I could get away with this.  

But then I sniffled once.  Twice.  James casually asked if I was bothered by allergies.

I should have been able to answer him casually, to lie.  But like a runner who has gone past her limit, all of the baby chatter had completely depleted my emotional energy.  I had hit the wall.  I tried to respond, but when I opened my mouth to answer, I realized I had no breath because of the tension built up inside my chest.

With that, the jig was up.  James poked his head around the divider that separates our desks.  "You ok?" he started to ask.  But as soon as he saw me, he knew.  He was up in a flash, coming to my side of the desk to apologize for all the baby talk and rub my shoulder.  And as anyone who has ever tried to fight back tears knows, the worst thing that can happen in that situation is for someone to be nice to you or show you any semblance of concern.  It completely destablized me, and I was done.  Full out, sloppy crying, gaspy breath and all, right there in our office.  Not my proudest moment by far.  The worst part was that Liam returned shortly thereafter, and immediately knew why I was upset.  Both Liam and James (a father of two girls) apologized for all the baby talk, and offered the usual platitudes:  it will happen for you, you just need to keep trying, you'll be a mom someday.  I just cried and didn't bother to tell them that no, there is a very very significant probability that I won't.

So now, it's Friday night and I'm home, crying as I write this blog post.  M keeps assuring me that it's ok that this happened and that I shouldn't worry about it, but I can't help it.  I feel like an absolute shitty asshole, on top of being completely embarrassed.  This fragile infertile lady just put a significant damper on a friend and co-worker's exciting gender reveal news.  On top of that, Liam will forever feel like he can't have normal conversations about his new baby in the office for fear of setting me off on some crazy mental breakdown.  Plus there's the fact that until our new boss arrives at the end of July, I'm the acting supervisor of our whole team right now.  Not exactly professional to have an ugly cry in front of your subordinates.  But there you have it.  What's done is done.

I'm definitely not looking forward to Monday, though.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Here, let me just stick that in my vagina for you

In preparation for my upcoming fancy schmancy Endometrial Function Test, it feels like I am now sticking ALL THE THINGS into my vajayjay.  I wake up in the morning and promptly insert two Estrace tablets and an Endometrin progesterone tablet.  Mid-day I jam in another Endometrin, and just before bed (if there's any room left) I wedge another Endometrin and two more Estrace up there.  I feel like a clown car.  Or a body-packing drug mule.  Basically the only thing that's NOT going in my vagina lately is my husband's penis.  I can't blame him.  I wouldn't want a sludgy blue pee-pee either.

Also, can we talk about Endometrin?  I think I had the same reaction as Yeah,Science! when I read the box, which describes them as "effervescent vaginal tablets". a sody pop in my vajeen?  Kind of made me wanna throw a bag of pop rocks up there and feel the magic happen.  I'm actually starting to wonder if the infertility patients of the world are the butt of some crazy RE bet to find the craziest thing they can get us to shove in our vaginas.

And then I told her to take it vaginally!!  HAHAHAHAHA!
In non-vagina related medical griping news, does anyone else feel like their dentist is taking advantage of their dental coverage to do unnecessary stuff?  I had an appointment for a routine six-month cleaning earlier this week, at which time they announced that I was due for X-rays (it had been a year and a half since my last ones) and a checkup.  Did I mention that this was my first appointment since my employee dental coverage renewed itself in January?  During the checkup, the dentist mentioned several times about how good my teeth looked.  Then she kept picking, almost as if she was looking for a problem.  She eventually ended up telling me that there was one spot on an upper molar that looked "a little soft in the crevices" and could probably be a cavity at some point, so she recommended getting it filled now.  I went ahead and booked the appointment, but now I'm second guessing it.  Why would you fill something that isn't a cavity?  What if it doesn't turn into one?  What if I end up having a horrible dental emergency later this year and can't afford to get anything done because my dentist's office is running up my coverage bill just because they can?  I certainly don't think all dentists are like this, but this place has been recommending braces to me ever since I moved to Toronto because of two slightly mis-aligned lower teeth.  Teeth that no one sees and aren't causing me any problems.  So I'm skeptical of their motives.
Thanks to everyone for all your dog advice after my last post.  Things have started looking up in Buddy-land.  We've started leaving the TV on when we leave in the morning (thanks Amanda!) and doing some sensitization training for separation anxiety.  Friday we came home to no poop and minimal barking, so we may be making some progress.  I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes after us being around him all weekend...hopefully not one step forward, two steps back!  I think Buddy's definitely starting to settle into the routine around here, though.  Last night he got sick of waiting for M and I to go to bed, so he went upstairs all by himself and tucked himself into his dog bed in our room.  Pretty dang cute!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Dog stress

This is going to be yet another dog-heavy post, infertility friends, and I apologize.  It's just that I'm clearly clueless about anything to do with dogs and I can't quite figure out our new friend Buddy.  Obviously, I should have stuck to becoming a crazy cat lady (which I had to give up when I married my allergy-laden husband).  Cats are easy.  Feed, scratch, play, scoop.  Done.  Our dog, by contrast, is stressing me the fuck out.

It seems like the Fantastic Exploding Dog Adventure (as I'm now referring to our last road trip with Buddy) was the start of downward spiral gastro-intestinal wise.  While he was ok for the next week or so, this week we returned home three times at the end of the work day to find our kitchen (where we baby-gate him during the day for exactly this kind of reason) filled with puddles of vomit and diarrhea.  For a number of reasons (including the fact that less than a month ago he got a clean bill of health from the vet), we don't think this is illness related.  We think it's due to stress and separation anxiety.  Dr. Google (hey, it's not just for infertility anymore!) tells me there is something called stress colitis which this totally sounds like (I'll spare you the gory details).  Other evidence supporting this conclusion:

- He goes absolutely batshit crazy when we get home.  He barks his head off for about 10 minutes (during which we ignore him, as per online instructions to not make coming home a big deal and hence something he anticipates all day).
- He's stopped eating his morning meal.  I suspect this is because I put it down just before I leave the house, in order to distract him from my departure.  Unfortunately I think it may have had the opposite effect, and that he's now either to depressed about my impending absence and can't eat, or won't eat because he feels somehow it causes me to disappear.
 - When we leave the house to run errands (and don't baby-gate him) he's up in the front window within seconds of our departure, despite having been given a tasty peanut butter-filled Kong to enjoy.  He starts barking and we have no idea how long it takes him to stop, since we're not there.  This is especially concerning as we live in a semi-detached house and share a wall with a neighbour.

There are lots of resources online about dealing with separation anxiety in dogs.  It's mostly desensitization, including things like putting on your shoes but not leaving, or leaving for 5 or 10 minutes only.  Since this weekend was a long weekend in Canada, we tried to put a bit of this into practice.  Instead of going for two or three hours and doing all our errands at once, we split up our trips into shorter ones.  He still barked when we got home, but for a bit less time and no accidents in the house.  On the down side, his diarrhea is still there.  It can apparently take a while to resolve.  And we have no choice but to go to work again tomorrow, which means we have to leap into 8-hour absences again without totally resolving the problem.  I'm also intending on switching him to a bland diet (boiled chicken and rice instead of his usual kibble and wet food) but since supermarkets are closed today that will have to wait until tomorrow as well.

Guys, getting a dog was supposed to be awesome and fun.  And I knew there'd be work, but I didn't realize it would be so stressful.  I just want Buddy to be happy and healthy, and knowing that our leaving is the cause of him being sick and anxious is not a good feeling.  It makes me wonder if this is the reason he ended up in a dog rescue in the first place.  Not that we'd ever consider sending him back.  We'll put in the work and get this thing right.  But it's definitely a lot harder than I thought.  I know a lot of you have dogs, so I'd welcome any advice you might have.  Feel free to put it in the comments or send me an email at infertilesmurf at blogspot dot ca.

Apart from our Buddy woes, it's been a great long weekend.  The weather has been awesome, meaning that we got a shit ton of long-overdue garden work done and our backyard now kinda, sorta looks like it doesn't belong to drug dealers.  I planted a bunch of flowers, even I know NOTHING about gardening so my plant choices may have been a little manic.  But it's fun and colourful and pretty and I like it.

I leave you with a pic I snapped yesterday of our two boys, sitting together on the couch.  This is pretty much the first time they've ever done this, as Leon the asshole cockatiel tends to hiss and  spread his wings and frighten Buddy away when he sniffs too close.  Hope you guys had good weekends too!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Dog Ate My DHEA, and other stories

I feel like I've been a bad blogger lately.  I haven't been posting regularly and I'm not even really good at commenting recently.  Bear with me.  It's not that I'm in a bad place emotionally or anything, although I think we all have our good and bad days.  I just haven't felt the same urgency to vomit my emotions all over the internet now that we aren't actively cycling.  Plus there's finding the time; I can't blog from work, and when I get home there's workouts, dog walking, making dinner, cleaning up, and then hopefully some time for relaxing with mindless TV or the internet.  Some nights I'm just frankly not in the mood to spend my evening reading or writing about what's going on in my/other people's uteri.  But I love you all and I know how important the support of this community has been, so I'm definitely not going anywhere!

With that said, here's an update on my week:

First, I got my period.  It was about 4 days late, which would normally have started getting me pretty excited but for the fact that we did our FET last month so I figured my body might be a bit out of whack.  I called in my CD1 in order to get instructions for the Cadillac of all endo biopsies that I'll be doing this month, the Yale Endometrial Function Test.  They're essentially mimicking an FET cycle by putting me on Estrace for a couple of weeks, followed by some form of progesterone prior to the biopsy.  The only difference is that this time, they want me to take my Estrace vaginally.  Which, for those of you familiar with this little blue pill, is particularly lovely as it changes your cervical mucous to a psychadelic shade of blue-green.  I imagine what's happening inside my panties right now is kind of what it would look like if I'd fucked a Smurf.   

Next, I had my first pap smear in two years that did not require a colposcopy.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it's a biopsy of your cervix.  Yep, they be biopsyin' err'thing up in here!  (Note: much funnier if you say this in an Antoine Dodson-esque twang.)  For any of you on the fence about getting potential future daughters vaccinated against HPV, please allow me to voice my two cents on the issue.  I had my first abnormal pap waaaaaay back in 2005, due to an HPV infection.  At that point I had slept with a grand total of four people in my life, and had used condoms with all of them except in the later years of a 5-year long relationship with my university boyfriend.  When I found out that I had a sexually transmitted infection, I freaked.  FUH-REAKED.  I wasn't (overly) promiscuous, and yet here I was with an STI.  Worse, I had an STI that could cause cancer!  After a bunch of research I finally realized that I wasn't in fact a dirty slut and that an estimated 80% of women will at some point contract HPV.  But I still had to go to a specialist every six months for a checkup to make sure that the virus was clearing itself from my system and that the abnormal spots on my cervix weren't progressing.  It took two years, but by 2007 I was in the clear.  Or so I thought. 

In 2010 I had yet another pap come back abnormal.  Rather than having contracted yet another strain of HPV, my doctor seemed to think that I was one of the lucky 5% of women in whom the virus can reactivate over time.  (Cue frustration that I keep falling into the shitty 5% statistics instead of the good ones when it comes to IVF!)  So for the last two years, I've yet again been subjected to twice-yearly checkups and cervical biopsies, followed eventually by a Loop Electrical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to get rid of those stubborn abnormal cells.  Let me assure you, ladies, you don't want your daughters to have a LEEP.  While the procedure itself is relatively painless, the aroma of singed cervix is not one that anyone should have to experience.  And the discharge that you get as your cervix repairs itself from being burnt to a crisp?  Let's just say that it's watery and there's a LOT of it.  The biggest maxi-pads that you can find (the ones that stretch from your navel to the small of your back) will not do the job.  So I beg of you, all of you, to GET YOUR DAUGHTERS VACCINATED.  It's been researched.  It's safe.  HPV could be eradicated like polio if everyone gets on board with this, so why would you not?  The only conclusion I can make if you refuse to do so is that you love cancer.  Seriously.  Why else would you not get your daughter vaccinated against something that can cause cancer??  Because you must love cancer. 

Anyway, my pap results are still pending but my gyno didn't find any abnormal spots to biopsy (and this man loves cutting, so if there was something to biopsy he would have been a-snipping!) so I'm tentatively in the clear.  

Finally, as my post title indicates, Buddy got into my drugs this weekend.  Since we got him we've been baby-gating him into the kitchen when we leave the house.  It gives him more room than crating him, but there's nothing he can get at to be destructive.  But last week we started experimenting with giving him more freedom when we're out of the house, and it had been going well so far.  Mostly he just went upstairs onto our bed and napped.  Tonight, however, we apparently pushed it by leaving him alone as we went to M's parents' house for Mother's Day dinner.  Given reaction to the car ride last time we took him there, we thought we were being kind by leaving him home.  But apparently he didn't agree, since we came home to a chewed up Blu-Ray disc and bottle of DHEA on the front mat when we opened the door.  It seems like he mostly just chewed the bottle until the top popped off, because when I put the capsules back inside it didn't look like much (if any) was gone.  Of course I can't be sure, so when in doubt...Google it!  Turns out that no matter what you do, some other idiot out there has done it first.  Dr. Google, Pet MD assures me that a couple of capsules of DHEA is not harmful to Buddy, although I'll be sure to keep an eye on him for acne and increased body hair.  Obviously not nearly as bad, but reminded me of this:

Monday, 6 May 2013

Everyone loves a good poop story

Have you guys ever been around a group of new parents telling baby poop stories?  You know the kind.  There's the one where new dad opens his first really gross diaper and almost vomits while mom laughs.  There's the one about baby getting his hands into his own poop during a diaper change and smearing it all over himself.  And then there's my personal favourite, the "poop blowout", where baby poops so vociferiously that it simply cannot be contained by the diaper, shooting simultaneously up baby's back and down baby's legs so that the feet of her onesie are sagging.

New parents love this shit (pardon the pun).  I can't say I've ever been sorry not to have been able to participate.  But now, even though I remain babyless, I also have a poop story to tell.

As our anniversary gift, M's parents got us tickets to see a show at the Stratford Festival, which is a large theatre festival that runs all summer in the picturesque town of Stratford, a few hours west of Toronto.  Stratford is also now famous as the hometown of Justin Bieber, but we won't hold that against it.  M and I decided to make a weekend getaway of it and booked a hotel room to spend the night in Stratford.  M's folks volunteered to dog-sit so we dropped our friend Buddy the beagle off with them and their hyper-energetic Airedale Terrier on our way.

What we discovered about five minutes after leaving the house is that Buddy is most definitely not one of those dogs that enjoys going for car rides.  Which is unfortunate, as the ride to M's parents' house is about an hour and a half.  On the way there he whined, paced and panted, but eventually he calmed a bit and lay down.

Our drive home was a different story altogether.   Buddy got in the car and immediately lay down.  M and I congratulated ourselves on how quickly we had helped him to overcome his car phobia.  There may have been a celebratory fist bump involved.  And then things went sideways.

I don't know if Buddy was under residual stress from having spent the night away from home with strange people and a strange dog.  Maybe the car was too hot, or we just pushed things by taking him on two long car rides in as many days.  But he was most definitely unhappier on the ride home, pushing himself between the front seats to perch on the armrest and look anxiously out the front window.  We had lowered the back seats so that he had a nice big flat area covered in a blanket to lay down on, but he just couldn't settle.  He moved to my lap, then to the backseat again.  Then he hung his head and puked.  He walked around a little bit, and puked again. 

We thought the worst was over.  We were wrong.

After a few more stressful trips up to the front seat and back, he went to the very back of the car by the hatchback.  He looked at us mournfully, squat, and shat his little guts out.  Then he walked a few steps, and shat again.  A few steps more, and another few little squirts.  By the end of it, what was coming out of him pretty much looked like brown-tinted saliva instead of actual poop.  When he was all done, he went to his dog bed, curled up inside, and hung his head over the side.  If a dog had a hangover, this is what it would have looked like.  The worst part was that we were still about 40 minutes from home when this happened, and had to endure the stench for the rest of the ride.

You'll all be happy to know that once we got home, Buddy quickly reverted to his happy-go-lucky self and forgot all about his car ride ordeal.  M and I, on the other hand, remain traumatized and aren't sure how we are going to handle car rides with Buddy in future.  The only saving grace is that our strategically placed blanket saved us from having to have the entire interior of the car shampooed, or possibly just set on fire and shoved off a cliff.

On the plus side, we now feel adequately prepared to counter any new-parent poop story with one of our own, and to handle said baby poop when/if we should ever encounter it ourselves.

Oh, and we had a lovely weekend in Stratford.  Thanks for asking.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Office gossip

For your amusement, I present an excerpt from a conversation I had today with a colleague from our office in Winnipeg.  I haven't seen him in quite a few years but he knew I got married not too long ago.  After all the obligatory workity work talk:

Him:  So, how many rug rats you guys have running around now?
Me:  Uh...none.  We can't.  (OUT AND PROUD, BITCHES!!  Seriously, I'm done censoring myself.)
Him:  *awkward silence* What?  Er...seriously?
Me:  Yup.  Been trying, not working.  Maybe in future with the help of science, but we'll see.
Him:  But...I thought you were...I mean, I heard through the rumour mill that you were expecting? 

Lucky for him he caught me on a good day!