Saturday, May 30, 2009

Show & Tell

I am almost afraid to post this Show & Tell, because I fear that I am going to end up with thousands of women hunting us down and busting in our front door, trying to steal my awesome DH away from me. Not that I couldn't kick the crap out of all of them, I'm just saying.

In spite of the great risk, today I am sharing one of my most favoritest possessions, a gift that DH gave me in college.

First a quick background for those coming from Mel's. DH and I go waaaay back... to elementary school. I've had a crush on him since I was 10 years old. Unfortunately he was always way too short for me. Until! The fall of our junior year of high school, we started the new year and I noticed he had finally gained about 5 inches on me. Time to make my move. (Bat eyelashes here.) Yadda yadda yadda, he asked me to the Homecoming Dance and we've been inseparable ever since. Except those four years when we went to college in different states. We were pretty separated at that point. Physically, at least. Emotionally, though, we were still LIKETHIS.

In high school, my future DH was extremely romantic. I am not exactly sure where he got his mad skillz (with all due respect to my father-in-law), but he really swept me off my feet. One Valentine's Day, he "stole" my car without me noticing, and quietly returned it filled it with chocolate and red paper hearts he had cut out. He had also arranged with all my teachers to put a rose on my desk in between classes, so when I arrived at each period throughout the day, there was a beautiful red rose waiting in my assigned spot. On my birthday, he set up a treasure hunt through my house and had my mom lay the clues the night before for me to discover when I woke up, with my gift at the end. Another V-Day, he pretended that he was taking me out to dinner, but after he picked me up we returned to his house because he "forgot" something. I soon discovered that he had transformed his basement into a romantic picnic for two, complete with blanket, picnic basket of goodies, and his sister's Beanie Baby ladybug. He had even borrowed those GIGANTIC reams of colored paper they have in art class at school (remember those?) to cover the ceiling in blue. I could go on, but I'm guessing you have the point.

As we went off to college, with him in Michigan and me in Illinois, the distance made romance dificult and my sweetie became consumed with numbers and circuits and copious amounts of beer. His biggest show of love was borrowing his family's car to make the drive out to see me once a month. And there was nothing that could have made me happier.

Every now and then, however, I had a glimpse of the old high school DH. On a Valentine's Day visit, he brought me the following present.



I like to think there was no motive behind the shirt other than to show his love. But I suspect it's because I was constantly asking him in our phone conversations, "Why do you love me?" and he always responded, "I don't know, I just do!" (He may have been romantic in action, but my guy is no poet, God love him.)

He certainly shut me up with this shirt. On that topic at least.

Unfortunately, the shirt was made for my small college body, and if I put it on today, we'd have a scene of Incredible Hulk shirt rippage going on. But on a positive note, those days of insecurity are behind me and I never think to ask that DH that question. We have grown even stronger throughout life's trials, and I need no further proof than the unwavering support he gives me every day. I can't imagine being myself without him next to me. Plus I have his kid now, I'm pretty sure he's not going anywhere.

Please head back to Mel's and see what the rest of the class is showing! Single file now.

Cross-posted on Sunny in Seattle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There'll be sad songs

Like most people I'm sure, there are songs that remind me of specific times and places in my life. When I hear those tunes on the radio, I am instantly transported. "Don't Speak" by No Doubt: to high school, the year DH and I started dating. "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones: the three months that I worked at Bed Bath & Beyond as we prepared to move to St. Louis. "O" by Damien Rice: the bus tour of Ireland that we took with 30 retirees who shamed us with their ability to stay out late drinking while we collapsed in exhaustion in our beds. (Yes, that's beds plural. Apparently old people prefer not to sleep together, so all the rooms on the tour had twin beds. Either that or they were totally screwing with us.)

Sometimes it is just coincidence that marries a song with a moment, like the summer before high school when I was on a church trip to New York, and I was waiting to use a pay phone outside an Espirit outlet and heard "Tempted by the Fruit of Another" by Squeeze. I have absolutely no idea why that particular association has stuck with me all these years, but it's in there permanently now. Wasting valuable brain cells, obviously!

Most times, though, it is more intentional on my part. I love putting together collections of songs -- or what we called "mix tapes" back in the Dark Ages -- that become a soundtrack to a certain season or event. Yes, iTunes loves me, and the feeling is mutual.

When we were going through IF the first time, my iPod and CD player in the car were chock full of Patty Griffin, Damien Rice, and old Counting Crows. What my Dad would call "suicide music." (I completely disagree with that label, for what it's worth. He listens to talk radio, which makes me want to commit suicide more than any song I've ever heard, ever.) Anyway, there was an obviously melancholy quality to the music I listened to then. But it was comforting... like the artists understood the depth of pain that follows a failed cycle. They experienced it in a different situation (usually the end of a relationship) but we were going through the mourning together. We cried together and clung to hope for the future.

After Bean was born, I couldn't listen to those songs anymore. My heart just wasn't there... life was different. I didn't feel that pain and I didn't want to. I spent a year apart from Patty Griffin and her haunting lyrics, even though she was so crucial in getting me through treatments.

Luckily Patty doesn't hold a grudge, because I'm back at her door now. My CD player in my car still plays upbeat tunes as Bean and I happily cruise down the road. But my iPod has been refilled with the sad songs, which I listen to sometimes while doing chores as Bean naps. It's my continued effort to compartmentalize (which is still going pretty well by the way) and purge the sadness and fear in private, leaving me free to appreciate and enjoy my daily blessings.

I personally don't feel that listening to Tori Amos singing about how she's "cried a thousand oceans" increases my despondency. On the contrary, it's almost like a support group. Bottling up is SO not a good idea, and this way I can recognize my emotions, live with them for a moment, and then continue with my day. I can understand why some people don't get it, but really I believe it's healing for me.

So how about you? In your own life, do you find yourself influenced by music (life imitating art), or do you more often seek out music to fit your mood? What interesting song associations do you have?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Okay insurance company, I'll play your twisted game...

Thanks for all the suggestions and sympathy following my previous post about insurance woes. Here's the deal. Yes, we did have to change insurance companies when we moved. Health insurance is regulated by each state and many insurance companies are regional (even the "big names" -- they have local subcontractors). So by necessity DH's employer offers different insurance providers based on your location. Thus the plan we have now is very similar, but not identical, to our old one. Coincidentally, this weekend is DH's annual benefits enrollment, so we'll be renewing our plan (or picking a new one). I am almost positive that there is nothing offered with better IF coverage than we have now, but obviously we'll look into it. And I'll be doing happy dances all over this blog if the news is good. But don't count on it.

What really steams my vegetables is that the insurance company will pay for medication and lab work if you then go home and make a baby in your own bedroom. (Or wherever you choose to do the deed, I don't judge. Good for you for keeping it exciting.) But if instead I want to PAY FOR MY OWN IUI, they snap their wallet closed and shake their fat finger at me scoldingly. I mean, it's absolutely none of their business how I get myself knocked up after they give me the drugs. Next they'll be saying they want to watch, just to make sure there are no basters involved. Sickos.

I was feeling resigned to continue waiting... waiting... waiting... until something hit me while I was supervising Bean in the bathtub tonight. It was his plastic fishy ball, he loves to throw that darn thing. Then I had a thought. Would it be that bad to try Clomid again? I swore up and down I would not get near the stuff this time around. Two main reasons.

1. It didn't work for me. Eight times.

2. It turns me into a raving lunatic Queen Bitch.

But if what I really want/need isn't covered, and my ovulation is a mess these days, is there a reason NOT to try it again? Okay, sure, there is #2 above. During those five days of pills, I morphed into the meanest person I have ever met in my entire life. But to be fair, I haven't met all that many mean people. Seen them in television interviews from prison perhaps, but not actually met them.

The other good thing about Clomid is that I can (probably) get a prescription from my OB/GYN, so I don't have to go through an inconvenient and possibly expensive consultation with the new RE's office. I am due for my annual exam anyway.... (hmmmm....)

Now if I do decide to gulp down the evil drug, which I'm guessing would be more of an emotional boost than any real physical help at this point, there is still the issue of BFing to contend with. The only side effect that some women report is a reduced milk supply, which on the other hand many also report not experiencing. Although there isn't a definitive answer, most sources say that there is no reason to believe Clomid would harm the baby, but (of course) talk to your doctor first. Because hopefully your doc has more scientific and proven knowledge on the subject than you do, just reading random articles you find online. But probably not.

In a Hail Mary, I am also going to call the insurance company again tomorrow (when they are open... how DARE they go home to their families when I need ANSWERS NOW!) and see if they will cover Follistim without IUI. I would be surprised, because in three years of hanging around the IF crowd I have never heard of anyone using Follistim and NOT doing an IUI or IVF. But the insurance company is clearly illogical anyway, so who knows. "Gather your own information," my Dad likes to say. Right on, Dad.

So what do you think? Is taking Clomid now worth the risk of 1) my husband divorcing me, 2) my son growing girlie parts from the drug getting into my breastmilk, and 3) suffering more emotional pain from the rollercoaster of IF treatment that likely won't even work?

Or should I *gasp* be patient a while longer, save some dough in order to do the treatment that worked the first time, and allow the kiddo to wean first? (I'm almost pissed that you even suggested it.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This past weekend, just as predicted, the wicked witch of AF did indeed crush me with her flying house. And based on the weight of impact, the bitch must live in Buckingham Palace.

To revisit the breastfeeding topic again, each BFN increases my panic and conflicted feelings about continuing to nurse. Actually, let me rephrase that. I have NO conflicted feelings about continuing to nurse, because neither Bean nor I want to stop. But it raises my fury that as an infertile, I can't move forward with TTC because of the unknown effects of fertility meds on nursing children. The thought of short-changing this relationship between me and my son, with the risk that nothing may come of treatment anyway, boils my blood.

I have employed the "don't offer, don't refuse" strategy during the day, so our BF sessions having naturally evolved to just before a nap (1-2 times per day), before bed (1 time), and during the night to sooth him back to sleep if he awakens (0-2 times). Each session is less than 5 minutes long. Although it may not seem like much, it's the emotional connection and comfort that we both obviously love.

But feeling the pressure to return to the RE, on Saturday I decided to try to put him down for a nap without nursing him first. He was not happy about it, of course. I snuggled him for a while and put him down in his crib. He cried briefly in protest, I closed the door. I could almost HEAR my heart being crushed in my chest, I certainly felt it.

He didn't end up falling asleep. I'm not sure if it was because he didn't nurse beforehand, it could go either way. But we tried again a half-hour later -- this time with the boob first -- and he smiled as I put him in his crib for a peaceful nap. We both felt better, I knew it wasn't time to wean.

But I was still antsy to go to the RE. Going back to the doctor represents hope that keeps me going when I fear this is a lost cause... the feeling that we did overcome this in the past with medical intervention, and we can again. Our life will not always be ruled by infertility, there is something we can do.

So despite my concern about the nursing issue, this morning I called and made an appointment. June 30th.

The receptionist reminded me that if insurance does not cover the office visit, they will need $250-$300 paid the day of the consult. I told her that I did expect insurance to pay, but I would call to find out.

When we lived in St. Louis and conceived with the help of a fabulous RE there, our insurance company paid for diagnosis but not treatment of IF, which is what our new Seattle insurance policy states as well. I don't know how the St. Louis doc was able to code our visits and procedures, but he significantly reduced the out-of-pocket expenses for us. A month of injectible medication with an IUI (including countless blood draws and ultrasounds) was $850, down from what I would guess would be up to $2000.

After making the appointment with this new RE, I immediately called our current insurance company to verify the coverage.

Turns out these bastards won't pay for ANYTHING if it relates to artificial means of conception. Which to them means they will gladly pay for some Clomid, for example... unless I want to have an IUI done with it, then sorry, out of luck. Same with a consultation. Oh, you want to talk to the doctor? Of course, we are your medical insurance, we will pay for it. That's the point of having medical insurance, silly girl! Wait, you will be discussing doing another IUI? Well, in that case, you'd better bring your credit card.

Did I mention they are bastards?

The representative spoke with her superior just to clarify the rules of what is and is not covered. As we reviewed everything, my lungs slowly started crushing in my chest. I took as deep of breaths as I could manage in order to stay collected. "Well, that's a devastating blow," I remarked. I thanked the woman for her time and hung up.

Then I called the RE and canceled our appointment.


Edited to add: Right after I published this post, the following song came up on my iPod:

This is a song I listened to frequently during our first tangle with IF. During the darkest days, it reminded me that this, too, shall pass. I wonder if my iPod is reading my blog. Technology really is amazing these days.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Which old witch? The wicked witch!

Yes, the nasty AF witch has her sights on me again. She just chucked a gigantic house in the air, and it's scheduled to drop unceremoniously on my head sometime in the next couple of days. (Yes, I know I mucked up the metaphor. But I'm PMSing... do you really want to argue with me? Didn't think so.)

I'm glad to be seeing the end of this wacky cycle. I'm not even sure I ovulated. But I think my body at least tried to O around CD 18 or 19, which is a big improvement from my other post-partum cycles, so I'm trying to look on the bright side. (Great, now I'm going to be hearing the Monty Python crew singing "Always look on the bright side of life" for the rest of the day. Well, it's better than "Living la vida loca" or something. .... SHIT!)

Fortunately, the universe seems to be feeling bad for it's past transgressions and has planned a nice weekend for me.

On Saturday, we will be attending a potluck dinner with a some other families from the MOMS Club. It's a "mixer" where there are a few families hosting, and the attendees are all assigned one of the houses for the evening. You plan a theme, a menu, lots of fun ensues, etc etc. On a day when DH and I must have been smoking something, we volunteered to be one of the hosts. Well, we narrowly dodged that bullet because due to some last-minute declines from a couple of the families, we and the remaining family decided to disband and join other groups. So no cleaning and decorating, which is awesome because DH has been working 12-14 hour days this week, and frankly I don't think we have the time or energy to whip the house into shape by tomorrow night.

The only down side to this new plan is that the menu theme of the party we'll now be attending is "light and healthy." Which is in marked contrast to the theme I was trying to push through our original group, "heavy and fattening." Oh well. We are bringing fruit and cheese and bread, which is easy enough to get at the store, and I have ice cream in the freezer for when we get home.

On Sunday, I have plans with Jen to get some deliciously delectable cupcakes at a local coffee and cupcake joint. I can't think of any better way to drown the AF blues than with about 3000 calories of frosted goodness. (How many cupcakes will that be? I can't wait to figure it out.)

Hope your weekend is just as sweet with none of the sour.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A rose by any other name

So long, CJ. Hello, Sunny!

Just a housekeeping announcement to let you know that my new bloggy name is Sunny. Yep, CJ is out the window. This change was born from my other blog, and if you'd like to read how it came to be, click here. So if you see a comment on your blog from someone named Sunny, it's either from that new intern on Scrubs, or it's me.

My only hesitation in eagerly donning this new nickname was that it doesn't really fit with this blog. When I talk about infertility, the last thing I feel is sunny.

The fact is, though, unlike primary infertility (when it was All Depression, All The Time), my life during secondary infertility is more Bipolar so far.

Because I absolutely adore being a mother to my son, and I am deeply and deliriously happy being home with him. He is truly a blessing, and I couldn't be more grateful for each moment that I can gaze on his sweet little face.

In that way, my life has never been sunnier.

But of course the infertility is the crappiest of the crap. Are there worst things that could happen to me? Certainly. I can still count my blessings and be really super pissed off and bitter.


Anyway, this is Sunny. Signing out.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Show and Tell

I love to read.

I have loved to read forever, since spending hours in my room holed up with R.L. Stine and The Babysitters Club. No, even before that, I'm sure. When I was a toddler and my mom would find me in bed "reading" to Snoopy. (The book was upside-down, no less. I was a talented child!)

I wish I could claim a working knowledge of classical literature and literary fiction; I'd love to be up on Oprah's latest pick. But honestly, the books I devour will not be found on any book club list. You won't overhear two intellectuals discussing them over espresso at a trendy cafe: "What was your take on the bodice ripping in chapter four?" "Why, that bosom heaving left me grappling with its contraposition of existentialism and deterministic fatalism!"

Some call them trashy. I call them perfection.

On my nightstand, you'll find nothing but historical romance and my new obsession, paranormal romance. (Which is like "Twilight" for grown ups, for those of you who shop in the more high-brow areas of the bookstore and are unfamiliar with this genre.)

I recently had the honor of listening to a speech by one of my favorite authors. Her keynote address at the "Romance Extravaganza" (yee haw!) was about the struggle of popular fiction authors -- those who write romance novels, thrillers, mysteries, etc. -- to get the same respect given to their literary fiction counterparts. Not surprisingly, being a consummate wordsmith, she was able to define something that was more nebulous in my own mind. The major difference between the two categories (popular fiction v. literary fiction) is like comparing black-and-white to gray.

In popular fiction, there are good guys and bad guys. Right and wrong. Problem and solution. The reader begins the book knowing one thing for certain: there will be a happy ending. All the questions raised will be answered, except maybe Does the author get embarrassed when her parents read the sex parts she's written? Literary fiction is the opposite. It explores the human condition without definite resolution or capital Truth, pushing readers to examine the unknowns of life and love and choices and God and all those other fun things that make your head spin and send you to the freezer for another scoop of ice cream. (Or is that just me?)

(She also said that many readers will only read one area of romance, like historical or contemporary. Which is very true for me. Nothing contemporary unless it's in the paranormal. Because I have a really hard time believing that "normal" guys these days would say any of those cheesy touchy-feely lines, and the books just lose all credibility for me. But a pirate or a vampire... whose to say they wouldn't talk like that?)

This particular author's apt description of the two subcategories of fiction solidified in my head why I avoid any books that require me to do much contemplation. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in studying and then practicing counseling was that if you don't accept the grayness, uncertainty, and relativism in life, you can run yourself into some mighty serious mental problems. This was news to me, previously having lived mainly in black-and-white myself, and although it was a struggle at first to be comfortable in the gray, it was actually a huge relief to take that pressure off. Infertility became a prime example. As much as I craved immediate answer, only time could reveal What fertility treatment will work for me? or Will I actually ever get pregnant? I had to accept that.

But even though I can now (mostly) embrace a life that includes black, white, and all shades of gray, that doesn't mean I'm not comforted by the occasional escape to places like sitcom land, where trouble never lasts for longer than 30 minutes. (Unless it's a Very Special episode that requires two parts, of course.) Which is why at the end of the day, I seek comfort and refuge with my trusted old friend The Romance Novel. I prefer this explanation to one that might dismissively label me as simply shallow and, well, horny.

This post is already longer than I had intended, but we are just now getting to the good part! The part where I realized it was my destiny all along to move to Seattle so I could meet my favorite historical romance novelist of all time: Amanda Quick. (Or Jayne Ann Krentz, which is her real name, if you want to get technical.)

She resides in Seattle, because as I am constantly reminding you, SEATTLE ROCKS. And as an extension of that rockage, the King County Library System is arguably the best in the country. Among other reasons, they are the brilliant, generous hearts that brought the "Romance Extravaganza," and thus Amanda Quick, to the lives of rabid fans such as myself.

Leaving DH and Bean home for the afternoon, I drove to the library with knots in my stomach. I tend to get very star struck, like the time I saw Jerry Springer walking in downtown Chicago or spotted Mr. T's limo on the highway. I arrived 30 minutes early, purchased a copy of her newest book, and sat gripping it tightly in my seat. I glanced around and finally spotted her, looking surprisingly normal as she chatted with a group of women. (Did I expect her to glow?) When she presented the keynote address as discussed above, I found her to be incredibly funny, smart, and confident... not unexpected, considering those adjectives describe every one of her female main characters. And I would know, having read all 25 (now 26) novels.

After she spoke, I quickly took my place in line for her to sign my new purchase. As I inched forward, my heart raced faster and I frantically searched my mind for something clever and witty to say, which would of course then prompt her to laugh heartily and respond, "Would you like to join me for coffee after the event?"

Me and Amanda Quick, BFFs.

Unfortunately, in reality I stood in front of her like an idiot, barely remembering how to spell my own name as she flashed a smile and scrawled her signature.

"Not that I would expect you to remember me, but I comment on your blog as CJ," I offered lamely.

My head swam as she responded pleasantly and thanked me for following her blog.

I smiled and nodded, all ability for coherent speech having left me by this point.

After a brief silence, she politely added, "It's a nice varied collection of authors we have on the blog."

I managed a weak "yep."

With that, she handed me back the book, and I was left to return to my seat and suppress the bile that had risen in my throat.

I will never forget meeting her, it was such a thrilling experience to interact (even moronically) with an author I have loved and admired for 10+ years. As I squeaked excitedly to DH before I left that morning, "It'd be like you meeting.... (glancing down at his current read) ... Kurt Vonnegut!" He shot me a look that said you are out of your mind, but to each his own, I say. Now if I could just meet Kresley Cole and Jane Austen, I can die a happy romance reader.

Whether you read that entire post or just scrolled down for the pictures (I don't blame you!), we have finally arrived at my show and tell. Pictures from the book signing and the coveted dedication.
Now go back to Mel's for more Show and Tell fun!

(Cross-posted on Sunny in Seattle.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

That's what friends are for

In addition to the obvious suckage of preventing parenthood, IF has numerous unwanted side effects. One being its uncanny ability to slowly erode away even strong relationships, from marriage to family to friends. Fortunately, I know of this mainly second hand from reading other IF blogs and can't speak much from personal experience. My marriage can still lift 100 times its weight and leap tall buildings in a single bound. And my sibling and siblings-in-law are younger, unmarried, not TTC, and were largely unaware of our struggles the first time around anyway. Let's hope for no *ahem* accidents while we are dealing with this a second time, huh, guys?

Any repercussions of infertility on my friendships have been relatively slight, compared to what I've heard from others. (Although you, my IRL friends, may have a different story. Which you can kindly keep to yourselves, because it will ruin this entire post. I appreciate it!) Shortly after we got married, DH and I moved away from all of our friends and landed in beautiful St. Louis, Missouri. During those first few years, we were both working full time, attending graduate school in the evenings, and recovering from the four years we had a long-distance relationship in college (read: lots of smoochy smoochy). So although we made new friends with some awesome people there, we didn't really have the time to be as social as we should have been. And I did keep in touch with friends from high school and college who were scattered everywhere from San Diego to Boston, but again the time factor plus my undeniable and totally uncool aversion to using my cell phone meant that contact was sporadic and mostly via email anyway.

Then came our infertility. In the "old" friend category, the baby bump fairy was busy. I was of course thrilled for my friends when they started reproducing, and as a bonus, I had a built in buffer of distance so I could share their joy without being overwhelmed by reminders of my personal pain. I didn't have to watch the bellies grow, listen to constant pregnancy chatter, or pretend my heart wasn't wilting at baby showers. Meanwhile in St. Louis, although we finished our degrees, DH and I were just too spent from our frequent doctor visits to grow any sort of social life. Something about pouring all of your money, energy, hopes, and dreams down the treatment toilet doesn't really make you the best company for happy hour after work. We kept up the friendships, but we hid at home a lot more than we would have wanted otherwise. And when we finally did get our BFP, it was time to move again: we were Seattle-bound.

One of the hardest things about a major relocation (aside from finding out your new grocery store doesn't carry Count Chocula or caramel apple Toaster Strudels) is missing your old friends and having to start over in building a social network. Finding people who appreciate tolerate our dry sense of humor, our obsession with the local teriyaki joint, and our inability to keep our nerdiness entirely in the closet.

Now let's just pretend that I don't get really nervous when meeting new people and say things that may sound humorous in a blog but come across as awkward, confusing, and esoteric in real conversation. (Hell, let's also pretend I'm 15 pounds lighter and a couple million richer, too, while we are at it!) Now that this thin, wealthy, hilarious, confident version of myself is meeting lots of other moms through various activities, I worry how secondary infertility will affect our ability to find a new crew of friends.

So far, none of the local moms we hang with has announced her next pregnancy. A handful are done multiplying altogether, in fact. But I know a few are trying, and it's just a matter of time. What happens when DH and I are heading back to the RE and descending into turkey baster madness again, and the women around me are giddily making room for their newest additions? My bonds with them are still fragile, and I'm afraid I'll pull away to protect my heart and end up alone with Bean at the mall every day. (Okay, so that doesn't sound entirely bad now that I say it out loud...)

While, in a way, it's comforting to have IF as a scapegoat for any lack of new friendage after our move (certainly it's not us! we are witty and charming!), I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. If anyone on either side of the IF fence has any thoughts, I always love to hear. Just be sure to type your response via comment or email, as I don't answer my cell phone.