October: The Month That Wasn't

Hello! Still mired in hell over here. I totally feel guilty whining (again, still) because I know so many people have had it way worse. Thanks to my raging emetophobia, I haven't actually had the barfs, but the constant gaggy nausea is exhausting and it's a struggle to contain the whininess. 

I actually did okay last weekend. My law school BFF was in town from London with her new little guy, so it was a crazy weekend. She has one speed: frenetic. She arrived in DC from her parents' house in SC where she has been visiting. She spent time with one of her sisters and a friend before heading out to her cousin's house in the mountains. I drove out to meet them there on Saturday, about three hours through the mountains of western Maryland. It was absolutely gorgeous, and her eclectic cousins have a beautiful house. They made a fantastic dinner, complete with a ridiculously expensive bottle of wine (I had to have a little; I mean, I'm surely not buying a $250 bottle of wine anytime soon). Dessert was some amazing looking imported brie (I abstained) and some Dom Perignon (you bet I had half a flute!) while we played board games. Such a fun night!

On Sunday, we had coffee and breakfast while chatting in the kitchen, then began the long process of packing up the wee baby's belongings. For someone so tiny, he sure requires a LOT of crap. I drove like a ninny all the way home because his British car seat was freaking me out. It's a 3 point harness instead of 5, and it just didn't seem like the seatbelt was holding it in place securely, and you definitely can't break someone else's baby, so yeah, I drove like my grandmother all the way home. Upon arriving home (perfect angel baby slept the WHOLE way), the mad rush was on, as we had two hours until all of our law school friends were coming for dinner. I threw together a double batch of Ina Garten's mac & cheese (because I am pathologically incapable of preparing an appropriate amount of food for parties and always waaaaay over do) and stuck Smitten Kitchen's brisket in the oven to reheat. I biffed the brisket because I wasn't thinking and shredded it rather than slicing, but it was fine and the mac & cheese was amazing. It was great to see everyone, and the baby was lovely, being passed from person to person without complaint. 

When it was over, I was exhausted, but couldn't believe I got through it feeling ok, seeing as I had barely left the house most weekends in the previous month. I almost thought that maaaaybe I was turning a corner, but HAAAAA, NOPE. I was back to wallowing in misery in my bathtub by this weekend. I did wash a load of laundry and cleaned the kitchen, though. WIFE OF THE YEAR.

11w1d today; next appointment isn't until the 20th. PLEASE GOD, let me remain sane while waiting for the next check up, and PLEASE, PLEASE let this 12-weeks-as-turning-point rumor be true, I AM BEGGING YOU.

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

So it turns out I really shouldn't have spared the inlaws the worry re: last weekend's Fun With Hemorrhaging. I have since learned of several bombs the MIL dropped while I was indisposed. First, I am clearly "milking" this for all it's worth. She never experienced any nausea, so obviously it's just a myth and I just need to buck up. In the same vein, bone-crushing fatigue = urban legend, so again, buck the fuck up. My favorite? "She would feel so much better if she just got some fresh air." I believe this followed my not wanting to take a 2.5 mile walk for coffee while spotting and cramping. The kicker is that I really was trying to be a trouper while they were here. I ate dinner cheerily despite feeling like death was imminent. I grocery shopped, cooked fancy homemade pizzas, made sure they had fresh linens on their bed and plenty of freshly washed towels, made the house as nice as I could, all while feeling like shit. And I like my inlaws! I really do! Sure, week long visits are longer than I prefer, especially when I know they are just puttering around the house while we're at work, but I deal. This just felt mean, criticizing me for feeling like crap, especially when she had no idea what was really going on or how hard it was for us to get here. It just stung and made me SO angry. Ragey, really. I'm trying to let it go though. Chalking it up to total ignorance of reality. (Oopsie, that sounded bitter, didn't it?)

Anyway, I had the mental health ultrasound on Tuesday and the blob was still alive and well. It was measuring a couple of days ahead of schedule and had a nice, strong heart rate -- 152. The nausea kind of took off this week too, unfortunately. In the beginning, it was manageable assuming I ate often enough. Now it's just kind of constant, like my gag reflex is in overdrive, and it seems to get really bad just in time to drive home from work. The B6/unisom combo no longer seems to help, and the zofran does nothing other than cause crippling constipation. Altoids give me a few minutes of relief, and warm baths are pretty soothing, but otherwise there is a lot of sucking it up going on. Every minute at work is torture; it's one thing to feel like crap a home, but another entirely to feel that way outside of my comfort zone when I have to appear professional. I'm praying every day that this gets better soon. I have never handled nausea well (HOOOO: UNDERSTATEMENT), so the constancy of this is wearing on me. It's depressing and isolating to feel sick all the time. My sweet husband has been amazing. He cooks, cleans, brings whatever I need to wherever I am lying in a heap of misery. I feel so terrible for sucking so hard lately, but I'm sure I'll get mine -- he is planning to have rotator cuff surgery this winter and he's a notoriously terrible patient. Poor little bunny.

Summary at 8w1d: This kid better be awesome, because life sucks right now.

Hork

WARNING: This is mostly gross and TMI recorded for my own recollection, so please feel free to ignore. Damn, biology is gross.

So! Three weeks later, and I'm still alive and seemingly still pregnant. I had four betas, all with excellent numbers and doubling times (623, 1400, 4000, 10000), and despite a couple of unpleasant (read: utterly terrifying) spotting/cramping episodes, one of which earned us that 4th beta, we still saw an appropriately sized blob with a strong heartbeat at our 6w3d ultrasound. This was reassuring enough that we shared the news with our parents. Well, to be honest, we really didn't have much choice. Mark's parents are visiting right now and we have tickets to take them to a wine festival tonight. For those who know me in real life, well, my not drinking at a wine festival is about as subtle as a blinking neon sign declaring "PREGNANT" plastered to my forehead. I'm not an alcoholic by any stretch, but I ... I like wine, ok? Let's just say the jig was up. Obviously all four first-time potential grandparents are BESIDE THEMSELVES and struggling with the embargo on the big news. 

Anyhoo, things have been progressing, I guess. There is definite bloating, my bras feel snug, nausea showed up at precisely 6 weeks, like, to the hour, I am unspeakably exhausted, and I am desperately, desperately in need of some Activia. Ahem. (Apologies for the TMI, y'all.) 

What is totally freaking me out is the cramping/bleeding episode I had last night. I came up to my room late in the afternoon because I thought I was having some, um, Activia-related issues (omg, I'm sorry). What I discovered was blood. A LOT of blood. A terrifying amount, in fact. At first it was thin, then it got thicker, by morning it was brown. I didn't panic because it wasn't clotty and also because these episodes seem to happen after I've had a lot of tonic water, which I just discovered can be an anticoagulant. (MORON. Obviously that is on the No Fly List now.) My next ultrasound isn't until a week from Tuesday, so I'm going to talk to my nurse tomorrow and see if she can sneak me in for a mental health check. I am trying so hard to remain detached, because hello, still so early, but I would really, really prefer it if the blob were still there and growing happily. 

Poor Mark is stuck running interference with his parents about why I have been up in my room for nearly a day, letting them assume I'm just nauseated and sleeping it off. I think that's probably better for all than, ohh, she's on bedrest because she spent half the night hemorrhaging. I can think of better times for house guests is what I'm saying. On the plus side, I did learn while chatting with my dear MIL, who has been cooking and cleaning up for my useless ass, that when Mark was born, his dad's parents flew in before the due date and just kind of hung out for an open ended visit, awaiting his (very late) arrival. My MIL found this to be an exquisite type of torture and swore the that she would never do this to her children. They plan to make do with Skype and photos until we're ready for visitors. I had been fretting about this, as I love them and would never want to keep them from their grandbaby, but oh LORD, did I not want anyone in my house in the very early days. Huge relief! 

So, to sum up: grossness, discomfort, and anxiety, with occasional bouts of gory terror. This is life at 7w1d. 

WUT?

So can we talk about this? Because WHOA:

I have peed on so many, many dollars over the last few years, but never has THIS happened. And let's be clear -- I am certainly not operating as though this means we'll actually be bringing a baby home come May. If this is indeed accurate and not just a chemical (first beta is Tuesday), I am at a mere 4w1d. There is still so very much time in which things could go wrong.

I am dangerously, wantonly hopeful, though; I just can't help myself. We did so much to get here and I think I was just expecting it would never actually work. I feel like hope is reckless at this stage, but alas, here we are. And fucking Pinterest, you guys. The siren song of its trove of nursery photos is irresistible; I mean, imaginary decorating is MY THING. I'm not pinning anything, of course, but ohh how I look and ponder themes and paint colors. I also had a conveniently timed shopping trip to pick up a baby shower gift and was promptly overwhelmed by Buy Buy Baby. There is so much CRAP; I could research from now until May just trying to figure out what is actually necessary. It makes reading about this stuff so easy to justify when I should really just back away and ignore the fact that our whole world has shifted.

I think imaginary decorating and reading about baby gear is just my method of distraction, because the limbo never really ends, does it? First I was anxious it wouldn't work, now I'm terrified something will go wrong. The really scary thing is that, if we're unbelievably lucky, it's only going to get worse. In the best case scenario, I'm going to spend my whole life, God willing, worrying about something happening to this little person. Right now, I'm just hoping I'll get that chance. 

I can't drink, so I'm soothing my nerves with pictures of Jenny Lind cribs and nautical stripes. It'll have to do for now.

Limbo

*Still rambling about reproductive matters. As always, feel free to avert your eyes.*

I'm horribly impatient, which makes the waiting for the first beta torturous. My sunny and optimistic husband just puts it out of his mind and goes about his day. My innards are still a bit jacked, so even in the rare moments I can forget, I'm reminded by the pain every time I have to pee. Or sit on my lumpy, PIO'd ass. If it didn't work, it didn't work; I JUST WANT TO KNOW. My test is scheduled for the 17th, but I am 100% a home test cheater, so maybe Thursday. We'll see -- I'm trying to hold out as long as possible. 

Did I tell you about the transfer? It was such a strange experience. They bring you into a dark exam room to wait for the doctor, then there is a lot of repetitive ID bracelet checking and name/birthdate/social recitation, first with the nurse, who also checks your photo ID before putting on the bracelet, then with the doctor, and finally again with the embryologist. We had to say why we were there and verbally consent to the single embryo transfer and sign the consent form. The embryologist went back to her bench and trained the camera on the embryo that had been voted Most Likely to Succeed, displaying the image on a tv in our procedure room. At this point, the doctor started describing what we were seeing and why they chose that embryo as she, um, set up shop. It was kind of weird because this was only the first time I had seen my doctor for an actual medical procedure. She works out of the main office, which is a hike for me to get to. I go there for consults with her, procedures requiring the ASC, and occasional monitoring appointments if I have to go outside of the satellite office monitoring hours. For my regular monitoring appointments, I go to the office that is on my way to work and I am a frequent flyer to the staff over there. My doctor coordinates my protocol, though, and has been wonderful to work with. She is super no-nonsense, yet still quite sure we will eventually have success, but in a very matter-of-fact way. I never, ever get the sense that she is blowing sunshine. We also went to the same small college. Although I was there about five years after she graduated, I feel like it makes her my people in a way. 

But I digress. (Ha, that should have been what I called this blog.) After setting up shop, the doctor looked around for free fluid, given my increased risk of developing OHSS. The ovaries were still swollen, of course, but I appeared to be fluid free otherwise, so she felt good about giving a thumbs up for transfer. She opened a door into the lab and requested the embryo by an ID number. The embryologist brought in the catheter, it was positioned by the doctor, and just like that, the transfer was done. The embryologist brought the catheter back to the microscope to make sure they had gotten the embryo out, and that was it. My doctor was lovely, taking a minute to chat afterward and thanking us for being so patient over a long road, saying how hopeful she is that this is the one and how confident she is that we would have a strong group left to freeze. (We did! Six!) She is super smart and very much a scientist, but she is also an excellent caregiver. This clinic sometimes gets a bad rap because it is so huge; people complain about feeling like a number. However, that has never once been my experience. Even visiting multiple offices, I still feel like they all know me and genuinely care about our experience and getting us to an eventual success. We're several cycles in, child-free, and I would still recommend these people without the slightest hesitation. 

Oh! The funniest part! (It's dark humor; bear with me.) So once the doctor leaves, they have you stay lying down on the table until one of the nurses comes in with your follow up instructions. As I was lying there, the embryologist came back with a card that had a picture of the embryo attached. It just struck me as morbidly hilarious, perhaps because detachment is an excellent defense mechanism. It was just like those cards you get when you take kids to see Santa or the Easter Bunny, except inside was a picture of our widdle blastocyst. What does one do with this? Hope for the best and save it to paste under "Baby's First Photo" in a future baby book? I couldn't help but think about what I was supposed to do when the clump of cells dies. Label it "Our First Little Crushing Defeat" and tuck it away to reminisce about those two weeks we spent hoping it would live and wondering who it would become? For now, I am going with hide in purse and try to forget it's there.

It totally has my inner cell mass. 

One hell of a weekend...

...with "hell" being the operative word there. 

*As always, here is your TMI warning to avert your eyes. Talk of the lady parts ahoy.*

Let me back up. When we last chatted, I was well into stims for this cycle and things were progressing nicely. It looked like there would be about 15 follicles, which is a nice number for ensuring success without venturing too deeply into risky Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) waters. I was having daily monitoring appointments last week, and on Wednesday, they estimated another two days of stims before trigger. That was perfect timing-wise, as we had friends coming to spend the weekend, so a Monday retrieval was ideal. That would also bring us to a Saturday transfer, so minimal time out of work too. 

Enter Murphy's Law: At Thursday morning's appointment, we were up to about 18 follicles and the leaders had jumped into the 21-22 mm range. The sonographer had me talk to one of the nurses, because she was 99% sure I would trigger that night based on the looks of things. I got all of the instructions from the staff nurse, then awaited the post-bloodwork call from my regular nurse. It turned out that my estrogen levels had doubled overnight and were ridiculously high -- just over 5,000, so yeah. Time to trigger. Because of my PCOS diagnosis, the original plan was to use a dual trigger -- a lower dose of the traditional hCG trigger, plus Lupron. Where hCG is a driver of OHSS and it has a very, very long half-life, the traditional all-hCG trigger was a bad idea for me. However, with the discovery of the sky-high estrogen levels, the team decided that the dual trigger was also too risky and decided to go with Lupron only. Lupron can be dicey, as it causes a surge of LH from the pituitary to mature the eggs prior to retrieval, but in the rare case where there is no LH in reserve, the trigger failure could result in a cancellation. I was very worried about this potential, as the ovaries were suuuuper uncomfortable at this point. (It is very weird to be able to feel your internal organs bumping around in there.) 

Friday's bloodwork revealed that the Lupron trigger had done its thing, so we were good to go for the Saturday retrieval. I was both anxious to get it over with, but also frothed into a terrified lather over the possibility of OHSS, especially with the fast rising estrogen and my nurse's urging to start a high protein/sodium diet and switch to drinking Gatorade. (I may also have broken the 1st Commandment of The Internet: Thou shalt not google potential medical complications.) Anyway, I bought out the processed meat and fruit punch Gatorade sections at the supermarket and we immediately embarked on the high blood pressure express. Since Thursday, we have had cheeseburgers, kielbasa, hot dogs, a quattro carne pizza (pepperoni, sausage, meatball, AND bacon), a boatload of tater tots, and I have had two lunches of Baja Fresh. I'm also deep into my third barrel of Gatorade. It is surprisingly horrific (I would kill for a salad right now), but if it keeps me from developing issues? Bring it on. 

Saturday was pretty awful. I woke up starving, which I never do, likely because I knew I could neither eat nor drink. We had to be at the doctor's office by 11, at which point the anxiety began. I was straight up SCARED. I am a terrible patient to begin with, and not knowing what to expect was killing me. They got an IV started to rehydrate me after the pre-op fast, then we had a bunch of informed consent nonsense. I have loved almost all of the nurses at this place, but the one in charge of informed consent? OMG, awful. She was incapable of deviating from her script, even for questions. At least the others were all great. I was also put tremendously at ease by the doctor. Once they were ready to go, things went really quickly. They walked me into the procedure room, had me get situated on the table, then the anesthesiologist hit me with the versed. I remember laying down, then I have a vague recollection of scootching to the gurney when they were done. I think I apologized in case I had snored (such is life with effed up sinuses), then they brought Mark back. I kept telling him to sit, but he insisted on standing next to me and holding my hand. Things were getting painful the less groggy I got, so they shot some fentanyl into my IV. It didn't do much, but the Queen o' Bedside Manner had scared the bejesus out of me earlier, talking about women who refused pain meds and ended up in the ER from the pain. (THANKS, DONNA.) What has two thumbs and isn't a hero? THIS GIRL.  

Once I was back with the program, they brought me a giant diaper pad and said I could get dressed. My favorite nurse of the day walked me around to make sure I was steady enough to get to the car, then came in to tell us the egg count. Turns out they got TWENTY-EIGHT, HOLY CRAP. This is both awesome in that I could potentially not have to do another egg retrieval, but also ups the risk of OHSS (hola, Gatorade, old pal!) Apparently something about the number of eggs collected also caused them to switch me from the progesterone suppositories they originally prescribed to the dreaded PIO injections. They gave me a vial to bring home and drew helpful little targets on my ass for Mark. Unfortunately, they only had GIANT needles instead of the normal huge needles, but luckily I was able to draw on my stash at home. The shots really don't hurt in the moment (although Mark's needle phobia means he needs to steel himself with a scotch before stabbing me), but now I feel like I have big bruises on my butt. Lovely. 

Now for the ugly business:
-- Despite all I read, I was not quite prepared for the pain. You don't realize all of the small movements you use your lower abs for until that region is all aflame. For example, to sit in the recliner, I had to have Mark pop the chair open, slowly raise the footrest, and push down the back. I bounced back quickly, though. I've been proudly operating the recliner all by myself since mid-yesterday. 
-- I stayed on top of the pain meds, but was totally blindsided by the pain of --TMI-- a full bladder. Oh! And, embarrassingly enough, gas pain. With all of the swelling and inflammation in the area, there is just no room for anything else to move around without paaaaain. By the time I realized I had to pee, I was in such pain that Mark had to lift me out of the chair and walk me with little, shuffling steps to the bathroom. That? That was a low point.

Less ugly was the call from the office with the fertilization report -- 22/28 fertilized and were growing as of yesterday; we'll see what happens today. 

Other than overdoing a bit yesterday when the friends we had to cancel on came by to visit (their son ADORES Mark and talks about him all the time, and the feeling is totally mutual, so we were determined to see them before they went home), I have been taking it easy and trying to stretch out the intervals between pain meds. I am really grateful for the long weekend because there is no way I'd be up for going to work today. I am totally going to shower though. Way to aim high, overachiever. 

I vant to be alone. You know, just for an hour or so.

I am the epitome of an introvert. I prefer small groups to big ones, I haaaate idle chitchat and would sooner hang myself than attend a networking event, and I 100% require quiet time at home in order to recharge. When we do vacations with friends or my inlaws where I am with non-immediate family 24/7, I end up spending day 4 or 5 holed up in bed because I just can't be ON for another second or I will die. This is unfortunate, because I have pretty much spent this entire month traveling away from my personal recharging station (aka "home"). I met up with college friends for a long overdue girls weekend of wine tasting, we went to Boston/the Cape for my birthday weekend, I had a work trip to the San Francisco area (during which I had my first IRL internet friend meetup in which Emily (@pantalonesfuego) introduced me to Mission burritos), and I returned home to greet my mother in law at the airport for a visit to check out the new house. All of these things are really fun (well, meetings aside), but still SO draining. I am counting the minutes until I am home in an empty house next Wednesday, and I'll have to enjoy it while it lasts, as we have friends arriving on Friday to visit for the long weekend. I AM READY FOR SUMMER TO BE OVER. 

In other news (and feel free to avert your eyes here), we are well into the stims portion of the first IVF attempt. We ended up moving up the schedule after I had three migraines with aura in one week and realized that they were being triggered by birth control. The only other aura I ever had was back in April when I was on the pill after the cycle that was cancelled for overstimulation. I think this is day 9 of shots (Gonal-F and Menopur), and at my monitoring appointment, there were about 10-12 follicles in the 9-10mm range. I am hoping everything will keep progressing, and keep equal pacing with each other. Still waiting on the bloodwork and dosing call, but the ultrasound tech thought it all looked good. I am mildly optimistic (I have moved on from yesterday's fretting about having to move to MA for IVF coverage after we exhaust our allotted attempts here), though I will take any good thoughts you can spare. Next appointment is Monday morning. 

Ok, I have to go. I snuck away to "take a shower" about a half hour ago, so I should really get on that. I already had to lie about my whereabouts this morning so I could sneak off for monitoring. Ahem, I mean, have coffee with a friend. Ugh, this month can bite me. 

Feel free to avert your eyes...

Hello again! I've kind of been buried in unpacking (it will NEVER END, will it?) and work and daily life crapola. It's amazing how quickly the weeks slip by, isn't it? Anyway, with all of these weeks slipping by, it seems my month of freedom is over and we are back in the reproductive technology saddle, and HOO BOY is it different this time around. To sum up, after giving ovulation induction plus timed intercourse the old college try, I was ready to eliminate some variables. Given the particulars of our situation (many antral follicles making it very difficult to mature only 1 or 2 follicles, no male factor), IUI would not have increased our odds of success and it came with a hefty price tag. This left us with IVF.

I could write a dissertation on the b.s. that is our health insurance racket industry, but I'll sum it up quickly. Our insurance covers diagnostic testing for infertility, but generally excludes treatment. This means that for ovulation induction cycles with timed intercourse, we were paying out of pocket for the meds, but all of the bloodwork and ultrasounds were considered diagnostic and therefore covered for the regular "specialist" copay. However, if you add in just the IUI procedure, the same monitoring bloodwork and ultrasounds are no longer just diagnostic; because there is an end therapy in mind, they are considered treatment and excluded from coverage. I guess this is pretty common because my clinic offers IUI cycles for a flat fee that, while still including a comma in the number, was not much more than I was spending on injectables alone. The one exception to the general treatment exclusion is IVF. Because my husband works for a Maryland-based company and Maryland is blessedly liberal on these issues, our health insurer is obligated by statute to cover three IVF attempts per live birth. For this reason alone, we have access to the treatment option best suited for our needs AND it is costing us significantly (significantly) less money than less invasive treatment options, never mind what it would have cost us out of pocket. It is a game changer to say the least; I'm not sure we could have done this without insurance coverage. At best it would have been a decision between buying the new house and trying for a baby. Needless to say, I am feeling beyond grateful these days. 

The gratitude is taking a backseat to feeling completely overwhelmed, however, when it comes to the actual protocol. It's Day 13, and we're in the Birth Control Holding Pattern. I had the mock embryo transfer on Monday, and I think it was actually more painful than the HSG. (It was either someone's first day on the job or they were using a speculum made out of two shivs. Unpleasant!) Next appointment, for the pre-IVF evaluation, is on my birthday and obviously getting spelunked is totes how I had hoped to ring in #34. After that, we're heading to Boston for the weekend, then returning home to start shooting up. I nearly died when this arrived at my door last week:
Behold: An entire cycle's worth of meds for the price of maybe a dose or two out of pocket.
Because it is totally cool for multiple follicles to mature this time around, we do not have to be quite as cautious as before, so everyone is very hopeful that the injectables portion of the process will be well under the 17 days of stims I had last time. This does not mean that there is not intense monitoring; there totally is. In fact, this cycle's super fun drama (to date) has revolved around the scheduling of my first post-meds monitoring appointment.

My appointment is on the 22nd, and that is a hard date -- no wiggle room. I have a business trip scheduled for that week, but I figured it would be no big deal. I told the colleague booking our client visits that I needed to be back in DC on the 22nd. We had only three visits to make, so I figured Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, fly home Wednesday night, and we're good to go. Easy, right? I still cannot fathom why, but the colleague scheduled our appointments for Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday. When I asked that he reschedule the Friday appointment for Wednesday or earlier, he rescheduled it for Thursday. While I wanted to rip my hair out in frustration, I was cool about it. I mean, people undergoing IVF surely have to travel on occasion, so I asked my doctor who they could work with in the San Francisco area. I found a clinic near my hotel that my doctor could work with and that also had doctors considered in-network for me. My nurse sent them an order for the procedures I need, they scheduled everything, and all was well. Well, at least until I spoke to the finance people at the SF clinic. It seems that their policy is to require non-patients to self pay, even if there is a doctor there who is covered by their insurance. Self payment was going to be many dollars for basic monitoring bloodwork and ultrasound. I called my insurance to see whether they would reimburse me and they said, "Sure! Our negotiated and contracted rate is [less than half of that outrageous amount]." (Note to clinic: if a health insurance company thinks your policy is unfair? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.) At this point, I threw in the towel and decided to attend the last of the client visits via conference call because COME ON. 

Anyway, I have typed too many boring, rambling words (as usual), so I shall shut it now. Assuming all goes well (haaaaaaaa), we're anticipating an early September retrieval and a 5-day transfer. Cross some fingers and think good thoughts if you wouldn't mind, ok?

Coming Up For Air

So that was ... an experience. Let me break down the timeline for you:

6/7-6/10 -- house guests
6/9-6/13 -- Mark out of town
6/12-6/15 -- business trip for me
6/18-6/21 -- dying painful death of kidney infection
6/24-6/27 -- horrifyingly crazy week at work
6/28 -- closing/moving day (with bonus thunder and lightning monsoons)
See the wind blowing the rain sideways? That was awesome.
6/29 -- finish cleaning out the old house
6/30 -- leave for Massachusetts at 4 am

HAAAAAAAA. I lost my mind somewhere around mid-June. I think it's maybe in one of those boxes out there?

Anyway, we are fully out of the old house and into the new, disaster that it might be. It was kind of stressful leaving for vacation immediately after moving, especially seeing as I couldn't find any of my clothes, but we had a fantastic, relaxing week on Cape Cod. My parents have a cottage there, and my best friend, who has been coming up to visit annually since we were assigned as freshman year roommates in college, rented a house around the corner with her husband and AH-dorable son. 

(This kid, OMG. He is so cute and so sweet and SO SMART. 18 months and speaking in sentences! He repeats everything you say, then uses it in context. Amazing! Uncle Mark might have lost his ever loving mind at Toys 'R' Us when he discovered the wee man's love of Thomas.)

We had a fantastic week despite the less than fantastic weather. Lots of smoked meat, ice cream, and wine on the porch, as well as daily afternoon naps and a great dinner out at the restaurant where I worked all through college (hat tip to Mom for babysitting). It was a great respite after the flaming hell that was June, and I was so sad to leave at the (literal) crack of dawn on Sunday. 

We made it home by 1:30 on Sunday and spent the afternoon trying to get organized. I don't know about you, but I have to get the kitchen sorted out first. If the kitchen is clean and functional and uncluttered, I feel like I can take my time working through the rest of the house, figuring out where things should go. By 10, it was done, our first dinner had been cooked and cleaned up, and I was ready to drop. 
OMG, I have a gas stoooove! (I also have to relearn how to cooook.)

The rest of the house? It looks pretty much like this:

I have my work cut out for me.

**One week later, because of course I never posted the draft post**

I did make some progress for, like, five minutes there. I actually found the dining room table and everything, see?

Aaaand then we had to clear out the garage to make room for the extra fridge and freezer. (OMG, I cannot even express in words how excited I am for that stupid chest freezer after years of having only wee bottom freezer drawers.) (Pretty sure that was the death knell of my youth.) Anyway, we are now happily refrigerating beer and freezing a few random things Mark found at Trader Joe's, and the dining room is back to looking like this:

Craaaaap. I'm going to need some of that beer. 

**Ooh, also! Furniture update from last time. We ordered the kitchen table and chairs, as well as the bar stools. There was also a very important couch development. We found out the cloud couch is available in a sectional. They had either the amazing 46" deep version or a slightly smaller 43" deep version (still v. comfy). As much as I loved the 46", we went with the 43". The 46" only had a wedge-shaped corner piece, which would have been a bit too big for the room. The 43" has a square corner piece and should be pretty perfect. I went with a beigey cotton/linen blend slipcover that the store claims is washable. We shall see. It is very cozy and squishy and should be here in 60-90 days. (SERIOUSLY? It takes three months to make a damn couch??)

Moving is much more fun when you focus on the new stuff instead of packing all of your old crap.

The big move around the corner is rapidly approaching, so my house is quickly morphing from a place where people live to an unholy explosion of crap everywhere. This has really not been helped by the fact that Mark and I were both traveling last week (laundry explosion!) AND I returned with a raging kidney infection (zero things have been accomplished). I have gotten as far as going to Costco to acquire a nice supply of wasteful paper goods so that I can pack up the kitchen (can I offer you a Solo Cup of wine?), but the actual packing? Not so much. I am in no shape to pack things today, seeing as I can't even breathe without cringing in pain, so let's talk about the fun stuff: NEW HOUSE DECOR.

We have a surprisingly decent amount of furniture for the new place, considering that we're coming from a much smaller place. We just ordered a new mattress (super excited for the king sized bed, as my husband is a damn furnace), and we'll need a box spring for one of the guest beds, but otherwise the bedrooms are pretty well covered, at least for now. We have living and dining room furniture already, and a desk that we can expand later for the office. There will be little accent pieces to collect over time, but our only big needs right now are for a kitchen table and a family room couch.

This is the space we're working with:
Kitchen
Family Room (from way back -- can't find a current photo, but this gives you an idea)
Our house is a mirror flip of this one -- we're talking the two rooms along the back.
The kitchen table was a dilemma for a while, because I had my heart set on a table that was just too big for the space. Our kitchen has a lot of space, but it opens into the family room, so flow is an issue. I needed to stay in the 42" range, and the extra 6" made a big difference. I kept looking, but nothing really caught my eye; smaller pedestal tables were either too dainty or SUPER country, and I did not want to spend money on a table I didn't love. This is why I was so excited to find Canadel, a Canadian furniture manufacturer, which has a design-your-own option. We went to check out their line at a local furniture store, and knock wood (no pun intended), it seems great. Heavy, solid wood, no veneers, and a nicely distressed finish that should work well for hiding the wear and tear of daily use. I also found a classic black Windsor spindle-back chair to go with it that conveniently has matching counter stools. Can't wait to get these ordered!
It doesn't look nearly as beat up in person; the distressing is much more subtle and natural looking.

The family room is a little tougher. As with the kitchen table, I have had an image in my head forEVER, but I feel like I would be way overspending if I were to go with this particular version. It's such a classic style; there has to be someone other than Pottery Barn selling it. I want a squishy, comfy sectional in a very neutral beige so that I'm not limited in decor options and can change things up with curtains and pillows. (I'm thinking a pale, icy blue for the walls; I like that it can be beachy most of the year, but looks great with red at the holidays.) I found two options at our local furniture place:

Option #1:
Option #2:
Option #1 is very much like PB Basic in style, and it's pretty comfy to sit on. It comes in a million different fabrics, so finding something beigey and washable shouldn't be too tall of an order. Price is definitely better than Pottery Barn's (though that price really had nowhere to go but down). In all, I probably would have been quite happy with #1 had I not tried out #2. Option #2 is the couch of my dreeeams. It is super squishy; you sink into it and it envelops you in squishy pillows. It has a really deep seat that practically begs you to curl up on it. It too is slipcovered and has many fabric options (I totally love the white version in the showroom, but I'm probably definitely way too anal yet lazy (be perfectly clean but without my having to strip and wash the slipcovers!) for that), and it's in our price ballpark. The only problem is I'm not sure if it's too big for the room. Our family room is about 15' x 17'. Given the configuration, we have plenty of room along the 15' wall, but the couch running parallel with the 17' wall will be floating into the room a little bit, as the entry to the room is centered on the 17' wall. We can't have the couch sticking out so far that it creates an obstacle when entering the room. The "grand" version of the sofa #2 is 94", which would be perfect for the 15' wall. They also have an "apartment" size, which is 74" long. The dilemma is that the couch is 46" deep (SO COMFY). I think that, in order for the couches to be spaced appropriately perpendicular to each other, the depth of the long couch will make the shorter couch stick out too far past the doorway. There is a 53" chair-and-a-half that would work size wise, but I'm not sure it's a practical solution for maximizing seating in the room. Ideally there would be a sectional version of this sofa that solves all of my problems, but the saleswoman we are working with is out on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I just have to be patient -- my least prominent quality.

This would all be so much easier if I could get into the room with some painters tape to tape off where the couches would go and actually get a visual feel for it, but of course, we are in the painful period where we aren't allowed in the house so that the builders can play Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on our pre-closing walk through on Friday. I was kind of annoyed, since we've chosen all of the finishes and seen everything as it has been installed, but I really have no choice other than to humor them. Patience is just the name of every game up in here these days...

Anyway, couch thoughts?

Workation?

I do not normally love business travel. I love the frequent flyer miles and hotel points, but in general? I prefer it when Mark is the one earning them. Business travel for me is generally kind of awkward. I'm usually flying to the middle of nowhere to audit a drug or medical device manufacturer that has no idea what it is doing, and leaving terrified to ever require any kind of medical intervention. (Haaaa, how that ship has sailed.) Best case scenario, I'm traveling alone and the companies I see aren't going to kill anyone; less rosy scenario, I'm traveling with our outside consultant to utter shitholes of which the owners are inordinately proud. I spend my day breaking the spirits of our clients (well, actually, Bob, it's not just FDA being difficult; quality systems ARE that important...), then head back to the finest Comfort Inn or Courtyard that exists in whichever cornfield/industrial park I'm in, praying that there is some sort of food establishment nearby that serves potable wine. It ain't glamorous, is what I'm saying. 

However, once a year, it seems my luck might be looking up. My company hosts a big annual meeting for all of the various defense attorneys we use, and in order to get people to attend, it's generally pretty swanky. This year's meeting was last week and it was gloooorious (please please please let this not have been the peak!). I had been dreading it, being a hater of meetings and awkward social functions and all, but it ended up being pretty damn amazing. I flew to California last week and found myself at a truly spectacular golf and spa resort. My room had a lovely private patio looking out on the cypress and jacaranda trees, with a little walkway down to one of the gorgeous pools. The furnishings were insane -- giant marble bathroom with a super deep soaking tub, marble shower, tv in the bathroom, giant king bed with Oprah's Italian linens, a ridiculous gilt frame for the bedroom tv. 

The meetings started with a cocktail reception the night I arrived, after which I grabbed an extra glass of wine on my way out and headed to my giant, fluffy bed. We had breakfast on Thursday morning, then a full day of presentations. Oh -- and by full day, I mean we started at 8, were done by 2 and I was at the pool by 2:30. 

The pool was spectacular as well. I grabbed a towel and headed for a chair, only to hear one of the pool boys chasing me down. "Madam! Madam! Please, let me get for you a chair cover!" Seriously, they have little towels with hoods on them that fit snugly over the top of the chair cushion so you never have falling-down-towel issues. By the time I was settled, he was back with a glass of ice water and some frozen grapes. A little while later, just as I was starting to feel a little warm, he reappeared to ask if he might bring me another beverage. Why, yes, kind sir! I asked for something fruity with rum and minutes later he was back with a caipirinha. I (heart) him.  

Thursday night was our conference dinner, which again started with cocktails and was followed with a very tasty buffet. My coworker and I escaped by 8:15, again nabbing some wine to go, and I headed back to my giant, fluffy bed. Friday was even better -- we started at 9 and were done before noon. I had a lovely room service lunch on my patio, then headed down to the spa, as one of the firms was treating us to spa services. I had an outstanding facial, then soaked in the relaxation whirlpool. 

I headed back to the pool for a bit, promptly destroying my lovely facial with sunscreen and loving every second. I had a lovely night in my amazing room, sipping chardonnay on my patio, then soaking in a bath with rose petals and enjoying another room service special (big fan o' room service here and Mark haaaaates it, so I take advantage when I can). The only down side was that I had to go home the next day (after room service breakfast on the patio, of course). Siiiigh...

OH -- my very favorite things? Housekeeping was ON TOP of all electrical cords. Hair dryer, chargers, computer cable -- didn't matter. If there was a loose cord during one of their twice daily visits, it got wound up and tied with a gold ribbon. For real, every time. It was ADORABLE. They also left either chocolate covered Oreos or little boxes of truffles as the turn down chocolates. HEAVEN. 

Anyway, my husband is a wonderful guy, but he is super not into luxury hotels, and I love love them. The rarity has kind of made me appreciate them more, so I soaked it up while I could. And even better -- on someone else's dime! Ohhh, if only all business trips were like this...

I may have spoken too soon...

So, last time around, we talked about my deluuuusions, and rest assured, they were nothing more. This month was a bust -- a very long and expensive bust. I remained devoted to my hopelessly hopeful delusions right up until the moment my nurse called with the news, despite testing out the trigger and taking a series of glaringly negative home tests. I had my two favorite monitoring nurses to chat with during the blood draw, and they laughingly called me a "home test cheater," saying that this was a relatively early blood test and I may have just tested too early at home. Deep down I knew, but I played along. I always feel like I have to be super chipper when my main nurse calls with the bad news, too. She feels bad delivering it, so I always overcompensate, like I never expected the thousands of dollars of crazy making hormones to result in a real, live baby or anything, so no need to worry about me, I'm fiiiiiine!

We're taking a breather this cycle, and I'm definitely ok with that. Last cycle was particularly trying for some reason; maybe it was the signs, maybe it was selling our house and the rapidly impending move on top of all of the drugs and monitoring. Regardless, the breather is kind of out of our hands, and here's why. You know how last time I mentioned that I had craploads of antral follicles and Mark's analysis was tip top? Yeah, about that... 

Mark busted his shoulder while skiing about 4 1/2 years ago (Christmas '08 -- he was totally showing off on his first ski trip with me and bit it hard while attempting to slide down some sort of skiing balance beam thingy). Rather than going to the doctor after the pain wouldn't resolve, he just continued to build houses and play softball and renovate our house and do any number of things to irritate his ARTHRITIS AND PARTIALLY TORN ROTATOR CUFF, all the while bitching about how much his shoulder hurt. It was not at all infuriating and I was the picture of sympathy the whole time. (LIES.) Anyway, in a softball game a few weeks ago, he threw the ball and the pain in his shoulder kind of exploded (ROTATOR CUFF. TOOOORN!). 

It was enough to make him schedule a doctors appointment, and while he was there, he mentioned that he had been feeling tired a lot, earning himself a nice blood panel. Interestingly enough, the blood results came back that his testosterone was low, which could certainly cause fatigue, but also a whole mess of Science Baby issues. I called my nurse to see what his levels were during our intake testing and she said that because his analysis was great, they did not test his testosterone; they do that only when there is an issue with the semen analysis. Long story still long, we have no idea if the low T is accurate (his blood was drawn in the afternoon and testosterone needs to be tested first thing in the morning), and if it is, whether that is having an effect on Science Baby and the lack thereof. He has an appointment next week with a urologist recommended by my doctor, so we'll see what the deal is and then formulate a new plan. There's no sense in jumping into another cycle until we figure this out. I'm kind of leaning toward IVF at the moment, especially since it's covered by state mandate while I'm still on Mark's policy for the next six months, but right now we just have to be patient and wait to see what the doctors say. 

I wish patience were something I knew how to do...

(The business trip to heaven on earth I am currently on is helping. Remind me to tell you about it, because whoa. WHOA. Gotta run -- had my rose petal bath and room service dinner; now it's time for a nightcap of port and the little box of truffles left on my pillow.)

Pretty sure I'm setting myself up for devastation here...

I try not to be a “signs” person – I’m in the business of rules and analysis; I’m supposed to know better. My husband is an engineer and thus practically a robot. Seriously. When his mother was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer (it was found very early and resolved surgically, she is doing great, thank God), his response was, “Well, there’s really nothing to worry about until we have more information.” It may as well have been, “Beep boop beep beep boop.” Signs, not unexpectedly, cause him to roll his eyes. Well, unless they are Red Soxian in nature, in which case he wears his lucky ties to work on game days and is willing to sacrifice his formerly-lucky hat on a bonfire bbq grill at the torturous end of a miserable season. Girly signs hold no water for him, though.

I generally try to be all zen about the baby stuff; we are working with excellent doctors, doing all we can medically, and it will happen when it happens. Actually, I have the fine ladies of the internet to thank for that relatively healthy attitude. I’ve been reading ‘round these parts for close to a decade, following people down some very dark roads, but amazingly, not one of those ladies is without some form of the family she hoped for, despite the long journey, sometimes to hell and back. Knowing so many of these difficult personal histories is oddly comforting, and it helps in keeping perspective. It might be a long wait, and a more painful path than I would ever wish on my worst enemy, but in the end, there is (more often than not) joy. 

(You have no idea how often I pray that is not just naiveté talking.) 

But here is the dilemma of my discontent: I am seeing Siiiiiigns about the current cycle we’re working through, and it is causing my hopes to soar, despite my every attempt to keep them suppressed zen-like. Although I have a crap endocrine system, things are not entirely hopeless over here. There is no male factor to worry about and I have a ridiculous number of antral follicles, so at least we’re lucky enough to have material to work with. The tricky bit, though, is that because there are so many follicles (and I have no desire to be the next Octomom), ovulation induction is a delicate dance. There needs to be sufficient stimulation to produce one or two mature follicles, but no more than one or two, and of course, I am a slow responder. It takes many days (and dollars – SO MANY DOLLARS) of meds in order to get to that point. Last cycle, things went haywire and I ended up with two mature follicles and way too many not-quite-mature follicles, and the cycle was cancelled. It was really disappointing both because of all of the money wasted on meds and because it was costing us three weeks before we could start the next cycle. Where there were so many maturing follicles and a climbing E2 level, my doctor ordered a round of birth control to calm everything down and hopefully keep any cysts from forming. 

However, during those three weeks of feeling like nauseated garbage, I started contemplating the what-ifs of the next cycle. Knowing when I would end the pill, I guesstimated a Cycle Day 1, figured in the approximately 3 weeks of meds before triggering, and added 38 weeks, which brought me to mid-February. Turns out I was pretty close on my guesstimates, as my nurse is now predicting a trigger mid-week next week. And there we have The Sign: assuming this were to work out, the hypothetical baby (we affectionately call him/her “Science Baby”) would be due on or about February 12th.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced this, but I have birthday clusters in my life. The two most serious relationships I have had have birthdays two days apart and two days from my sister’s. Two of my best college friends were born six days apart. My birthday is the day before my dad’s. And here’s the kicker: I have FIVE very close friends, including the two who are my sisters-from-other-mothers, all of whom were born between February 12th-19th, with two on February 12th alone. I think astrology in general is utter crap (I am the least Leo-y Leo to ever walk the earth), but there has to be something to this, right? 

And just like that, my analytical brain goes directly to a constant loop of “IT WAS MEANT TO BEEEEE. THAT’S WHEN MY PEOPLE ARE BORN. THE CANCELLATION HAPPENED SO THINGS WOULD BE READY WHEN THE RIGHT LITTLE PERSON WAS READY. IT WAS MEANT TO BEEEEEEEEE.” I catch myself thinking about what I will be doing in a year, and looking around Science Baby’s room in the new house picturing where the crib and glider will go, looking out of the window I will look out while I rock her (Science Baby is a she in my delusions, of course). It is as un-zen-like as I have been in a long, long time, and I really need it to just STOP.
 
Otherwise? It is going to suck even more than usual when the negative shows up this time around.

What took me so long?!

Oh, it was kind of expensive. That, probably. Still, though, hear me out. I moved to DC in August of 2001, and I have been flying regularly since then. I am an appallingly bad traveler; air travel freaks me out, I hate packing and unpacking, I hate that last minute list of things you need to use right before you leave the house and therefore can't pack until the literal last minute. Generally it's not a big deal when I forget things; there is almost always a CVS nearby, and who am I kidding -- half the time I'm just going to my parents' or inlaws' house.

However, work trips break my spirit. Business clothes, heels, the dread of forgetting something vital because you actually have to look professional and presentable, needing to pack in a roll-aboard -- it stinks. But I have fiiiiinally come up with A System! Note: My system is absolutely not novel in any way; I just threw money at the problem and bought dedicated travel duplicates of all the stuff I need. It's amazing -- I left last night, but I packed ON SATURDAY. This has never happened before. EVER. Look at this:


Clothes neatly seatbelted in! Shoes and toiletries zipped in on the other side!

Hairbrushes, comb, and clips zip into that little bag and the dryer folds right up!
Miscellaneous personal items on the left, baggie o' liquids and makeup on the right!
I hate this stupid 3-1-1 rule. HATE.
New makeup! Powder, blush, and liner/shadow-in-one, plus mini brushes I forgot I had! I still have my eye on the Sephora Rose Gold set, though. One of these days...


So far, so good. I zipped through the airport with no problem at all, and I had everything I needed getting ready this morning. The real test will be tomorrow morning when I actually have to dry freshly washed hair rather than just smoothing and neatening day old hair. (The degree to which my hair believes itself to be a very special snowflake is outrageous; I'm nervous about whether it will accept the new brushes and dryer.) If I actually get home tomorrow and unpack right away? Mark may even come around on The System, regardless of the shameful Ulta price tag.

Time flies when you're drugged to the gills.

So! February and March kind of slipped right on by me. It has been eventful around here. Let's break it down bullet-style:
  • New House: Ground has been broken! We have a foundation and first floor, and they're framing the second floor as we type. This is SUPER EXCITING, mostly because I just want this to be over and done with. I feel like we have been planning forever and I just. want. to get. the show. ON THE ROAD. The house is supposed to have all three floors and a roof by the end of this week, then the trades start coming in to do their things, and we have a tentative closing date in mid-June. Let's bear in mind, though, that DC has been in a complete snow drought for two years, but as soon as they scheduled a ground breaking for this house, our usually springy and fabulous March got drunk and produced three snowstorms, because OF COURSE. So, yeah: tentative.
  • Old House: Part of moving is, obviously, unloading our current house. It is a very, very typical northern Virginia townhouse. We like that it has some backyard space and a nice, open floorplan. There is also nothing original left in the joint; we have renovated it ALL, as it was vintage 1995 and seriously vanilla. We ripped out the carpeting and put in Brazilian cherry floors, gutted the kitchen and bathrooms, replaced the windows, installed an alarm system, added a deck, replaced the front door and a slider, etc. The remaining carpet in the basement and bedrooms was replaced yesterday. In short, there have been lots of projects, as you know well from all of my whining about them. Now is where we hope and pray that they pay off. Apparently we have lucked into an out-of-nowhere seller's market, as all of the agents we interviewed keep going on about the low inventory and bidding wars; they seem shocked and confused by this development after years of working in a buyer's market. We have spent the last few weeks packing up most of our non-essential belongings and moving them to storage, and now we're cleaning and staging. (We're off to Home Depot to collect flowers and mulch shortly -- curb appeal!) (This is best said with *jazz hands*.) Photographer comes tomorrow (don't open the closets!) and the listing goes live on Friday. We're hoping to walk away with a little bit of savings, so cross everything, please.
  • Your face hurts? Well, it's killing me! I have, um, problematic sinuses. I have had sinus infections since I was a kid, and I can feel weather pressure changes in my face. It's an awesome(ly painful) party trick. To add insult to injury, I have ridiculous environmental allergies. I'm basically incompatible with earth. When I worked downtown, I used to see a very fancy allergist (he was on Oprah!) who, despite doing a scan of my sinuses, never diagnosed the anatomical issues and just loaded me up on an insanely expensive cocktail of drugs. He did not believe in using older drugs with generic versions, so my COPAY was $200 for this stuff. Anyway, I stopped working downtown (and stopped raking in the cash hand over fist), which was when I had two seconds to call b.s. on this routine. I found an ENT around the corner from my house and figured it would at least save me the commute to Chevy Chase. Little did I know I was stumbling into truly excellent care with The Swamster (of @HBapothecary fame). He is no joke, you guys. He listens to you, then actually remembers what you have told him. When I told him about the CF carrier thing, he actually sat back and stroked his chin, like I had provided another fascinating piece of a puzzle. In addition, he seems to have created a treatment plan that will improve quality of life in the short term, and in the long term, maybe even diminish the effects of allergies on daily life. Part of the plan, however, was a balloon sinuplasty, and I brilliantly decided to do this a day and half before I had guests arriving for Easter at my house. Although the procedure was ... uncomfortable (HOLY SHIT it sounds like your face bones are breaking apart) and the Afrin spray they are so fond of to prevent bleeding burns like the very fires of hell itself are ravaging your skull, the recovery was not as bad as I expected. I did not expect so be so exhausted, but apparently your body responds to the trauma like you have a massive sinus infection, so there you go. A week plus out? I'm feeling like I have the tail end of a cold kicking around and things are draining that have never drained before. However, spring sprang overnight this year, so I'm still having a lot of sinus pressure and pain, mostly in the eyebrow region, and my poor husband was devastated to learn that I can still out-snore most anyone.
  • Babies and the Lack Thereof: So I'm on my second medicated cycle, and wow, you guys. The fun NEVER ENDS. I have a ton of antral follicles, so we have to go low and slow in order to avoid Octomomming me (HAAAA NO). I am also seemingly a slow responder. Last month, we did two rounds of clomid (next stop, Crazytown), but I did not respond at all, even to a doubled dose, so we ditched it and moved on to injectables. My insurance does not cover injectables, so my direct deposit now goes straight to the pharmacy. I'm on Bravelle, which is super fun because it comes as a powder that you mix with a diluent and then shoot up. Chemistry in my bathroom, you guys! Last month I did a half vial nightly, but this month I have steadily moved from a full vial to 1.5 to 2. Let me tell you, it was super fun forking over $580 the other day for a mere 5 days worth of meds. I had more bloodwork and another ultrasound today (my poor arms, I totally look like a junkie), and it's looking like another few days of meds and more monitoring. Seriously, a child doesn't even exist yet, and I'm still hemorrhaging cash.

    So I think this catches us up nicely, no? Gotta go stick things in closets because the realtor is coming to take photos momentarily. More soon...

I am hiding from the bathroom reno by cooking. Enjoy!

Posting two days in a row? Who am I and what has happened to my slacker ways?? Basically I'm hiding from my construction beleaguered husband, who claims he loves to do renovation projects around the house yet turns into a world class grump while in the middle of them. God forbid I actually take a moment to drink my coffee after making him breakfast; don't I know there is work to be done?! Guaranteed he'll be full of the the passive aggressives when he gets back from the latest Home Depot run because I'm still sitting, mug in hand, and not out buying a vanity. However, I need to shower before going out and he has turned off the water. Impasse! Luckily, he's almost always pretty great, tremendous wedgies in his cranky construction pants aside, and he happens to do a pretty nice job on these projects, so I guess I'll keep him.

It has been a very kitchen-y weekend so far. It started with Friday Pizza Night. My fridge is a mess, as I have been thrown off of my cooking game of late, and I wasn't sure what I would have to work with in the way of pizza toppings. After perusing the inventory, I decided to chop up some tomatoes and scallions and toss them with a little bit of EVOO, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I rolled out the dough and covered it in a thick coating of freshly grated mozzarella, then sprinkled on the tomato and scallion dressing. It went into the 525 degree oven until it was golden and bubbly, and OMG -- amazing. This is definitely going into the regular rotation.

The cooking continued last night, with another old family classic -- sausages sautéed in red wine. This is SO easy, and really delicious. I bought a half dozen sweet Italian sausages from the butcher and popped them into a sauté pan with a little EVOO over high-ish heat (about an 8 on my crappy electric stove (OH HOW I AM COUNTING THE DAYS UNTIL I HAVE A GAS STOVE IN THE NEW HOUSE) (APPROXIMATELY 146)). Pour in red wine, any kind you would be happy drinking, about 1/3 of the way up the sausages. It's going to be very bubbly, so just keep turning the sausages every minute or so until the wine is nearly absorbed. Once the wine is almost absorbed, add in another blob of wine and turn the heat down to medium. Cover the pan and let the sausages simmer until nearly cooked through, flipping them once or twice (about 15 or so minutes). At this point, pull the sausages out of the pan, turn the heat back up, and add in about 3/4 c of water to deglaze. Throw the sausages back into the bubbly sauce and keep flipping them to coat. Once it reduces enough, it will start spitting grease, so throw the cover back on and let the outside of the sausages caramelize a little. That's it! I served them with TJ's asparagus risotto and lightly roasted, garlicky haricot verts. Awesome.

The best part of the sausages is how good they are left over. My gram would make sandwiches from very thinly sliced sausages on lightly buttered bread (this is possibly a beloved childhood treat from Grandma that is actually gross to adults other than Gram's grandchildren, a la boxed chocolate cake with Cool Whip frosting). Today I decided to humor my resident construction worker with an egg scramble for breakfast. Mark hates eggs, basically. He will eat them as a binder for a whole mess of meat, cheese, meat, and more meat, and very much enjoys them this way and only this way. I never make them this way because, dude, how much grease do you really need before noon? Today I relented though. I took applewood smoked bacon from the butcher and laid it out on a baking rack on a foil-covered sheet pan. Stick it in a cold oven and turn it on to 400, bake for 20 minutes, flip, and cook 5 minutes more and it's PERFECT. Still flexible, yet fully cooked and crispy. While the bacon was cooking, I diced up some red potatoes and got started on home fries. I also sliced some of the sausages left from dinner. Once everything was ready to go, I stuck the sausage, chopped bacon, and potatoes into a big skillet and scrambled in some eggs. A dusting of cheese, and Mark's ideal egg breakfast was ready to go. Pretty tasty, but UGH. I feel mentally fatter already.

(OH MY GOD, THE NOISES COMING FROM UPSTAIRS ARE TERRIFYING.)

Next up is a sirloin and bean chili that my mom sent a recipe for last week. She claims it is fairly low in fat/calories while also delicious. I certainly hope so after the nutritional atrocity that was breakfast. I will report back...

Keep Your Candy Coated Hands and Feet Away From My Mouth

DANGER! DANGER! ALERT! ALERT! This post is going to address my wonky lady bits and plans to address the problem. Please feel free to avert your eyes.

Onward! So, as I think I have mentioned, after much (rather invasive) testing, we have a diagnosis of classic PCOS. For added fun, in genetic testing, we also discovered that I am a carrier of CF.* Luckily Mark is not, which saved us from a whole new set of issues to deal with. The plan, such as it is, is medication -- metformin, clomid, ovidrel, and prometrium -- which are all intended to pick up the slack for my bum endocrine system. Right now, though, I'm on provera to trigger the lady times so we can get rolling on the whole thing. It means loading my system up with progesterone for a week, and then when it is suddenly withdrawn, the drop starts a period, as it would naturally if I worked normally. It's basically a week of medically induced PMS.

I did this once before, in preparing for the diagnostic testing, and I don't remember it being quite like this. I feel like I'm going crazy -- I legit wanted to rip someone a new one at work the other day, just for being as dicky as the nature of their job requires. I managed to quash this instinct (CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL AHOY), but then picked a fight with Mark when I got home. The poor guy took to greeting me at the front door with a glass of wine, despite our mostly eschewing the sauce during the week. And yesterday! I ... I don't know what happened to me, you guys. I am usually not a candy person. I'll grab a handful of dark chocolate chips on occasion if they're handy, and I love leftover Halloween candy, but otherwise? I never buy the stuff. However, all day long yesterday, I was desperate--DESPERATE--for peanut M&Ms, and very specifically the peanut ones; plain or pretzel simply would not do. I felt like an addict jonesing for some smack, and the closest I have come to addiction previously is very much enjoying a nightly glass and a half of red wine before falling asleep on the couch (GIRLS GONE ZZZZZ - woo!). I had to stop for gas on the way home, and there happened to be a Target next to the gas station. Before I knew it, I was at Target holding M&Ms and a Pepperidge Farm chocolate cake (what??), and I was powerless to do anything but pull out my wallet. It just seemed like the right thing to do. (I briefly contemplated picking up some tampons while I was there, but a girl's gotta draw the cliche line somewhere, right?) As soon as I was back on the road, I cracked open the M&Ms, and I swear to you, I could practically feel the serotonin pinging around my brain. By the time I was home, I felt practically normal, aside from the ridiculous box o' cake now taking up a decent chunk of my freezer space. Mark just kind of shook his head nervously and laughed, but later, light dawned and he looked at me in terror, asking, "If this is what you're like NOW, what will happen if this all actually works?" HA.

Hell if I know, buddy, but I bet that puppy isn't sounding so bad right about now, is it?

*I am wondering if my sinus ISSUES are at all related to the CF mutation. Dr. Google turned up a 2000 Johns Hopkins study that suggested a link between chronic sinusitis and a single copy of the CF mutation (carriers). I'll have to ask my ENT about it when I see him next.

Super Easy and Delicious

Nooo, not me (this time) -- I was talking about the dinner I made tonight. This is going to be a quickie, but it was too good and easy not to share. The general idea comes from a Boston area restaurant my family has gone to for as long as I can remember, where one of our favorite dishes is "Shrimp Special." Basically, it's shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, topped with a little mozzarella, and baked in a garlicky wine sauce. I had defrosted chicken for tonight, so I rolled with that.

I took one chicken breast for the two of us, butterflied the bejesus out of it, cut it into cutlets, and then pounded it out until it was super thin. I mixed a little flour with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Penzey's Parisien Bonnes Herbes. While heating a little olive oil over medium high heat, I dredged the cutlets in the seasoned flour, then sautéed them until they were almost done.

Side note: Up to this point, I have basically described one of my favorite chicken methods. You can do almost anything with this kind of base. Throw in something to deglaze and make a simmery sauce with, then pop the chicken into the sauce to finish cooking. So easy, seems fancy. Tomorrow night I plan to deglaze with orange juice and pop the chicken back in to simmer while the juice reduces into an amazing glazey sauce. That's a Grandma classic for good reason.

Back to tonight! I pulled the chicken out of the pan and added in some minced garlic, sherry, white wine, and a blob of butter. While the sauce was reducing, I put the cutlets in a small baking dish and topped each piece of chicken with prosciutto and a slice of fresh mozzarella. (Where the amount of chicken seemed a little skimpy, I was a little more generous than usual with the prosciutto and cheese, and it worked out to be a perfect amount.) I poured the sauce over the chicken, then popped it into a 400 degree oven until the cheese was melty and golden. This plus a salad was so easy while still feeling indulgent.

DO IT. You know you want to...

Januarialistic

I'm not a resolutions person, but I'm certainly not immune to the January fresh start syndrome. I mean, you'll never catch me breaking in a shiny new gym membership on January 2nd (that's practically asking for failure), but I do like turning that calendar page and feeling sort of like the world can be what I make of it. Of course, I have yet to purchase that new calendar this year, but still! The year is fresh and shiny, and there are a few very specific ways in which I would like to try to be/do better this year:

1.) Punctuality: I have spent my entire life thus far doing battle with the clock, and the clock always seems to win. However, since starting my new job, I have really been working on being better in this area. I have a 40-ish minute commute and I have been getting in before 8:30 every day. I am (sadly) super proud and impressed with myself over this one and very much would like to keep it up. (What? I admitted it was sad.)

2.) Work: My last job was pretty emotionally damaging, and it left me with a sick, intense dread every morning, again every night once it was time for bed, and generally again during the panicked, gut-wrenching hours of 3-5 am. It was like Sunday nights as a kid, but all jacked up on ridiculous steroids from hell. As a result, I ended up with some pretty unhealthy feelings about the office. My new job is so, so different (THANK GOD), but I am still working really hard to make sure the old anxiety and bitterness does not creep in. Again, so far, so good. I'm really focusing on the fact that we're there to share information with each other, to assist each other in making the best possible decisions; it's not all one long, torturous final exam on which my entire future rests. (Have I mentioned how movies featuring associates getting screwed over/throwing their careers away are a total law firm PTSD trigger? Watched "Trouble With the Curve" tonight, and HOO BOY, my blood pressure is juuuust starting to come down. I am so, so fun, you guys.)

3.) DECLUTTERING: I am, for the most part, a purger, while my husband is a total pack rat. However, we're selling this house and moving come spring, so I am totally taking advantage of the HGTV seller mentality Mark has taken on and getting rid of All The Things. I am SO EXCITED. I'm making lists of projects and scheduling them on a calendar (PoAM, bitches!). This approach worked really well for us when we gutted and rebuilt the whole main floor of our house in 8 weeks, so I'm hoping we can stick with it.

4.) Healthy Sleep Habits: So without this whole thing turning into a dissertation on how being a lawyer has broken me (HA, TOO LATE), let's talk about how it robbed me of my ability to sleep. Back in the days when I resided at what I hope was (oh please, God) rock bottom, sleep was less than restful. I lived for the hours between when I left work and when I had to go to bed and start the process all over again. I developed RAGING insomnia, because if it's not bedtime, morning will never come, right? I would stay up way late, eventually passing out on the couch, snuggled with my laptop, whatever I was working on ending in, "ggbnnmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm." And those were the good nights; when I actually went to bed, I would have fitful stress dreams until waking in a heart racing panic at 4 am from which I would relax enough to fall asleep only minutes before the alarm went off. Not surprisingly, a year of this can really screw with your ability to sleep. I no longer experience frettin' hour (thank GOD), but I still have a terrible habit of staying up way too late (hello, fellow insomniacs!) and passing out on the couch. Obviously this is a terrible idea, what with the rising at 6 am, so this is really up there on my list of things I'd like to do better. Um, starting tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow.

5.) Food Management: I used to cook all the time, but over the last six months of a very weird work schedule at the store, I kind of got out of the habit. Now, though, I work close to my favorite grocery store, so it's easy to stop in one night per week on my way home and pick up the week's supplies. This is made way more effective by meal planning; I put the week's meals into a google calendar, then I use the grocery store's app to plug a shopping list (sorted by store aisle! what up, Wegmans!) into my phone. At home, I have been making coffee and a breakfast sandwich to take to work in the morning, and with my meal planning calendar, dinner is easy to throw together after work. The one hole in my plan at the moment is lunch, but the plan is to start making a big pot of soup on Sundays and taking it for lunch all week. I think that's relatively feasible, but we'll see how it all shakes out when we gut the master bath in a couple of weeks and everything falls to crap.

So that's it -- this is as close to resolutions as I get. Bet you're all enthralled by my incredibly original intentions to improve my eating, sleeping, cleaning, time management, and career, no? At least I didn't say exercise!



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