Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Lovely Evening

Our dinner party last night was lovely. The food was good and the company was even better. One of the families we invited has four of the most charming and well-behaved children I have ever met. It is a joy to spend time with them! Also, I like it when their 3 year-old tells me I'm beautiful and I make "the best tuptakes" he's ever had. Flattery goes a long way with me.

It was a challenge to cook for 10+ people with a miniature oven but I managed. I cooked a brisket all night Friday night, sliced it the next morning, and only had to warm it up while I served the appetizers. I made the "tuptakes" the night before and served them with fresh fruit and brownies (which were for the kids and I sent the leftovers home with them because brownies are my weakness!). I wanted to make chocolate covered strawberries but I couldn't find chocolate chips or big strawberries. It was just as well and everyone seemed to enjoy what we did have. For dinner I almost always serve a plate of fruit for TOIAW and me. It encourages us to eat more fruit and it's a great way to end a meal.

We're just taking it easy today. TOIAW asked our housekeeper to come and do dishes and clean-up so she is here now doing that. It was very kind of him but completely not necessary. I had to beg him to let me clear the dining room table last night and at least put the dishes in an organized stack! Don't tell him but when he was in his office this morning, I snuck in and washed a few things. I have a big week ahead of me so I do appreciate it but, then again, cleaning would be a nice distraction!

Tomorrow afternoon I have an appointment where I should find out when the egg retrieval will be. It's almost surreal to think it will be this week. It's very strange doing a cycle without the daily injections and appointments to check follicles. I'm completely over the fact that we're using donor eggs--who knew?

I'm going to do some book "shopping" now so I can have some good reading material for after the transfer. Maybe this week I will write a review of the Kindle. For now I'll just say we both love it which is a bit of a problem since it was meant to be a gift from me to TOIAW.

I'm also going to do my best to resist the siren song of the tuptakes...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Disproportionate

We're [finally] having some friends over for dinner on Saturday. I've decided to be very organized about it because 1) I'm a nerd, 2) I feel like better organization will help keep the stress down, and 3) we invited a lot of people. It turns out not that many people are going to attend which is actually a good thing but I'm sticking to my Excel timeline spreadsheet (told you I was a nerd). All the food is simple and most can be prepared ahead of time so it should be pretty easy and I'm looking forward to it. I'm just wondering why I have 3 appetizers on the menu and 4 desserts? Oh, and 3 or the 4 desserts involve chocolate. I might need to diversify...

I'm continuing to feel much better today. I really needed to go to the grocery store but TOIAW wanted me to stay home. I'm still a little concerned about the idea of managing this with medication and I'm doubly--or more--concerned that this is something I can't take while pregnant. I'm going to call the America P.A. tomorrow and discuss it with her. Soapchick asked if perhaps my anxiety might be contributing to these issues. The answer is absolutely YES and I'm trying to work on that as well.

By the way, TOIAW discovered why the sidewalks are 3-5" of solid ice. The municipal workers in the MC are hourly wage earners who are paid time and a half for working outside in the winter. Apparently they have discovered that if they clear snow and ice right after it appears, they make far less money than if they wait until it reaches critical mass. Ummmm, okay.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering...

I am feeling **much** better now. I know you were probably all on the edge of your seats wondering so I thought I would let you know. I think I will be able to sleep really well tonight but first I'm going to read a little from my the Murder She Wrote book I'm reading. Yes...I truly am that big of a nerd. It's the fourth book I've read this year and I was in the mood for something light and light it is. Also, MSW is shown every day on our local cable and if I'm home, I watch it.

What to Do Now?

I had an appointment today to check my endometrial lining (it needs to be nice and comfy for the embryos) and it's looking very good. Apparently the Death by Estrogen gel I apply three times a day is doing it's thing. Before I got to this point, however, I had an EKG.

When the doctor came out and told us she wanted me to have one, I felt reassured that everything would be deemed normal and I would have some peace of mind. But then as I started thinking. What if my blood pressure is too high and I have to cancel the cycle? What if they let me continue on with the cycle but my blood pressure becomes an issue later? What if? What if? What if? By the time I was called for my EKG, I was anything but calm. My blood pressure was anything but normal--I knew this much before the test was conducted. I tried to relax with deep breaths but nevertheless it was high. I don't know how high but TOIAW asked her if it was "very high" and she said, "no, a little high." I never got a definitive answer on what my blood pressure was (actually, I'm just assuming it was my blood pressure, it might have been my pulse) but I got dressed and took the results back upstairs to my doctor's waiting area. I gave the EKG printout to the receptionist and I thought I saw her take it into the doctor so when my doctor still hadn't called me back in 10 minutes, I was sure it was over and she was trying to find a way to tell us. When the receptionist finally led us in to the exam room, I saw the test results in her hand: Huge. Relief. I then had an ultrasound and got the news I mentioned before.

Then it was time for the internist to come in and read the EKG results. He wasn't alarmed--said there were no major abnomalities--but he did prescribe a small dose of medication that I'm supposed to take for a week or so until the transfer. After that, I have to switch to an herb supplement if it's still a problem. I'm taking half a pill once a day but if my resting heart rate is above 80bpm, I'm supposed to take the other half as well. Yesterday this wasn't a problem--even without medication--but from about 3 a.m. on it's been an issue. I was out and about all day and didn't take the pill until a few hours ago and so far I'm just a bit over 80bpm which either means the medication isn't doing it's job or things are getting worse.

I have the EKG results and I'm considering taking them to the embassy doctor's tomorrow or Thursday to see what they say and maybe check my blood pressure while I'm there. Or maybe I'll just wait and see what my pulse is and how I feel. I don't want to be paranoid, I just can't help it. The first thing I need is a good night's sleep which is something I did not get last night due to anxiety about my appointment today. And I know I need to relax so I'll try to do my best with that. Why is having a baby such a complicated endeavor for me?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hearts Aflutter

One of the fun side effects of IVF drugs for me is changes in my heart rate. It goes up--although never above 100bpm--and beats harder than usual or at least that's what it feels like to me. I hate it. It freaks me out every time because every time it "feels" serious...and then it goes away. For instance, a couple of hours ago I was at 96bpm so I laid down with my feet up and checked with Dr. Google (who was no help, by the way) until it went down. I checked again right after I took a shower and started dinner and it was much lower. It makes me crazy and I don't need any help in that department.

The strangest part of all this is that this time I'm only on one hormone: Estrogen. I was determined to help find an answer about this and when I was in the shower I rembered that the last time it was this bad was when I took Clomid for a test I had to do before I did my last IVF cycle. It was so bad that time that I actually visited the emergency room (where they tried really hard to keep a straight face while assuring me my vitals and tests were 100% normal). TOIAW said it has happened during every IVF cycle as well but I don't remember that. Anyway, I did some research into Clomid--a drug I love to hate--and it's turns out it causes the body to produce more estrogen. Lovely. I think I've found my culprit. I hope this at least means things are working and my uterine lining is becoming all womby and plush for the embryos!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Facebook Anxiety

I should be loading the dishwasher right now but instead I'm blogging because the Gutsy Mom said she likes my frequent posts. That and the fact that I must empty the dishwasher before loading it and that's the part I hate most. Usually I do it first thing in the morning but it's Sunday and it didn't get done.

On to bigger issues...why do I feel anxious every time I log onto Facebook? Every. Single. Time. Although the severity varies, it's always there and I'm not sure why. I do, however, have some theories. I've found it's worse when I'm reading about friends I haven't seen in a long time especially if I'm not in contact with them. Looking at family members' pages doesn't bother me which is what led me develop this theory. I think it has something to do with feeling weird about all this moving and having people who I once saw or talked to many times a week be people with whom I rarely communicate. I've never liked that part of this life but with FB I can't ignore the fact that we've all moved on from that season and we have different lives now. It doesn't make our friendships less, necessarily, just different now. I hate having being faced with that multiple times every week. Oh, who am I kidding? I only log on once a week at best.

When I think about a place where we lived, I first think about our home and then I'm flooded with memories of the year we spent there (because it's always just about a year). I think about the fun times with friends, the sad things that happened in our lives while we were there, the trips we took, moving in day, moving out day, all the memories flood my mind but it's the people who were part of my life that think about the most and it's beyond strange to me that I could share so much with someone and then never see them again. It's neary impossible for me to articulate it so I'll just say this: It feels weird and I don't like it. Fundamentally I am not someone who likes change and I want to move to a great neighborhood with all the friends I've ever met and have our husbands work together and have cook-outs and get togethers and Bible study and Bunco and go to each other's baby showers and watch our kids play and never worry about anyone moving or losing touch. And then I would never log onto FB and read that someone is pregnant or lost a grandparent or has the flu because they could just show up on my door and tell me and I would give them a hug and a smile and truly share the joys and sorrows with--physically--them (unless it was the flu because if it was they could just call and I would send over some chicken soup).

I have issues and if someone on FB dubbed this "Tell Your Friends Something They Don't Know Sunday" I clearly failed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Bullet Post

I've hardly left my apartment this week thanks to the extreme cold so I have a lot to say since I don't have one to use my words with. Here we go:

  • How cold is it? The high today was forecasted to be 6 but it's only half that right now and it's the middle of the afternoon. Tomorrow the high is 5 and Sunday 3. The 10-day forcast does not call for temperatures above freezing. In fact, the warmest is 22. It has not been above freezing since we returned from the U.S. on 5 January. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal but it is. All sidewalks are covered with ice (I mentioned this a few days ago) as are the stairs down to the subway. Being the inconsiderate employer I am, I asked our housekeeper to go to the market for me today so we can have some fresh produce. I feel guilty about it...but I would probably do it again. That's so wrong, I know. Anyway, she's a Mystery Country native so the cold doesn't bother her as much as it does me although she does hate the snow. It's not snowing today and that does help ease my conscience.
  • The other day when I did dare to venture out of the house, I saw a woman wearing a hat that looked an awful lot like the Daniel Boone hats my brothers used to wear when they played cowboys and Indians (I'm afraid they were terribly un-PC). People here wear a lot of fur and I've gotten used to that but the hats are ridiculous--and they usually don't cover the wearer's ears which is baffling to me--but this was by far the most outrageous one I've seen; it had a tail and everything although it looked more fox than racoon. Still, Daniel's fashion could very well be making a comeback here. When we go to the IVF clinic the coat check room looks like a fur boutique and there I am with my 75% off long puffy coat which did not involve harming any animals. I do think the fur coats are gorgeous and elegant which, you know, makes sense since they are made from the pelts of beautiful animals. And while I don't judge those who do wear them I cannot bring myself to wear one (for a variety of reasons, actually) despite TOIAW's offer to buy one for me.
  • My housekeeper just got here and she put laundry in before I could stop her. She hasn't quite grasped the concept of sorting by color (I haven't even broached the idea of sorting by fabric...) so I hope everything turns out alright. Also, you'll be happy to know she survived the cold.
  • I'm moving right along on when it comes to getting excited about the donor egg cycle. I'm even looking at baby stuff online--because we know several people who are having babies soon--and I allow myself to think "what if" for us, too. I even looked at maternity clothes!
  • We have zero weekend plans so tomorrow we're going to check-out a new mall. Apparently they have mini-golf there...exciting. Most of the "sites" here are outdoors or unheated and it's just too cold for that. TOIAW starts going a little crazy if he doesn't get out and do something. He's a lot like our dogs in that respect. I, on the other hand, am happy to watch six continuous hours of Real Housewives, House Hunters, or The Bachelor.
  • I confess I have recorded and watched every episode of The Bachelor. I really like him although I have no idea why he would go on that show.

This is a completely pointless post so I'll close with a funny story. Last night TOIAW was tired and went to bed before me. When I went to bed I tried to be as quiet as possible but as soon as I opened the door he began talking to me very animatedly...

TOIAW: [says something very fast in the local language--in which he is fluent and it's often the language in which he dreams--that I completely do not understand]

Me: "What?"

TOIAW: [repeats previous statement, I assume]

Me: [in local language] "Repeat, please?" [incidentally, I love this phrase even though I rarely understand people when they do repeat]

TOIAW: [AGAIN in local language] "I SAID, blah blah blah, do you understand [the local language]?"

Me: "No, I don't understand [the local language]. Would you mind speaking to me in English?"

TOIAW: [seemingly awake] "In my dream you spoke it just fine."

Me: "Well I don't now and if your dream involved aliens we don't need to discuss it."

TOIAW: "Okay, good night. I love you."

Me: "I love you, too."

Ninety percent of the time his dreams involve an alien attack. I wish I were kidding.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

House of Mercy

One year ago today I was in a small chapel in the bowels of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland with TOIAW, my parents, a rabbi whose kind eyes I still remember, and a gentle Navy chaplain who was also with us the morning Sarah died. It was a simple and sweet service. I honestly don't think about that day much; I even forgot that today was the "anniversary" because it's not all that significant to me. Grief is so odd.

So today I was cruising around on the internet and I ran across the meaning of the name Bethesda: House of Mercy. I actually know enough Hebrew that this shouldn't be a new reveleation to me but it was. I love it, love it, love it, LOVE it! I don't believe things happen because of chance. Sarah was born--and spent her life on Earth--in a house of mercy. (I wrote about some of my thoughts on mercy in this post.)

How fitting because that is also where she is spending eternity. Oh, the comfort that brings to an aching heart!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Behold...


I bought this today! I absolutely can-NOT wait until tomorrow morning when I can enjoy my Bible study and a chai tea latte. I didn't want to have any today because I'm rather sensitive to caffeine these days and, I'll be honest, I didn't have any milk and while braving the traffic in a taxi to go to the American grocery store on a compound is one thing; walking in the frigid cold to the local store was quite another. But mostly it was the caffeine thing. Although it was so cold today that in my normally too-warm aparment was cold. Oh, and beginning Friday the forecast calls for highs in the singl digits. Awesome, my chai tea lattes will come in very handy.

On a different note, I've been having horrible headaches. The doctor told me not to take any medication I would not take while pregnant but the pregnancy-approved pain reliever whose name begins with a "t" and ends with an "l" with "yleno" in the middle is, for me, a lot like taking nothing because that's the effect it has on my pain. I had a headache for 48 hours and remembered I had some of the non-relieving pain reliever in prescription strength! I'm not sure if it's pregnancy-approved but it did the trick, I am happy to say. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to feel it creeping back up on me. I'm off to bed and hoping that will help.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Back...Probably

I've been in a bit of a funk lately...not excited about the donor egg cycle, not sleeping well (and after 2 weeks I really can't blame jet lag), sleeping way too late, not exercising, and just feeling rather blah. It's been terribly cold here and that certainly hasn't helped any of the aforementioned maladies. But today I'm making an effort to remedy all the above...and more!


I went to bed early last night thanks to a big day out with TOIAW. Between the frigid temperatures and trying not to die walking on the Walkways of Death (as I have named the sheets of ice that pass for sidewalks around here), I was exhausted. Add to that an appointment to check my endometrial lining and I was done. So I was wide awake early this morning and more than ready to get into a routine again. I tried like crazy to get all the laundry done before our housekeeper arrived but I wasn't able to do so. [It's better if I do it myself. I'll leave it at that.] After she arrived, I worked-out on our new treadmill which, despite my initial opposition, I've really enjoyed. I thought I had time to get a shower before it was time to put in a new load of laundry but I wasn't. I can only imagine what surprises await me whenthe cycle is finished. In between all that I enjoyed a great Bible study and baked some of these (totally delicious, by the way). I really need to go to the store and buy milk, eggs, and bell peppers but I can't bring myself to go out in the cold.


So, regarding my lack of excitement for the upcoming cycle: I'm still working on it but I had some major progress today. I'm in a much better place.


Yesterday was the anniversary of Sarah's last day on Earth. It wasn't as difficult as her birthday. I often find myself thinking I should feel "more" on days of significance when I actually feeling "a whole lot more" on random days. Such is grief.


Now that we've addressed all that, I think it's time we look at spicing up this blog. I assure you a new layout will be coming soon (the slow internet connection doesn't help that effort) and I will be posting more often with, hopefully, more interesting content. I also hope to comment more on other blogs something that, sadly, is also hampered by our less than stellar internet connection. I also have approximately 3,785 emails to return and I hope to whittle the emails in my in-box to less than 100.


Looks like I'm finally starting my new year...I'm just a little slower than most!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No More Statistics, Please

First things first, we survived Sarah's first birthday with a minimal shedding of tears. Something I feared would be truly awful wasn't that bad, actually. Many people prayed for us and I think that made all the difference. I have a sense of peace which is new. I nearly always have hope but I rarely have a peaceful heart. The cake I made for Sarah was amazing if I do say so myself. We're still enjoying a piece every night for dessert. It's nothing short of miraculous to me that this is even possible for us. I don't really think I ever thought we could truly be happy and enjoy the small things in life again. It's redemption; pure, simple, and amazingly sweet.

In other news, we chose a donor. We were given very little information about her but I feel comfortable with our decision. And now I want to be excited about the upcoming cycle...but I'm not. I suppose it's not so much that I'm not excited but more that I don't have much confidence it will be successful. I know the odds of success with donor eggs and I do think the clinic has a good lab but I'm still haunted by all the disappointments of the past. Chief among my fears is that our poor fertilization rates were not just my eggs but were also due in part to TOIAW's contributions which have never been bad but there has been some cause for slight concern. I realize these thoughts are normal for someone in my situation but TOIAW is completely confident it's going to work. He LOVES to hear the clinic's statistics and donor egg statistics in general. I, on the other hand, do not trust statistics because, as you know, I am rarely on the good side of them. Well, aren't I cheery tonight?

The thing is I desperately want to be excited and hopeful. Perhaps it will come. Tomorrow is the only day of the week for which I have no commitments and I plan to spend time in prayer really seeking God as I enter this cycle. I'm glad He and I have an open relationship because I don't plan on holding back anything!

P.S. Right after I hit "publish" and then clicked to look at the post a song popped in my head, Bring the Rain by MercyMe. The particular line I was singing--without even realizing I was doing it until after I sang it to myself--was "bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings You glory..." I guess our chat is actually beginning tonight...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do you know how to numb your heart?

If so, please let me know because it might make tomorrow--and the following week--bearable.

Tomorrow is Sarah's birthday. I keep trying to distract myself but that only lasts for so long. I keep thinking back to what I was doing last year on this day (hanging out at home sick and not knowing I was in labor). How is it that it's been a year since my baby was here with us? How have I survived this long without her? How will I survive tomorrow, the coming week, the rest of my life? Oh how I wish I could have a note from heaven telling me she's fine.

Tomorrow TOIAW is supposed to make an appointment for us to choose an egg donor. We'll go either tomorrow or Tuesday...ironic, no? I can't decide if it would be healthy or not for me to do that tomorrow. Part of me says yes; it means we're moving on and staying positive. Part of me says no; it's Sarah's day and I might not be in the right frame of mind anyway.

So anyway, we don't really have special plans but I am going to make a cake and we might release balloons (if we can find a place to buy them). I also want to look at Sarah's pictures which, oddly, is something I rarely do and I have a tremendous amount of guilt because of it.

I miss her so much.