Friday, April 29, 2011

It's a major award

I am surprised and excited to be nominated for my first ever blog award.  Thank you to Ashley over at Traditionally Nontraditional for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. 

1.Winners grab the image and put it in your blog.

2.Link back to the person who gave you it.

3.Tell 10 things about yourself

4.Award 5 bloggers.

5.Contact the bloggers you have awarded to let them know they have won.

Ok so 10 things:

1. I have never eaten Spam.  My father in law is plotting to one day secretly spring it on me and get me to eat some.

2. I have one younger brother, four sister in laws, and seven brother in laws.

3. I have never broken a bone, had a sprain, or been stung by a bee, but I've had four black eyes.

4.  I love the smell of citrus blossoms in bloom.

5. My favorite band is Eat Wo.rld.

6. After college I went on a two week trip to Europe with a tour group by myself and without knowing anyone else in the group.

7. People say I kind of look like Sara Gilbert and one guy at church now likes to tease me that I should show up at red carpet events.  I'm never quite sure if this comparison is a compliment or not.

8. I can be kind of crunchy and like to take reusable grocery bags shopping, eat hummus, and make my own bread (when I have time).  It pains me slightly that we don't have recycling at our complex.

9. I can't watch Hoarders without wanting to scrub my house from top to bottom and throw out everything we don't use.

10. I hate blood and have passed out over a simple finger prick in the past.  Growing up even the word blood would give me the heebee jeebees but it didn't bother me if it was spelled out.  I've gotten a lot better with it over the years but I still have never donated blood.

I'm still kind of new on the blogging block, so nominating people was a bit hard, but here are my nominations...

BBH at My Rotten Eggs
Cyndi at Then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage
Sara at First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes Life
A at The Journey to Baby G
Tracy at Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Frankie Says Relax

Stop thinking about it.

Go on vacation.

You're stressing too much.

You need to relax.

This is the cliche advice that infertiles get bombasted with time and time again.  Usually the advice comes from well meaning friends, family, and acquaintances who don't quite know what else to say.

For National Infertility Awareness Week, Resolve put forth the challenge to the blogging community to bust a myth about infertility.

Myth: If you just relax, you will get pregnant.

Truth: 90% of infertility cases are caused by physical problems.  There has never been a study which shows that simply relaxing increases pregnancy rates.

Dr. Love and I kicked off our TTC journey on vacation.  We have taken several more trips since then.
----We're still not pregnant----

I get regular back massages from Dr. Love, and being that he's a D.O. he gives really good massages.
----I can count the number of times I've ovulated in the last year on one hand.----

Of the two of us, I definitely have less stress in my life.
----Our problems have nothing to do with Dr. Love's bits----

My point is relaxing has nothing to do with the causes of infertility and simply telling someone that they have essentially brought this on themselves by being too stressed trivializes the real medical issues at hand.  In our case we are dealing with PCOS but women can face other issues such as blocked fallopian tubes, uterus abnormalities, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders just to name a few.  Male partners can have issues with sperm production including too few sperm, sperm which can’t swim correctly, or abnormally shaped sperm.  None of these issues can be rectified with pina colada and a day on the beach.  Yet one of the most common pieces of "advice" given to infertiles is "just relax."

I understand that until you have experience of some sort with infertility, whether it be first hand or from friends/family members, it is difficult to know what to say when you're talking to someone who is freaking out about a bad diagnosis/another failed cycle/18 year old Cousin Jane getting knocked up by her loser boyfriend/the side effects of the hormone cocktail she's been chugging for the last week.  The process of dealing with infertility is stressful and for that reason we DO need to relax.  I need to relax in order to stay sane and function in the face of everything we're going through, but this relaxation will not get me pregnant.

Even the Onion realizes this....

Click image to enlarge or  here for source

So I imagine you're wondering,  if "relax" is an infertility taboo, what should someone say instead?

Glad you asked.  Resolve has some great resources for friends and family, and tips on infertility etiquette.  Ultimately it boils down to tell us you care, let us cry/scream/vent, support us in the difficult decisions we're faced with in treatment.  Don't try to minimize our grief, our struggle, our pain, our medical issues by suggesting that we have brought this on ourselves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pregnancy Piranhas and the Pursuit of Identity

About two weeks ago my mother in law (MIL) approached me about helping her with an activity for her women's group at church. Normally my sister in law would have been the one to help her since they live in the same area and go to the same church building but she had a prior engagement that would not allow her to be available when my MIL needed her. Now MIL and I aren't very close, not for any particular reason, but lately I have felt that I should make an effort to develop more of a relationship with her; so even though the timing of the activity was going to be a bit inconvenient with work, and I wasn't going to know anyone there (thereby meaning I'd probably stick close to her like a little puppy dog) I decided to say yes.

The help MIL needed was pretty simple; keep the cupcake decorating table stocked, cleaned and moving. No biggie. That part of the activity was finished in under an hour and then we sat down with the whole group for dinner. I'm not one to turn down a free meal but I am also an introvert at heart. I dread small talk and schmoozing. I suck at it in an almost painful way. So I was aware that sitting at a table where the only person I knew was MIL (who I also have a hard time talking to) was going to be a slightly uncomfortable experience. Then out came the brag book.

MIL is like most typical grandmothers and enjoys any opportunity to talk about her grand kids. The birth of the triplets has only magnified this as not only does she like talking about the triplets but people love to ask questions about the triplets, which is totally understandable because they're amazing and even I enjoy talking about them. However, I knew that this discussion had potential to open up THE questions. The bringing forth of the grand kid pictures was like dangling a toe in a river of pregnancy piranhas and I only hoped to make it out with all my limbs intact. Here's how it went down:

MIL- "This is a picture of them when they were just 22 hours old...and here they are when they came home...and here's their older brother... and here's a picture of them taken just last's one of my oldest grand kid with her husband, they just had a baby...and here's another one of the triplets, they're the youngest...well at least for now." She turns and nudges me, "Right, huh, huh, right?" Nudge, nudge, nudge.

Me -"Uh, um, well we hope so."

Snap, snap, snap it's feeding time for the piranhas. 

Piranha #1 - "Are you expecting?"

Piranha #2 - "Wait what? Is that some kind of announcement? "

Their eyes greedily gleamed at the prospect of pregnancy fodder.

Snap, snap, snap!

Ahhh! Quick, jump in the life boat and save yourself from the carnage.

Me - "Uh, no I'm not.  It's not an announcement"

Their faces fell at the realization that there wasn't any pregnancy news to feast upon.  Luckily that was as far as it went and I was further saved since it was time for the activity coordinator to give a speech to the group, but the damage was done and I felt my shy self take over, pulling me into silence.

I didn't know either of these women from a fart on the wind and yet they had pounced at the slightest mention that I would at some point have kids. Their zeal caught me a bit by surprise, and yet some part of me expected that the topic would come up that night surrounded by women who are moms and grandmothers as kids are just a natural part of their everyday lexicon.  One day I will be able to participate in that discussion but for now it's outside of my purview.

I think what stands out to me most about this encounter is that for these women the most exciting aspect of my identity was the possibility that I could be pregnant.  We had briefly talked about Dr. Love's work, we may have talked about my work (though really now I don't remember), yet none of that compared to the excitement that the mere mention of pregnancy elicited.  Recently I have started trying to define my identity in more terms than just my infertility. It is almost effortless for the big IF to become the crux of how you see yourself when it's part of daily life in one form or another; whether that be taking pills, making appointments, supporting others, IF is always there...yet it is not all that I am. 

Because I think it's important, and I need to have it beat into my brain more, I'll say that again.  There is much more to me than just my infertility. 

This is only half the battle though.

In a culture where family, and thereby motherhood, is so important, cherished and celebrated, how do I get these other women to define ME in terms other than those related to the status of my reproductive parts?  How can I be successful in seeing myself as more than childless when that's how they evaluate me as well?

MIL and I share the same religious beliefs so this conundrum is not only relegated to this one activity with this particular group of women whereby I could avoid it by simply not going back.  I know similar situations with other pregnancy piranhas will come up again at church and elsewhere; pregnancy piranhas lurk all around just waiting for something to strike at.  I realize that any attempt to produce a mass change in the pregnancy piranhas thought process would most likely be futile as there are just too many.  Meanwhile I think my best bet is to invest in a good chainmail suit and build up thicker skin so these encounters don't bother me when they do inevitably come up so that I can walk away unscathed.  Hopefully in the process there will be a few who will stick around long enough to see me for what I am.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hippitus Hoppitus

This Easter morning was my mid cycle ultrasound when we would find out if the Clomid Easter Bunny brought me an ovary basket full of eggs. 

I had dealt with the last two weeks in stride and didn't dwell on whether or not I was responding to the treatment.  It seemed like a moot point since I wouldn't know one way or another until the ultrasound.  Last night, however, all the fears, nerves, and anxiety came spurting up to the surface.  I felt relieved that my appointment was first thing this morning so that I wouldn't have my nerves drawn out all day. 

In the end the Easter Bunny was a bit stingy.  I have one, uno, solamente, mature follicle measuring 20mm...and that's it.  Last medicated cycle I had 3...and a cyst...but still that was a really good response for the lowest dose of Clomid so I'm surprised at such a different result this time.

I know ultimately you only NEED one, and maybe this one is better quality than the others, and that I should be happy that I at least have something to work with this cycle.

I know all this.

Regardless, I am kind of disappointed and nervous.

When you're putting the time, money, emotional and physical effort into a medicated cycle you hope for the most successful results, and when it comes down to numbers and probability, higher numbers give you a higher probability of success.  I'm not counting this cycle out but I felt much more comfortable last time when I knew we had several candidates to work with. 

Then there is the masochistic side of me that has always wanted twins.  In my extended family there are a few sets of twins, and though I know there isn't a genetic link to twins, I have been teased about having twins for ages.  Over the years the idea has grown on me thus when I found out I would need medical help for ovulation I came to terms with it quickly thinking that maybe this is how we would get our twins.  I grew even more comfortable with the notion of twins considering our original desire to have two kids during residency and the proverbial wrench that infertility has thrown into the timing of getting two pregnancies in the remaining time.

So while I am happy to have at least a shot this cycle and that I'm cyst free, I'm a bit disappointed in the lower probability and little to no likelihood of twins.  This in turn makes me feel guilty that I am being ungrateful, selfish, and whiny about what I have been given.  I feel like an infertile spoiled brat.

"Nutcase, party of one, your emotional bullet train to Crazytown is now departing the station."

In the end I tell myself that things will happen when and how they are supposed to, even if it doesn't happen in the way I had wanted them to.  I believe that God knows better than I do what Dr. Love and I need in the long run.  Now I only hope that I can find peace in whatever the plan ends up like, because I sure as heck don't know what it is going to be. 

Tomorrow we pull the trigger and wait to see if this one is the rock star we've been looking for. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bye Bye BBT

Dear little pink BBT-

We need to have a talk.  I really don't want you to take this personally but...I think we should stop seeing each other.  You don't really fit my needs any more and I've moved on.  It pains me a bit to tell you this but there's someone else.  I've been seeing him for a while but wasn't quite ready to give you up as I thought you still had something to teach me.  Now it has developed to a point where you and I have grown apart, beside the upcoming progesterone supplements are just going to screw with your head.  I figured it would be in both our best interest to quit now while we are on good terms than wait until we're frustrated and confused about what's going on.

We had a good run though while it lasted.  Sure, I had some issues trusting you from time to time when you didn't tell me what I had hoped to hear but in the end we learned that really it was all my fault for not giving you better information to work with.  You taught me valuable information about was going on with my body, or more specifically what wasn't happening.  You showed me that I wasn't ovulating which turns out to be a bit of a problem when you want to have a baby.  You saved me even more months of frustration and futile efforts.  You gave me the pieces I needed to get help.  For all this I am extremely grateful but I think our time is least for now.

Maybe one day we'll meet again under better circumstances, we'll have better communication, and you'll have better news to tell me other than nothing is happening in there.  I hope there are no hard feelings that I'm leaving you behind for fancier tools.  It's not you, it's me and I hope we can still be friends.

Take care,

Residency Widow

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome April ICLWers!

This is my VERY first month participating in IComLeavWe and I'm excited to jump into the conversation...though admittedly a little nervous that I'll just be talking to myself {Bueller?}.

So if you are new here, I have created tabs located above that will give you the cliff notes version of who I am and our journey so far. These pages are a new addition, so I guess even if you aren't new to my blog they may prove handy to review.

I started this blog as an anonymous outlet for me to talk about the difficulties of infertility and life as a doctor's wife. Every now and then you may find glimpses of the woman (and man) behind the curtain and maybe one day I'll reveal my identity but for now we're Residency Widow and Dr. Love. We could be your neighbor, your friend, your co-worker, or the person rocking out in their car next to you on the freeway...we could be anywhere (is that ominous enough?).

I have a few posts on the stove brewing that I hope to finish up and post over the coming days with ICLW and NIAW coming up. Now if I can only find the time free of distractions to complete them.

So sit back, stay a while, and chat. I hope you come back soon and often.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wile E. Chayote

Nope I didn't spell that wrong, I am talking about these little guys....


Every few weeks I participate in a produce co-op called Bountiful Baskets.  For a $15 contribution we get a basket of produce (usually split 50/50 between fruits and veggies) that is typically worth around $50 if it was all bought from a grocer.  The hard  fun part is that like Forrest Gump's  momma always said, "[it's] like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."  So while you know you'll get fruits and veggies it is always a surprise what you're going to pick up as the offerings depend on what is in season and what they could get from their suppliers/growers.  I realize for some people this element of produce roulette doesn't work; you have to be flexible in what you'll use and what you like to eat.  For us it has been a fun way to try new fruits and veggies that I normally wouldn't pick out on my own.  If you watch Food Network, I liken it to having my own Chopped episode in my kitchen...only not with the strict time limits... I get this basket of ingredients and then I have to figure out what in the world I'm going to do with it.

So far we've been able to try new things like...


Japanese Eggplant

Swiss Chard

lots of different pear varieties (I think Forelle was my favorite)
In my recent basket I got several chayotes (also known as mirlitons in New Orleans) which is a kind of Mexican squash that I had seen before but never tried.  I was a bit intimidated.  How can you not be intimidated by this...

If you draw eyes on it, it looks like grumpy old muppet or perhaps a venus fly trap that's just ready to snap.

Since Dr. Love was on call this evening and I wasn't ravenously hungry thus giving me ample time, I decided to tackle the muppet fly trap with these two recipes for stuffed mirlitons from Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen (hide the butter) as my inspiration.  Since Dr. Love doesn't care for fish, thus meaning I hardly ever buy it, I decided to substitute diced chicken breast for the shrimp. 

Following Paula's instructions I tossed the chayote in a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for a half an hour while I took the dog for a walk.  When we returned the chayote seemed done as the knife pierced it pretty easily leading me believe it was "the consistency of a soft potato" as Paula instructed.  After slicing into it, however, I'm not so sure as the middle was still pretty firm (after I removed the seed, which was a surprise).  I'm not sure if it wasn't done enough or if that just their nature but it made scooping out the middle a bit of a failure...

I sauteed the onion (red was all I had), celery and green pepper in a bit of olive oil (sorry Paula, no butter), then added the chicken, chayote "pulp" and garlic.  I seasoned it all with dashes of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, thyme and oregano as suggested in Emeril's recipe.  Sorry I didn't measure anything rather this was a kitchen adventure and I was cooking with reckless abandon.

After everything was cooked, I stirred in a 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, scooped the mixture into the remaining chayote shells and put them in the oven to bake.  Half an hour later they looked like this...

Sorry for my poor plating but at this point it was 8:30, I was hungry, and lets face it I wasn't going to dress it up all fancy just for me.  All the effort of just cooking these things only for myself was more than I usually do for dinner alone.

I was a bit perplexed about how to eat them.  Would it be like a stuffed pepper where you ate the whole thing, skin and all?  Don't think so.  The skin was tough and wouldn't cut so I had to scoop the stuffing and chayote flesh away from the remaining skin.

{side note: It reminded me of when my mom first made us edamame and we had no idea how to eat them.  We ate them like regular snap peas, beans, pod, and all.  It was fibrous, furry and disgusting. I couldn't figure out why people raved about them.  It took several years before I was enlightened on the proper way to eat edamame and fully appreciate them}

So what did the chayote taste like?  A zucchini that was blended with a lima bean.  Kind of squashy, a little nutty, overall fairly decent.  I don't think it will be the next staple of our kitchen but it was interesting, though the whole thing took too much time for a regular work night dinner.  I still have two more chayotes sitting in the fridge.  Now if I can just figure out what else to do with them, and the time to do it. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

Source: Google Images
When I leave work at the end of the day, my work is done.  No one calls me up or sends me text messages asking about VDL's, what lots of land are trading at, or if the bills got processed that month.  When I leave work that world is behind me.  Dr. Love isn't quite as lucky.

The good thing about Family Medicine is there are always people who need your skills.  The bad thing about Family Medicine is there are always people who need your skills.

There never will be a shortage of colds, flu, weird body aches, gastrointestinal troubles, and questions about ears/eyes/noses/throats/feet/etc.  Most likely your friends and family will be afflicted with the maladies and who will they come to for help?  Their friendly personal doctor. 

The calls for help or answers will unavoidably come at the end of a 30 hour call shift, in the middle of the first day off in weeks, in the morning of the one day you get to sleep in, or after a really bad day in clinic.  Inevitably they will call when your stretched to the breaking point and the last thing you want to do is have one more medical problem to solve.  They're your loved ones though, your friends and family, and you can't tell Sister Sue that you are not able to listen to her questions about Niece Janie's earache because you're too tired.  In reality though all you want to do is have a day where you can put medicine on the back burner and not think about it.  So what's a doc to do?

Do you set ground rules about when and how often you'll take questions and consults for friends/family/acquaintances outside of regularly scheduled business hours?

Do you bite the bullet and be at their beckon call accepting that it's just part of this crazy ride called medicine?

Does the fact that your friends and family have suffered through the trials and tribulation of med school along with you (though not to the same extent) entitle them to take part in the benefit of the end result?

How do you keep a balance between work and life?

I'm not sure there's a clear cut solution to this but I know the conundrum has weighed on Dr. Love lately. He wants to help but needs, heck we both need, time where he can step away from medicine for a bit and just be him without someone needing his attention.  I know the family doesn't do it with the malicious intent to take advantage of him but rather they usually have something they're concerned/curious about and naturally the first person you're going to think of is your buddy/brother that you have on speed dial. 

I think I should start working on an "off duty" light for him to signal when he is no longer taking medical questions for the day.  Is there an app for that? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Last (?) Box

When initially embarking on the TTC journey there's a sense of freedom that comes with casting aside the pregnancy prophylactics (in whatever form they may be).  It's also a little bit scary but it feels liberating.  Shortly after follows the confidence (albeit possibly naive) that this will be my last box/pack of feminine hygiene products. 

I've lost count of the number of "last" boxes that I've had. 

As I surveyed my supply the other day the thought occurred to me that my current stash of products might just be barely enough to get me through Aunt Flow's current stay.  My knee jerk reaction was to plan when I would make a trip to the drug store to stock up....then a little voice perked up in the back of my head.

"Why are you thinking about getting more?  There's a chance you won't need them for a while.  Don't count this cycle out yet when you've barely begun."

Little me was right and I decided to listen to me and take on the challenge of not buying another box.  Sure I know if I bought some and happened to get pregnant this cycle they wouldn't rot sitting in bathroom cupboard until they were needed again.  They don't have an expiration least I don't think they do.  It's more than that.  I want to have faith and hope in the success of this cycle.  So as a statement to the powers that be of my belief in this cycle I'm going to hold out on buying more hygiene products.

Now this determination has put me in a game of chicken or a race between my existing supply quantity and the length of time Aunt Flow decides to hang around town.  In hopes of stacking the odds in my favor and shoring up my supply as much as possible, I've started raiding my emergency stashes.  You know, the just-in-case-tampon that's hidden in every purse/bag/suitcase you own.  Tell me I'm not the only one who has random tampons hidden in various places (including the glove compartment) in case Aunt Flow catches me by surprise?

Now this is a dangerous gamble in the event that I do exhaust every last smidgen of my supply, including any emergency reserves.  If by chance (and there's always a chance) this cycle doesn't end up with a BFP then I could foresee a tearful emergency trip to the drug store with a distraught Residency Widow staring blankly at the feminine aisle picking up the next "last" box, but I don't want to dwell on that possibility right now.

I'm sticking with the positive. 
I'm sticking with hope.
I'm placing my bets on this box.

THE last box.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back in the saddle again

Once again just when I think Mother Nature is a pain in the butt, she shows that she has a small amount of mercy. Cycle 9 was one of my strangest but shortest cycles to date. 22 days! Sure it was unfortunately another anovulatory cycle but wow, 22 days.

Today I went in for my repeat cyst check ultrasound, and I felt so nervous in the hours leading up to the procedure this morning. Luckily the nerves were put to rest as the 2 cysts which spoiled our treatment in Cycle 9 are GONE!! Which means we have the green light on starting up medication again.

Source: Photobucket

My bag o' fun this time includes:

.5mg Dexamethasone from now until cycle day (CD) 14

50 mg Clomid, CD 3-7

A box of ovulation predictor sticks for use starting CD 11

1 shot of Pregnyl HcG trigger

50 mg Progesterone suppositories to be used twice a day during the two week wait.
Funny thing is my mid cycle ultrasound to check my response to the medication and the growth of follicles is scheduled for Easter morning.  I'm sure we can draw all kinds of symbolism from that, so far I've come up with:
Hopefully this means my "baskets" will have some good eggs.
Maybe this is where my fertility will be resurrected from the dead.
Is the ultrasound wand the Easter Bunny of my uterus?  He better bring me lots of goodies.
What an appropriate way to start off NIAW.

Buckle in tight because this crazy ride is on its way once again. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bringing Home Buster

This past weekend my buddy, Buster turned 4 years human years that is... though it was only 10 months ago that he found his way into our home.

Before I got married I would occasionally peruse Petfinder looking at the pictures of all the cute dogs up for adoption.  Mostly these would be days when I was bored or needed a warm-fuzzy boost as I knew I wasn't in a position to be a good pet owner.  Between work, my social life, and the fact that I only had a tiny patio, I didn't feel like it would be fair to bring a dog home when I couldn't devote the time or attention it would need.  So I was a responsible adult, put my wishes aside and left my window shopping as just that.

Then when Dr. Love and I got married, we occasionally visited the notion of adding a furry friend to our home.  Again this usually happened on a day when I had a warm-fuzzy craving that needed a furry fix.  Yet the reasons why I had abstained when I was single were still there.  We were too busy and we didn't have a lot of room.

Last June, however, things shifted.  My family dog, Yoda, passed away after a long battle with some health problems.  This was a loss that hit my mom and younger brother particularly hard and despite previous statements that they wouldn't replace Yoda after he was gone, when the time came the void was too great to be left unfilled.  Not wanting to dismiss any excuse for looking at cute furry friends, Dr. Love and I joined the search to find a new family pet.  After a couple hits and misses, they found a dog to make part of their forever home, and I thought that was the end of it.  Until Dr. Love hit me with a surprise a few days later.

As all good discussions go, it happened over dinner one night.  "So I've actually thought about getting us a dog to keep you company since I'm going to be gone so much.  I don't like the thought of you being all alone while I'm on call."

This completely caught me off guard.  Nothing about our reasons-we're-not-good-dog-parents had changed.  We were still busy (he was going to be even more so) and we still had no yard.  The rationalization was that A) other busy people have pets, B) probably 70% of the neighbors in our complex have dogs so it's not impossible, C) a smaller dog doesn't need a ton of room.

I have to admit Buster was not our first choice.

Our first choice was a little beagle/terrier mix named Sparky.  I thought it was just perfect since that is the name of the mascot at our college Alma Mater.  Apparently someone else thought it was perfect too as he was already in the process of being adopted when I called. 

The adoption coordinator with the rescue suggested Buster (then known as Dudley) a beagle mix that they had pulled from the euthanasia list at the county shelter due to his fear of other dogs.  We jumped at the chance to set up a home visit which was required as part of our approval for adoption and with the residency start date right around the corner we didn't know if Dr. Love would be available much longer.

Considering how long I had previously convinced myself that our home and our schedules weren't suitable for owning a pet, I was really nervous about our home visit.  Though I get squirmy about being judged regardless of the situation (Ms America wanna-be, I am not).  Much to my relief, Buster's foster mom thought we would be great, that he'd fit in just fine at our home, and that she would pass on her recommendation to the adoption coordinator.    We arranged for a day when she would bring B Dogg back to stay and then a shopping spree ensued with dog bowls, beds, crate, leashes, toys, food and treats.  It was a veritable Pet Palooza. 

On July 2, 2010 Buster became part of our home and this is one of the first pictures I took of him.
He is probably the worst guard dog and would either sleep through the whole thing or be petted by the invaders.  He is, however, the best snuggler.  I've never met a dog who craves touch and closeness as much as he does.  We still have found very few reasons as to why he ended up at the county shelter several times (from what I can decipher from his paperwork) but it was their loss and our gain.  We originally got him to keep me company during on call nights and I'm grateful for that, but given our current infertility struggles I'm even more grateful he's here.  I know he's not a substitute for a baby, and he's a dog not a kid, but our house  hearts would feel so much emptier without him.  I think Dr. Love may have had a bit of divine inspiration when he decided to look into adopting a dog.

So Happy Birthday Buster and even though you're starting to get a little gray I hope there are many more to come.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who you gonna call?

The post below is actually a re-run of a post that I wrote not long ago on my friends/family blog.  It's still one of my favorites and since Dr. Love is on call tonight I thought I'd resurrect it here.  You never know what kind of mayhem or tomfoolery may abound at the house when he's away on call.  Hope tonight is uneventful.

Last night, at 1:45am I was woken by the shrill piercing sound of an alarm. Still groggy I fumbled with the buttons on my alarm clock thinking that had to be the source of the noise even though the sound wasn't right for my alarm clock. When that didn't stop the sound I fumbled around with anything else on my nightstand that my sleepy brain thought might be the source. Again nothing worked. By this time I was becoming more alert and my brain was trying to figure out what the sound could be.

What produces an ear splitting, heart pounding tone unexpectedly in the middle of the night? The smoke detector, I concluded. I didn't smell any smoke though so I assumed it was just a dying battery. I ran down the stairs and furiously tried to get the detector off the wall, knocking down our pull-up bar and freaking out the dog in the process. I took out the battery and...the sound continued.

Could it be the other smoke alarm I wondered? That thought confused me though as the other smoke alarm hadn't had power to it for over a year as the darn thing was so super sensitive that a steamy shower in the bathroom 5 feet away from it would set it off. Had something happened to the wiring that resurrected the hard wired demon smoke detector from the dead? Frantic to try anything to get the alarm to stop I grabbed the mop, raced back up the stairs and proceeded to whack the ill placed detector, located above the second step before the landing just out of reach to normal human arms (Where's Inspector Gadget when you need him?), like a pinata until it crashed to the ground and...the sound continued.

Frustrated and with panic levels rising I decided that I needed to narrow down what area of the house the sound was coming from. I ran to the kitchen and rummaged through the drawer to find the keys to the lock on our breaker box, then one at a time I started flipping switches.
Upstairs? = not it
Downstairs? = not it
Kitchen? = not it
Lighting? = not it
Washer / Dryer? = not it
Smoke? = definitely not it

I was out of ideas, on the verge of crying and my house was still screaming. So I did what any other 28 year old married woman would do. I called my mommy. Normally I would have called my husband but at that time he would either A) be busy with patients or B) be trying to catch a few winks of sleep in his 30 hour shift. I didn't think it was fair to disrupt his sleep when really there wouldn't be anything he could do, and he didn't need to worry about me freaking out at home alone.

"Hello?" mom mumbled.
"Mom, I need help," I stumbled trying to hold it together and not freak her out. I gave her a quick rundown of what was happening. "Can you hear that?"
"Hear what?" she replied.
Surprised that she couldn't hear the chaos in my house I moved around a bit trying to find a better sound sample for her, and as I did something amazing happened. I narrowed in on the source of the noise. And the culprit was...

A $2 kitchen timer with a dying battery.

Who knew that much noise could come from something so small? Apparently the manufacturers felt that the demise of the timer's battery was an urgent matter worthy of a household emergency. After all HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN THE COOKIES ARE DONE!?! Or how will we be able to time the dog's bathroom break? Here we've been spending time and energy educating people on the importance of checking their smoke detectors when kitchen timers was the real epidemic.

I thanked my mom for listening, apologized for waking her up, turned all the power back on, took Buster out to go to the bathroom as all the excitement got his bladder going, and then dragged myself back to bed about 20 minutes after the whole ordeal originally began. It felt more like an hour.

This was the second time that day in which my parents had come to my rescue. Several hours earlier my dad came by my house to help me with our new washer. The installers had hooked the hoses up wrong and what should have been a cold water rinse was a hot water rinse and vice versa. I had spent an hour working through this on my own yet my girly arms couldn't move the machine nor could I get the couplings loosened. Thanks to a great dad we got it fixed and working properly.

I guess moral of the story is if you're going to be a residency widow it helps to have people you can lean on nearby... and don't forget to check your kitchen timers people!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wanna get away?

During residency time at home is precious, days off are a luxury, and vacation days that lead to a 4 day weekend are rare prize that must not be wasted. A week ago, Dr Love had a couple of vacation days come up that resulted in a fabulous 4 day golden weekend. Given the rough news we'd received earlier that week in regards to this cycle, combined with the breakdown I had during Match Week, we decided we could not let this opportunity for a break go wasted. We scoured the Internet and found a small pet-friendly cottage in the Verde Valley that was available, packed up the car and headed for the hills.

The cottage was perfect and just what we needed. Quiet, secluded and relaxing. During our time there, the only other living creatures I consistently saw were the 3 goats in the neighbors yard. We were plucked from our stressful, chaotic life in the city and plopped down on the Agrarian Avenue that time forgot complete with windmills and chicken coops.

Even Buster was in doggy heaven with all the room to run and new scents to sniff, which would have been all well and good, except he developed a case of the-grass-is-greener-over-there-itis.

Seriously this dog had maybe an acre of fenced in land to check out which is a bajillion times larger than our little patio at home, but that wasn't enough. After exploring the area he wanted to be in the neighbor's yard on either side of us. He patrolled the fence looking for spots big enough for his little body to slip through, and find them he did. That was the not-so-relaxing part of the weekend, as I raced down the lane to retrieve my furry little explorer before he got too far, got himself in trouble, or ruined something of the neighbors. He's proven that his little beagle genes run strong in him and if we ever take him camping he can't be let off-leash because he would be half way across the forest before we could catch him.

I'm so glad that we took the opportunity to get away from everything and just have time for the two of us. We desperately needed a break from residency and infertility and to have a chance to get back to our relationship as friends and spouses outside of the external stresses. I didn't want the weekend to end. I didn't want to head back to reality. I would be content to stay on that little lane for weeks. Alas the obligations both of us have to our jobs brought us back, but we came back a little relaxed, a lot more happy, and very much still in love. Here's hoping we don't need another one of these breaks for awhile, and that the next one will be under more pleasant circumstances.

My IF Hero

At times like these when I feel frustrated with infertility (IF), I find it encouraging to think about the people I know who have gone head to head with the IF beast and won the war to have a family.

While each person's specific battle is unique there is a common thread among us. In general they understand when I hurt because they've felt that hurt. They empathize with the frustration because they've had those same frustrations. They have been down this road before me and know the ups, downs, the hard days, the good days, and the struggle to stay hopeful. Reflecting on those stalwart parents who beat IF in one way or another gives me hope as a shining example that there is a happy ending. Some day, some how we can win.

One of my closest IF heroes is my sister in law, Shell, and brother in law Rob.

When Shell was younger she had to have surgery due to ovarian cysts and as a result was left with half an ovary. To complicate matters they also had male factor infertility. They applied for adoption but were denied due to their age (late 30's, early 40's). They explored all their options for having a family, and it came down to their best chance was invitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs and sperm. I was not a part of the family for this portion of their journey but I can imagine the days (weeks even) of heart felt contemplation that went into this final decision.

They scrimped and saved waiting for the time to come when they would move forward with the treatment. The result... my adorable, red headed firecracker of a nephew, Luke.

Since they had frozen embryos left over, when Luke was a year old they went through their second IVF procedure in hopes that they would be able to add to their family. The next big question was how many frozen embryos to transfer? There were many facets of this decision to consider and after much deliberation it was decided that three was the magical number. What a magical number it was too as all three successfully implanted.

34 weeks, and a healthy, fairly unremarkable pregnancy later, the triplets were born; 2 of them weighing in around 5 pounds and the littlest one at just over 3 pounds. They spent a little bit of time in the NICU but they have all done really well and are healthy beautiful babies.

I know that Shell and Rob's course of treatment does not fit everybody. The decision of IF treatment and assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a deeply personal choice that I understand is not for everyone. Never the less, it is amazing to me how after years of struggle, and probably a fair amount of frustration doubting if children would ever come to their family, they have been blessed with a full house. After all the tears and heartache they are now out numbered by children. Their cup, and their joy, is full and probably even over flowing some days. She is an example to me that while there are going to be dark days where it seems the end is nowhere in sight that we can not give up, we must keep going and continue forward. This might not be the path we originally envisioned, and it may not go according to the time frame we want but one day we will be blessed with the family we so deeply desire.

One day.