what mood swings?

Last night I cried inconsolably for fifteen minutes. The culprit? A slightly emotional (but not devastating) scene on the show Parenthood.

For some reason when I heard that these injections could cause mood swings, I pictured a pendulum. I figured that I would either be on one end of the spectrum – happy – or the other end – sad. What I was not prepared for was a myriad of confusing, specific emotions that may be drug side effects or may just be my inner psyche manifesting the intensity of the situation. I will never know.

Since I started the injections almost a week ago, I have felt extreme joy, irritation, confusion, instability, excitement, fear, impatience, apprehension, gratitude and above all, anxiety. I feel anxious that the moment of truth is quickly approaching. Months ago, before we knew that any of this would be happening, we planned a short trip to Denver to sight see,  snowboard and visit with Eric’s cousin. We are leaving this Thursday. So on top of worrying about what’s to come and getting my next, incredibly expensive prescription in time, I have to plan on and pack for a vacation. I’m excited, but stressed. Very, very stressed.

The injections are going well. Eric’s mom did the first two and Eric has done all subsequent shots. The first night he had to do one I had already angered him by parking in his spot (accidentally), so he may have enjoyed doing it a little too much.

I have a whole other post planned addressing this, but I just want to take a moment to thank you all for the support and well wishes. I didn’t expect so many likes, comments, private messages, texts, in-person conversations and genuine concern. It means so much to have all of you surrounding us and encouraging us through this frightening yet exciting time. I know now that I made the right choice sharing this journey rather than keeping it all inside. I probably would have had a breakdown without a proper place to vent it all out.

Like I said, we’re headed to Denver next week. Hopefully I can relax and enjoy myself and just take my mind off it all for a little while. Ha. Ha. Ha.

A very dramatic New Year’s Eve

I bet you thought this would involve drinking, didn’t you? Well, it doesn’t. At least, that wasn’t the dramatic part.

I had my second appointment in the city on NYE. Yup, I traveled to Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Totally sane. Anyway, I took the 7 a.m. bus and somehow made it to the NHF office (a bus ride and a subway ride) in an hour and 40 minutes. That is unprecedented. Smug and satisfied, I strolled in 20 minutes early for my appointment and made plans for a leisurely brunch with a friend. I felt breezy.

In the back of my mind there was a slight problem – blood test results. We needed them to be officially accepted into the trial and to get all of my fun prescriptions  (You know – injections and stuff). Eric got his results immediately, but since I had to have genetic testing the results took longer. For some reason I was convinced that while I sat in the French cafe with my croissant and coffee, the results would magically appear in my email inbox. Because life always works like that, right? Of course, the results did not come. I called Quest and was told that some results were back, but for some reason my PCP was not authorized to get partial results. Great.

I went back to NHF and broke the bad news. They said that if one particular test was holding up the works, they could still get stuff done that day. I gave them all the info and let them deal with Quest.

Now comes the fun part. Have you ever waited for a fax that someone said was coming? Have you ever stared down a fax machine, willing it to spit out that life or death piece of paper? I have. My car got towed in Philly many, many years ago. I was totally that girl that you see on Parking Wars, fighting with Allstate and fighting with PPA and waiting in the filthy, noisy waiting room for seven straight hours for a mystical proof of insurance document. If that show had been around back then, I would have been on it.

This “waiting for fax” episode was not quite as dramatic because someone else did all the phone fighting for me. I simply sat in the waiting room. And sat some more. I read an entire book. (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling. Highly recommend; laugh out loud funny). I changed seats. I watched people come and go, nurses wish each other a Happy New Year and leave, and receptionists switch off lights and head out. By the time they finally summoned me back to the office it was just me, a dark waiting room, and a young Asian child sleeping on a nearby sofa.

I’m not sure where the study coordinators are from, I’m so bad with that. I want to say they’re Russian? Ukranian? Something like that. They have thick accents and don’t understand some of my sarcasm (more’s the pity). Anyway, coordinator Matt said they finally, FINALLY got the fax after many threatening phone calls placed on my behalf. Thinking about his colleague,  a sweet and soft spoken woman whose name escapes me, on the phone battling with Quest Diagnostics for hours in broken English just to get MY blood test results gave me an instant surge of gratitude.

I drew my envelope. Matt made a big deal about this part but I don’t know, by this point I was tired and anxious and just wanted to get home to celebrate New Year’s. Plus I don’t even know if I wanted Conventional or Mini IVF; there are pros and cons to both. We got placed into Conventional.

Conventional IVF means daily injections. Matt demonstrated how to do these on a small rubberized button meant to resemble my stomach fat roll while I tried not to look visibly ill. He also said that since we are Conventional, the injections had to start that day. As in, within a few hours. He gave me directions to a pharmacy a few stops Uptown that he knew would carry the drugs and sent me off.

I should probably mention at this point that my phone was dying. I think by the time I left NHF I had 6% battery life. I also had no idea what time I could catch a bus out of Port Authority and my mom had borrowed my car, so I needed to be able to communicate with someone to pick me up. Stress levels began to escalate.

I made it to the pharmacy pretty easily. I confirmed with them that I could use an HSA card over the phone to pay for this $200 prescription. I also warned Eric that I would be calling to get the number. I called him from the pharmacy’s phone – twice – no answer. Desperate, I called him from my cell phone, thinking he wasn’t answering because he didn’t recognize the number.

“WHAT! What do you WANT! I’m in the shower!!”
“Hi I’m at the pharmacy I need the number now please give me the number now I have to talk fast phone is dying hurry please.”

I could type out even more of this story but this post is getting ridiculously long and I’m not close to finished here. Basically the card wouldn’t go through, a line formed behind me, I broke out in a rash and started sweating profusely, called Eric back at least three more times, got yelled at again, and I think our final communication was him screaming “JUST LEAVE. ABANDON ALL HOPE AND FUCKING LEAVE!” as I hung up the phone and whipped out a different credit card. If you were behind me in line, you would have hated me. I hated me.

I raced back to the subway, practically jumping over an old woman who had collapsed in the street. Sorry, didn’t have time for that shit (a large group of people was helping her, don’t worry. I’m not a monster). Somehow I made it to Port Authority in time for a bus going to William Penn. Phone life was at 2%. I called my dad and said, “Shut up don’t talk be at bus stop at 6:50 with my car phone dead k love you bye.” And with that – my phone died.

You think it ends there? Nope. I still had an injection to do, remember? Eric and I had already decided that neither of us were up for the task and we would get his mother, a (***now retired!) nurse to administer the injections. I knew she was going out for New Year’s Eve but had no way to warn her I was coming over with this urgent matter. Once I got in the car and charged my phone enough to turn it on, I called her, right as she was walking out the door. She was kind enough to wait for me to race over so she could stick me before heading off to her party.

After that we made it to our party 2 hours late, which I figure is fashionable. 2013 arrived. It better have a baby in it, and he/she better be pretty effing adorable.

calm. down.

I haven’t felt calm for more than two years. Sure, I’ve had brief periods of relaxation – mostly wine-induced – but on the edge of my subconscious there has always been been a tiny voice screaming, “You have to do something! You have to do something! Do something now!”

The voice was referring to the baby situation (some might call it a biological clock, but I think it’s more complex than that). However, it extended well past scheduling specialist appointments and Googling “homeopathic fertility methods.” Every aspect of my life has been affected by this anxiety. I’m often impatient and irritated at work. My catchphrase at the office is a deep, exaggerated sigh, and my cube mates often giggle when I let out one of these overly dramatic, oh-so-put-upon exhalations. I stress out over the state of my home’s chaos, such as how many dishes are piling up in the sink, how much laundry is piling up in the hamper and how much dog hair is accumulating in the corners. Even as I sit on the couch watching TV, my mind often keeps going a million miles a minute thinking of all the things I should be doing.

We went for our initial consult appointment on Friday. The office was gorgeous, and huge. It took up the entire floor of a building and reception had no fewer than 30 people waiting. We were ushered into the consult with two other couples – an awkward proposition at first, but once the meeting started we quickly got over being self-conscious. We were all there for the same reason.

All the tests took 4 hours. To my surprise, they said we would get a 98% acceptance or denial into the study that very day. We were sent to lunch, and promised that upon return, we would have our answer.

I have had two panic attacks in my life that I can recall. The first one was last year, in February, and that story almost bears a whole other post. Suffice it to say it had to do with a psychic prediction that foresaw us getting pregnant in February. I managed to stress out my body enough to delay my Aunt Flo three full days. Cue panic attack #1.

The second happened this past Friday. As the clinical trial coordinator sent us out to get lunch while our tests were analyzed, my heart started racing. My mouth went dry. I felt like I was going to throw up, pass out and levitate all at the same time. While Eric scarfed down a burger and cheese fries, I quietly died in the corner of the Goodburger on Columbus Circle. He couldn’t understand my meltdown. I couldn’t understand his lack of a meltdown.

When you’re trying to have a baby and you’re not able to, people like to tell you to calm down. “It will happen if you just relax! Don’t think about it so much!” Yeah, ok. I feel like the phrase “easier said than done” was created specifically for this sentiment. The amount of stress created by trying to force myself to relax was almost as bad as the stress that already existed. Does that make sense? I’m sorry if it doesn’t. Let’s just say I was doubly stressed out.

We got back from lunch (by this point I was shaking visibly) and were finally, finally escorted back into an office. The coordinator Matt took his time getting to the results. He said, “You seem like good candidates for the study.” I made him confirm three times that yes, this in fact meant that we WERE accepted into the study. I breathed the hugest sigh of relief and started babbling thanks and nonsense, while Matt (a non-native English speaker) looked at me puzzled and said, “But I do not understand? Why you freak out? You don’t need to freak out.” Eric just laughed.

That’s it folks: we are in. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I feel like a gigantic part of this stress I’ve been lugging around has melted away. This weekend I sat under my dog hair covered blanket, dishes in the sink, laundry in the hamper and smiled, completely unconcerned. The funny thing is that Matt suggested that we start using condoms. You see, oftentimes people accepted into clinical trials can accidentally get pregnant from being too relaxed, and our next visit will be too early to test for such a phenomenon  I think this may be the definition of irony. Or maybe not. Like Alanis, I’ve always had a hard time defining irony.

Anyway – this is good news! I will try to keep you all updated as much as I can without saying too much. Just know that if my hopes have ever been sky high, now is that time. It’s like an inevitable that I have to now patiently wait for. But I just think it will be worth it.

spoiler alert: we’re not pregnant

I’ve debated a lot over this post. Probably more time than one should devote to thinking about something as inconsequential as a blog post. Here’s why I ultimately decided to do it:

1) It’s what’s going on. The most successful blogs are real, gritty, everyday life, right? So why wouldn’t I put this out there? This is what’s happening in my life.

2) It got harder and harder to post about other stuff. It felt like ignoring the biggest thing – the most important thing – the elephant in the living room.

3) This is like my worst kept secret anyway. I’m mostly open about it with people who I know and even sometimes with people who I don’t know. So organizing my thoughts and putting them all down isn’t going to be some big revelation.

Longwinded preamble aside… Eric and I are have been trying to have a baby for two and a half years but we don’t have one yet. There, I said it. My master plan was to wait until I was pregnant and post a whole long thing about the process leading up to it, but this “side blog” was getting long and frankly unreadable. I wanted to wait until I actually achieved the goal to post anything. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to know if I fail, that’s why.

Confession time: I used to blog about this under a super secret name and not tell anyone about it. This BBT blog is more lifestyle, less specifically allocated, so I’m going to keep things light (not that the situation is light, not in the least). Basically, I want to give an overall view of what’s going on without being too graphic. However, if you do want or need specifics, I have a gold medal in over sharing. If you ask nicely, I’ll quote you medical history and test results all day long. I just don’t think most people reading this particular blog care to know.

In the fall of 2010 we went for fertility testing and figured out the problem. Knowing the problem does not mean that you can afford to treat it, however. Most insurances cover the testing portion, but when it comes to treatment there is little to no coverage. Currently 15 states require providers to cover at least some of the treatment costs, but Pennsylvania isn’t one of them. And so we bid adieu to a potential $15,000 medical bill and decided to keep on tryin’ the old fashioned way (giggity).

So far, clearly, it hasn’t worked. Again, I could write pages and pages on the subject, but I’m just going to gloss over a lot of fine details and say this much: the past 2.5 years have featured plenty of tears, venting sessions, joys, ups, downs, hopes, despair, prayers, selfish tantrums, weird dreams, one ill-advised visit to a psychic, fights, make-ups, fights again, and pretty much every other emotion on the spectrum. We’ve learned an awful lot about each other but we still don’t have a baby.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. A friend suggested that I research clinical trials as an alternative way to pay for the IVF that we need according to the specialist. Lo and behold, the first result that Google returned sounded promising. New Hope Fertility Clinic in Manhattan is currently running a study comparing 2 different types of IVF (though saying the words “clinical trial” to one particular friend got the immediate response, “But does that mean you’ll grow a mustache?!”) The whole thing sounds legit.  And best of all, minus the cost of testing and some meds, it’s totally and completely free. Free! For those of you who don’t have conception challenges – this is comparable to winning the lottery. At least it feels that way to me.

We aren’t in yet. Our consult is coming up soon and we could still be rejected from the study for any number of reasons. Despite the cliché and despite how much I DETEST this phrase – everything does happen for a reason. So if we don’t make it in, something else will come along. A month ago I wouldn’t have even believed this opportunity existed, so it proves that anything can happen. That’s why when that Ellie Goulding song comes on in the car I totally bust out some crazy vocals. Anyway, I will keep y’all posted on what transpires (nice details only). But I really, really REALLY hope we get in. I really do.


So I’ve been juicing.

Yeah, I know, once again I’m behind the bandwagon. But it’s never too late to start good habits.

I’m trying out this juice thing for two reasons:

1) I watched the documentary ‘Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.’ I liked it. It wasn’t the most inspiring or revolutionary thing I’ve ever seen, but it was well done. It piqued my curiosity, that’s for sure.

2) My entire extended family is doing a Biggest Loser style competition, complete with cash prizes at every weigh-in and a grand prize at the end in December. It’s a great way to potentially earn a little extra cash, fit in my jeans again, and feel better about myself in general. A win-win-win, if you will.

I borrowed the juicer from a salesperson at work, and I freaking love it. I’m going to have a hard time giving it back, that’s how much I love it. Eric says I’m not allowed to actually buy one because he sees juicing as a passing trend for me. I guess only time will tell.

I didn’t go cold turkey on food, but I did stock up on fresh fruit and veggies so I can replace most meals with juice. Right now I’m “enjoying” the Mean Green signature recipe from the documentary while Eric feasts on a steak dinner. Fun times.

In case you’re feeling adventurous, here’s the recipe. I left out the ginger because it’s too expensive. (Actually, all of it was expensive. No wonder poor people eat junk food).

bottom's up

Mean Green Juice

6 Kale Leaves
1 Cucumber
4 Celery Stalks
2 Green Apples
1/2 Lemon
1 piece of ginger