Monday, May 31, 2010

Patience Is Not My Strong Suit

I'm not really sure when the progression from playing house became full-blown adulthood. Living in our apartment Matt said being an adult is paying a mortgage, but three years ago when we acquired that monthly vestige of adulthood, he said no, no, it's definitely when you have kids. He had no answer for people who chose to rent, or chose not to have children.

But sitting in an office on Friday night, listening to a fertility doctor dictate a letter into his recorder about our case, I sat back, with my husband next to me, and thought, "So this is it; this is being an adult." At some point we crossed over: maybe it was then, or maybe it twelve months ago when we decided on having children.

I never, ever thought I'd be here. When I'd hear stories about failed IVF attempts, or women trying for years, I'd sympathize and think how lucky I was that woman trying wasn't me. But here we were, a year later, being told my ovaries were peculiarly small and Matt's situation wasn't looking too much better.

New words are entering my lexicon: progesterone supplements, FSH levels. IUI. I've been told so many times that "you'll be blessed with a child when the time is right" or "take a long weekend somewhere". These people invariably have children, and now, almost in a perverse way, I feel validated. No, it won't happen "when the time is right" or if we go away, and no, Godly intervention won't help either. Matt and I are pragmatists. We are not religious (although I've thought about praying but decided against it because if there is a God, he/she will surely realize what a selfish twit I am that I haven't prayed in 12 odd years, and all of the sudden decided only to smack my hands together for my own, baby-makin' good).

Above all, this is a medical matter. Ninety-three percent of couples our age conceive by the six month mark. Of those who don't, only 15% of those couples conceive in the next six months. Obviously, something is not right.

Our fertility visit was thorough. That really is the best way to describe it. We were there from 6:30 until 9:30 pm. Matt had his semen and urine tested, and I had an ultrasound, blood test, and an examination. We met with the doctor twice: before the tests, and after. I came with copies of my medical chart: details of when they first found the abscess deep in my gut, notes on my three months on Clomid, a write-up from my HSG. I told him about my Crohn's, about the scar tissue, about the surgery. When he said my ovaries were quite small for my age, and ruminated that perhaps scar tissue at one point had restricted their blood flow, I envisioned dried-up and hollow pea pods - a fertility wasteland.

We have many tests to do before determining next steps, and much medication to take. Writing about this now, I'm upset, but recounting it to a friend Friday night I laughed it off - of course we're sub-fertile, I mean, did I expect this to be easy?!

And sometimes I'm fine, it's all fine, and we'll make a go of it and trust ourselves to the shots, the blood tests, and all modern-day medicine has to offer. And other times I catch myself crying. A women I barely know had been struggling with having a second child for quite some time, and I saw her last week, but now with a swollen belly. It was at the gym, and my legs stopped swinging on my elliptical machine and I just watched her as she made her way to the locker room. And I felt betrayed.

I closed my eyes and told myself to just concentrate on Diane Sawyer on the television in front of me. To just watch her as she spoke about top kill, and the sheets of oil in the Gulf. I know that's a real tragedy, and not this.

But I couldn't help it, because infertility is a club swaddled in embarrassing emotion (jealousy, contempt, pity), and I was envious she was leaving, just as I was getting my bearings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Big Girl Running

I'm back.  And thank heavens, because studying is just awful and takes time away from really important things, like writing in this blog, or spending an hour in the card aisle at Target, or spending my Friday evenings watching Wife Swap

On the morning of my test I set my alarm for 5 am to get a last minute cram session in, because the evening before I obviously had to watch LOST, and then unfortunately got sucked into V (which is like that fourth glass of wine: you always regret it the next morning).  Oh, and I voted (and being in Pennsylvania, that was a very big senatorial race - I had to indulge my bleeding heart!). 

So, I was downstairs, dressed, and had breakfast by 5:30 and was crammin' away like a good (bad?) little student.  As a note, this test really tested (haha HA - get it, "tested"?!) my study habits.  Namely, because I have none.  I have gotten through school on my intelligence (cough, cough) and avoidance of hard classes (case in point, in 12th grade most people took physics, but I enrolled in AP environmental science, which was a joke, as is anything compared to physics, really).  At NYU they require two semesters of science for us non-science majors, and because I WAS NOT THINKING STRAIGHT, I took physics because "I never experienced it in high school".  This is also the girl who dodged calculus (I took no math 12th grade) and took something like AP Philosophy (another joke - I know how to pick 'em).  As a note, what the hell was Plato talking about in that damn cave?!  Anyway, although this particular physics class was aimed for non-science majors, it was a total embarrassment and by week three I was apologizing to my lab partner for how dumb I was.

In college we were also required to take four semesters of a foreign language.  Now, you can test out this requirement (or test into, say, French 2 or 3 or 4) by taking the SAT II and doing well.  As someone who took Spanish 1, 2, 3 and 4 in high school you would think, "Well, surely, this girl would at least test into Spanish 3."  Well, you are wrong.  I am foreign language impaired.  It's sad, really, and runs in my family (I believe my younger sister's choice of college hinged on the very fact they had no foreign language requirement).  I took the SAT II and tested into....wait for it......SPANISH 1!  It was a staggering set-back and embarrassment so early in my collegiate career, but, come on, totally expected.  So I thought, "At least I can do well since I'm retaking a lot of this."  ALSO WRONG.  Since I went to a university where most people had a modicum of intelligence, most of my classmates were fluent by the end of Spanish 2.  I was very bitter.

In high school I did well in Spanish only due to my skills in persuasion.  I very clearly remember approaching my Spanish 4 teacher and laying it all out: saying I was never going to speak this language, I'm essentially a dummy but I try REALLY hard, and what do you think about some extra credit?  How about a paper (in English, no less) on El Greco, I said, as the class focused on Spanish art.  Or how about some Goya?! I urged.  She eventually relented and I got my A.  (That grade inflation problem?  Attribute it to me.)

So, there I was on Wednesday morning going over labor laws and knowing, sadly, fate had caught up to me.  To play it safe, I drove to the testing center early, and parked.  I was there an hour early and studied some more, or, until I decided the pre-loaded games on my cellphone were more interesting.  I was to be at the testing center at 8:30, and got out of the car at 8:25 to enter the building.  I walked in, thinking, "Be strong!  Be confident!  You've got this!"

The problem was, I was at the wrong place.  And I had left my directions in the car.  With my cellphone.  And, apparently, my sanity.  "Do you know where 100 Elm Street is?!" I howled as I ran into each building.  The problem, I learned, I was on East Elm, and I should have been on West.  I also learned I need to get in shape as I probably ran no more than a quarter of a mile (at the very most) and has heaving as I finally found the testing center.  Dripping with sweat and coughing I finally sat down to take my test at 8:50 am.  Two things should be know here: Matt gave me the directions so I blame him (hey, I was busy watching V!).  And second, I passed.  Halle-freakin'-lujah!

 This is me running to my test.
Why, yes, it was on a beach.
And obviously that's my very in-shape bod.  
Look, no questions, ok?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank You!

I want to thank all contributors and members of Team Gutsy. Last week was blustery and cold, but we managed to walk in the name of intestines to the tune of $830!

I want to thank my mom who encouraged me to join the walk, and who also volunteered her time to make the event a success. In truth, I almost felt silly walking because I've been feeling so darn good since my surgery a little over a year ago. But I guess that's the whole point, right?!

IBD doesn't have the societal clout of other conditions, and (okay, I'm stepping on my soapbox a little) I don't think people truly understand the havoc it could wreck, or really what it is (a bad tummy ache that makes you go diarrhea versus an autoimmune disease). Okay, I guess we can't ignore the diarrhea....there, I've said it!

Thank you again for supporting the CCFA. Many people I don't even know personally donated to a member of my family, and I to them I am truly grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Of every dollar raised, 83 cents goes directly to research. We walked for the Lehigh Valley, PA chapter of the CCFA, and our little group of intestinally-challenged compatriots raised $60,000!

Thank you.

And NOW, the photos:
(All photos courtesy of Daniel Burke Photography)

See that dork in the black? That's me. My sister and her boyfriend are to the right. Matt's family followed (if you see the lad with the big hair, you found him).

Someone tell that person the trail is to their left; they may be lost.

I want THAT guy on my team! I bet he can teach me a thing or two about happiness. (And rocking red sneakers.)

You know, my dog Penny was there, so I'm not sure why these mutts got a photo opp and she didn't. (I know, I know...I'm a such a rabid stage mom!)

This woman looks absolutely FIERCE AND FABULOUS despite the gail-force winds. I'm in awe!

How the heck did I miss the face-painting?!?!

Thank you again, Team Gutsy!

Blame Boredom

I don't know if there is anyone on the planet more committed to finding reasons to take a study break than me. I am truly devoted. My studying consists of 30-minute bursts followed by 60 minutes of contemplating if it's acceptable to wear yesterday's socks while eying the laundry.

My test is Wednesday, and I've come to the conclusion that it's just a test, I can take it again (in December, but nonetheless) and there are more important things to be done. Namely, posting these photos of my better half. Behold:

This was a hike we took on Easter weekend. Notice my CCFA shirt! Also notice the complete and utter sexiness of my husband. I know what you're thinking: Brad Pitt who?

At this point I told him to act like a MAN, and we got this shot. This is as good as it gets, folks.

This is Matt giving me his come hither look. This very look is responsible for our second date. Note the child's size hat.

Then we went back to my in-laws for dinner. At this point most people relaxed, but Matt took it upon himself to set-up his slackline (aka tight-rope...remember that?). Unfortunately, my camera died and I didn't get him in the act. You're welcome.

I'm not sure what kind of wife I am to be posting these tongue-in-cheek photos, but Matt is out golfing, and I'm stuck inside "studying", so I say that's about fair.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

15-Minute Tuna and Penne

I knew it was going to be one of those days when I got stuck in a heavy downpour, standing in front of my workplace, digging for my entry badge in a tote bag that could fit a six-month-old. My shoes, underwear, and breakfast sandwich were all soggy when I reached my desk. “Ten more hours until I’m in my pajamas at home,” was my only thought as the computer booted. Actually, I also thought, “Is it appropriate in an office-context to walk around barefoot as your shoes dry?” (Answer: No. But “class” is overrated, so I did anyway. Also the boss wasn’t in.)

I've been eating my way through May – I blame it on the “rut” I’m in, because things can only compound so much until you reach for the Mr. Goodbar. I used to have a bit bitter (read: envious) outlook toward my husband: his life is down-right easy. (So maybe I’m still bitter.) But now I’m also relieved one of us is stable in mind and body, because someone has to cook my dinner! The other week Matt made a simple pasta salad accented with tuna and artichokes, and last week we had a fresh salad with skirt steak, lime, mangos, and more. Today I’m wearing my girdle underwear, which would be excellent, except the old things are beginning to lose their elastic and I have to keep hiking the damn things up. Of course I do this in plain view. Like I said: life is hard.

Tuna and Penne (or bowties, or spirals, or whatever your heart fancies)
Adapted (aka made yummier and much less healthier) from Cooking Light
  • 1 (or, hell, 2) red bell peppers
  • penne pasta (8 ounces)
  • 1 bunch coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 4 TB red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 TB capers, divided
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB thyme
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 (7.8) jar premium tuna packed in oil (such as Ortiz), drained and flaked*

*I am cheap. Not that cheap, but I balked at the $9.50 jar of fancy tuna. So I bought half that and used half albacore in water. Oh, the horror, I know...

Preheat broiler. Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes (ha, ha). Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place in a ziplock bag and seal. Let it stand 15 minutes. Then peel and chop.
Bring water to boil and cook pasta accordingly with some salt. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Now combine the bell peppers, pasta, a dash salt, and the remainder of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Wasn't that easy?!