Friday, July 31, 2009

Back to normal

I am all recovered from my headache and stomach upset of yesterday, thank goodness, and am now only plagued by the usual menstrual cramps. Lovely.

Though I don't have many plans for the weekend, I'm glad it's Friday. MM and I are having dinner with some law school friends of mine tonight, and I am hoping that the wife doesn't announce her pregnancy at dinner. (We don't see them often, they have been married over four years, and she will be 29 in a few weeks. Several of our mutual friends have been speculating about whether they are planning kids in the near future.)

The husband of the couple we are meeting for dinner was one of my closest friends during my first year of law school. He is a laugh riot, and we don't see him and his wife nearly often enough. So it should be fun.

Other than tonight's dinner, we have Hunter's obedience training in the morning and dinner with the in-laws on Sunday afternoon/evening. And I will probably have to catch up some of the work I missed doing while I was home sick yesterday. Good times.

And of course, the highlight of my weekend: I get to start shooting up on Saturday night. LOL I'll take my first Follistim shot between 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday. I've got my fingers crossed that adding a new drug to the mix won't make me crazy.

I've read some women's blogs where the husband gives them their injections. MM won't even watch me give myself my injections! To be fair, as a former nurse, I am perfectly competent to give myself my own subcutaneous injections, and I don't have a fear of needles or anything, so I don't really need his help.

One final thought: I was chatting online with a high school classmate of mine who is a "friend" on Facebook (I say "friend" because she and I were not really friends in high school, more acquaintances, but it was a small school, less than 70 in my class). Come to find out, she and her husband have struggled with infertility, too. They went through years of treatment (stopping short of IVF) and have now given up actively TTC because she is 39 and her husband has some health issues (and an adult daughter from a prior relationship). It was weird to learn that someone with whom I have not spoken in over 20 years has gone through some of the same issues that I am currently dealing with.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

CD 1

I had a miserable night. I was awakened at around 2:15 by the pain in my head from a horrible migraine. I only get 4-5 bad migraines a year, and this was one of them. I immediately took Excedrin and Advil, the only medications I had available that might help; I usually use prescription Imitrex for my worst migraines, but I am out until my physical with my PCP on 8/25. Excedrin and Advil do nothing for the other symptoms besides the pain, though, so in addition to the stabbing pain in my head, I was dizzy and nauseated for a long time. I finally ended up vomiting several times, which temporarily made my head hurt more but ultimately resolved my nausea.

Anyway, I got very little sleep as a result and am still not 100% (dull ache in head, stomach slightly iffy), so I am home sick from work today. I didn't even get out of bed until nearly 11:00.

Despite all this, I made a point of dutifully placing my cycle day one call to my clinic's nurse line so that we can do treatment this cycle. (Yes, AF arrived in full force early this morning, just as I had predicted yesterday afternoon.) I am all set to begin my first cycle with injectibles on Saturday; MM will pick up my drugs today. Here is the plan:

Clomid 50 mg CD 3 through CD 7 (8/1 through 8/5)
Follistim 125 mg on CD 3, 75 mg on CDs 4, 6, 8 and 10
OPKs before 11:00 each morning starting CD 8 (8/6)
Follicle check u/s on the morning of CD 11 (8/9)
Trigger with Ovidrel when instructed to do so prior to IUI

A couple of good things: my CD 11 falls on a Sunday, so no missed work for my mid-cycle u/s, yea! Also, as I mentioned yesterday, my work schedule looks totally clear for CD 11 through CD 16: I have only one thing on my calendar for the afternoon of CD 14, and it is a "maybe" and might not even take place. Aside from that one deposition, I am in the office with no appointments scheduled every day that week. A nice change from the scheduling conflicts I've run into in previous treatment cycles.

Not looking forward to giving myself six injections this cycle, but at least they are all subcutaneous and no intramuscular.

Oh, and one other thing. MM remarked at dinner last night about how strange it is that we are both so resigned now. In the early months of TTC, we would be both by very disappointed by each BFN or AF's arrival. By 6-7 cycles in, I had mostly gotten over it, but MM remained optimistic and would still be depressed. (He was actually more upset after a year of TTC than he had been the first couple of failed cycles.) Now we were both just like "oh well, whatever" and went on with our day. Neither of us was particularly sad, and the entire topic rated about a 30-second phone exchange (whereas before we had often had hour-long, tear-filled conversations after yet another BFN or AF).

Funny how you can grow accustomed to just about anything if you endure it long enough.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Knock knock

Who's there? Why, if it isn't AF about to make her regular monthly appearance.

Yep, no surprise BFP announcement here: for the past few hours, I have been having the mild, vague cramps that I usually get 12-24 hours before my period starts. A quick trip to the ladies' room just now revealed the tinest bit of rusty-brown spotting, also consistent with what I usually see 12-24 hours before I start. My body is nothing if not consistent.

Eh, I'm not really upset because I'm not surprised. I expected AF to arrive. I expected to--yet again--not be pregnant. Yes, there was a brief, faint glimmer of hope, but all in all, not a surprise.

Looking on the bright side, this does mean that I won't have any issues with getting the MRI of my right arm on August 4th. (It's needed to diagnose why my arm is still lumpy and painful three-and-a-half-weeks after my dog bite.) I'd had a brief fantasy that this cycle would be THE ONE, and I would have to live the rest of my life with limited use of my right arm for lack of timely and appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment of whatever the hell is wrong with it. (I had begun to think that the loss of some function in my dominant arm would be a small price to pay for finally being pregnant.)

We will be doing IUI + Clomid + injectibles this cycle. Not looking forward to days of giving myself injections, but such is life. At least my calendar looks pretty clear for (likely) CD 11 through 16!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I knew it!!

Ha! See, it's NOT just my imagination that more people than ever before are having babies. Check this out:

"2006 kicked off the second largest baby boom in US history. "

It's nice to know that I haven't just gotten WAY overly sensitive. (Though it would certainly be understandable if I had.)

Nausea (and other "non-specific" symptoms)

On my drive to work this morning, I felt decidedly nauseated. As I wrote on Sunday, I'm in the 2WW and thus apt to dissect and over-analyze every little symptom, real or imagined, that might indicate pregnancy.

I definitely thought I was going to hurl for a few minutes there, though. Could it be because I ate a piece of colby-jack cheese for breakfast? A weird recurrence of my childhood motion sickness (though I've never had it affect me during my commute before)? Maybe I am developing vertigo and this nausea is the first sign? Or food poisoning? Or gallbladder disease?

As I sit at my desk typing this post, my nausea has mostly subsided. (I calmed it down with a Star$ caffe mocha and coffee cake.) I still feel a little iffy but don't think I will actually vomit.

I am also tired this morning, despite a full night's rest. A sign? Ugh.

Yet again, I find myself wishing that there were a way to know FOR SURE if I'm pregnant mere days after ovulation/fertilization/implantation. The waiting is awful. I'm sure everyone reading this can relate.

AF is due tomorrow or Thursday, so I should have my answer soon.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The trend continues

As has been the norm for the past, oh, at least 6-9 months, if not longer, I have learned in the past week of the births of three babies and two new pregnancies. A law school acquaintance with whom I have not spoken in five years announced the birth of his daughter on Facebook. An adjuster with an insurance company which is one of the main clients of our firm sent out photos of her just-born first grandchild. A few days later, a lawyer who is opposing counsel in one of my active cases sent out photos of his first grandchild.

MM has suspected for weeks that a friend of his at work--who married five months before us--is pregnant, and today she confirmed his suspicion. She is due in early February. (What was even more awkward about this announcement: she knows that we have been TTC for 15 months and that they started TTC after we did. She actually told MM privately before making a general announcement because she was concerned about hurting his feelings.)

I learned via an evite to a baby shower that friends of mine who were once quite close--the husband was going to be my ex-fiance's best man in our (called-off) wedding--who have moved to another city are expecting their second child in September. (They have a two-and-a-half-year-old son and are having a girl this time.)

This theme is not a new one for me. I have written at least twice before about the fact that it seems that more people around me are having children now than at any prior time in my life.

I am happy for people. Truly. I just can't help thinking "When are we going to able to celebrate our own pregnancy or birth?"

MM and I stopped by the pharmacy last night to pick up a few items on the way home from dinner out, and we happened to walk past the condoms. MM joked that he was going to pick up a box, and I reminded him that we have half a box at home that is not yet expired that he could use if he felt so inclined. (He did not.) He then said "Hey, if we'd known then what we know now, I'd never have had to use a condom 'cause apparently you can't get pregnant anyway."

Ouch. I know he was trying to be funny and light-hearted about our situation, so his comment didn't hurt my feelings. In moments of bitterness, I have thought the same thing myself. What hurt was the truth of his (joking) statement.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hope springs eternal

As I've mentioned before, we took a break this cycle. I didn't do anything to track my cycle: no BBT charting, no CBEFM, no OPKs, nothing. (I *am* usually pretty regular--27 to 28 days without meds to screw things up--and can't help being cognizant of what cycle day I am on after over a year of TTC.)

Being newlyweds, MM and I usually do the deed at least every other day, and this month has been no exception, so odds are that, despite my lack of tracking, we have once again had sex during my fertile window this cycle. So I can't say that there is NO chance that I am pregnant. However, given that our prior 16 cycles of TTC, all with perfect timing, two with Clomid and hCG trigger, and one with IUI, have all resulted in BFNs, I would think that the chances of our conceiving on a break cycle and without medical assistance are likely pretty slim.

And yet. . . . now that the dogs are home and back to normal, I find myself analyzing my body and checking for clues that may indicate I am pregnant. I've been really tired: could it be because I'm pregnant? I'm having some lower abdominal cramps: it's probably implantation! My breasts were a little sore this morning in the shower; hmm, wonder if that means something?

The logical part of my brain--which is the larger part for me--says that these thoughts are crazy. But there is that small, illogical part which keeps grasping at straws.

I guess hope does indeed spring eternal.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ABCs of Me

Thanks so much for all the comments on my "Bad Karma Dog" post! I am happy to say that both dogs are home and doing well. Though we are poorer for their adventure, they seem to be none the worse, except for bald patches on each of their right forelegs where their IV catheters were inserted. ;-)

Now for something a bit more lighthearted (though still not TTC-related).

A- Attorney
B- Blessed
C- Committed
D- Dog-lover
E- Educated
F- Fat (yeah, I said it)
G- Glad
H- Hot (it's been 105+ here for weeks)
I- Impatient
J- Jovial (most days)
K- Knowledgable
L- Loyal
M- Maternal
N- Newlywed
O- Obligated
P- Pushy
Q- Querulous (lately)
R- Reader
S- Stressed
T- Therapist (not officially, only informally)
U- Unorganized (and I hate it!)
V- Valued
W- Worthy
X- (I got nothin')
Y- Youthful
Z- Zippy (most days)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Innocent remarks

I have always considered myself a strong person. While I have been fortunate to have not had to endure significant adversity in my life, I have had my challenges to overcome. I paid my own way through college and law school, which was not always easy. I have had a lot of hard financial times over the years. I've watched two close family members, my father and my grandmother, struggle with serious and chronic health issues. I was unmarried until age 37 and have suffered through my share (and maybe then some) of difficult break-ups.

Through all of life's challenges, I have prided myself on being able to "stay strong" and bear up. Since age 17, there has never been a time when I have not been 100% self-supporting. I've continued to go to classes and to work even when the other things in my life made it very difficult to continue carrying on with daily life.

Our struggle with infertility has been a unique experience for me in that I've had a hard time staying strong. I have broken down and cried so many times over even the smallest things. I know that this is common for some people--and I don't judge them for it--but it is very uncharacteristic of me. (My sister has often joked that I'm "dead inside" because I bear up so well under pressure.)

Acknowledging my greater-than-usual emotional fragility, I recognize that the things that I hear which hurt my feelings are usually said without the intent to wound. Oftentimes, they are not even directed at me, personally. In some cases, people think that they are helping, being supportive, or are just sharing their own good news.

Some examples:

**"I wish I could give you some of my fertility: I just have to think about getting pregnant and it happens!" (Via IM from a friend, just one year younger than I, who has two children 14 months apart, both under age 2. Yeah, I wish it worked that way, too; I could've spared my husband, my in-laws, and myself the past 15 months of agonizing.)

**"Stay positive." (This one is really just a variation on the "just relax and it'll happen" theme. Plus, some wise person said that the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result. After 17 unsuccessful cycles TTC, why would I think that this month will be different?)

**"You're lucky you and MM don't have kids. You get to travel, sleep in, etc., etc." (Um, OK. We are both over 35 and more than willing to give up some of our freedom in order to be parents.)

**"Stick with dogs: they're easier than kids because they don't talk back, need babysitters, require college funds, etc., etc." (Much as we love our dogs, we are under no illusion that they are a true substitute for a child of our own.)

**People's stories about other couples' "against all odds" conceptions. (I must admit that I have been guilty of this one myself, back before we were TTC. I think that EVERYONE knows SOMEONE who has conceived on her own after doctors gave her a slim-to-none chance of doing so. It's not particularly reassuring to someone struggling with infertility.)

**Hearing about other people's pregnancy and births. (This is harder when the parents aren't close friends or family members. If someone close to me announces a pregnancy, my happiness for her/him usually outweighs my feelings of frustration and inadequacy at yet another reminder of my own failing. It's worse when the person is only an acquaintance or a friend of a friend.)

I wonder when/if I will get to a point where hearing these things will no longer feel like a knife in my heart.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bad Karma Dog

Hunter (left) and Sebastian, the morning after the fight where my arm was injured

This post will be totally non-TTC-related, but with all the drama going on with our dogs, I feel a need to write about it.

I have had Sebastian for nearly seven years. I adopted him from a local golden retriever rescue organization when he was 10 months old, at the start of my second year of law school. My previous dog had passed away several weeks before, and my house seemed empty without a dog. I had wanted a golden retriever since college, and although I felt a bit guilty about getting a purebred dog, my guilt was eased by adopting a dog from rescue. (It was also much cheaper than buying a purebred golden puppy and thus within the budget of a full-time student.)

Sebastian is a wonderful dog. He is friendly, extremely smart, and lovable. He was exceptionally easy to train and earned his "Canine Good Citizen" certificate by 16 months. Sebastian thinks everyone he meets--human, dog, even cat--is his new best friend.

Here is Sebastian at the beach in Puerto Penasco last summer at low tide:

When MM and I met, he told me after our third date that he was allergic to dogs. This revelation actually annoyed me at the time because we met on an online dating website where my profile had prominently displayed photos of my large, hairy dog. For a while we were both worried that he and Sebastian would never be able to live together because of MM's allergy, but with a visit to an allergist and three daily medications, things have been fine.

Despite his allergy and advice from the allergist, MM never even considered asking me to give Sebastian away because he knew I wouldn't. Sebastian is like my best friend, companion, and child.

In law school I lived with a friend who had a Dalmatian older than Sebastian. The two dogs were about the same size and were best buds. After I graduated and my friend moved in with her boyfriend (now husband), Sebastian and I lived on our own. I could tell that he missed having a buddy in house, and I often thought that someday, when I could afford a house of my own--it's hard enough to find an apartment that will allow one 75-lb dog, much less two--I would get him a companion.

MM and I moved into our house last September. Ever since before we moved in, we had been talking about the possibility of getting a second dog. We looked into getting a miniature Schnauzer (MM's childhood dog's breed) and a beautiful 2-year-old German Shepherd whose owner was moving out of the country and had to give him up. MM talked about our buying a golden retriever puppy, but I was against a puppy because they are too much work. . . . not to mention the expense of buying one from a reputable breeder, the only way I would go (in our area, it would cost $1200-1500).

In April, MM finally agreed with my idea that adopting a second golden retriever from Sebastian's rescue group would be the way to go. We could get a slightly older dog who would be past the puppy phase (but not past his/her prime), and do a good deed by giving a dog who needed one a home. (Not to mention that this route would be cheaper than buying a puppy.)

After a few weeks of waiting and checking the "available dogs" section of the group's website, Hunter was recommended to us by the volunteer who had done our home study. We (and Sebastian) met Hunter at a local dog park and really liked him. We were told that he was about 4 years old, that his previous owner kept him in the backyard to be used as a stud for his breeding operation, and that he was slowly getting used to living inside, though he was still anxious about many things. It was thought that going to a home where the resident dog was calm and secure would be a steadying influence on Hunter.

Here is Hunter on the first day he came to live with us as our foster dog:

Hunter is a very loving and lovable dog, but after the events of the past few weeks--crowned by the Rima.dyl incident on Monday night--I have secretly dubbed him "Bad Karma Dog." (MM says that nickname is mean and gets annoyed when I use it. . . . but I believe it is apt.)

In the first several weeks in our home, Hunter had a variety of problems, some of which we had expected and some we had not. He gradually got over his fear of MM (he is afraid of men) and his anxiety over every "strange" sound in our home. He caught on easily to housebreaking and has had only two "accidents" ever, the first on the day we brought him home. We had expected all of these things due to his history.

I made reference in this post to some of Hunter's history and problems. By the end of June, Hunter had healed from his earflap surgery, his facial paralysis and skin excoriation had resolved, and he was seeming generally more confident and comfortable. MM and I were congratulating ourselves on what a good deed we had done in taking him in. It was about that time that he injured his tail and the fights between the two dogs started.

After having a trainer come to our house, the boys have been getting along a lot better. The tension level between them is much lower, but at the same time, we have had to make a few changes in the way we interact with the dogs to achieve this and will have to continue them.

As of the writing of this post, the jury is still out on whether Hunter will lose his tail due to his fracture: the vet believes that he may lack sensation to some areas. As a result of this injury, Hunter has been on two pain killers, Rimadyl and Ultram, for over two weeks.

When I arrived home from work Monday night, Sebastian greeted me with the vial of Ultram tablets in his mouth--thankfully, untouched. I then saw that the Rima.dyl vial, which had contained 23-25 tablets that morning, was ripped open and empty on a dog bed. A quick call to pet poison control revealed that ingestion of this whole vial would be a 50-fold overdose for either dog, and because I had no way of knowing who ate what, I rushed both dogs to the emergency vet clinic.

This latest escapade, which has required a 48-hour hospitalization for each dog to prevent liver and kidney failure from Rima.dyl overdose, has cost us about $4000. An aneurysm nearly burst in MM's head when he realized what the cost of treatment would be; he has a huge aversion to debt. We have been saving this money for other things, like fertility treatment or a trip to London which MM is longing to take.

All told, Hunter has probably cost us close to $6000 since we adopted him. So much for thinking that adopting from rescue was a more economical route than buying a puppy from a breeder. Though I suppose a puppy we bought could have issues, too. (Look at Marley from the book Marley and Me.)

Because I never had a single dog-related problem or unanticipated expense prior to adopting Hunter, I can't help but attribute all this expense to his arrival. Maybe I just got off light with Sebastian all these years; who knows?

Even worse than all the unexpected expense is what poor Hunter has had to go through. In the span of only three months, he has been neutered, had kennel cough, had surgery for removal of a earflap, has experienced unexplained right-sided facial paralysis for nearly two weeks, developed severe skin excoriation in reaction to bandaging after his surgery, and currently has a hairline fracture at the base of his tail that may lead to amputation of his tail. Now he is hospitalized for treatment of a Rima.dyl overdose and at risk for liver and kidney failure (though by last report early this morning, both dogs are doing well).

It almost seems that a little black cloud follows Hunter around. We know that he was neglected in his first home, and we believe that he was abused also. (Some of his reactions, especially to men and to loud noises or sudden movements seem to indicate that he's been yelled at and hit.) On top of all that, he has had now had to suffer through more health problems than lucky Sebastian has experienced in his entire nearly-8 years of life.

MM and I love Hunter; he is very sweet. We are not entertaining the idea of returning him to the rescue group (as some might suggest after all these problems). In fact, we are investing even more money in him by starting him in a 6-week basic obedience class beginning this Saturday in hopes of further building his confidence.

But when will the drama and expense end?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Welcome to all those who have found my blog through IComLeavWe!

When I signed up to participate for this month, I thought that I would be in the midst of my first injectibles + IUI cycle. As it turns out, we are on a break cycle instead. Although with everything that has been going on in my life the past few weeks, I am kind of glad we had to wait this cycle out. We have had nearly non-stop dog drama, in addition to the usual craziness of daily life.

I am S. My husband ("MM") and I have been married for almost eight months. Because of my "advanced" age (I'd just turned 37 at the time), we actually started TTC in April 2008, several months before our November 28 wedding in Maui. We both knew we wanted to be parents, and we had heard that this process can take some time when you're older. Little did we know how long. . . .

And now here we are, in cycle 17 since starting TTC, without a single BFP to show for our efforts. We have had perfectly-timed intercourse every single cycle since we started TTC, and all of our testing is normal. So we are "unexplained," and our RE has told us that the most likely cause of our failure to conceive is my old eggs (which apparently know I'm 38 no matter how I feel).

Our TTC history is in the left sidebar, if you're interested.

I use this blog to chronicle our TTC efforts and to vent my feelings about this process. I hope you'll take a look around! ;-)

And now, I must close and pick up my two golden retrievers from the emergency vet hospital to take them to their regular vet. Long story short, they managed to eat an entire vial of Rimadyl yesterday while I was at work.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Isn't it funny how, once you know your body and your cycles, you can't turn that knowledge off, even during break cycles? Although MM and I are taking a break this cycle and at this point I believe that we have a snowball's chance in hell of conceiving on our own (hey, I'm no physician, so that's an unscientific estimate of the odds), I was briefly excited this afternoon when I visited the ladies' room and noted the presence of egg-white cervical mucus ("EWCM").

Today is CD 11 for me (no, I didn't have to think about that either; I just knew), so it is about when I expect to see EWCM. Not that having EWCM at the right point in my cycles or having sex during my "fertile window" has done me any good thus far.

It's funny how I seem to take a hiatus from this blog when we're taking a break. I suppose it's because I am less focused on TTC during those cycles (though it is never completely out of my mind), and there is simply less to share.

I will share that a high school friend of mine who was visiting the past couple of weeks asked if MM and I will adopt if/when it becomes clear that we will not be able to conceive a child of our own. I explained to her that neither of us is keen on the idea, for the reasons I wrote about here. She expressed the feeling that it would be "a shame" if MM and I were never parents because we'd be good ones and "there are so many children out there who need homes."

I don't dispute the truth of her statement about children needing homes, but the fact of the matter is, even if we DID adopt, MM and I would likely not be adopting one of those children to whom my friend is referring. When my friend talks about children needing homes, I don't think she is making reference to children for whom there is a months-long waiting list with most adoption agencies: healthy Caucasian newborns. She probably means older kids in foster care, kids with special needs or health problems, kids who are hard(er) to place.

To be fair, my friend brought the topic up in a very non-offensive way and has been very supportive about our struggles. She hopes to adopt herself one day. (Long story short, she met a man who'd had a vasectomy when she was 19, married him when she was 21, and divorced him when she was 38. As a result, she is now 40, childless and single and doubts she will have a biological child herself.)

Our dog drama has subsided. Among other things, we had a dog trainer/behaviorist out to our house on Friday afternoon and have begun following some of his suggestions (and plan to follow others). The small changes we have made have already made a big difference with the dogs; the tension between them is 99% less than it had been, and there have been no further fights. We are optimistic that, with management and some work on our part, the dogs can peacefully co-exist in our home.

The bruise on my right arm is nearly gone, but I am still having pain and have some deeper lumps/bumps under the surface of my skin. I am continuing to take ibuprofen and monitoring my arm. I may have to eventually go back to the doctor if it does not improve on its own.

All my work commitments for this week but one (today's) went away at the eleventh hour. The trial which was supposed to start tomorrow settled at 4:45 on Friday afternoon, and the mediation for Thursday will now be covered by the partner, since he won't be in trial. So as it turns out, I would've been fine timing-wise this cycle, but oh well. I didn't know it until it was too late, and I wouldn't have wanted to start a cycle using expensive meds when I didn't know if I could be appropriately monitored or follow through with the IUI.

Who knows? Maybe MM and I will be one of those "urban legend" couples who get pregnant on a break cycle. LOL

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dog troubles

Thank you for the comments on my last post. I do intend to investigate the possibility of finding a counselor accustomed to helping people struggling with infertility. I had intended to do it this past week, but life got hectic.

Although it's totally off the topic of TTC, I'd like to post today about one of the things that has been making life hectic. . . . some problems that we've been having with our dogs. Just to update on the TTC front: AF arrived on 7/3, about when I thought she would and during the time I'd marked as a no-go for this next cycle. So our efforts this cycle will be nothing but having sex, and I will move on to an IUI + injectibles cycle in late July/early August.

We have been dealing with some awful things with our dogs, two wonderful Golden Retrievers. The older one, Sebastian, has been my dog since August 2002. He will be 8 years old in October. Sebastian is a typical Golden in that he loves everyone and is extremely intelligent and eager to please. He was diagnosed with mild mitral valve insufficiency at his annual check-up in March; so far, it has only caused him to have a little activity intolerance.

At the beginning of May, we adopted Hunter from the same rescue group from which I got Sebastian. We are told that Hunter is 4 years old. Prior to coming into rescue, Hunter's previous owner kept him in the backyard and used him as the stud for his backyard breeding operation. He had never lived in a house until a few weeks prior to coming to live in ours. Based on his behavior and reactions to various things, we are 99.9% sure that his prior owner was abusive. He certainly yelled at the dog and, we believe, likely hit him also.

For nearly two months, Sebastian and Hunter got along great. They play-wrestled together, slept together, shared toys & chew-bones, went on walks and to the park.

Hunter has had a lot of problems since we adopted him. He came to us having been exposed to kennel cough--which he developed within the first few days of coming to our house--and with a small earflap which grew large enough to require surgery to remove it. Post-operatively, he developed right-sided facial paralysis which lasted about a week and then gradually resolved on its own.

The last weekend in June, MM and I were talking about how great it was that Hunter was finally healthy and well and feeling very good about having adopted him. We were discussing how much more confident and calm he was becoming as he settled in and felt better.

I guess we spoke too soon.

On Sunday 6/28, another dog ran into Hunter's rear end at the park when both were running to catch a ball. We knew that Hunter was hurt because he yelped several times and refused to get up from where he'd been knocked to the grass for a few minutes. Eventually he stood and walked home, and his gait seemed fine.

Over the next few days, we noticed that Hunter was slow to get up and down from sitting and lying down. We still thought that he was bruised or had strained a muscle in one of his legs. We continued with his daily walks, though we stopped taking him to the park for fetch after one session two days after the collision obviously caused him pain.

Thursday night I fell asleep on the couch during the news, and MM let me stay there and went into our bedroom on his own. He left the dogs in the living room with me. A little after two in the morning, I was awakened out of a deep sleep by growling, snarling, and snapping. My first thought was to break up the fight, and I stumbled over in the dark and grabbed the waist of the first dog I touched (who happened to be Hunter). In the process, I was bitten on the left hand and right forearm. (Yes, I know: my own fault for jumping in the middle of a dog fight.) My right forearm in particular is still, three days later, deeply bruised and swollen and quite painful.

This event was so uncharacteristic of both dogs that I knew right away that something must be wrong. I took Hunter to the vet the following day and learned (after $600 of diagnostics) that he has a hairline fracture in one of the bones at the base of his tail. He is on two strong painkillers, prophylactic antibiotics, and rest for two weeks. He must return for a repeat x-ray in two weeks, and if the fracture does not heal on its own, they will have to amputate his tail. Poor lamb.

Since Thursday night's fight, the dogs have gotten in one other fight (over food, initiated by Sebastian!) and have been split up once for growling at one another, though no fight resulted. This type of behavior is so unlike both these dogs, and MM and I have been totally stressed out about it. MM is afraid that Hunter (being younger & stronger) will seriously injure or kill Sebastian, and I can't say his fear is unfounded.

I have a call out to a dog behavior specialist recommended by our vet. I am hoping to set up a home visit where someone can come out and work with us and help us fix this situation that has developed.

In additional to the tail fracture and the fighting, we learned the hard way Saturday night that Hunter is afraid of fireworks. I felt like such a dumbass because, what with all his other anxieties, I really should have guessed. Though to be fair, it is illegal to set off your own fireworks in our city, and we don't live anywhere near any of the approved shows. Regardless, apparently some neighbors a few doors down were setting off small fireworks. . . . the type that make a lot of popping sounds.

We arrived home to find the bottom half of the molding around our front door ripped off and parts of it chewed into small pieces on the floor. Hunter tried to claw his way out through the wall next to that door; he dug through the drywall all the way to the studs in places, leaving a huge pile of plaster dust on the floor and plaster stuck on his fur and claws. There were little smudges of blood on the floor and on the wall and molding, too, as he had cut his pads trying to claw out of the house. All told, he did an estimated $500-600 worth of damage.

I felt so horrible for Hunter when we arrived home and saw what he had done. How terrified he must have been to cause such damage! He was still panting heavily and drooling everywhere when we got home. . . . two things he does when scared, as we learned the first day we brought him home. It took 15-20 minutes to soothe him and calm him down, and he still jumped with every little pop he heard outside. As we cleaned up the mess he'd made, he was cowering and obviously afraid of being punished. We never even raised our voices to him, though, and made an attempt to project a calm air, once we overcame the initial shock of walking in and seeing the destruction.

So my two Goldens, who usually bring me much joy and entertainment, have been causing us some serious stress and drama the past few days. There have been no fights now for a little over 36 hours, but we still aren't sure how exactly things will be resolved. MM and I are both at a loss and totally broken up about the whole situation. It's been just awful!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Off schedule

I like my job; I like being a lawyer. (Not entirely sure what that says about me as a person.) In the nearly-five years that I have been a lawyer, there have been considerably more days when that has been true than not. I have never once, in the almost eight years since I went to law school, regretted my decision to change careers.

The one-and-only thing I miss about being a hospital nurse is my schedule. Though it often meant working overnight shifts and weekends, for most of my career, I worked only 3-4 days a week. I had loads of flexibility. And when I wasn't at work, my job duties were someone else's responsibility.

Why am I posting about my job when I devote this blog to information and thoughts about TTC and IF? Keep reading.

My RE's nurse called me yesterday with my protocol for my next cycle. The RE plans for me to use Follistim on five different days: 125 iU on CD 3, and 75 iU on CDs 4, 6, 8, and 10. I will also take Clomid 50 mg CD 3 through CD 7 and an hCG trigger shot. The monitoring he does for this cycle is similar to the monitoring for a Clomid-only IUI cycle--one mid-cycle u/s to check follicle growth--except that it occurs on CD 11 rather than on CD 14. I will start using OPKs on CD 8 rather than on CD 11 as I had been doing.

As I was lying in bed last night thinking about all this, it occurred to me that the week when it is most likely that my mid-cycle u/s and IUI will fall--the week of July 12 through 18--is one of my busiest at work this summer. I have a half-day on-site meeting on Monday that cannot be postponed and starts early enough in the morning to conflict with a 9:00 a.m. appointment (the standard for u/s at my RE's office). The meeting has been delayed weeks already due to others' vacations and is crucial to our defense of a multi-million-dollar claim. Tuesday and Wednesday, I will be 100 miles away assisting with jury selection on a trial which my supervising partner is doing in another county. My attendance at both days of jury selection is not only helpful to the partner, it is mandatory per the insurer's policies for a second attorney to assist. Because our firm has only two associates, there is no one else available who could attend in my place. Thursday I will be attending a mediation with a client and insurance company representative all day starting at 8:30 a.m. The mediation has been set for three months and involves four other parties besides our client. Finding a date to hold it took weeks. It cannot be rescheduled, barring a true emergency. (And the client and insurer--not to mention the partner on the case--would not consider a potential conflict with fertility monitoring or procedures an "emergency.")

AF has not yet arrived, but I expect her at any time. The last cycle I used progesterone gel, it delayed her arrival considerably: I started five days after my BFN. If this cycle follows the same pattern, I could expect to start on Saturday July 4th. If July 4th is my CD 1, I'm screwed: that would make July 15th CD 11, when I am out of town. If she arrived today, CD 11 would fall on July 12th. All well and good for my mid-cycle u/s, but that would put my IUI smack-dab in the middle of all my work commitments.

I finally puzzled out that the only way I will be able to be available for a mid-cycle u/s and IUI this month is if AF doesn't arrive until Monday July 6. Not impossible, I suppose. Really, this being only the second cycle I have used the progesterone gel, I don't have any way to predict precisely when AF will arrive.

Yet again, I am struck by the fact that significant events in our TTC efforts are in direct conflict with work commitments. I am totally and completely available the week of July 5th and the weeks of July 19th and 26th. It seems all-too-coincidental that, once more, the only out-of-office commitments I have are likely to fall during the most crucial point inmy cycle.

There are those who have suggested that perhaps this is a way of the universe telling me that my priorities need to be realigned while TTC. But I am not choosing to put work first, so it isn't a matter of priorities. We need my income just to live, let alone to pay for fertility treatment. In this economy, even if I wanted to change to a less demanding job, it likely wouldn't be an option. It would definitely be a significant pay cut. I don't have the luxury of taking a pay cut or cutting back on work. Because of the size of my firm (small) and the type of work that we do (litigation), I don't often have the luxury of rearranging my schedule to accommodate my TTC efforts. Most things that are set on my calendar are set weeks or months in advance, in coordination with the schedules of several other people.

MM and I discussed this dilemma a little, and he suggested that we take a break this cycle. He doesn't want me to spend the money on the drugs (the Follistim is expensive: the nurse told me it would be over $250 for the amount I need) and go through the stress of taking them only to end up not being able to be properly monitored or be available on the day I need to have the IUI. His reasoning is sound and logical.

My only problem with taking a break is that constant, nagging feeling I have that I've wasted too much time already. I am committed in my mind to doing at least four cycles of IUI + injectibles before giving up or considering other options. Skipping this month means not starting my first cycle of that protocol until August. Assuming I need all four cycles--and assuming I don't have any other conflicts that cause more delay, not a fair assumption based on past history--I am still potentially looking at December before I have completed four cycles, depending on the length of my cycles. (And my cycle length has been increased by the medications I have been using.) By the time I know the outcome of the fourth cycle, we could be into 2010. I hate the thought of turning the calendar to a new year and still not being pregnant.

On the plus side, though, I know that taking a break in May--and an unplanned one at that--was a really good thing for me mentally. Maybe it is good to give my body a rest in between treatment cycles. I could use the month to re-focus on healthy eating and exercise and lose some weight. (I actually lost over 4 lbs this cycle, just be working out hard the first two weeks and eating better.)

I suppose my ultimate decision will be dictated by when AF arrives.