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June 2004
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July 2004

Better Late

Hi, sorry, I know you've been checking for updates. I apologize for not posting sooner but right after the ultrasound I went for another hcg check and then I came home and crawled into bed.

But three hours of self-pity seem to have done the trick and I am up again. Not only I am up but we are going out for Japanese food, although I fully expect to hurl since life is a cruel and vicious bitch-goddess (ha ha- just kidding, life, I love ya.)

I'll tell you what I know. I am down to one gestational sac, although those interested in the trivial may be fascinated to hear that this radiologist posited the original existence of three possible sacs. Huh. Anyway, only one has anything going on right now. The sac measured 5 weeks and three days, which is perfect by my hazy calculations. There was a yolk sac but nothing resembling a fetal pole, causing the radiologist to declare this one doomed. Probably. When I went to empty my bladder between the abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds I was shocked to discover a smidge of bright red blood. This has been followed by a little pink spotting this afternoon. Isn't it fun how every doomed pregnancy is different? I have NEVER had spotting before in my life. Even a month after fetal demise I tend to just plod along but not this time. What a sucker I am.

I finally talked to my OB's assistant (I adore her) and she said he wants to see me Monday morning. She also said today's hcg level was 50,000 and something. Oh, and that he prefers the oral progesterone. My internet consultants are all saying vaginal! vaginal! vaginal! so I am torn. The voices of experience or my medical provider? I have both types on hand....

So, we'll see. I am not sure I believe the radiologist's assertion that there should absolutely be a fetal pole. Maybe.

And I started throwing up today. A lot.

Hugs and kisses for all the wonderful messages, by the way. I love you guys. Any thoughts on the latest ultrasound/hcg/spotting/morning sickness?


More Suckiness

My doctor's office finally called with Monday's progesterone level and, despite being on (vaginal) supplements through the weekend, it was only 10.6.

I have always been suspicious of progesterone supplementation because in many cases I think they are just treating the symptom of a failing pregnancy. In our situation it seems likely that a genetically abnormal embryo might signal to the corpeus luteum that its work is done and the ovary can feel free to shut up the progesterone works. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which the embryo(s) is/are fine but the progesterone is falling. Please, though, if you have such a scenario to share (even if you just told it to me) post or post again. I am feeling hopeless.

I am so upset and depressed by this news, not to mention Kevin's terrible prognosis. I cannot seem to stop crying today.

Steve's best friend arrives in an hour for a long weekend. Sometimes company comes at the worst fucking time.


Morning

My husband gets cranky when we haven't had sex in a while. What defines "in a while" is nebulous, but eventually it occurs to me that he is being more consistently dick-like than usual (not that I don't love the sweet bastard) and he might want to express his overwhelming love for me in a carnal way. With me, of course, or somebody like me. Approximately. Younger, maybe. Nicer could be a plus. Open-minded with yoga-enhanced flexibility would be a frank improvement.

It took me years to figure out the Elapsed Time Since Sex-Bad Mood paradigm, since Steve certainly couldn't tell me. For some reason (cough- lack of self-awareness- cough) he is unable to articulate the connection between his being rude to the security guy this morning (who just wants us to be safe, damn it) and the fact that it has been a while since he last tasted the joys of connubial bliss. It's like when a hamster is sick; you just have to guess what the problem is. I generally struggled with these questions late at night after a long day. Steve was so snippy today, was something wrong? Was it the new rug? He hated it didn't he. Does he hate it because it is blue? Does he remember that I once mentioned my ex-husband liked the color blue? He's jealous! Is that it, Steve, are you jealous? Do you have some unresolved feelings about my previous relationships? I think we should talk. Why are you pulling the pillow over your head? Are you really angry at me? Do you want to break up? Maybe we should. Maybe we should just end things if that's how you feel! Is that how you feel? Oh my GOD! I'll return the rug! You want to leave me! Wail wail wail cry cry...

Now I understand that there aren't all these layers, he just needs to get a little dirty. At first I was repulsed by the fact that anyone could be so simple. What is he? An amoeba? Now, though, it is handy to realize just what the deal is when he randomly gets aggravated by my refusal to change lanes while driving on the highway (lane changes are for race car drivers, you know.) He doesn't care that I am a rotten driver, he just needs some of the old slap and tickle. QED.

Which brings me to a certain male of my acquaintance and the subliminal wake-up call I am beaming out to his wife. I don't care how new the baby is, how bad your insomnia is, or how loud he snores - he needs to stop sleeping in the basement, Yo.

In pregnancy related matters I finally got my second progesterone level from Thursday. It was up a little bit to 16.2 but I am on progesterone supplements until further notice. I also took my last hcg test today. Hcg this morning was 17,618 and what could another level tell us? Nothing. I only did this one because the radiologist could not specifically rule out a partial mole so I wanted to make sure the levels didn't jump to 500 billion or something. Anyway, I am done with blood draws for now. Ultrasound on Friday morning and then we'll see what there is to see.


Maybe. Kinda. Sorta.

Patrick, Steve, a nurse and I crammed into a broom closet with the world's oldest ultrasound machine for this morning's tell-all visit. I think I have spoken about their machine before. My guess is that it is a converted nickleodeon. I am pretty sure they have tried to cover the brand name Zenith with black marker.

I wore my ultrasound skirt (a servicable ankle-length nylon number, courtesy of Target) and already had my underpants in my purse before she even entered the room. Without too much delay we were able to get started and saw... nothing. A vast empty uterus like the Sahara. Or wait. Maybe there was a black blob? The nurse said it was fluid but it was teeny-tiny and she couldn't tell what was going on with it. I asked if it was a teeny-tiny black fluid blob that might correspond to a four week and change gestational sac and she said she did not think so.

Since hcg over 2000 should be accompanied by a nice gestational sac the diagnosis seemed to be that I was fucked (well, tee hee, but you know what I mean.) Ectopic or molar were the two pregnancy disasters she suggested and went off to find a hospital that could take me into their radiology department for further investigation.

Steve and I took Patrick home and then I went off by myself for the follow-up ultrasound at noon. Miraculously, they had been able to find a place to take me in less than two hours and, even more miraculously, the radiology tech took one look at me as I walked in and asked if I was dying from the full bladder (I was.) She said that I could fill out the paperwork later and she would see me right away.

She found the black blob and I asked if it could be a gestational sac.

"Maybe," she said, but in a lilt-y sort of way that boded well. Then she fooled around for a long time and finally said that she thought she saw a second sac, but could not be sure. Either there were two little sacs or one bigger one filled with debris. Like molar debris.

Then the radiologist came in and we fell in love and moved to Italy together. OK, we didn't, but I offered.

He looked at the bigger of the two blobs and found embryonic cardiac activity: "Definite intrauterine pregnancy."

Then he looked around a while and said the lining looked good, normal, healthy. He thought the chance of a mole was very low.

"So-oooo?" I asked.
"Well, if I had to guess..." he started.
"You do."
"Definitely pregnant with one, probably two. I'd say twins. We'll need to follow up in a few days."


I am so excited. I am so hopeful. I am so grateful.

And my nipples are killing me, but that's another story.


What Is Bred In The Bone...

Ah, blood tests.

I think it was Robyn who posted yesterday and said I was a freak. I laughed out loud. You all missed the last seven pregnancies but, take it from me, each one was uniquely hair-raising. Even Patrick had his moments (or rather I had my moments while pregnant with Patrick) despite being relatively easy. For starters I threw up ten times a day and then in the fifth month I was sent to a neurosurgeon who was convinced that I had a brain tumor and I agonized for weeks over getting an MRI and...

What? You aren't interested in my reminiscences? You want today's hcg and progesterone levels?

Well, I did, too, but they were only able to STAT! the hcg. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether the progesterone is going up on its own or if the prescription for progesterone supplements will be necessary. I'm starting it tonight just to be on the safe side.

Today the hcg level was 2695. On Monday it was 613. If you don't have a calculator handy I'll just tell you that the levels quadrupled. And I still think I am only 15 days past ovulation.

"What the hell does that mean?" asked my husband.
"What the hell does that mean?" asked my mother.

Of course, the clever minks of the Internet had already figured it out: I am carrying Michael Jackson's quadruplets.

I arranged to have an ultrasound done tomorrow morning. At the very least they should be able to date the gestational sac and I'll have a better idea of how far along I am.

Yesterday I was agonized over what fresh new hell might be coming our way. Now I am giggling my head off because I have such control issues (you should see my filing cabinets, you really should) and nothing ever works the way I think it should and I am gnashingly helpless and it is funny.

Ultrasound tomorrow. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-eeeee!


Welcome To The First Annual Internet MD Convention. Please Be Seated.

I just got my hcg and progesterone levels from yesterday and I would just like to say, what the fucking fuck?

That is actually not a rhetorical question, I would really welcome your opinion.

The hcg level was 613. SIX... HUNDRED...and... THIRTEEN.

I was assuming I am about 12 to 15 days after ovulation. I am assuming this because I sort of felt like I was ovulating around then, what with the mucus and the general sense of fecundity. I could, of course, be completely mistaken. I am, just to remind you, actually 6 weeks from my last period, so I guess I could be four weeks past ovulation and not two.

But I wasn't kidding about testing every day. For the past ten days or so I have been taking a pregnancy test every morning, just before I brush my teeth (First Response Early Detection, ~20ml.) So I can state with absolute authority that there was 0-20 ml of hcg in my system as recently as last Wednesday and slightly more than that with my first positive pregnancy test on Thursday. And fine, since I am totally blowing my reputation as the Zen master of pregnancy, I will further confess that I have proceeded to test every day since then. And each line was darker than the last.

So zero to 613 in five days seems strange to me. If I am further along than previously assumed then... then I don't know what.

Oh, and progesterone was a dismal 14.6, just to add another twist . How bad is that, really? I have never had progesterone problems before. Even when hcg failed to double progesterone was still high.

The nurse wants me to come in early tomorrow for another test so we can stat (STAT!) the results and have them by the afternoon. I am not pleased about having a mere 44 hours between tests, but I guess we'll live with it.

I now open the floor to discussion. Please. Be frank. Be brutal. Be creative.


Marketing Victims

Most of the time I live a happy and contented life but I confess that every now and then I have a dark moment. A pass through the candy aisle, a trot past the frozen food cases and I can still get surprised by a feeling of hopelessness and loss.

Nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy, I know... I know.

Yet, I mourn:

Cinnamon Lifesavers - These were so good. Why? Why stop making them? If I live forever I will still never understand it.

Hubba Bubba mint gum - I liked it. It was chewy.

Mama Celeste Pizza for One, deluxe - Each frozen pizza is more disgusting than the last out here in the Middle West. Not that Mama Celeste is haute cuisine, but it is the cardboard and fake cheese pizza I grew up with and... I miss it.

Campbell’s Alphabet Vegetable Soup - Some dickhead at Campbell's probably decided that the reason Progresso is obliterating their market share is the fact that Progresso actually tastes good. So they "improved" the beloved Alphabet soup of my childhood and now it is reminiscent of car exhaust. So fuck you, Campbell's, for failing to recognize that normal people buy your soup for nostalgia alone. New and improved won't help you when your carrots are still cube-shaped. You make terrible soup, but at least it was familiar.

Habitant Canadian Pea Soup - Speaking of soup, I will handsomely reward anyone who can hook me up with a case or two of this divine potage. It's a yellow pea soup, you see. Makes all the difference.

Chocolate raised Montgomery Donuts - No one in Minnesota knows how to make a donut. This is why Minnesota will never be named Conde Nast's Paradise Destination of the Year.

Jello Pudding Pops - So word on the street has it that these are back! But not here! Argh!

Good Humor Toasted Almond Bars - What else is there to say?

Knorr’s Cream of Vegetable instant soup - Like most people, I enjoy a mug of soup every night at bedtime, winter or summer. This was a favorite until it disappeared leaving only eerily similar Bearnaise Sauce packets in its wake. Don't be fooled into thinking that a mugful of Instant Bearnaise might suffice in a pinch. Oh no.

Burger King Burger Bundles - Remember these? Three itty-bitty cheeseburgers with connected buns? Loved 'em. Why shouldn't food be cute?

Cinnamon Chiclets - It's been almost twenty years, but a part of me still grieves the loss of cinnamon Chiclets in this country. You can get Violet Chiclets in Peru, you know. Why not cinnamon in the US?


So that's my list. What do you miss?


Joy Cometh In The Morning Urine

I'm pregnant.

WHEE-eeeee! Clap Clap Clap! Bounce bounce! Twirl! Yay! Yay!

Also:

Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god.

Mostly though I am just happy. Really really happy. Sure our personal odds of miscarriage are about 86% (give or take) but I don't know... I have to start somewhere, right?

I don't think I have ever been this purely happy to get a positive pregnancy test. The very first time I instantly was worried if we were ready to be parents. The next few times I was worried that I might miscarry. For the two after Patrick was born I was worried that I might miscarry and/or our children would be so close together in age they would be able to stage a hostile takeover.

I am not worried this time. I KNOW we aren't ready to be parents. I KNOW I will probably miscarry. I KNOW that it doesn't matter how close or far apart your children are born they will manage to usurp power at the first opportunity.

Well that's how I feel right now anyway.

Oh and for those of you playing along at home, I think I will wait until next week some time to check hcg levels. I'll let you know.

Yay!


How To Get A Cat Back In The House

Day One:

Walk around the house calling "Jam! Jam-jam! Jammy girl! Come here, pretty girl! Jammy!" over and over and over again despite the fact that this is a CAT we are calling. And not one of those super cats who star in commercials or manage to vomit on the tile instead of the carpeting just once, but a high-strung people-hater who wouldn't come if you covered yourself with strips of sautéed liver and lay perfectly motionless for days.

Having determined that the cat is actually hiding under an inaccessible corner of a porch, continue to call for her adding a scritchy-scritchy motion with your fingers.

Bring out a plate of wet food and hold it at arm's length until you realize that the mosquitoes have now drained so much blood from your body you are going to need a transfusion and the cat hasn't moved a millimeter.

Leave wet food on plate inside porch next to access hole that husband has thoughtfully created. Add catnip later. Then try tuna.


Day Two:

Discover that the damned cat came out from under the porch, patted the catnip and ate the food and then went back under the porch again. Have husband drill 2x6s onto the porch perimeter to prevent escape into the yard. Lock other cats in basement for the night and leave door into the house from the porch open. Squabble with husband over proper placement of food (on kitchen floor just inside door v. on the porch) and proper food to provide (more wet food v. more tuna.) Announce that you aren't asking him you are telling him and leave small plate of tuna on porch in addition to husband's kitchen wet food buffet.

Day Three:

Discover that infernal cat has eaten the tuna and gone back under the porch. Listen to fucking husband go on and ON about how he was right... blah blah... eat me. Have husband detail plan for a cat trap using wooden dowels and pieces of plywood. Laugh derisively and say, "Steve" [or whoever] "that has got to be one of the stupidest things you have ever come up with. So she is going to jump up here and knock the dowel there and then this piece of wood will slam down over the access hole? Please! That will never fucking work."

Tell husband you have a much better idea and proceed to lower yourself through the tiny access hole until you are under the porch on your stomach. Crawl through leaves and gravel and cobwebs and scary dirty bugs with no room to move your head or arms until you are within three feet of the damned cat who was not your idea to get in the first place. Watch as she nimbly avoids your flailing hands and darts to the far side of the porch.

Tell husband he had better take that amused smirk off his face or you will take it off for him. Have him tell you that you need a shower and there is a spider, a B-I-I-I-G spider, in your hair.

Jeer as husband brings up trap paraphernalia after dinner.

Mock his arrangement of boards, sticks and wet food.

Go upstairs to watch newly released second season of Six Feet Under. Pause halfway through to replenish beverages and find Jam on the porch with a board neatly covering the hole in the floor.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So, the cat is happily back in her closet but I may never regain my status.



So Very Boring And Yet I Just Keep Going

Thank you so much for the sound advice on how to approach the subject of Kevin's cancer, and I am so sorry for the suffering that informed that advice for so many of you.

We had a wonderful time with Holly and Kevin and I hope they did as well. I thought of what each of you had written at various times during the evening and plunged ahead when my innate shyness would have otherwise prevented me from speaking. During dinner I asked how Kevin was feeling and he said, "Good. Well, ok. Actually, the big tumor here hurts a lot." I said I was sorry and then asked about his pain medication. Which led to a discussion about his oncologist, how NIH is structured, the roommates he has had there and, ultimately, what we all felt to be the shortcomings of the current health system in the US. Then Steve and Kevin went off to play xbox and Holly and I drank wine and gossiped about family and talked about his treatment some more and their plans to start trying to conceive. It was a good night and Steve and I felt very honored by their presence. I know that either sounds bone-breakingly old-fashioned or inappropriately Asian but it is true. They are just so cool that we feel like they are doing us a favor by spending time with us. Fortunately I am not enough of a loser to articulate this fact to them, but just between us, well, we're lucky they are family.

Our foster cats are settling in quite well, mostly. For now they are still confined to the long bedroom which actually isn't a bad place to be. It is, for example, bigger than the studio apartment I lived in sophomore year of college. It has a couch and a futon and a scratching post and a litter closet. It has four large windows with ample sill space. It has the big TV, so we are up there watching movies or playing xbox for most of the evening and I come up to play with Patrick throughout the day. Patrick ignores them and they ignore Patrick, which is ideal. There are two full-length glass doors that let in lots of light and allow them to growl and hiss at our cats without actually drawing blood. Really, it is a pretty cushy set up. You can probably tell by my justifications that I feel quite guilty about confining them. But we did let Dignon, the strapping grey and white alpha male, explore the house on the first night and he tried to kick everyone's ass. He has a lot of self-confidence, shall we say. Anyway, we realized that a more gradual introduction was in order and have been letting them growl at each other through the door. That seems to be tapering off and we hope to start giving them greater access to the house soon.

New cats aside, we had a major cat disaster last night. Steve realized that our freaky little girl cat, Jam, failed to come out of the closet for her nightly treat. Since the day we rescued her as a stray and very little kitten she has been a complete headcase. Nervous and withdrawn, she is terrified of both people and other cats. In her own kingdom of the master bedroom, closet and bathroom she is very affectionate but she has to initiate contact and she can NEVER be picked up. We have the scars to prove it. So she is a weird little thing but she is ours and we love her. The idea of losing her was awful.

Steve looked everywhere, couldn't find her and came to tell me about it. We went back to the bedroom and discovered that she had fallen out our bedroom window, screen and all. I guess the window cleaner had not put the screen back in properly and she must have pushed on it... anyway she was gone. For five frantic minutes we were convinced that she was lost forever, as we would never find her in the woods although the coyotes might. Then we started checking under the deck and porches and voila! she was huddled way in the back underneath the screened porch. This was comforting, but also frustrating as we cannot reach her and she is too scared to come out. Steve opened up an access panel in the porch floor so she can crawl up when she wants to. I put wet food out for her around ten. Then I couldn't sleep so I tried going out with some catnip to entice her. Finally I opened a can of tuna at one am. Nothing. This morning Steve sealed off the exits under the porch so that her only way out is up. It will also, we hope, protect her from any larger animals until she comes out. Any advice on how to get her back inside would be gratefully appreciated.

This is all really tedious, I know, but I am on a boring roll so I might as well continue.

I am now on a surprising day 33. No period and no indication that one might be in the offing. I guess I really did ovulate last week which will bring us to an unprecedented 40+ day cycle. Oy vey. Just what I needed. It's not enough that Steve is packed full of deadly sperm, I am now developing anti-baby tendencies as well. Fucking marvelous.

In the meantime, though, since I am not entirely certain about anything I will be implementing a daily pregnancy test. Just my small way of keeping America's hormone testing companies afloat.

Ugh. I just fell asleep writing this. You know, I am hesitating even posting so many flaccid words in a row, but what the hell. You'll forgive me. Besides someone might want to google "tuna futon fucking hormone" and I aim to please.