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December 2004
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February 2005

January 2005


Nine? Noon? Four o'clock? Whatever. It's not like I was waiting for the call or anything. I finally left my nurse a message saying "Helll-oooooo? What the hell is up with those embryos? And why do I feel so rotten?" and she called back 45 minutes later to ask whether I am swelling or just uncomfortable. Then my RE got on the phone to tell me that the acupuncturist could not come with me to their offices. THEN they told me what was up in Petrieville.

Out of 23 eggs 22 were mature. They all fertilized but 6 slutty eggs permitted more than one gentleman caller an entree (polyspermic) and the resultant embryos are now dead to us; thus we are technically down to 16. 1, however, is looking sluggish so it, too, has been written out of the will.

This leaves us 15 embryos, half of which may or may not survive until Friday and may or may not be genetically normal. I googled "polyspermic embryos IVF" until I found one study that declared an unusually high number (more than 10%) boded ill for pregnancy rates and another study that asserted, on the contrary, the cycle as a whole was usually successful in such cases because it shows the eggs are healthy, fun-loving and pro-pregnancy, if a bit wanton.

So I have googled myself into a draw and now I need to go get some Gatorade in an effort to feel better.

Apparently they will call me again tomorrow to let me know how things are going back at the lab. I almost asked them not to bother (what am I going to do about it, really?) but my natural curiosity got the best of me and I am now committed to another day of concentrated waiting. Hooray.

Hope you are well.   


I feel ROTTEN. Absolutely terrible. In fact, it is only my unwavering loyalty to you that has drug me from my guest bed to let you know what happened at the retrieval yesterday.

Actually, to be honest, I am not sure what happened yesterday. There was some snow that fell and continued to fall. There were a thousand people in the waiting room. There were sleeveless hospital gowns which may be fashionable but are down-right chilly to wear. Then they knocked me out and when I woke up I felt so unbelievably awful I no longer cared what was happening. Dimly I remember being told they got 23 eggs (a goodly number.) Dimly I remember trying to make the stretcher lie flat again and dimly I remember a nurse bustling over and telling me they did not want me to go back to sleep. With eyes flashing like the daughter of a hundred earls I snapped that I didn't want to go to SLEEP I wanted to DIE. So she gave me some morphine.

Um, I guess we must have come back here because here I am. I still feel like death warmed over and I am waiting for the call to let us know how many eggs were fertilized (the discharge sheet said they would call between 9 and noon which gives them 25 minutes and counting.)

I have no idea why I am in such rough shape but jeebus! I feel ghastly.

I'll let you know as soon as I do how many embryos we are starting with but for now I am going back to bed.




The good news is that it no longer matters whether or not I wind up pregnant. I have discovered UTZ Carolina Barbeque potato chips on this trip and if that discovery isn't worth $18K and two weeks in Washington I do not know what is. Bless those clever Pennsylvania chip-makers and curse a transportation system that cannot get them to Minnesota in the requisite two days for UTZ to consider distributing them in the white white North.

Body Parts That Hurt Right Now:

Shins - Steve asserts that it is not possible to develop shin splints by simply walking the few blocks from car to clinic every morning but that if it WERE possible then this would indicate that I am in worse shape than the living dead and I need to seriously consider my brother's recommendation that I exercise more often. Needless to say they can both blow a goat.

Three Fingernail Pads and Two Cuticles - In the utter relaxation of this marvelous procreation vacation I have somehow managed to use my own hands like a rawhide chew toy. Gross.

Crooks of Elbow (Two) - I have had a lot of blood drawn in my day and I have never been as consistently abused by lab techs as I have in the world of reproductive endocrinology. These people take the motherfucking cookie (that is, if a cookie were to be presented in recognition of Worst Blood Draw EVER.) Every estradiol level has left a swollen bruise the size of a nickel and I can no longer comfortably bend my arms. Fortunately, unrestricted limb movement is vastly overrated.

Here Here and Here on My Stomach - I seem to be rapidly losing weight with the fertility medication. Before you say Fuck you, Julia (ok, fine, say it. I'll wait) I would like to point out that I had a perfectly nice cushion of fat on my abdomen which made the initial Lupron shots quite comfortable. Now Steve is struggling to find something to pinch and each shot hurts like blazes. Fat, as I have long maintained, is Friendly. The good news is I am done with the stomach shots and we now get to turn our attention to the haunches where I am certain there is still plenty of padding. How bad can they be?

Bottom Lip - As I was wrapping a host/hostessing gift for my inlaws last night I inadvertently stuck a piece of Scotch tape to my lip. When I removed the tape my lip started bleeding and I am not entirely sure it has stopped yet. It hurts like a legitimate wound and yet the circumstances surrounding its acquisition are so stupid that I have been forced to deny that there is anything wrong with the lip at all. Except to you guys, so don't forget to say "There, there."

Body Parts That Do Not Hurt:

Ovary R and Ovary L - I have been nervously aware of the fact that I feel absolutely nothing in the nether regions. Surely booming ovaries should at least twinge a little? And yet today's ultrasound showed follicles measuring: 21 21 19 18 18 18 16 16 plus another 12 or 13 follicles larger than 12mm. So about 21 in total and I am getting the trigger shot tonight for a Sunday retrieval. I have been on such low doses of Gonal-F and Repronex for the past few days I felt like a martini with the stims as vermouth. Yesterday Steve stuck an empty syringe into my abdomen and merely wafted the Repronex bottle above it (25 units of Repronex and 100 units of gonalF, if you are feeling biographical.) E2 was just under 3000 yesterday, not sure what it is today.

So we shall see. I continue to feel utterly disoriented by this entire experience. The IVF parts are no big deal, frankly, taking up about 30 minutes of clinic time in the morning and 4 minutes of needlework at night but the extended stay away from home is wearing me down. None of my socks match, I cannot check my email or read my favorite blogs for fear of discovery and I am tired of these midget cups that pass for tea mugs around here.

On the plus side, though, some of it has been a lot fun. I am utterly jealous of people who have familiy near them ALL THE TIME. My mom took Patrick for a few hours on Wednesday night and Steve and I went for sushi and then stopped at a pub for a beer. My apologies, by the way, to anyone who wandered into the 4P's during our short visit. I don't know why my husband and I started making out at the bar but I do swear it will never happen again. Shameless. Last night my inlaws watched Patrick and we went for dinner with Steve's sister. Tonight we are ordering in good Chinese food (which does not exist in Minnesota) and tomorrow we see my mother again and Sunday I get sedated while they fish oocytes from my body. So there are good parts too. Yin and yang.

OH! Speaking of which, my local acupuncturist is absolutely delightful. She took the time to track down the latest study on IVF and acupuncture before I arrived. She noted that the study parameters were very specific as to times of treatment (25 minutes before and after embryo transfer) and she worried that I wouldn't want to be rushing around the city in an effort to get back to her. So she decided that she is coming with me to Rockville. After our session she called to say that a friend of hers has offered the use of an office in her nearby medical practice so I do not even have to bring her to ShaSha GroGro with me. Which is good because I was a little worried about appearing with an entourage. My father-in-law joked that the whole family could come: Hi. I am Julia and I am here for a transfer. This is my acupuncturist, my psychiatrist, my attorney, my husband, my child and my nanny. We'll need a larger room.

I mean, IF we even have anything to transfer which is still a big Maybe.

But I hope so.


Yo, as we used to say here in DC, back in the day.


Our 1 o'clock flight was cancelled on Saturday but the good people at NWA called nice and early to inform us that we had been moved to the 3 o'clock instead. When I called back closer to the flight time to confirm that we had a legitimate chance of departing, I was told that we were actually on the 6:44 flight. Much confusion and hilarity insued before we discovered that *I* had been changed to the earlier flight but Steve and Patrick had been ticketed for the later one. Guffaw. That's what you get when you use miles from multiple accounts, just so you know.

Our cat sitter/house sitter/security guy/electrician/airport chauffeur kept calling every 15 minutes FOR HOURS to see if we needed him to come over yet and we kept saying, uh, we'll know ree-ee-eelly soon, we promise. I felt so guilty for wrecking his Saturday that I unpacked all of my emergency chocolate and left it for him. I have since regretted this generous impulse, not so much because he was unworthy but because I am now sitting here in my father-in-law's home office peering out over my favorite cemetary (oooh, the cognoscenti can now track me to my lair, give or take a few houses) and wondering whether these novelty erasers are edible.

Eventually Steve and Patrick and I were all put on the evening flight, which proved pleasantly uneventful. As the plane touched down Patrick wanted to simultaneously hold my hand and Steve's hand and Bear's paw and when we did a little bump and shimmy with the landing he hollered, "Don't be scared, people on the airplane!" It was cute.

I am still so angry about the rental car fiasco (there was a rental car fiasco) that I cannot even write about it. Suffice to say that Avis can go fuck themselves. Our past three trips I have sworn I will never rent from them again but I am absolutely done this time. They are dead to me. Fini. Our car was supposed to be waiting for us with the goddamned keys in the ignition and instead we did not get here until after midnight because we spent over an hour at the Avis counter. Actually, Steve and Patrick did while I froze my face off waiting with our luggage in the parking lot until a guy with an uncanny resemblance to Arvin Sloane from Alias asked me if I needed a ride somewhere. I seriously considered it.


You know what's weird? Steve and I are having the hardest time remembering to do the injections. We have missed the Lupron every morning by at least an hour and last night we came THIS CLOSE to forgetting about the stims altogether. When you pause to consider that our every moment here is predicated upon fertility treatment you really have to wonder what our problem is. This morning I rolled out of bed at 8 and stumbled around for a good ten minutes before I remembered I had to be at the ShaGro office at 8:30 for monitoring. Their courier comes at 8:50 so there isn't much room for error either.

Oh my GOD! I almost forgot to tell you! The Georgetown office shares their space with... are you ready? The Prenatal Testing and Diagnostic Ultrasound Center! Quiet infertile women and exuberant pregnant ones, cheek-to-jowl and stacked like cord wood. It is SUCH an unfortunate and ill-considered pairing that I was grinning like a monkey the whole time I was sitting there yesterday. I tried to waggle my eyebrows at a fellow IVFer when an extremely pregnant woman named Poppy started planning her baby shower via cell phone but she just stared at me blankly. Then my arm started bleeding (again! on Saturday morning at the Minnesota clinic my arm failed to clot and actually SQUIRTED like a special effect when I removed the cotton ball to investigate the damage, causing the guy sitting next to me to shout "Holy Horses!" in the thickest Minnesotan accent you have ever heard) and I lost the thread.

Seriously, though, the notice in the ultrasound room requesting that SgRo patients be considerate and not bring children to appointments seems a bit absurd in the face of so-oo-ooo many pregnant women and their omnipresent offspring. It didn't bother me so much as it amused me but then I have decided that this entire experience is completely surreal. Would it bother you?

Oh, um, e2 was 800-something yesterday and I had maybe 8-9 follicles between 10 and 13 mm and another 8 or 10 or 12 that were less than 10mm. They halved the dosage of Repronex and reduced Gonal-F some more. The RE I saw yesterday said it was a "beautiful stim" so far and the nurse said we are anticipating a Saturday retrieval. We'll see.

I promised to make dinner tonight and I want to go down to the wine shoppe and get a nice white before my in-laws get home. An advantage to staying here is that my mother-in-law is an AMAZING cook and my father-in-law likes good wine but I'll feel guilty unless we try to reciprocate at least a little. Also, I think Patrick might have broken their dining room chandelier somehow and I want to see if there is a hardware store around here. It is surprisingly fun to be urban again for a while. I am so used to getting in the car to pick up our mail that the idea of walking to buy wine is making me giddy.

Oh, and I know you were wondering so I will tell you. Yes, I am continuing to enjoy a nice glass of wine in the evening despite being in the middle of an IVF cycle. So... there it is. Feel free to say I told you so later.

Remind me to tell you about my delightful new acupuncturist. Dinner prep calls.


OK my sweet dumplings, this is going to have to be short. I have piled everything we might possibly need for our travels on the bed and unless I move quickly Steve will just fall asleep on top of it all.

Tomorrow, provided these damned storms don't leave us stranded on the tarmac, we depart for beautiful Washington, the best District in all of Columbia. I am actually terribly embarrassed as I understand they threw a parade yesterday for my homecoming and ALL FOUR native Washingtonian Republicans showed up but, um, we weren't there yet. My bad.

I finally found out what my Day 3 (by which I mean Day 0) estradiol level was: 12.

Yeah, ok, that doesn't mean anything to me either but TODAY the e2 level was 226. This accompanies 5-10 <10mm follicles on the left and 10-15 <10mm follicles on the right which led SGrove to say, "Whoa! Easy there, McMuffin!" and knock my Gonal-F dose back by about a quarter. They also suggested another ultrasound tomorrow, but I was forced to decline due to my previous engagement with the friendly skies. I promised to stop by the clinic on Sunday morning instead and let them have a peek at the goods. My secret hope is that I will quickly-but-not-too-quickly build up a mighty storehouse of strong, sensitive eggs and we will get to trigger at the earliest possible moment and everything will fertilize and everything will grow and they will all be genetically normal and this will work and I will get to go home in ten days. But that is a secret, so don't tell.

Hey! Did I tell you the deal with PGD and translocations? Well, they ONLY check for our specific translocation. So that when an embryo gets its Normal green card and is cleared for transfer it just means that the embryo doesn't carry an unbalanced version of Steve's specialness, but it could still be as twisted as an overplayed Richard III. I asked if they could do the standard genetic screening as well and he said "You betcha! But you have to pay twice." So, um, no, but I hope that does not come back to haunt us.   

Unless my in-laws have gone all Amish on me I will be able to post at frequent intervals. I know after this you are thinking, "Who cares? You, Julia, are boring" but... um, yeah, it's true.

More later. Wish us luck.

PS I DID go back to that colorist and I WAS nice and she fixed it and I look normal again and thank you thank you thank YOU for the advice. I was actually about to wash it with Tide.

PPS I used to wait tables (what? oh heavens no! I only acquired a portion of my great wealth on my back. The first $140 came from seven years waiting tables) and I once had a guy ask, while I was opening a bottle for him, if I had ever had anyone send wine back. I said no. Surprise! Surprise! He then sent the bottle back (a Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay as I recall, the utter pud.) I felt like that guy as I asked her to tone down the blonde. Seriously, it was only the fact that so many of you assured me it was a fine thing to do that kept me from fleeing. I did blush so much, though, that she said maybe it wasn't that my hair was too light as it was the fact that my face was too pink. Touche.

PPPS You don't suppose this IVF cycle might actually work, do you?


Want to hear something gently ironic?

The other day I was peering at my haggard, troubled face and noticed a few gray hairs creeping about the hairline. A mere dusting of silver, really, but enough that I decided they had to go. Right away.

So I put myself in the hands of a competent colorist this afternoon with the following instructions: Banish the gray, keep the red red (if not more so) and, oh, since it is dreary January, why not brighten up the head a bit while she is at it. If I was a studio apartment I would have expected to be decked in a scattering of jewel-toned throw pillows. As it is, I seem to have acquired a profusion weird, white-blonde chunky streaks. It is ghastly and I am not kidding. I would post a picture but it is too depressing.

The irony is that the bulk of the eerie blondness is concentrated around the very hairline that first drew my attention with its whispery hints of gray. Now, almost two hundred dollars later, the whisper has risen to a shriek and from any distance greater than six inches from my face I look like I have a shock of white hair RIGHT HERE. Like I have recently suffered a sudden, terrible trauma. Most disturbing.   

I meant to write you something entertaining but first you have to tell me: HOW DO I GET MY HAIR CLOSER TO NORMAL BEFORE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW SEES IT?

I am begging you, can I just wash it a lot? With what? Should I go back to the salon? Won't she hate me and make it worse if I do that?

Vote For Her!

My last four Lupron shots have resulted in four spectacular stomach bruises. I accused Steve of sloppiness but he insists his performance standards are as high as ever and it is my abdomen's fault. I promised to ask you guys, since his bonus is riding on this. Is it usual to suddenly start bruising with Lupron?

I need to add some more stuff to my never-ending Things To Do/Bring/Freak About lists but I'll be back later (tonight, tomorrow... something like that) to talk about anything EXCEPT travel logistics or IVF. Sex maybe. Hey, here's a question I keep forgetting to ask my nurse. Are we allowed to have sex while we are cycling (now THERE'S some acrobatic imagery)- do you know?


I am not even sure how to write this because it lets you know what a complete pud I can be but... embrace the puddity I suppose.

In matters reproductive, I have just been sitting here waiting to start a new cycle while cada manana Steve injects me with 20 UI = 20 IU = 0.2 ml = 0.2 cc of Procrin (Lupron espanol, por supuesto.) Rather boring.

Finally, yesterday, the new cycle started. OK, um, sort of, maybe, barely. Fine, I admit it. Here's the google search term for those who will follow in my crazy, controlling footsteps: "ramifications IVF baseline blood work one day too early."

Happy now?

So I slightly exaggerated my Day One-ness and skipped off to the local clinic to get this show on the road. The idea was that I would then be able to start the hard drugs (or "stims" as the kids are calling 'em these days) that night, fly to DC this Thursday and ultimately be home again that much sooner.

After committing to this course of action, though, I proceeded to berate myself in turns for my stupidity and impatience. Waiting in the lobby at the RE's office I worried that they would easily discover that I was cheating and publicly ridicule me while penciling "CRAZY" in red on my chart.

However, luck was with me and I guess the uterine lining on Cycle Day 0 is as thin as it needs to be in order to not have the nurse yell at you and ask why you came in so early. Furthermore, my Lupron stupefied ovaries were as quiet as the Western Front and the ultrasound machine was able to give me its unqualified blessing. Then I had nothing to do but go home to wait for the estradiol results (they only checked a beta hcg and e2, weird huh?) while chewing my fingernails to the quick.

The DC nurse called late late yesterday afternoon and told me that everything looked fine. Then, just as I was about to stab myself in the leg with a broken Repronex vial, my hand was stayed by an ominous, "BUT....."

"BUT," she said, "oh wait! You are doing PGD, right?"

"Yes," I said suspiciously.

"I forgot to tell you this morning that we only start PGD patients on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So just keep taking the Lupron and wait until Tuesday night to start the stims."

See! See how this was about to be the story of Impatience Rewarded but at the last second there it became a tale of Comeuppance? Wasn't that satisfying for everyone but me? Good!

After biting a chunk out of my desk because everything did not go my way, I resigned myself to the slight change in schedule and am taking comfort in the fact that we now have dates to work with and at least things are proceeding so far. This morning I bought our airline tickets and then let my inlaws know that we will be joining them next Saturday.

And now the line I have been DYING to share with you since yesterday:

The nurse who did the baseline ultrasound asked if we were doing genetic testing with the IVF. I said, "Yes. I've had seven miscarriages and we are hoping to shake up those odds a bit."

Her response: "I saw that in your chart. Seven miscarriages. Tsk tsk....

that is six too many."


Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Christ I am still laughing.

What an extraordinary thing to say.   

Where Am I?

While Patrick was in speech therapy this morning I typed up a little entry on my pocket PC (oh how I heart my pocket PC - it is adorable.) The gist of the post was that the Lupron injections continue, and that Lupron does not seem to be having any adverse effect upon me. I have heard stories of crushing Lupron headaches and spacey Lupron forgetfulness but so far I have been headache-free and sharp as a pointy monkey. OK, I didn't say it was a RIVETING entry or anything, I am just telling you what I wrote.

So I finished writing it and Patrick came back downstairs and I got his coat on and my coat on and tucked my super-fun gadget back into my purse and I groped around in there for my car keys. Which I could not find. Then I tried my coat pockets and my jeans pockets and looked under the chair that I had been sitting in and went through my purse six more times. No keys- they had apparently vanished. I even looked in Patrick's pockets, which was patently absurd as they are the size of the interior of an almond shell and what, did I think I had handed the car keys to the boy and asked him to hold on to them? That would be silly.

As it is three degrees here today, I left Patrick in the lobby with another mom (he clutched Bear and looked scared- I felt terrible) and raced out to the car to see if I had left the keys in there.

I had.

In the ignition.

But no worries!

No fear that we could have been locked out, because I had also left the driver's side door WIDE OPEN.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

I am officially taking bets on whether I can manage to get even one-tenth of what needs to be done before we go to DC, done. I am now writing down everything as it occurs to me (116. Bring cabinet safety latches; 117. Tell house-sitter where cat food is; 118. Bring needles)

Once, many years ago and it is quite likely that I was drunk at the time, I put my apartment keys into a brown paper bag and put them in the freezer and then I left the container of Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip icecream on the table next to the front door. My roommate pieced together the evidence and found my keys, otherwise I would still be sitting on the front steps in Baltimore.

I feel a headache looming (grrrrrrrrr) and it makes me happy when we all share (do you like how I am trying to guilt you into this?) so tell me your most absent-minded moment.

Oh, and thank you for not stealing my car.   

Riddle Me This

So here's a riddle for you: do I look like I would kidnap an elderly couple?

What if I had Patrick in the back seat and an LL Bean tote bag full of library books next to me? What do you think? Scary?

BOO! BOO-ooooo-oooooooo!

After speech therapy (which is going extremely well, I'll have to tell you about it) Patrick and I went to the library. The library where Patrick, my sweet Patrick whose habit it was to hand each book up for checkout while saying, "I'm helping mommy", lost his wee mind today. One second he was listening to me firmly counsel, "People are working so we have to be very quiet and you need to stay with me" and the next he was sprinting through the non-fiction stacks shrieking "People are working! People are working! People are working!" When I finally caught up with him he proceeded to go completely limp on the floor. After negotiating a surrender and accepting parole in exchange for good behavior, he then had the cajones to immediately slip from my grasp like an oiled carp and book full tilt through Periodicals yelling, "I mean it! People are working! No Patrick no!" while I raced after him.

Note to the dour man who glared at me and hissed, Shhhhhhhhhhh: Yeah. Gotcha. OK. I'm WORKING on it. I was running as fast as I could. He is two, after all, and if you are so fucking important why are you reading Car and Driver at 12:10 on a Tuesday afternoon? 3M Conference rooms full up so you decided to bring the Board to the public library for the quarterly review?

Still, I appreciate that the library should be a quiet place and I physically removed the boy as soon as I was able. I almost didn't even pick up my books, but decided that I had suffered enough already.

Regrettably, Patrick did not agree this assessment of my suffering and when I bent over for a drink at the water fountain (did you know they call them 'bubblers' in Wisconsin? Bubblers!) the child whacked me on the back of the head with such precise timing that you would have thought he had been in junior high for years. If you don't remember that peculiar form of adolescent torture what happens is someone pushes your head forward just as you try to take a drink and the end result is that you wind up soaked from, like, the eyebrows down. As I did today.

So I was wet and annoyed and I had to bodily carry a kicking Patrick plus my purse and the book bag and it was cold out and the ground was half snow-half slush and I needed lunch.

As we left I noticed an elderly couple trudging through the parking lot and peering around and I heard the woman say, "I am CERTAIN we parked close to the end here." And I decided that they had misplaced their car and I hauled Patrick into his car seat and accidentally let Bear fall into the blackened snow ("Bear is really really dirty," Patrick complained all the way home.) Then I pushed some damp hair out of my face and started for home.

Just before I left, though, I saw that the couple was still just drifting around the parking lot and I realized that I couldn't drive away without seeing if they needed help. So I slammed on the brakes and made a U-turn and drove up and down the aisles until I caught up with them.

I rolled down the window and asked the man, "Can I help you find your car?"

He asked if the library had another parking lot and I told him it did, on the other side of the building. If they liked I would be happy to drive them over there or I could drive them around this side just to be sure they hadn't missed it somehow. What he was going to say we will never know but his wife finally inched close enough for me to repeat my offer to her.

She said, "No."

She said, "Oh no. No No."

"Definitely not."

Then, pulling at her husband's coat sleeve, she said, "Come along," and left.

When I came home I asked Steve what I just asked you, "Do I look like I would kidnap an elderly couple?"

Steve looked at me and said, "Oh, you mean the whole Uncle Fester thing you've got going on?"


My cursed water-proof mascara had MELTED in the water fountain deluge. I looked like a lesser panda.

Thank god you guys came through for me today and we can only hope there will be no further mascara-related misunderstandings in my future. I cannot help but berate myself though. If only I had asked about eye makeup sooner perhaps that poor couple wouldn't STILL be wandering in circles in the snow.   

Strange, but true.         

And I was really just acting out of the goodness of my heart and virtue is its own reward and please! hero? no no honestly just an average citizen trying to do her small part, but don't you think she could have slipped a "thank you" in with all those no's?