Dog Rant.

There are several things in life that make me feel like a terrible person: my favorite character from the entire Toy Story franchise is Lotso, the villainous fuzzy, pink bear from the third installment; I very rarely send out thank you notes, because I’m pretty useless in the organization department; I hate folding laundry, so we sometimes just dress ourselves out of hampers of clean clothing; and, le piece de resistance, I am currently considering giving our dog to my brother-in-law.  (Perhaps I should amend that statement to, “We are currently considering giving our dog away,” as my husband and I are both terrible people in this case.)

Let me begin by saying that I am an epic bleeding heart.  I once drove six miles with my arm out of the car window because a small green bug flew onto my arm as I entered the car and I wanted him to fly back out before he got trapped in the car overnight and died.  These are the things I consider.  I do not take potential negative consequences lightly.  I was (and still am, to the certain degree) the kid who attributed emotional consciousness to inanimate objects.  I always found it impossible to donate old things – they might miss me and be heartbroken and confused! (Dear Toy Story: thanks for capitalizing on that ancient fear!)

Therefore, the fact that I really want to give this dog away is making me question my trusty humanity.  Only terrible, irresponsible people do things like that.  However, when my husband’s brother was here last weekend and brought it up out of thin air, the idea seemed to really stick with all three of us (humans, that is – we haven’t asked the dog).

Our dog really is the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.  She’s part basset and part Welsh springer spaniel and is super gorgeous.  She’s also incredibly loyal and sweet and loving – to my husband and I and to no one else.  We rescued her when she was eight months old from the shelter where she was born (and subsequently raised for her entire life prior to our taking her in) and at the time we had zero way of knowing what trouble was to come.  In her first six months with us, we discovered she had crippling social anxiety (she is, to this day, absolutely terrified of people she is unfamiliar with), two ear infections, two eye infections, spay incontinence (meaning she was spayed too early and now has no bladder control and must be on estrogen replacement medication for the rest of her life or her bladder lets down while she’s asleep or resting), mange (initially diagnosed as a skin allergy, for which she was prescribed a round of drugs), constant issues with her anal glands, and a terrible abscess in her skull that could have killed her (the resulting emergency corrective surgery cost several emotional breakdowns on my end and around $700).

In addition, despite loving our backyard and having free reign when we’re home (with the door wide open), she will not go outside and stay there if we are not present.  We can’t leave her outside while we are at work because she sits clawing at the door for hours or, occasionally, finds her way back into the house through our small window cat door (a feat that is actually pretty amazing).  We can’t put in a doggy door because this house is a rental.

She also pees on our bed.  A lot.  After nearly two years of allowing her to sit with us on the couches and sleep with us in bed, she’s now on a dog bed on the floor and sleeping her crate at night, because despite all our best efforts, the peeing/marking on every conceivable surface is just not getting better.

This is a much longer and more terrible story (for instance, I haven’t even touched on the shedding), but let’s suffice to say that she was my husband’s Christmas present in 2010 and is his dream dog and he adores her and loves her and has tried so hard with her and there is just no improvement at all.  The only thing that has gotten more positive is that she tolerates my family and likes my dad now, but I think that’s because they constantly feed her treats at parties.

I know it’s hit a breaking point because now my husband is willing to find her a new home.  Our quality of life here is just out of control disgusting.  If there’s not dog hair on something, there’s dog pee (or dog anal gland markings) on it.  Like, actually.

My brother-in-law lives with their father and their two elderly dogs.  My father-in-law is retired and is home all day and is an absolute dog lover.  They have a large, fenced-in yard and love their current dogs to pieces.  We haven’t considered finding her a new place ever before because quite honestly, I don’t think anyone else would deal with what we’ve dealt with.  I think she’d be dropped off at a shelter somewhere (or worse: left out on a freeway somewhere) and I could absolutely not live with myself if something terrible happened to her.  She’s adorable.  She’s just miserable with us.

The beast. Look at that face!

Are we awful for considering this?

Cat in the Hat.

Two weeks ago, the pediatrician mother of one of the children at the school came by and offered free flu shots to all the faculty and staff.  I was one of only three people who declined, because I’ve never had a flu shot and have never had a problem.

Cut to last night, when I had to leave my family’s Halloween party early because I started to feel disgusting and ended up spending the entire night with a super high fever, vomiting in the bathroom.  It was a blast.  I feel much better today – I broke the fever by wearing layers under a giant velour bathrobe while sleeping under a comforter – but I have also accomplished nothing.  I’ve watched both seasons of “The Inbetweeners” (U.K.) and am about to start “American Horror Story – Asylum.”  I guess I should have gotten the flu shot.

Before I descended into madness last night, I humiliated my cat,

 

put on my favorite pirate hat,

 

and headed up to my parents’ house to check out my dad’s epic decorations, which included a motorized dancing skeleton couple (one of whom was wearing my grandmother’s wedding gown from 1956), a three-piece skeleton band and female zombie who is more photogenic than I am.

Proof:

 

I also had a discussion about fertility with my grandfather, who told me in no uncertain terms that I should have a child soon while my grandparents and great-aunts are still young enough to help (translation: ASAP).  So much for keeping the baby train a secret.  When you’re discussing babies with your grandpa, you’ve officially told everyone.

A crappy cell phone photo of a photo on my mother’s camera.

Crossroads.

I’ve spent the last few weeks mulling a lot of things over.  I have three distinct paths to choose from.  If I’ve learned anything about myself in my twenties, it is that choosing paths is essentially my least favorite activity, so basically I’m in a really good place right now.

Path 1: Continue off birth control and without Provera/Clomid until next spring and just “see what happens” (read: never get a period and panic all the time and never drink a beer again for fear of giving the fetus I’m hysterically pregnant with fetal alcohol syndrome.  That’s what will happen.).  Despite how super fun that sounds, this is an option almost entirely because my husband really wants to try for a summer baby, as he’ll be off work then and can be 100% present for the first few months of the baby’s life (and at this point, we’re aging out of summer 2013) and if we’re going to go as far as taking Clomid, we might as well as attempt to plan it around an optimal schedule (as in the summer, I’d also be off work).  This would also give me time to investigate some root causes of my insane irregularity, instead of just slapping a Clomid bandaid on it.

Path 2: Go back on birth control until next spring.  This is an option almost entirely because I am, at my core, a very vain person and the idea of not getting pregnant (and having no hope of conceiving without Clomid, what with the never ovulating) and yet also still having raging hormonal acne all the time is really upsetting.  I’m being really honest and sincere and as gross as that justification sounds, please do not judge me.  I’ll refer you to my acne photos and lecture you about how damaged I am.  (That being said, I have a confession to make: I’m leaning pretty heavily on Path 1, as it is currently super dry and autumn-like here – the warm, gusty Santa Ana winds were out in full force this week – and it’s doing wonders for my skin and now I’m thinking I could go six months without a beer.  I am legitimately making conception decisions based on how they will impact the number of cystic pimples I have on my face at any given time.  Does that make me a horrible person?)

Path 3: Do another one or two rounds of Provera/Clomid.  This is an option because I really want to have a baby and ultimately, I don’t care when I get pregnant as long as it happens eventually.

I have no idea what direction to head in.  I started this process wanting to force the universe’s hand.  I wanted to make no decisions.  I wanted to be irresponsible and reckless and remove all the pesky safety nets and just get pregnant when it was meant to be.  I don’t want to buy fertility calendars and chart cycles and take medications and schedule sex and hang all my hopes on whether or not I earn a damn smiley face from an over the counter ovulation predictor (although: does anyone?).  However, considering the only two periods I’ve gotten since May have been brought on by Provera, I’m starting to realize that any real hope of conceiving really might hinge on doing all the fertility planning, which is disappointing and frustrating.

Truthfully, I was/am more disappointed than I thought I would be about the Clomid failure last month.  I don’t think I want to do another round of it without doing a full inspection of my insides because if I know anything, it’s that I don’t want to get so excited again without understanding what the situation actually is.  I think, because I was taking this so casually initially, I was fine with my doctor just prescribing medication – especially because I knew how quickly it worked for Fertile Myrtle.  Now it might be wise to do a little more research.  And by research, I mean ultrasounds.

Modeling.

I work with five-year-olds at a developmental kindergarten, so I’m often faced with situations that force me to model good behavior.  (For instance, when confronted with a sad, gross or annoying scenario in my adult life, my first instinct is to get as far away from it as possible.  As a teacher, I must confront the issues and work them out, which is hard work, even if the issues are simply that someone has been beaned in the head by a hula hoop or that the children have decided to use paint and paint brushes to “wash” bicycles.)  Anyway, my point is that when I’m caught modeling this good behavior by other adults (usually visitors to the school), people say things like, “You are going to be such a good mom!” as if no one else would dane to calmly help a little boy who has thrown up everywhere without making him feel bad about it. Most of the time, I’m just being a good human being – treating others how I’d want to be treated, sharing, empathizing, making sure my friends are okay and having fun.  That will probably make me a good mom, but it always strikes me how many people seem to be astounded by witnessing simple kindnesses.  Perhaps that’s what is wrong with the world.

Seriously.

Pooped.

All of the tens of thousands of pregnancy tests I’ve taken in the last two weeks have been negative.  And I’m actually okay with that.  I’ve been experiencing a pretty rare zen the last few days and I feel, at least right this moment, that everything will be just fine.  This might have something to do with the fact that the school year has finally evened out and I just yesterday got the first paycheck of the year that reflects my real salary (and that does not need to be immediately used for rent/bills).  It’s not a lot, but it might as well be millions.

Right now, in the midst of my freakish calm about my life, I am totally, 100% ready for anything that might happen and am equally prepared for anything that might not happen (like, say, getting pregnant).  I’m not sure how long this will last, but considering that I usually just get momentary flashes of peace, followed by almost immediate waves of “Oh my God, my life is a nightmare!” I’m going to hope that the fact that I’ve been peaceful for around 24 hours bodes well.

I’m still not sure I want to do another round of Provera/Clomid just yet – for several reasons.  The first: I am just psychotic enough to still worry I may be pregnant, as I haven’t gotten a period (although I haven’t expected to either way, as I probably will never cycle on my own), and I don’t want to take a bunch of chemical-y medicines on the off-chance that I am pregnant.  I need to schedule a blood test, but I’ve been dragging my feet.  The second: I’m trying to chill out and am afraid that doing the drug thing will force me out of my “everything happens for a reason” Tony Robbins haze.  I cannot go with the flow if I am actively changing the course, right?  The third (and the most ridiculous of all): I’m tempted to pause conception attempts for a few months and try for a 2014 baby, because maybe this not working was a sign that I have been right about wanting a baby in an even-numbered year all along.  (I said I was zen, not sane.)

In less introspective news, today, I slept in (yay!  finally!), caught up on hours and hours of TV (including MTV’s Amber Behind Bars, which was actually, all joking aside, one of the best things I’ve ever seen) and made this, because I am disgusting:

Anyone have a 3-6 month old child they want to dress like a monster?

Fertile Myrtle is moving out of state tonight, so I also snuck up to my hometown this afternoon to see her and my “niece” before they left.  The baby and I spent some quality time eating French fries with ketchup and screaming, “YOU!” at passing waiters while we pointed our fingers at them.  As we were saying goodbye in a restaurant parking lot, Myrtle’s nineteen-month-old daughter, the love of my life, said, “Bye bye, Sarah.  I love you.”  It was pretty uncool of her to lay that on me right before moving 800 miles away.  I will miss that kid so much.  I’m already planning my flight out to visit them – in December.

The baby, the day I taught her to say, “I’m a nut!” and stick her tongue out on command.

Just blown out enough that she’s effectively obscured and it’s still obvious that she is a) adorable and b) sticking her tongue out.

I’m a terrible influence.

Oddities.

I spent the entire day at work today willing all the fluids in my congested face not to leak out of my eyes and nose.  It is quite a feat to maintain a semi-dignified, professional-teacher facade when a parent asks you a serious question about their child and all you can think about is how desperately you want to sneeze cold germs everywhere while your left eye pours tears.  Needless to say, I should have stayed home today, but I didn’t, because I have poor judgment.

Anyway, I came home and sat down on the couch with some episodes of “Paranormal Witness” and a roll of toilet paper (as I ran out of real people tissues) and spent some quality time letting the congestion ooze its nasty way out of my body.  About an hour ago, I thought maybe a hot, hot shower would help.  It wasn’t until I looked down at my naked body in the shower that I realized my skin was rotting like I was suffering from a horror movie curse (read: I could see nearly all veins in my body and it freaked me out because that’s something called “marbling” that your veins do when you die and the blood inside them rots – thank you, forensic anthropology graduate program!).  Now, I realize I am notoriously transluscent.  However, I have never in all my life seen the veins in my arms like this:

How do I know I’m not hallucinating this?  1) I spend about 60 minutes total per day staring at that cyst on my forearm, daydreaming about cutting it out because it is super disgusting, and I have never seen those veins; 2) despite drinking gallons of water before every blood test I’ve ever had, my arms are always milky white and vein-free pre-needling, making it hugely unpleasant for me to get my blood drawn.  This is new and it is bizarre.  It is also all over my body.

My hip:

So flattering!

My upper arm:

I have one more ClearBlue Digital test and I think I’ll take it in the morning, because I’m a glutton for punishment and because this vein thing can be a pregnancy symptom.

In other skin issues news, here are my before/after Accutane photos.  These two “before” photos are legitimately the only photos of myself without makeup or creative lighting that exist from that time in my life.  Now that I’m on the other side, that makes me little disappointed, because I think it would have been really helpful for me to have taken photos throughout all the phases of this process, for comparison and also to use in helping other people understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  These two are fairly good representations of what my skin looked like from ages 14 to 20, though, so I suppose if I must only have two, they are the best two to have.  Also, I had acne on my back as well, but have zero photos of that, mostly because that would have required asking someone else to take them and allowing them to see me.  Suffice to say, it was essentially Chest Part Deux.

These photos were taken in August 2006, when I was 19.  I was on a family vacation to South Carolina (en route to Florida for a Caribbean cruise – word to the wise: an August tour of the South followed by a bikini cruise is probably the worst thing imaginable for a teenager with frizzy hair and terrible skin).  Annnnyway, South Carolina hotel room, 2006:

I almost feel like I’m looking at a stranger in these photos and not just because this isn’t my reality anymore.  There is such sadness in that girl’s face and it makes me so sad that I spent so much of my formative years feeling that way whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror (or in a window or any other reflective surface).  I spent six years of my life completely divorced from my chest and back – those parts of my body could have not existed at all for all I cared.  I would have probably done the same thing with my face, had I been able to get away with just covering it with a T-shirt every day for all of high school.

I’m bringing this up here, on this blog about the insanity of me trying to conceive a child, because this past informs how I feel about myself now, no matter how far I think I’ve come from that 19-year-old in misery in a hotel bathroom.  I feel terrible about this,

Post-shower tonight, cystic pimple and stubborn nostril dry patch in full force.

as mild as it may seem to other people, because it makes me feel like August 2006 is right about the corner again.  I do not have a normal relationship with break outs/my skin and I probably never will.

For comparison, this is me, sans face makeup (which I refuse to wear at all these days – I am still haunted by slapping that crap on by the ton), this past July.

This is what I’ve looked like for the past six years, give or take some rough months due to birth control issues or you know, ovulation drugs.  As a teenager struggling with this beastly thing that was out of my control, I never could have imagined that I could wear backless dresses or V-necks or swear off concealer.  Ever.  I never thought I would be able to swim or run or even, God forbid, touch my face without feeling self-conscious and hyper aware.  Accutane was six months of really hellish experiences (facial skin peeling off in sheets and breaking out, eyes so dry I couldn’t wear contacts, eyes so sensitive I kept getting styes and was unable to wear eye makeup, lips so dry I would crack them open and cause them to bleed simply by smiling, etc.), but it absolutely changed my life.

My only regret is that I didn’t take it sooner.  Had I known I would still be working through the effects acne had on my psyche a full six years after I got rid of it, I probably would have fought harder to get rid of it (for good) sooner.

Not Pregnant.

I’m about to be extremely vain, but I already know this, so I am not ashamed.  I cannot handle how crazy I look right now.  My skin is doing tons of bizarre things (like being simultaneously tight and dry and slick with oil, and breaking out in blackheads and deep, cystic pimples, which I never had regularly before, even in the pre-Accutane days), I am all glassy-eyed from my cold and I feel enormous.  I think it goes without saying that I desperately want to have a baby because I’m madly in love with my husband and adore children, but at this very moment, I really wish I could use pregnancy as a happy excuse for all this bizarre body crap.  I am bloated and have digestive problems and oily hair and can only wear one pair of jeans (read: the ones with the most Lycra) and I’m not even pregnant, you guys.

I know this is all bothering me so much because I want to be pregnant and as of 6 am this morning, I’m not.  I know that all of these smalls things seem so huge because I’m disappointed and sick and my husband’s not here to eat crappy food with me and make me feel better.  Still, I’m feeling defeated by these small things and am wondering if I want to continue doing months and months of Clomid, all the while continuing to feel like a relative stranger in my own body, only to have all the rounds fail.  Part of me wants to throw in the towel and get back on birth control and just normalize.  I feel like psychological craziness of not conceiving coupled with the physical craziness I’m experiencing (cramps, nausea, etc. in addition to the vanity) will just get harder.

I told my husband a few months ago that if Clomid (and later, possibly IUI) fails, I don’t want to try IVF.  Maybe I’d feel differently if ever faced with the actual decision, but I assumed, back when we discussed it, that I wouldn’t want to put myself through the physical and mental (and monetary) anguish of IVF and then have it fail.  I would want to pour that energy into adoption.  (Again, I have zero experience and am not yet dealing with infertility, so feel free to tell me to get off my high horse.)  However, in some small way, this month’s Clomid failure is confirming to me what I already assumed about fertility treatments: it’s very emotionally difficult to put your time and energy and focus and and medicine and love and scheduling and health and hope into something and to do everything right and to not have it work out, only to be left with the promise of having to do it all over again.  And this month was nothing compared with IVF.

Intellectually, I realize I’m being dramatic and silly and it’s just been one month of ovulation out of 26 years of life, but I just don’t want to have to do all of this all over again.  Obviously, I will.  I just wish I didn’t have to.

Also, I found this adorable photo of my husband on the computer tonight and I miss him so much more than I thought would be possible.  As my grandpa told me on the phone today, absence really does makes the heart grow fonder.  I’m totally over the excitement about having alone time (especially now that I’m sick) – I just want him home already!

Finally, tomorrow I’m going to post some photos of my skin before and after Accutane, in an effort to explain a) how much that drug improved my life and b) why I am so obsessed with my current break outs that I would entertain the thought of not trying to conceive anymore and going back on birth control just to get a handle on my skin again.  This ode to vanity would have been a good place to stick them, but I already feel like there is too much going on here and I’ve been depressing enough.  Gotta spread the emotional trauma out a little.

(Upon review, parts of this post make me feel like an entitled, selfish brat.  I’m sorry if the tone is off – my face is so congested, I feel like I’m in outer space.  I was trying to be sincere and honest and I swear I’m a good person, who wants her husband back because she loves him and not just because she needs someone to massage her feet because she feels bad, even though she would really like that.)

Baby Crazy.

Things that make me feel disgusting, in no particular order: living through 100* days in October, having heat rash on my neck and chin, being stricken with a random, stubborn dry patch at the side of my nose, fighting off a head cold, breaking out all over the place, and needing to pee all the time (I thought that this might be a possible pregnancy symptom until I realized that I had had three cups of tea and several bottles of water today).  I have felt totally exhausted and sneezy all day today and came home from dinner with a friend to find I had two more pimples and bloodshot, contact-dry eyes.  Basically I just feel really great about myself right now.

I’m taking a ClearBlue Digital pregnancy test tomorrow morning, which will be 17dpo.  I’ve held off on testing since Monday – an amazing feat of patience considering I was all but convinced five days ago that I was pregnant. My two negative results (on Sunday and Monday mornings) disappointed me and took the wind out of my sails.  In addition to meaning that I’ll have to do Provera/Clomid again, not being pregnant this month would mean that all my crazy symptoms really were all in my head.  And as much as I don’t want to have to do Provera and Clomid again, I really don’t want to have to face that I’m baby-crazy enough to completely fabricate symptoms.

In other news, everyone I know is posting ultrasound photos to Facebook.  I hate them, obviously.

Heavy.

I went to the doctor today for an exam I scheduled months ago (read: pre-Clomid) and despite the fact that it was just a check-up, I thought I could finagle some pregnancy-related blood work out of the visit.  As it turns out, my doctor, while really positive and excited for me about the actual ovulation that occurred for the first time ever, did not send me downstairs to the lab for a blood test asap.  Instead, she told me to keep testing and wait another week before calling her to reevaluate, which I’m sure makes her a normal person.  Perhaps telling your doctor 14dpo (days past ovulation, for those of you who don’t own a conception-to-English translation dictionary) that you haven’t gotten a positive test result yet isn’t really as compelling as I thought it was.  We shall see.

In other news, my husband left yesterday to chaperone a week-long mountain backpacking trip with a class through the school where he teaches.  As a chaperone, his plane flight and backpacking expenses were all fully funded and he was so excited to go live out his expedition dreams – he’s been talking about it for months (The man has favorite “survivalist” YouTube channels.  There could not be a trip more perfect for him).  However, having him gone is throwing me for a loop.  I realized after he left that last night was going to be the first time in the history of my life that I would sleep alone in an empty house.  I lived at home, and then in the dorms, and then with roommates in an off-campus apartment and then with my husband.  We’ve been apart when I’ve flown to school conferences, but even then, I was always in a shared room.  Needless to say, last night was rough.  I’ve become a no-nonsense jerkface in my old age, but I was still a little unnerved being home by myself.  I went out with some friends to The Viper Room in West Hollywood (and by “went out,” I mean, “saw an 8 pm show, had an hour-long dinner and was home by 10:30 pm”) and when I came home to an empty house, without the promise of my husband coming to bed eventually, I was unsettled and sad and couldn’t really sleep.

It’s been a day and a half and I already miss him enormously.   I can’t believe I’ve got to go the rest of the week.  The worst part (worse even than sleeping alone): he is cell phone free for the entire time.  He called last night and won’t be able to call again until they’re back at “base camp.”  Ugh.  In a time when we can contact anyone we want at any time, the thought of not speaking to my husband for an entire week makes me feel heavy.  That is the best way to describe it.  Heavy and like all the fun and vibrancy is gone.  Our house is so boring with just me in it.

Is that depressing enough?