Wordless Wednesday: Nutcase Edition.

I’m not sure if you’ve all noticed, but I have become a compulsive blogger. It happened pretty steadily after I decided to discuss more than just my failed attempts at getting pregnant. (Shockingly, there is more to my life than scheduling Clomid doses.) I’ve got too much to say and not nearly enough people in my life to say it to. Enter the blogosphere.

So, imagine my utter confusion and horror this afternoon when I realized I’ve got no big revelations to share. Nothing. I tried to write a treatise on how vile I find the paparazzi (hint: I think they’re pretty gross), but that didn’t even entertain me, which is really saying something. Luckily, it happens to be Wednesday and I love nothing more than some helpful alliteration. Wordless Wednesday saves the day!

It was Crazy Hat Day at school and I wore my husband’s Sherlock Holmes hat. (I told a friend at work that I’d pulled it from our “funny hat box,” and her response was a deadpan, “What the hell, Sarah.” Hey, you never know when you may need a pith helmet.)

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I know. Again with the pipe. How could I not?

We made headbands for the kids at school today and wore them around like adorable hippies all afternoon. It was not until I got home that I realized I was still wearing mine and bravely had it on my face while I deposited checks at the bank.

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Obligatory Instagrammed cat photo:

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I “helped” bathe a toddler this week, and by that I mean I encouraged her to break the rules and splash like a maniac. I paid for it.

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As she grows up, I’m learning about all the ways the Fiece and I are similar. For instance, we both love root beer floats and French fries and repeating things over and over if they are proven crowd-pleasers. We are also both really into taking photos of ourselves on iPhones. She said, “Scared face!” and then immediately mugged for this picture.

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This is stolen from a Facebook friend. Puns are the stuff of life.

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Mood Swings and Lunacy. Pimples on Chest.

Today, in trolling my own WordPress Dashboard, I discovered that my teenage (and sometimes current) chest acne has been a huge source of traffic for me.  (If I’m honest, it has been pretty much the only source of traffic for me.  I should shut up about everything else and just talk about my acne scars for the rest of time.)  I am in love with this information.  And am also in tears, because I find it hysterically funny and an absolutely perfect summation of my entire life.  The following list makes me feel like I am doing something right.

And now, a small retrospective on search terms that have led people to this blog:

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Please note that this is not at all meant to disparage anyone who stumbles across this blog when trying to find more information on “pinocchio donkeys” or “ahrrrrr.”  In fact, it makes me feel less alone and like Google really understands me.  These search terms are the story of my life.  Thanks, guys.  I hope you all come back.

Developments.

Today was huge – I spoke to an incredibly helpful person about my thesis research and he had positive things to say (as in, I may actually be able to do it, and soon), I submitted my proposal for faculty-wide approval, and I was told I can apply for graduation this quarter (the caveat being the graduation window I’m applying for runs until August 2013, so it’s not like I’d be escaping by March).  When viewed from the outside, I totally understand that these “accomplishments” seem ridiculous in their very tiny scale.  However, given the months and months I’ve felt like I was in a holding pattern, feeling at the mercy of things and people outside my control, having all that forward momentum happen in one day is cause for celebration.  I am in control, dammit.  Me!  I’m slowly knocking things off the to-do list and I’m (currently successfully) telling myself that each seemingly minuscule thing brings me one step closer to being a stable, marketable grown up.

Dear Clomid Failure September/October 2012: Thank you for kicking me into high gear with this Master’s degree.  As it turns out, banking the conception of one’s first child on the completion of one’s hellish grad school experience is a fairly good motivator.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, I just discovered that my twenty-pound cat Huck has figured out that doorknobs open doors, and all it took for me to make that discovery was a terrifying moment alone in the bathroom, when I heard the knob turning and knew it wasn’t my husband.  I’m both proud of his genius and also a little scared of him.

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This photo is kinda like a Magic Eye illusion, except instead of letting your eyeballs go slack in order to see a swimming shark or a lion on the savannah, you’re hoping to see what I look like upon waking up at 1:30 in the morning to find a cat head resting peacefully on my face.

Pollyanna.

I used to be a bit of a Pollyanna – always looking on the bright side and figuring that things happened for a reason.  I think that’s a pretty easy way to be when the “changes” you experience are things like not speaking to your high school best friend by the time you both graduate from the same college.  The horror.  You accept this as a casualty of growing up and move on because everything happens for a reason, etc.

Unfortunately, when you find yourself months out of school and nowhere closer to answers, hit with huge existential questions about what type of life you want for yourself and how far you feel from achieving that life, all you see are closing doors and no open windows.  Being a Pollyanna becomes impossible.

I feel like I was sitting in a pretty gloomy place for a large part of my early 20s.  Maybe everyone goes through that and maybe no one wants to hear about my days as a terrible sadsack because as far as lives in crisis go, mine has been relatively comfortable (I’ve always had family and friends nearby and my husband who loves me and I’ve managed to live in gorgeous LA, albeit in tiny spaces, for the past eight years).  However, despite my clear recognition that I am, even in the darkest times, incredibly lucky, I’ve been miserable about not reaching my potential for years now (just what that potential is, though, is anyone’s guess).

So, imagine my surprise this week when I found myself really, genuinely optimistic about the next few months.  I feel like I have a plan for the first time in ages.  It might not seem like much, but I can’t wait.  The plan:

1) Get my thesis research done and write the damn paper.  Hopefully.

2) Fly to some faraway land and participate in an archaeological field school next summer.  I have always wanted to do it, but have always felt it was too expensive/we couldn’t afford it.  I’ll have some money saved up and can finally use the $2,000 in Governor’s Scholarship money I won in high school.  No more excuses.

3) Leave field school and meet my mom somewhere in Europe and tool around and have adventures.

4) Come home and try to get pregnant in earnest, having accomplished the last thing I’ve wanted to do in my 20s that would be impossible to do with a child.  Have a baby in 2014.  All will be well.

I’m starting to think there was a reason Clomid didn’t work.  Maybe I’m having a stroke.

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.)

A Quarter Plus.

Today was a few things:

1) The fourth day of my Clomid dose.

2) My first day back at school as a teacher since I bailed on having job prospects to go to an esoteric grad program.

3) My 26th birthday!

It was also 90 degrees with one billion percent humidity today, so that was crazy.

I had a bunch of really artistic photographs of my Clomid medication saved on my phone and had been meaning to post them here for about three days (and kept getting distracted by family visits and work and melting into a puddle of sweat and steam), and then I very unceremoniously deleted them today after forgetting that I did not, in fact, already email them to myself.  Gah.  They would have been such great visual aids.  Just pretend you’re looking at a picture of five little white pills all in a row in some foil packaging.  Because that’s exactly what it looks like.

My doctor prescribed me 100mg a day, taken as two 50mg pills at bedtime (supposedly because taking the medication at night means you sleep through the vicious headaches and nausea that some people experience).  Because I can never experience anything in life without googling it for hours, I decided it might be a good plan to look up some Clomid side effects, which is how I stumbled onto some “Clomid twins” comment threads and then had a proper meltdown.  I’d obviously been aware that the chance of multiples is slightly higher than normal when you take a (however low grade) fertility drug.  The percentage increase is touted as minimal – a few percentage points at most.  However, when you’ve just read 22 pages of comments written by people who took 50mg of Clomid (a lower dose than I’m on, mind you) for just one month and ended up with at least two (if not three!) babies, the statistics appear to be a little skewed.  I panicked.  Especially after I read a post by a woman who said, and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t know exactly where in the internet rabbit hole I read this, that the calculation of the standard 8-10% chance of Clomid twins actually includes all the people who don’t get pregnant using the drug.  Meaning: of every single person prescribed Clomid, including those for whom it doesn’t work, 8-10% will have twins.  Then, this commenter said that the actual number of twins, when the percentages are calculated using just people who have gotten pregnant using it, is closer to 100% (okay, she may have said 80%, but I read it as YOU WILL HAVE QUADRUPLETS).  Intellectually, I know that can’t be right, but the thought sends shivers down my spine.

I’ve spent the last couple days sending Fertile Myrtle text messages like, “I wonder if it would totally ruin my life if I had twins?  Would my life be over?”

I also have “Gangham Style” by Psy stuck in my head.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, go directly to YouTube and check it out.  It is incredible.

Despite being convinced I will become my neighborhood’s Octomom (and nurturing a growing love for K-Pop), I had a pretty fantastic birthday.  Everyone at work was wonderful and my husband (who works across the street) delivered some lunch and a giant bouquet of flowers to me, which was amazing.  I have eaten my weight in vegetarian Indian food, gotten tons of cards and calls and texts, and was presented with a trip to San Diego from the husband, who is really scoring tons of points right now.

I wonder if I’ll still feel so lucky when I get pregnant with triplets.

Mess.

This post is going to be about more stuff that annoys me.  I almost made this a disclaimer before I realized that I’ve included the word “whiny” right there in the name of this blog, so I’m really just living up to expectations by filling this space with nit picky complaints.

I thought I was done raging about my blood lab statement yesterday, but I should have known that one vaguely worded paragraph would not be enough for me.  So, here we are again, discussing the bill that punched me in the face twenty four hours ago.  Why am I not over this, you might wonder.  I am not over this because I feel like I have learned pretty much everything about being an adult through trial and error.  It almost makes me wish I’d gone to law school (not really) just for the life skills law classes force you to learn.  I have come to understand taxes by totally screwing them up when I was an “independent contractor” in grad school.  I have come to understand car insurance by getting into an accident that scattered parts of my adorable car all over the freeway.  And, now I have come to understand health insurance by completing effing it up.

I am particularly bothered by this because, exercising some self-awareness I very rarely have, I did a bunch of research before getting the tests run in July.  I put them off for months and months before I finally bit the bullet and got my blood drawn and my reluctance was only partially because I am terrified of needles.  As it turns out, I’m even more terrified of having to pay astronomical fees for medical services.  Thus, I was super proud of myself for being a responsible adult and calling my insurance company armed with all the test codes and making damn sure that all the tests were “fully covered.”  This total confidence in my insurance representative and my ability to be an adult about things even led me to agree to some extra tests my doctor thought were important.  I got negative results and was a confirmed normal woman and all was well.

Until yesterday, when I got that statement in the mail from a lab for $840.  Woot.  I had a lovely time fighting with my insurance company about it today.  In all honesty, I should just totally shut up, because the grand total for running the Ashkenazi Jewish genetic disease panel and testing for spinal muscular atrophy was over $6,000 (because I guess they had to send the vials of blood into outer space to do the testing).

My dad is a lawyer (as a prosecutor working for the city, he is “the good kind of lawyer,” a distinction that is more important to people than I usually realize), and he has always diagnosed every problem I’ve ever had as a failure to “Get it in writing,” which has never really been anything other than pretty infuriating.  Now it sounds like excellent advice.

Especially because I have to switch insurance providers, as I’m now a gainfully employed productive member of society, as opposed to a terrified, impoverished grad student.  I’ve spent the last two days poring over plans and I’m no closer to deciding which to chose than I was before I stayed up until 1:30 am last night wishing it was 2014 already so that all insurance plans had to cover pregnancy and women’s preventive care.  My judgment may be a little clouded by the fact that Fertile Myrtle, the patron saint of incredibly easy pregnancy, paid a total of $250 for her daughter, from start to finish.  Is that normal?  Or is she the outlier?  I will not get out of pregnancy/childbirth with under $1,800 in fees (with copays and deductibles and hospital coverage, etc.) regardless of which of the six plans I choose, and I have no concept of whether or not that is average.

Perhaps I should turn to my therapist, Google.

Oh, finally, I started my period this afternoon.  It very graciously waited until I had made it all the way home from work, which was nice because even though I had just taken a prescription medication to bring it on this week and could very well have predicted it would come today or tomorrow, I was absolutely not prepared outside my house (or in it either.  Definitely made a CVS run).  I’ll call my doctor tomorrow and ask to have the Clomid prescription forwarded to my pharmacy, because I’ll have to start taking it on Friday, if I’m going to stick to that really complicated and hugely intimidating schedule the office sent me in the mail which requires I begin Clomid on the third day of my cycle.  However, after that blood test fiasco and my inability to chose a new insurance plan, I’m now petrified that I’m not ready to be a mother (or to even entertain the thought).

How can I have a baby if I can’t even handle myself?

High Alert.

I spoke to my doctor (again) today and committed to the Provera/Clomid cycle (again).  I’ve had two separate phone tag conversations with her about it this week because my indecisiveness knows no bounds.  On Monday, when I initially called and talked the ear off of the nurse who answered the phone, I was nervous about committing to the process of conceiving.  Today when I called, I was nervous about making our child a mutant.

I am not above admitting that I absolutely google every weird thing that happens to my body.  The last three (non-pregnancy related) Google searches on my phone are “small cyst on arm,” “guillain barre syndrome,” and “red mole.”  I’m a googler.  So, last night I decided do some light research on the Provera/Clomid cycle, simply and honestly because I was curious about when the medications are taken and how they work (and because I’m in the last legs of graduate school and that’s just what I do).  What I stumbled upon, however, was a treasure trove of comment threads about two really stressful things: 1) people who have taken the drugs together for months and months and had no success; and 2) people who have taken Provera to stimulate a period after not getting one naturally (and getting negative pregnancy tests), only to find after they’d taken the full course that they were actually pregnant to begin with.  The medical literature seems to be divided on the risks of taking Provera in early pregnancy: it can either lead to birth defects (namely, hypospadias, which sounds horrifying) or have zero impact whatsoever.  Obviously, this isn’t super helpful information.

My doctor, being a normal person, has advised me to trust in the negative test results I keep getting and start the next Provera cycle.  And that’s what I’ll do tomorrow.  I just cannot shake the feeling that something is up with my body right now.  I’ve also watched entirely too many episodes of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” today and I’m on high alert.

Decision Time.

I am notoriously indecisive.  I hate admitting that because it sounds timid and stupid, but it’s always been true.  I am a classic overanalyzer.  To give a small example, I always feel really good about my purchases while still in a store and then immediately feel the need return half of what I buy the instant I leave.  To give a bigger example: this unease with decision-making has only gotten worse, as two years ago, I took a huge leap, went to grad school and am now approximately 100% convinced I will never use the degree I’ve almost completed.  How can I trust myself with huge decisions knowing how well (read: not good) that last huge decision turned out?

The only major life decision I’ve made in my twenties that I remain fully committed to two years later is getting married to my fabulous husband.  Everything else, specifically everything career-related, is still up for debate.

This is exactly why committing to “actively trying” is terrifying.  Sure, I’ve been off the pill since May and we haven’t been using any protection, so for all intents and purposes, we’ve been trying for nearly four months (although I’ve only gotten one period in that time and it was a product of Provera).  Nevertheless, I started this process totally okay with letting fate step in a little bit – I didn’t track ovulation or chart temperatures because that would imply we were really doing this and, as deciding to have a child is the biggest decision one can make, I was a little panicked.   I spent a lot of time thinking, “Please, Universe, we are ready to have a baby.  Do the heavy lifting and decide when.”

However, that was then.  After four months of negative pregnancy tests and continued wonky cycles (which are perhaps even more discouraging than the negative results), I am ready to commit to this process, in whatever way that means for us.

I called my doctor yesterday and discussed the “no period and yet no pregnancy” issue with her.  She suggested I refill the Provera prescription, stimulate another period and then take a round of Clomid to stimulate ovulation.  If I’m not pregnant next month, we can reevaluate at my next appointment on October 1st.

Using Clomid makes this real. If you’re taking a drug that is essentially the kid brother to other fertility treatments, you are committing to this.  You can start a blog, talk about it with your pregnant friends ad nauseam, really, really desperately want it and worry incessantly about your inability to do it, but you aren’t truly doing something about it until you start taking drugs to make it happen.  And here I am, ready to charge into the pharmacy this morning and get my Provera (or, rather, my generic Medroxyprogesterone, because I am cheap).

I have decided.