Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acne at 37?!?!

For the last couple of weeks, my face has been breaking out just like it did in high school. Back in my teenage years, I used gallon upon gallon of Tinted Oxy 10 which not only dried up my zits, but it also covered them up - what a great invention for ultra-self conscience teens.

Anyway, as an adult, I get an occasional pimple, but nothing that concerns me that much. But, I had to raise it to alert level red when three massive ones appeared last week and decided to take measures to have a blemish-free face again.

I went to see my aesthetician to get a facial to dry and balance my oil field of a face. When I showed her my constellation of pimples on my face, she immediately said, "Are you pregnant?"

I said, "Sadly, no, but I wish I was." What gives? The symptoms without the result. Ends up, it was a result of stress, but I had already figured that out.

Several years ago when I was going through fertility treatments and taking loads of follistims and other hormones, I treated myself to a facial. This one was just for fun, not because I had an issues, or so I thought. As the aesthetician analyzed, plucked and poked my skin, and she said, "Is there something stressful going on in your life?" I wasn't aware that in addition to a facial, I was also paying for a therapy session, but I figured I should answer so I could find out why she asked me.

I told her about all of the fertility meds and the stress of it all, and she immediately empathized and said solemnly, "oh..."

My entire life, people have said I look younger than I am, but this threw my sense of my appearance into a tailspin.

So, I walked out with $210 of products. She was either a really sneaky salesperson, or I looked like a wreck and didn't realize it.

My Tinted Oxy 10 is only $3.49 a bottle. I think I'll head to the pharmacy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More fun with pregnancy tests

I realize that something may be wrong with me that I've been having fun with negative pregnancy tests lately (see Yes, I have a fistful of pregnancy tests), but that's what infertility can do to some people.

My experiment today was with a Chinese pregnancy test. As some of you know, I lived in China for 10 months (just got back to the U.S. in July). Before I left, I wanted to buy a Chinese HPT to see if there was any difference than the U.S. versions, and not that I needed it. Again, this was just for fun; I have no grand ideas that it could have been because sperm actually met egg.

Here's the rundown:

I went into a pharmacy to buy it and had to use some hand gestures around my stomach to get the pharmacists to understand what I was talking about. My Mandarin knowledge does not include any vocabulary about HPTs or "missed periods." Luckily, they figured out what I was saying pretty quickly and directed me back to the one option for an HPT. The name of the test was in Chinese and English which is a good thing, because the name is hilarious: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Rapid Diagnostic Kit - what a mouthful!

No, not Clearblue Easy or First Response, the actual clinical name for the test. I kind of like that - no glazing over what it is; coming right out and saying what it is.

The test itself looks exactly like any stick test in the U.S. I checked the instructions and they were all in Chinese except for "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Rapid Diagnostic Kit"; so I just went for it like I would any other HPT.

Disclaimer: I was sure I was NOT pregnant. Again, I was just doing this for a laugh and to educate Americans about Chinese pregnancy tests. After all, I'm sure that's where ours are made.

So, I peed on it and within seconds, a single pink line showed up. I had no idea how long I was supposed to wait, but it was clear that no other line or "plus sign" was going to appear.

Of course, I didn't consider the fact that perhaps a single line is a positive result in Chinese. Hmmmm... maybe I need to go get a U.S. one and double check.

So, I encourage you to think about all of the useful things you can do with a negative test stick. They make great coffee stirs, as long as you make sure you're using the non-pee end. Have a table that's off balance? HPTs can make a great shim. I figure that I've taken enough over the last six years that I could gather them all up and let my nephew use them to create a model of a fort, instead of using popsicle sticks (I really don't save the damn things, just wanted to give you a visual).

Can you imagine the landfill thats been created as a result of all of the used HPTs?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Probably TMI, but it's worth it

Just wanted to share the summary of my book that's coming out in about two months, The Inadequate Conception - From Barry White to Blastocytes: What your mom didn't tell you about getting pregnant. Feel free to stop by the FaceBook page too, as I will be updating it with information as it gets closer to launch.

Truly, the reason I wrote this book and put all of this “out there” is to help other couples who have difficulties getting pregnant. And, if I can make one person laugh after all of the tears, I think telling you about my vaginal ultrasounds and sex on a schedule was worth it.

I am the no prego pro, infertility warrior, bunless oven, can’t-make-a-baby veteran. It has taken six years and tens of thousands of dollars to achieve this distinction, and more specifically, 1,611 prenatal vitamins, 78 fertility drug injections, 55 ovulation detection tests, 40 blood draws, 33 ultrasounds, 16 pregnancy tests, and 11 embryos to confirm it. Still, throughout this not-so-fun numbers game (I always thought that procreating was supposed to be much, much more enjoyable), I have tried very hard to look at the lighter side of our struggles to conceive: Betting to see whose sperm count is higher and performing a strip tease in a hospital room are not things that I ever thought I’d be part of, yet here I am, willing to disclose the details of some very intimate incidents.

Whether a couple needs two tries to get pregnant or two hundred, most can relate to calculating menstrual cycles and trying to decipher ovulation test sticks. And there can be plenty of funny incidents and awkward and absurd moments along the way, whether trying to get sperm to meet egg involves candlelight and Barry White or Petri dishes and blastocytes. The Inadequate Conception tells the author’s and others’ real-life stories of trying to find two blue lines on a pregnancy test.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Target practice

Today flat stunk. No other way to put it. Our adoption has reached a new low, and I am emotionally and physically exhausted. However, I now know the meaning of a mother's love and will fight to get our little boy out of Vietnam. They have no idea who they are dealing with.

So, I had to make a run to one of my very favorite stores this afternoon - Tar.get, and while I can usually spend a good hour in there as happy as can be, two separate incidents made me more depressed than when I entered the red bullseyed door.

First, whether I need clothes or not, it's downright irresponsible not to check out the 50% clothing racks when shopping there. I was flipping through the racks - found a super cute dress that will look great with leggings this fall for $10! Then, I found a darling top for $6. When I looked to check the size, I discovered that it was maternity. WTF?

Then, as I was traipsing down the aisles, trying to forget my near miss with a prego shirt, I was accosted on all sides by Halloween costumes, cute toddler t-shirts with "Mommy's little monster" on the front, onesies with "my first Halloween" and Frankenstein socks. It totally crushed me --I felt like I had a bullseye logo on my stomach and an arrow shot me right in the gut.

Luckily, they had plenty of Twizzlers in stock. I have already eaten about a mile's worth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No flu shot for you

Last year I wrote a post about the fact that swine flu shots were at a premium and pregnant women were at the top of the list, while those of us unfortunates with flat stomachs weren't important enough.

While we're still waiting to hear what the latest flu is - sheep, peacock or moose - the first people eligible for the once-again tight supply of vaccine are pregnant woment.

Side bar: Because the death rates for pregnant women is much higher than other sections of the population, I totally get the reason why and I encourage them to get their vaccines, but let me have a little fun for a second while I rant about my infertility. But what about those of us who want to be pregnant, but can’t. -- can’t we get inoculated?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly freaked out about getting the flu. I just think it’s discriminatory to give a vaccine to someone just because she is lucky (and let’s face it, so much of it is sheer luck) enough to conceive.

I mean am I not worthy of getting a flu shot just because my womb won't cooperate? It’s not like I chose to have fertility issues or did something to inhibit my fertility. I pay more than my fair share of taxes and have contributed way more out-of-pocket expenses to the healthcare system than the average 37-year old woman.

I think trying as hard as I have, as well as the millions of others of infertiles, should count for something. Heck, after the six cycles on fertility drug injections, I could probably even give myself the shot. I wouldn’t have to wait in line. The nurses could just throw me the vial and syringe and I could do my own. I could probably even help them inoculate the masses.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

False Advertising

I'm totally hacked off my the name of a fertility clinic in town -- it's called: Family Beginnings IVF.

I'm not an expert on the ethics of advertising or brand names, but unless these doctors have some kind of 100% guarantee, I'm pretty sure that's considered false advertising. The words "family" and "beginnings", particularly together, denote that a pregnancy will occur after visiting their clinic. With IVF rates being about 33%, I"m pretty sure that there are plenty of women walking out of there who aren't knocked up.

I'm guessing that it's some ploy by some sneaky reproductive endos who decided to prey on our weak minds after we've been beaten down by the throes of infertility. The name evokes a sense of hope and a future that we dream of. And, they've smartly figured out that The Schmo Center for Reproductive Medicine doesn't do anything but sound clinical. Of course, having a name like "No Guarantees Fertility" or "Can't Promise Pregnancy Center" won't get anyone to come in off the street, either.

I still think that it's a pretty crappy tactic.

In related news, there was a Dr. Hyman in my hometown who was an OB/GYN, everyone thought that was pretty hilarious, and on that one, I have to agree.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Find your bliss, in spite of your infertility

Common logic says that if you know you're infertile, you want to have a child. And, for many of us, we have dreamed of having a baby for years and years, so it puts quite a crimp, to say the least, in our plans when we can't get pregnant.

I usually don't throw out advice through my blog, but I feel pretty adamant about this small nugget of info: Find your other bliss(es).

Part of the reason this topic is on my mind is because I did something today that makes me happier than just about anything - horseback riding. I occasionally ride in events put on by a local hunt club and today we road through creeks, woods, and pastures playing a horsey version of Clue. The weather was gorgeous, my horse was a prince, and I was with good friends -- two hours of pure joy.

And, when I'm riding, I am totally focused on just riding. I'm not thinking about my faulty uterus or my adoption that's going poorly. It's very liberating not to have those obsessions on my mind during that time.

My therapist has even encouraged me to do things I enjoy. Of course, I do have the caveat that the things you do shouldn't involve bodily harm to you or anyone else.

My list includes said horseback riding, running trails with my dog, doing just about anything with Jack, writing, hanging out with my niece and nephew, among others.

How about you? What do you love to do? Are you currently participating in it? If not, why? Get out there and do something you love.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One of my least favorite days of the year, but not for the reason you might think

I had my annual OB/GYN exam yesterday, and unlike most women who dread that day of the year because they hate having to spread their legs for the doctor, go through the personal questions, etc. For me, that part is a piece of cake. I figure that I’ve probably been to the fertility doc and/or OB/GYN 100 times over the last five years, so one more time doesn’t shake me at all.

What does bother me is seeing all of the pregnant gals lovingly rubbing their bellies and trading gazes with their husbands. I mentioned in a post last year that I think there should be a walled off area for the baby bump blessed, so that the rest of us don’t have to come into contact with them.

And, apparently I am shrinking. The med assistant who checked me in, measured me a good ½” shorter than I actually am – I am not 85 with osteoporosis.

The other thing that irked me was that I had to explain to TWO people, the medical assistant and my GYN, that “No, I’m not using birth control.” And, “No, I’m not trying to get pregnant.” I am now on my third GYN in three years because they keep moving to New England, so I’d never met this new one, but come on, “Check my effing file! You’ll see more than your fair share of documentation of all the ways I tried to get pregnant.” I hate having to relive all that.

And, they had me listed as being on Estrogen. Yeah, that was like two years ago when I was going through fertility treatments, and people my age really shouldn't be taking it for more than a few days to get the uterine line forming anyway. I'm not going through menopause.

It’s bad enough that my doctor’s office is in the same building and on the same floor, just steps away from my fertility doctor. Even the hallways smell the same – and it makes me think back to the days of when I actually had hope that I could get pregnant. Weird how smells will do that.

Actually, the only highlight to this experience was my drop-in at my old fertility doctor’s office. Unfortunately, he and his wife who is the head nurse, were at their other office, but the office/insurance manager ran out from behind her desk and gave me a big hug. Now that’s the kind of practice I like: hugs instead of getting harangued by people about birth control.