Solid Ground

When they carried Goose out of the exam room where she had taken her last breath, I started to panic.

The past few weeks (months?) have been so overwhelming and intense. The heart palpitations and anxiety were getting worse along with my feelings of depression. I saw a doctor early last week for a referral to mental health services, which was both terrifying and a relief. Terrifying because it reached the point where I knew I needed to talk to a professional, but I did feel a sense of relief that I was taking steps that would (hopefully) start helping me feel better.

Then, my period started on Friday and it was sort of strange. The fog started to lift. I had a bit more energy. For lack of any better way of explaining it, all of a sudden I started to feel a bit more like myself.

We were on our way home from a really lovely faux anniversary brunch on Sunday when my mom called to tell me that she thinks she needs to take Goose to the vet. In an instant, my delightful champagne buzz melted away, and I switched into dutiful daughter mode. When we got home, I changed quickly and headed straight to my mom’s house to help her with Goose.

I stayed pretty focused on my mom and our Goosie all afternoon—until it was over. As the door closed behind Goose and our tears intensified, I wondered what this was going to do to me. Would it push me back toward that edge I’ve been teetering on since June?

We stepped quietly out into the dark evening without our big red dog and drove home to my mom’s house in silence. Inside of me, a voice was screaming that this year, the fall season was supposed to be about life, not death. Almost everyone Catch and I have ever loved and lost has been lost in the fall—and it’s not a short list. Would the progress I’ve been noticing the past few days disappear into a pumpkin spice black hole?

As it turns out, no—it won’t. Don’t get me wrong—I am still grieving for that goofy oaf of a dog. Even though I no longer lived with her, she was a huge part of our lives and I feel her loss tremendously. What’s different is how I’m coping with those feelings. I am sad, but I am okay. I am functioning better than I have in weeks. The heart palpitations have lessened along with the anxiety. I am getting work done. I am slowly emerging from the shell I’ve been hiding in. There is no black hole in sight. Even with this new grief, I feel better than I did two weeks ago.

This really solidifies my belief that my depression and anxiety were closely linked to my hormones. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started to feel better on day 1 of my cycle, nor do I think it’s a coincidence that all of this started with those birth control pills in July and worsened throughout the IVF drugs and the subsequent polyp removal.

I am grateful that I was able to force myself to reach out for professional help. I am grateful that as I cried on the couch a few weeks ago while seriously considering all of the ways it would be better if I didn’t exist, I recognized that what I was feeling was both wrong and scary. I am also grateful for whatever CD 1 did to bring my life back into focus.

I would love to change this season from something we mourn to something we cherish. I would love to see some life come from all of this death. October 30th, we’re more ready for you than I thought. Let’s plant those seeds Reese’s Pieces.

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The Reese’s Pieces

First, thank you so much for all of your kind words on our Goose. It meant a lot that so many of you stopped to say something thoughtful. We miss her so much. Twix wandered my mom’s house for an hour yesterday barking at every door and entryway trying to find her buddy. I wish there was a way for us to explain it to her.

CD 1 was Friday—the 5 year anniversary of our fake wedding. (We were legally married in 2008, we just didn’t tell anyone until our fake wedding.) I actually hadn’t even considered the date, and I just happened to wear my red Converse—aka, our wedding shoes. I don’t often wear them, so it was pretty random that I happened to pull them out that morning. I like little signs like that.

I headed to the RE yesterday to find out whether we’re moving full steam ahead for an embryo transfer this cycle or not. My ovaries and my lining were as they should be for CD 4, and they called last night to confirm that my blood work was also where it needed to be, so all systems are go!

I started taking estrace last night, and if everything goes according to plan, our transfer will be Thursday, October 30th. Just a little over 2 weeks away. Beta is scheduled for November 10th. In her email with the calendar, our nurse said that I have, “enough meds to get you through to your pregnancy.” As if it was a given.

I’ve mentioned before that our dogs’ names are Twix and Rolo. When we first learned that we’d have 7 embryos frozen, Catch started referring to them as the Reese’s Pieces. It sort of stuck. We’re both thoroughly amused right now that we’re transferring our Reese’s Pieces during Halloween candy season. Seems fitting, no?

I can’t say enough how freaked out I am about all of this. It’s pretty surreal that I actually have a shot at getting pregnant this month. For real. I haven’t had a two week wait since July. It’s not THAT much time, but it feels like it’s been ages.  I’m out of practice.  Fortunately, this particular two week wait will only be 11 days. 

If you have any experience taking estrace, I’d love to know what it did to you in terms of side effects. I guess I’ll know soon enough, but I’d love to be able to warn Catch of what she may be coming home to on Thursday.

Silly Goose

There’s so much I want to write about, but a very sweet girl deserves a post all her own.

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Yesterday evening after many hours at the vet, Twix and Rolo unexpectedly lost their best friend, Goose.

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Goose was my mom’s dog.  We adopted her as a family ten years ago.  I was living with my mom at the time, and she had decided that her new house needed a dog.  It had been a number of years since my childhood dog had passed away, and she was ready.

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We met Goose one day at an adoption event at Petsmart.  She jumped up on my mom, knocked her on her rear end, and then sat on her.  It was love at first sight–for all of us.

Meeting Goose for the first time

Meeting Goose for the first time

Goose’s name was no accident. When we first brought her home, we thought it was a ridiculous name.  We tried for weeks to change it, but noticed a trend.  Goose would be out back rolling around the grass with her insanely long tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, and we lost count of the number of times we said, “Come here you silly goose,” or “you are SUCH a silly goose!”  She was meant to be Goose.  Our silly Goose.

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About a year later, I moved in with Catch and we brought Twix home.  I wasn’t sure if Goose was ever going to forgive me for bringing that puppy into her life, but Twix wore her down and the two became buddies.  Twix would stand on the couch and Goose would sit on the floor and they’d wrestle while we all sat and laughed.  Goose could always make us laugh.

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We’ve had our share of adventures and car rides with the Gooser. From camping trips to beach excursions, if it involved a ride in the car and a body of water, she was all in.

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I can’t imagine our family without our Goosie dog.  There is not a single person who is important to me who hasn’t met and loved the Goosie.  She was our comic relief, my mom’s best friend, and just the sweetest, silliest, most devoted and loving dog you could imagine.  She loved to swim, and she’d chase balls in the pool forever if you let her.  She loved tearing the squeakers out of stuffed toys.  She loved us–with all her heart–and was so loved in return.

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Rest in peace, sweet girl.  Wherever you are, you have our hearts.

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Discrimination, Fear, and… Blogging?

The Knight Initiative—aka Proposition 22—was on the ballot in California back in 2000. I was 19 years old. That initiative provided the language within our state constitution that only the marriage between one man and one woman would be recognized here.

I was so young, naïve and idealistic back then. I had lived a fairly sheltered life. Private school, single mom, no siblings in the house, and a very small and select group of friends all ensured that my exposure to the “real” world was fairly limited. When I realized that I was gay—at the age of 16—I could really only name 5 other gay people. One of them was my girlfriend, two of them went to our school, and of course there were Melissa Etheridge and Ellen DeGeneres.

Up to that point, I had experienced very little adversity due to my sexual orientation. This was partially because I wouldn’t even allow my girlfriend to think about holding my hand in public. Coming out to my mother hadn’t gone particularly well, but she had never resorted to name calling, and never once suggested that this was something I should try to “fix.”

So the Knight Initiative is on the ballot and I am really just a kid. I created my own “No on Knight” web page. I drove with my girlfriend for an hour and sat in pouring rain to hear Melissa Etheridge speak at a small rally in West Hollywood. It felt good. It felt like we couldn’t lose.  (What can I say? I wasn’t exactly listening to NPR’s political commentary back then.)

Of course in the end, Prop 22 passed. By a landslide.

I consider that entire experience—from the moment it made the ballot to the moment it passed—to be my first real experience with discrimination.  It’s hard not to take it personally when 61% of your state tells you that your relationship is inferior.

Since then, I have dealt with my fair share of bigoted jerks. I’ve been called a dyke. I’ve had things thrown at me as I walked across the street with Catch. I’ve faced workplace discrimination. I lost my oldest friend when I married Catch. At 33 years old, I consider myself fairly well indoctrinated into the world of bigotry. I will say, however, that it gets better every year. I’m not sure if that’s due more to changing opinions or thickening skin, but I’m not complaining either way.

That was a very long-winded way of getting to my point, which is that although I handle it better now than I did then, I still do my very best to avoid discrimination whenever possible. No matter how much the world has changed and will continue to change, the fear is still there.

I will readily admit that ironically, that fear has blossomed over the years and has sprouted its own bigotry within me. Organized religion and references to god and prayer make me positively twitchy.

It’s not right, I know. It’s not particularly rational, either. My own fear of being discriminated against has lead me to discriminate. It’s the ultimate defense mechanism: hate that which you fear.

In the infertility blog world, there is much prayer. We are putting our bodies and our minds through some of the most intense challenges we’ve ever faced, so naturally, we are filled to brim with the word PLEASE. We bargain with higher powers. We beg. We plead. We focus. We meditate. We pray. Who or what we pray to is entirely dependent upon our personal beliefs, but I will tell you this—I do not believe in god, but I certainly do still pray. My prayer may be a golden retriever and your prayer may be a German shepherd, but at the end of the day, our prayers are both still dogs.

As I float through the blog world, I may encounter someone whose blog I don’t follow, but who is going through a hard time. A two week wait. A cancelled cycle. A miscarriage. Whatever it may be, it is hard for them and I can relate because I know my own version of hard. Usually, it’s moments like that that cause me to pause for a comment or to click that follow button. The exception takes hold when that person mentions god. It’s in god’s hands. All I can do is pray. When I read those words, that person has lost me to my own insecurities.

In my mind, this is the sequence of events that takes place:

I comment.

Said person reads my comment and thinks, “Hmm… who is this stranger offering their support?”

They click on the link to my blog.

They see the bit about the lesbian couple trying to conceive.

They delete my comment in disgust, or worse, throw bible verses at me condemning my lifestyle.

It’s really quite lovely to be inside my head sometimes.

My point is this: I am going to try to do better. I am going to try to take more chances and reach out to more strangers and to stop allowing fear to dictate my every move within this space.

Do you know why? It’s because of all of you. At some point, all of you reached out to me. You commented. You clicked a follow button. You offered me kind words when I needed them, and nothing bad happened to either of us.

I know I’ve said it before, but I will say it again: Thank you. 

Return to Sender

I got an email from an old friend the other day on Facebook. It’s probably been 7 years since we last spoke, so the message caught me totally by surprise.

It actually feels strange to call her an old friend. She was my best friend. The kind of best friend who could anticipate my moves before I could. The kind I was comfortable spooning in the middle of the night on a camping trip because we were both freezing. She even went with Catch to pick out my engagement ring. She was a trouble maker, too—always managing to get us into the best kind of trouble.

We had a falling out years ago. I think partially we just grew apart. Our lives were taking very different directions. I was trying to settle down, and she was recently divorced and doing the exact opposite. I was likely judgmental and impatient—we all have our faults, and those tend to be mine. I don’t even remember exactly why it was that we stopped speaking to each other. It just sort of happened one day, and neither of us ever looked back.

Fast forward to the present. I am clearly not in the greatest place right now. My world basically consists of, “do everything you possibly can to get pregnant while not letting on that you are thinking about getting pregnant every second of every day.” Also, hide the hurt. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Over the past six months especially, I have been carefully winding myself into a cocoon. I am safe in here. I am allowed to be sad and hurt and hopeful. I am not forced to shrug my shoulders at a well-meaning friend who softly inquires about the results of my latest pregnancy test. I don’t have to hold myself together and pretend that I am not devastated and terrified. I don’t have to brace myself against baby photos on Facebook. This is my safe place, and I’m rather fond of it.

Probably, right now is not the best time to be forging new relationships—even if they are actually old relationships. I cannot possibly be a good friend right now. I have a hard enough time being a marginal wife and daughter. Friends, I’m afraid, have been getting the shortest possible end of the stick, lately. If you can even call it a stick. It’s more like a splinter.

I don’t want or need another person in my life to play pretend with. I am not in the mood to dole out the upbeat three paragraph summary of the last seven years of my life. Married! Happy! Lalala! If I were being honest, which I’m not, I would say that I am a giant ball of hormone-riddled anxiety, fear and frustration, and in a couple of weeks, all that is going to intensify times what? A gazillion? Let’s face it–life right now is a bit short on sunshine and rainbows.

Her seven year summary is fantastic. Tween daughter, happy marriage, and she’s a freaking doctor now. I am really, truly so happy for her.  She deserves every ounce of that happiness.  My seven year summary? Well, I got married, adopted another dog, took up running, and the only thing I have to show for the gamble we took with my life savings is the sharps container in my living room. Living the dream, I tell you.

I wish this was easier.

I’m going to have lunch with another friend right now, and I’m going to try to force myself to be a bit more real with her.  Gotta start somewhere, I guess.  All I know is that I really can’t handle the fake anymore.  I’m not okay right now… and everyone is going to have to be okay with that for a little while.  This too shall pass.

Beginnings

In all my dreams about what marriage would be like, I never imagined that one day—after some cuddling on the couch over a couple of episodes of Orange is the New Black—I would lift up my skirt, hand my wife a syringe, and ask her to plunge a needle into my ass.

All joking aside, we are both so excited for today.  Nervous too, but I’m fighting really hard to keep the nerves at bay. 

I got a text message from my dad a while ago telling me that my nana has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  She’s been in the hospital since Monday, and it’s been one thing after the next since she was admitted.  I was dealing with it all pretty well until my aunt sent me a video of nana thanking me for the Mother’s Day card a little while ago.  Now I just want to cry.  Part of me wants to head straight to the hospital to see her, but the hospital is a good 45 minutes away, and I have to be at the RE in 2 hours. 

It’s a weird place to be in.  I feel like I’m caught between happiness at the thought that we could actually be starting our family today, and sadness at the thought that I could also be losing my nana.  My only remaining grandparent. 

Hang in there, Nana.  There’s another great grandbaby somewhere in your future, and I need the two of you to know each other. 

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My eyes are closed tight and my fingers are crossed–please let today be a day for beginnings.  There's no room in my life for any endings right now.

Well Wishing

In another lifetime, I had a best friend.  We met as freshman in high school.  She changed schools, and when I met my first girlfriend I was terrified to tell her about it. Being gay wasn’t something I had ever even considered prior to that first girlfriend.  Everything about it was new and scary, and I could barely talk to MYSELF about it, let alone my best friend.

Eventually, she found out and confronted me about it on a marathon after school phone call. It went better than I could have hoped.  She was so supportive.  Annoyed at me for keeping secrets that she had to hear about through the grapevine, but totally supportive.

A lot of life happened between then and our early 20s.  It’s a long story, but I ended up hurting her badly and we didn’t talk for a long time afterward.  At some point, I realized that I really missed her.  I reached out—groveled.  Apologized more times in the span of a month than I think I have in my entire life.  We started working on trying to be friends again.

I took up scrapbooking so we’d have a common hobby.  We marched in the Doo Dah Parade with the basset hound rescue.  It wasn’t the same as it used to be, but we were friends.  It was nice.

One day, she told me that she had made the decision to be baptized in her new church.  Knowing my stance on religion, she was as scared to tell me about church as I had been to tell her that I’m gay.  The conversation was similar, but reversed.  It was me shrugging off the major life changes and telling her that I love her regardless.  I even went to a church picnic with her.

When the 2008 election brought California Proposition 8, I sent a heartfelt email to my friends and family explaining the direct effect Prop 8 would have on me and Catch. 

I don’t remember exactly what her response was to my email.  I know I responded back, but I can’t recall exactly what was said then, either.  What I do remember is that in our final exchange she said, “Can’t we just agree to disagree on this?”

The short answer?  No.  We can’t. 

Marriage is hard and beautiful and I have no room in my life for “friends” who can’t stand behind this commitment Catch and I have made to each other.  For better or for worse, this is our life.  It is the center of our lives.  Our marriage is the thing that most of our decisions revolve around.  It is the thing that decides our present and our future.  There are few things I do in my life that do not cause me to pause for a moment and think of my wife.  How will she feel?  What will she think?  How will she react?  What effect does this have on her?

Should I go see the Book of Mormon with a friend tomorrow night? I better make sure Catch is home to take care of the dogs.

Can we spend a week in Mexico this summer at my mom’s timeshare? Let’s check the calendar to see when Catch is teaching summer school.

Can I plant my ass firmly on the couch all night and watch a Law & Order SVU marathon? My wife is going to kill me if I don’t at least wash the dishes first.

So, I’m sorry—you don’t get to vote against my marriage one day and pop over for movie night the next.  There’s a lot of room for grey in my life, but not when it comes to my family.

So, the ties were cut.  About a year later, we announced our real (secret) marriage at our big fake wedding, and my best friend from high school never made it onto the guest list. 

Non, je ne regrette rien.

All of this is a long way of getting around to telling you that she got married this past weekend.  We have some mutual Facebook friends, and word travels. 

The thing about best friends is that no matter how much you change over time—and you do—some things never change.  Just as I know that there are probably toothpaste splatters on her bathroom mirror right now, I also know how important marriage and children are to her.  I know how badly she has wanted both—and for so many years.  I know how sensitive and thoughtful she is, and I know what a wonderful wife and mother she will be.

For years, her words have echoed in my head.  Can’t we just agree to disagree?

Five years ago, I might have hoped that she tripped on her way down the aisle.  Today, I simply wish her all the happiness that Catch and I have in our marriage—because really, that’s what this marriage equality thing is all about.  I hope her life is filled with an abundance of “for better” and very little “for worse.”  Even more, I hope their life together is surrounded by people who have faith in their marriage.

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I took last week off from work, but I feel like I'd be better rested if I'd just gone into the office instead.  We've been going non-stop since Monday, and it shows.

I've spent the last two days in some sort of manic episode–too exhausted and emotional to sleep, so I just keep going, going, going.  I even cleaned out the junk drawer.  It's been pure madness.  I tried to take a nap yesterday afternoon–my whole body ached and I was totally exhausted, but I just laid there wide awake for 45 minutes until I gave up.  Super fun.

Last night, we had two of our close friend/neighbors over for dinner, and courtesy of my inability to rest, the house looked great, the kitchen was clean despite the cooking, and I even broke out the good china, crystal and my grandmother's silver.

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Dinner was lovely, but one of our friends is about to lose her mom to cancer, so there were many, many tears.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better.  I can't stand that either of them are in this much pain–I just ache for them.  It's hard to watch a good friend sobbing on your couch and know that there's nothing you can do to make it better.  We're here, of course–we hugged and tissued and soothed–but it's all so superficial compared to what she's dealing with.  

This week has been so heavy.  I'm attending another funeral today, and all I can do is hope that when 2014 shows its face next week, it will bring some relief.  I am so ready for a new year. 

Merry Christmas

Oh, Christmas… you have kicked my ass this year.  You really have.  I can't even remember the last time I was so physically and emotionally exhausted.  I'm sure it's been years.  

First, let me just say that my company holiday party was phenomenal.  So beautiful.  We checked in to the Four Seasons and they upgraded my already comped room to a suite, which was about as decadent as it gets.  Living room, bar, guest bathroom, separate bedroom with a bathroom bigger than my living room.  There was an espresso machine, gorgeous hardwood floors and the best part–remote controls for the curtains.  An hour after we checked in, we were greeted with a cheese platter and a bottle of wine.  I could get used to that life.  Unfortunately, we had to check out and return home the next morning.  Not before I enjoyed some room service eggs benedict, though.  (Weight Watchers what?)

I made this all happen:

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How gorgeous are these flowers?

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The living room area of our hotel room:

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All those lovely things aside, we were simultaneously dealing with the death of Catch's grandfather while my Nana was hospitalized for two weeks with a systemic infection.  Nana was released from the hospital temporarily on Christmas Eve, but is back today having exploratory surgery to see if they can determine the cause of the infection.  

The funeral for Catch's grandfather was yesterday.  The day started with a rosary and mass at 9 am, followed by burial at a veterans cemetery 90 minutes away and a reception with the family at the home of one of her aunts.  It was a long day following several previous long days. With both emotions and exhaustion running high, all I can say is that it didn't end well.  I wish more than anything that I could have a do-over, but I can't.  

My cousin went into labor last night, which added more fuel to my emotional fire.  I want so badly to be happy and excited for her, but it's so hard when I am already run down and insanely jealous.  I'm trying, though. I really am.  

I also got word last night that my grandmother's best friend passed away, so I have another funeral to attend on Sunday.  

When it rains, it pours.  

I hope all of you had a lovely holiday.  Since this post was such a downer, allow me to leave you with our holiday card…

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Here's another gratuitous shot of the hounds enjoying their Christmas present (ok, it was Catch's present, but we all know it was really for them…)  This wagon is the greatest thing ever.  It even has a canopy on it, and it folds up SO easily.  LOVE IT.

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Never a Dull Moment

I am at the peak of my busiest time of the year at work, hence the extended absence here. The busy time comes to a close on Friday night, when 200 people attend the formal holiday party I’ve been planning since last December.   There is truly no hell like trying to arrange 200 of your coworkers at tables of 10.  It’s like planning a wedding EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  It’ll be a nice evening for sure, but the thing I’m looking forward to most is collapsing into my bed at the Four Seasons post-party.  They seriously have the best beds. Here’s a sneak peak at the decor of a few previous events to give you an idea.

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That aside, life seems to be on board with us taking time off from TTC, as it’s thrown us every curve ball in the book lately.  Catch’s grandfather passed away last week on Wednesday, and my nana was admitted to the hospital that Friday and has been there ever since battling a mystery infection.  The death has hit Catch pretty hard and brought up a lot of the past for me. Then when my only remaining grandparent got so sick, it pushed me over the edge even more.  I desperately want our future baby to meet my nana.  We can’t lose her now. 

All of that added to the normal stress of the holidays and my craziness at work has made me glad we’ve put the OPKs away for the time being. 

My doctor appointment was moved up to tomorrow, and I’m desperately hoping for some answers and guidance on this PCOS nightmare.  The original appointment I’ve been waiting weeks for was scheduled for the 26th, but that’s the day of my grandfather in law’s funeral service so I called and begged them to change it.  Fortunately, they were very nice and squeezed me in sooner rather than later. 

On the weight loss front, over the past 5 weeks I’ve lost 11.9 lbs.  I’m pretty proud of that.  It’s not easy LOSING weight over the holidays, but we’re sticking with it and it’s paying off. Catch is down 14.9!  That’s not to say we don’t have our moments, though.  Yesterday, I had a meltdown in the form of some dark chocolate covered see’s caramels and two margaritas, but I’m in the middle of my period and had the worst cramps.  I’m only human.  These things happen.  Back on the wagon today.

I hope everyone’s doing well and surviving the holidays!