Wednesday, August 25, 2010

number four

No, I'm not writing about Mr. I-can't-decide-whether-to-stay-or-go Brett Favre.

I'm writing about IUI attempt #4, which took place this morning.

As much as I've anticipated getting back on track with our IUI treatments since the miscarriage in May, I've got to admit that I was feeling really nervous this morning. All morning. And when I arrived at the doctors' office, my anxiety ratcheted up a bit more, which surprised me.

In retrospect, I think it was because today was the first time I've been back in their office since the day I found out my April pregnancy had stopped. Obviously, that was one of the worst days of my life, so I think it's only natural that I'd associate physically being in that environment with bad feelings and anxiety. Still, that obviously doesn't help a gal relax for the impending procedure when she's feeling phantom stress from the last time she was there.

To add to the situation, I had Super Boy with me. I'd forgotten to call around yesterday to see if one of my friends could watch him for 45 minutes for me, so he had to come along. Thankfully he's old enough to hang out in the waiting room and keep himself entertained, and the girls in the reception area were happy to keep an eye on him and chat with him, so I wasn't too worried about that. Still, he doesn't entirely get what goes on there, and given the nature of my doctors' specialty, the office doesn't have a big kid-friendly waiting room with toys or anything like that. As I sat there waiting to be called back, it also occurred to me that his mere presence there might bother someone else coming in for fertility treatment who has not been blessed with a child yet. While there was nothing I could do about it at that point, I was just grateful that he wasn't an infant or toddler still (because I know how hard that is for me to be around babies and toddlers after all this, and I have a child already), and that things were pretty slow while we were there and we only encountered one other patient.

** LITTLE SIDE NOTE **

As I have mentioned before, we've been pretty open with Super Boy about our desire to have another baby, and about the fact that we're having trouble getting pregnant and are seeing a special doctor and having some special procedures to help us. He knows some of what is going on, but obviously not all of it, and we don't know how much he really understands of what we have told him. He's a very smart kid, and inquisitive, so he asks a lot of questions, and we can only hope we're answering them in a way that he can make sense of.

For instance, he gets that in order to make a baby, there has to be a sperm and an egg, but he's not real clear on how they come together under normal circumstances. With our IUI, we've told him that the doctors have to get the sperm from daddy and then inject it into my uterus, where my eggs are, so that they can get together and form a baby. I also have a book called "From Conception to Birth", which Super Boy and I have looked through and talked about a little, so he's seen those awesome pictures of sperm penetrating egg, etc.

Anyway, when I told him he had to go to the doctor with me this morning, he asked what for. I told him that this is the baby doctor, and he asked, "Are we going to see a baby in your tummy?" I told him, no, that we're still trying to get another baby in my tummy, and that's what we were doing today.

He knew that Super Man had his appointment earlier (Super Man left the house later than usual this morning to make his appointment at the doctor's office, and when Super Boy asked why, we told him), and in his head, Daddy's appointment involved needles, which he knows Daddy doesn't like! So he said, "I bet Dad didn't like having to get poked with a needle to get the sperm out!"

I chuckled and said, "Well, actually they don't need to use needles to get the sperm, baby, so I think Daddy was probably okay."

He gave me a puzzled look and said, "If they don't use needles, then how do they get it?"

Oy vey.

I told him I'd explain that later on. Heaven help me!

Of course, as we were driving to the clinic and I was thinking about Super Boy asking me that question, I realized that at some point we are going to have to explain how babies are USUALLY made (i.e. sex) since the poor kid probably thinks that this craziness is just how it's done, with all these doctor appointments and medications and sperm extractions and sperm injections!

To feel it out a little, I just said, "Baby, I know that Mom & Dad have had to do a bunch of crazy stuff to try to have another baby, but just so you know, it's usually a lot easier and simpler for people to get pregnant and they don't have to go through all this. It was a lot easier when I got pregnant with YOU - it's just that this time around it isn't working the way it usually happens. Does that make sense?"

His response: "Mom, I know how people usually get pregnant."

*crickets chirping in the background*

"Really? You do?"

"Yep."

"Okaaaaay... tell me."

"Well, usually moms and dads have to do a lot of kissing to get pregnant, and that's how the sperm usually gets inside the mom. But you and Dad haven't been able to kiss a lot because Dad works so much."

(Oh, if only it were that simple!)

I figured that his version of events will do - for now.

** END OF LITTLE SIDE NOTE **

I brought my iPod along again this time, as I found it helped me to relax the last time, when I got pregnant. I had to wait a few minutes for Dr. R to come in, so rather than sit and fidget, I lay down on the table and listened to my "Mellow Music" playlist. Fortunately I wasn't kept waiting long.

Now, Dr. R was NOT the doctor who did my successful IUI back in April (that was Dr. S), but he had obviously heard about what had happened, so we talked about that a little bit and I was able to ask a few questions I'd had. Dr. R was the original fertility specialist I had seen when I first started going to this clinic back in September of 2009 (hard to believe we've been at this for a year...), and his original treatment plan for me only consisted of four IUIs before moving on to another treatment, namely in vitro (IVF). However, I ended up switching to Dr. S as my main fertility doctor (after having some issues with Dr. R early on), and while Dr. S knows that we won't be pursuing in vitro due to the financials involved, Dr. R did not know that. I told Dr. R that our insurance will cover up to six IUIs (but not IVF), so if #4 doesn't work, I want to exhaust the final two IUIs that insurance will cover since that will be as far as we go with treatment.

He said that he sets four IUIs as the standard plan because if it doesn't work in four attempts, it's likely not the best treatment for a particular patient, but since #3 was actually successful at getting me pregnant and we have no intention to pursue any further types of treatment, he had no problem following through with two additional IUIs if this one fails. That put my mind at ease.

Dr. R had a female med student with him today, and she is the one who started the procedure. Unfortunately, my pesky cervix-of-steel wasn't cooperating when she tried to thread the catheter through it, so Dr. R had to take over. And then even he ran into trouble with it, so I ended up needing a clamp of some sort to help get it in. This is not the first time Dr. R has had trouble getting the catheter in for my IUI, which sucks and is part of the reason I dread getting him for these procedures. The one time I got Dr. S for my IUI - the one that worked! - he got the catheter in right away and without causing me much pain. So I don't know what they do differently, but it's something, that's for sure.

Anyway, let me just tell you, folks, this is NOT a comfortable process.

We all know what it's like to have a bruised shin or a muscle ache or even a headache, and those aren't fun, but this particular type of pain - having something forced through your cervix - is really tough to explain. Rather than diffuse pain, such as you get with a headache, this is sharp, deep pain. It radiates outward from the cervix and all I can think of to describe it is that it's like super sharp knives or razor blades scraping something deep inside your abdomen. It's really not good. Not good at all. The only upside is that once the catheter is threaded, the pain ends and I can breathe again. Which is, of course, a good thing.

The other good thing is that apparently Super Man's count of "good" swimmers was 224 million this time, which is off the charts. They say they need a minimum of 10 million for the procedure, so obviously his is a very, VERY good number.

That 224 million is also the highest number we've had yet for all four IUIs. His last "record" was 133 million, and we thought that was great. In fact, Super Man was joking about getting personalized license plates with "133MM" on them.

Thank God he didn't order the plates yet.

Anyhoo, Dr. R injected the good swimmers straight into the promised land without incident. When he was done, I laid on the table for about 10 minutes listening to my iPod and silently chanting my little IUI mantra to the Universe.

I always get teary-eyed when I'm laying there meditating on my mantra, and this time was especially emotional, since it worked the last time I was there.

I couldn't help but think that if my April pregnancy had been a keeper, I'd have been 22 weeks this Friday and wouldn't need to be going through IUI again. I'd already know the sex of the baby and would be planning for its arrival and reveling in the beauty of second trimester pregnancy. Our family would be eagerly awaiting the new baby, showering my belly with love and kisses, so grateful for that little miraculous gift. I get a lump in my throat every time I think about it, and I ache for what was lost, especially because it took us 4 years to get pregnant again and we have no way of knowing if this or the final two IUIs will get me pregnant again.

Still. I still believe we're meant to have another baby. I still feel in my bones that we aren't done yet. So I have to believe that this or one of the final two IUIs will be the one that brings us another miracle.

When the timer went off and I got up and got dressed, I felt such a surge of positive energy, such hope. I went out to the waiting room to gather up Super Boy. He asked me if it worked, if I had a baby in my tummy. I told him I didn't know yet, that we have to wait two weeks to find out.

He grabbed my hand and looked up at me with his beautiful, solemn hazel eyes and said, "I really hope we get another baby, Mom. And I hope it's a little brother."

My sweet little miracle is praying for another miracle, and so am I.

Number 4, I hope you are the one. Universe, we're ready; we're waiting. We cannot wait to welcome another miracle into our family. We're ready.

hopefully,
SW

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook friend-iquette

OMG, I love Facebook! So much so that I've been known to spend an inordinate amount of my online time on it, much to my own detriment at times. I've vowed to cut back, and I have a bit, but I have a ways to go before I will feel like I've achieved the right balance. (My husband will be so happy the day that happens!)

Given my love for Facebook, most of the time I view it as a really great invention. It has allowed me a much better, more convenient, and more interactive way of staying in touch with my family and close friends who don't live nearby, in that we can look at each others' pictures, chat, send messages and post on each others' Walls. Of course there is still a lot of value in talking by phone and - better yet - face-to-face, but when that's not possible or practical, Facebook certainly comes in handy.

It's also proven to be a really cool tool in that it has helped me reconnect with lost friends and coworkers, and former classmates from decades ago. I've reconnected with my oldest friend, whom I met when I was 4 years old and we lived across the street from each other, not to mention probably 3/4 (if not more) of my graduating class, and it has been so wonderful and fun to renew those connections and see what everyone is up to. I've been out of high school for 18 years now, and our class has only had two reunions in that time, neither of which I was able to attend. With the 20-year reunion looming large, I find myself really looking forward to it now that I've been in touch with so many people from my class through Facebook. How nice it will be to not feel nervous about seeing everyone again, because I can "see" them every day if I want to!

Then again, there are times when I think of Facebook as not so good a thing. I say that because of how easy it is to snub and hurt people in passive-aggresive ways. One of them is by ignoring friend requests, and another is by "unfriending" former FB friends. Given how prevalent FB is in the social stratosphere, having your friend request ignored or being unfriended is kind of a slap in the face.

I know that there are some out there who think it's absolutely INSANE to have hundreds of Facebook friends, and they will roll their eyes and gnash their teeth and grumble about how there is NO WAY that a person is REALLY "friends" with all those people, and say that those people only do it for the numbers, and they themselves would NEVER friend on FB anyone they weren't REALLY GOOD friends with, blah, blah, blah.

Well, sure -- that might be true in some cases. Absolutely. And if that's your personal policy regarding Facebook, that's great -- for YOU.

In my situation, I've got over 400 FB friends. I never set out to hit a certain number or anything like that. All I've ever wanted to do was connect with my existing friends and family and reconnect with old friends with whom I'd lost touch. The latter category just so happens to include childhood friends, former classmates, former neighbors, and former coworkers I had good relationships with, which makes it a pretty broad category, encompassing at least 30 years of my 36 years on the planet! These are people I never disliked or cut out of my life for any negative reasons; just people I drifted apart from due to moves, changes in life, changes in jobs, etc. and it would've been impossible to keep in touch with all of them in the old traditional ways of writing letters and making phone calls, in the pre-electronic age. The simple fact that Facebook now exists has made reconnecting and staying in touch stupidly easy, and for that I'm grateful.

Where I'm going with this is here: When I send someone a friend request, or I accept a friend request from someone else, it's because I have made the thoughtful, conscious choice to reconnect with that person, because I genuinely want to be connected with that person. It has nothing to do with wanting to have a certain number of FB friends or me just being nosey; it has everything to do with continuing or reviving certain relationships in my life. I would never want someone to accept my friend request or to request me as a friend on Facebook simply to snoop and be nosey, or so they can later snub me by unfriending me, although I'm sure it happens.

I've had a few friend requests ignored and I've been unfriended a few times, and bottom line, it never feels good. In fact, it sucks. And when I realize I've been unfriended by someone, I always find myself dwelling on WHY that person felt the need to unfriend me, especially if it was someone I was FB friends with for a pretty long time. And the crappiest part is that you pretty much have to accept that you'll never have an answer to that question, because who is really going to confront someone who unfriended them? Not this girl, that's for sure! No; in the end, I have to shrug my shoulders and figure I'm better off for it.

All of that said, I will admit that I, too, have ignored a few friend requests and unfriended a few people, but I do it very rarely and only for pretty clear reasons.

REASONS I'VE IGNORED FRIEND REQUESTS:

-- If I don't know you personally, chances are very good that I'm not going to accept your friend request. I don't need to expose myself, my family or my life to strangers. This is also why I've got my privacy settings locked up tighter than Fort Knox. The two exceptions I've made to this rule (and only in rare cases) are virtual friends I've made through my writing/blogging, and friends-of-friends to whom I've been virtually introduced and had a great connection with.

-- If I do know you but our relationship is definitely not good or I have reason to seriously question your motives for wanting access to me through Facebook, I'm going to ignore your request.

-- If I know you or know of you but you've weirded me out in prior situations, I'm not accepting the friend request. For obvious reasons.

REASONS I'D UNFRIEND OTHERS:

-- You're stalking me through FB. By this I mean chatting me every single time you see I'm online, or you're being inappropriate in your FB communications with me.

-- Your posts are all spam (like Farmville or any of the other annoying apps) and never personal thoughts or updates.

-- Your posts are creepy and/or disturbing.

-- If I find out that you're only FB friends with me to get information to share with others, not because you genuinely want to be in touch with me.

I don't like hurting other peoples' feelings. Have I done it a time or two in my life? Unfortunately, yes; I'm human. Usually it has happened because I wasn't thinking before I did or said something, and I've felt truly awful when it has happened. (Seriously, no one could possibly understand how much of a toll my own guilt or shame takes on me when I know I've hurt someone's feelings, and those who know me best will vouch for that.) Even in situations where I'm ignoring a Facebook request from someone I don't know, I feel a little bit bad for it because I know how it feels to be rejected in that way. But the bottom line with Facebook is that I have to look out for my own and my family's safety and well-being.

So, AESW readers, I'm curious to know what YOUR personal Facebook policies are, so please share in the comments section. Do you ignore friend requests and unfriend people, and if so, why? How do you feel when it happens to you? I think it will be really interesting to compare notes on this given how big Facebook has gotten and how many of us use it to stay in touch with people in our lives.

SW

Sunday, August 8, 2010

when a leisurely family bike ride goes bad

Oh, what a day.

It started like many others -- us sleeping in and missing Church (shame on us, shame on us), waking to the sound of rain on the rooftop and making pancakes for breakfast, which we ate in our jammies around the kitchen table. After breakfast, Super Boy relaxed and played some Nintendo DS while Super Man and I chatted, played a little Bejeweled Blitz and did a little picking up. Then we ate lunch.

Around 1:15pm, Super Man commented that the rain had stopped and the sun was shining and we should go outside to enjoy it while it lasted. I suggested we take a bike ride.

I suggested this because ever since Super Boy lost the training wheels back in June, he's wanted to go on bike rides almost every single day, and due to Super Man's long work days, he doesn't often get to join us. This was to be a fun family bike ride for 30 or 40 minutes before coming home, showering and getting on with our day. Super Boy had a sleepover planned at a friend's house (it was hopefully going to be his first successful one!), and I was going to see a movie with a girlfriend while Super Man relaxed at home and finished cleaning his office.

We got ready and headed out. I suggested we load the bikes in my Odyssey and drive down to the bike path Super Boy and I have been biking frequently lately, but Super Man thought we should bike there straight from our house. OK, fine. That was a mistake!

The bike ride through our neighborhood went fine. Super Boy made the corners beautifully, and we were all enjoying ourselves. We got down to the bike path, and things started off well. Until.

Super Boy started peddling really fast.

He lost control of his bike.

The handlebars turned to the side on a bumpy stretch while Super Boy was still propelling forward.

And Super Boy went face-first to the ground.

Thank God he was wearing his helmet (we require it EVERY time he rides, and we wear ours, too). As soon as he hit the pavement, he started screaming. Super Man and I leaped off our bikes and were at his side, lifting his bike off him, carefully turning him over.

Blood dripped from his face onto his clothes and the pavement. He was bleeding so profusely it was hard at first to tell where it was coming from, and his lip was hugely swollen. He was screaming, crying, hysterical.

Super Man held him and tried to calm him down while I dug furiously through my little backpack trying to find the little packet of tissues I usually keep in every one of my purses/bags, only to come up empty-handed. As a last resort, I found a stash of panty liners in my little inside zipper pocket and figured beggars couldn't be choosers. I held a panty liner on my son's mouth trying to staunch the flow of blood so we could see where it was coming from.

When I pulled the liner away, it was easy to see that he had split his top lip open, bad. His lip was so swollen already, though, that it was hard to tell if he had also bit it from the inside. He was still bleeding heavily. He was also bleeding from his right knee and right elbow.

We had to figure out what to do, as it was clear he couldn't get back on his bike and ride. Super Man said he'd ride like hell back to our house to get our Odyssey so we could take him to the ER, so I waited with Super Boy. Thankfully, as we were evaluating Super Boy, a man had been biking by and stopped when he saw our son bleeding. He said he was a former firefighter and EMT, and he volunteered to stay with me and Super Boy while we waited for Super Man to get back.

I don't even known the man's name. I was so concerned about Super Boy that I could barely think straight. The man did a great job of trying to keep our minds off the matter at hand, asking Super Boy what grade he's in and what sports he likes, and talking to us about his daughter and other things. He was so kind, and told me that he didn't think the damage was too bad. When the mosquitoes started eating Super Boy and I alive, and I debated moving Super Boy closer to the road and away from the trees, our helper moved our bikes for us while I just got Super Boy moved and settled.

Before we knew it, Super Man was there. I got Super Boy in the car while Super Man and our helper got the bikes in the back, and we thanked him profusely before speeding away to the hospital ER.

We spent 4 hours at the ER. It was apparent that Super Boy needed stitches, but the chief resident was not comfortable doing the stitches himself due to the fact that the split went from the middle of the fleshy part of Super Boy's lip above his lip line (they called it "the vermilion border"), requiring a more precise stitching to heal properly and symmetrically. So we had to wait for a plastic surgery consult, which came in the form of an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, who handles all facial lacerations at the hospital.

Thankfully, the room we were put in at the ER had a video game cart in it already, and that helped tremendously to keep Super Boy's mind off his pain and what was going to happen. It helped pass the time in a state of less panic and fear, and that was a good thing.

When it came time for the ENT to come do her thing, Super Boy visibly tensed. They gave him some numbing gel to the lip to help take away the sting of the numbing agent they injected before doing the stitches, and he was not liking ANY of it. Still, he stayed calm, squeezed my hand and followed all their instructions. When he was suitably numb, they irrigated his lip, as he had fallen on a paved path and no doubt had some grit in there. When they began stitching, Super Boy became nervous, but soon realized that it was going to be quick and relatively painless.

He ended up with two stitches to the outside of his lip, one at the lip line and one just below it, and another two stitches to the inside of his lip, where it was discovered that his teeth had done some serious damage in the fall. I can't believe he didn't bite right through the lip. Thank God he didn't though.

We still don't know for sure whether he damaged his two front teeth -- they weren't cracked or chipped, but when the doctors pressed up on them or had him bite down hard, he said it was tender. That could just be from all the swelling, but we'll need to keep an eye on that. I sure hope the teeth are okay because they're his permanent teeth!

Super Boy has been such a champ through all of this. When we first got into triage at the ER, the nurse said he would probably need sedation before getting the stitches because of his age and how worked up he was at that point, but by the time he was actually getting stitched up, he was quite calm and just wanted to know what they were doing. So we avoided sedation, which was great. Still, by the time we got home, we were all exhausted. Super Boy took it easy, took a nice warm bath, rested, had a little cereal for dinner, and then had some ice cream later. He had some Tylenol, we dressed his skinned knee and arm, and then carefully brushed his teeth before putting some antibiotic ointment and a light dressing on his lip.

And then my little boy slept.

No parent ever wants to see their child get hurt or suffer. I know that this is small potatoes compared to what some parents endure with their kids. But I hope I never have to see my sweet pea bleeding like that ever again. When we got Super Boy out of his clothes before his bath, and later got out of our own clothes, I was astonished at how much blood was on them. And I was thanking God that the situation was as "good" as it was and not any worse.

with a truly grateful heart,
SW