Monday, February 28, 2011

Quilt Guild

I love quilts. I will never make one, although I participated once in making one. My square was simply decorated with crocheted butterflies, since I am more of a yarn person. I also participated in the quilting bee, when we put all squares together. That experience alone proved to me that I should stick to knitting and crocheting.

Yesterday I went to a quilt show and had a great time. I saw the regular wedding quilts, anniversary quilts, retirement quilts and, of course, plenty of baby and kiddie quilts, enough to make my ovaries ache. But overall, I had a great time.

I enjoyed the artistic quilts, especially this one:

It's called Death Touches Us All, by Thom Atkins. Its value is $2,800. Some would call it morbid, but I liked it. We all have to die one day, and throughout our lives, loved ones will be dying all around us. It's comforting to think that one day we will all be together... at least it is comforting to me.

Too bad I have better uses for $2,800 like, say, saving for the next round of ART.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


For the past two days, it's been hard for me to keep tears back. It's not that I've been watching soap operas or reading tear-jerkers. It's just that February is coming to an end, and just about everything around me reminds me of all he horrible events of last year. The spouse has missed most of my crying moments, but yesterday he was with me when it happened.

I hate that. He tries really hard to cheer me up, but it never works. It only makes me feel that, for some reason, I am the only one grieving for our loss. Either he was never as attached to our baby as I was, or he just got over it quicker.

He sometimes says something about missing the old dog and I get really mad. Yes, I too miss the old dog. But I miss my baby even more, and it hurts that he mourns the dog but not the baby.

This only makes me hate the old dog even more for his bad timing. His death will be forever associated to the miscarriage.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yellow dog issues

I am tentatively declaring the yellow dog officially housebroken. Yesterday was her fourth day in a row without a single "accident". She also knows "sit" and "stay", and is making progress with "down" and "fetch".

She struggles with "come". She sometimes obeys the command, especially if a treat is involved. But more often than not, she sits at a safe distance and stares at me with mistrust. I swear, I never used that command to scold her in any way. Whatever the issue is, it comes from her previous life.

Her tail is a mess. It was shortened through a "traumatic event", according to the vet. She's all right now, and whoever groomed her left a tuft at the end of  her tail to dissimulate the deformity. I cannot help but wonder how it happened. Maybe someone went at it with a hacksaw or, in the best case, she had a horrible accident involving a heavy door.

If I ever adopt a child, will I also be worried silly about previous traumas, unexplained scars, medical history..? Do other potential adoptive parents have the same worries?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let my ovaries decide

Last week I was approached by two different recruiters. One position is in the ideal company I should be working for, given my training. Still, the commute would be horrible because it's 30 miles away from where I live. It's also a terrible company to work for. There is a lot of job insecurity, and employees are always disgruntled and complain about long hours.

The other position is also related to my background, though not so much. It would be closer to home, about 6.5 miles away. I don't know much about how happy their employees are, but I do know that there were horrible layoffs recently.

Finally, there is the company I am working for under contract, and which might hire me permanently after three months. It's seven miles away. It's a Fortune 500 company, they're doing pretty well and everybody I know would love to work for them. The thing is, what I am doing is only partly related to my training and experience. Let's say that 50% of my work requires my knowledge and experience, but the other 50% of the time I do lab monkey work. As in, "¡Monkey, press the button! ¡Blow the whistle!". So I cannot say I get a warm feeling of professional accomplishment everyday. There is a huge part of my expertise that has no application whatsoever in this place.

I do get to knit at work, between pressing buttons and blowing whistles. I am about to finish my third pair of socks. In contrast, in my last job I was busy all the time and could hardly afford bathroom breaks. Maybe that's why I ended up with kidney stones. So this is an improvement, professional accomplishments be damned.

The thing is, if I were them, I would split my position in half. I would keep the biochemist part-time, and hire another part-time assistant to do the monkey work. I've been here for a month, and nobody has mentioned anything on whether they will keep me or not.

So of course I sent my resume to the two recruiters, and am already planning to come up with excuses at work if someone decides to interview me. I want to keep all my options open.

But I do not know what it is that I really want. There is no good wind if you don't know where you want to sail to.

Precisely at the end of my contract I will get another ultrasound scan to confirm that the ovarian cysts have been reabsorbed. If so, I will have to decide whether or not I want to do another IUI with FSH or go directly to IVF. The amount of money involved is mind-boggling.

Money aside, how do I keep working, or start a new job, knowing how stressful and inconvenient any of those treatments will be? Knowing that I will have to miss work to go to unpredictable doctor's appointments, and that I will have to interrupt work to go shoot myself hormones in the toilet?

The idea of not working at all seems tempting. The spouse and I are thrifty, he makes good money, I am on his insurance... But if we do IVF, we will need all the money we can make. If it works, we will probably want to buy a house. And the area where we live is still horribly expensive. Of course, if I were to work 30 miles away...

I keep jumping from one possibility to the next without coming any closer to knowing what it is that I really want.

But, who cares? Maybe the birth control pills are not working, and by the end of my contract my ovaries will still be full of cysts. So I try to convince myself that I don't have to determine what I really want, until I know for sure how my ovaries are doing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The spoils

The knitting convention went well for me. I did not miss the classes, and I enjoyed the shopping. I was jumping from stand to stand, admiring designs and yarns, complaining with  my friend about the prices and searching for bargains. Infertility and miscarriage did not cross my mind for hours.

Only when we were leaving, as we crossed again the halls of the convention center, was I reminded of the bleeding episode that sent me to bed rest a year ago. And, because we were leaving, the sadness did not last long.

So here you see a bunch of yarn. It will eventually translate into a shawl, a tank top, three hats, five pairs of socks, two pairs of mittens and one big unknown that I just could not resist because it was cheap and beautiful. I am talking about the hank in the bottom, the one that is blue with a little purple in it. It's rayon, and there is enough in it for a tank top,  a shawl, or a scarf.

Please note the absence of baby colors (well, there's the turquoise blue, but that's for my mother). I have enforced a moratorium on knitting baby items. The last baby item I knitted was delivered four months after the baby was born, and it was a mere bib, which shows that I am not even good at finishing baby items anymore.

Some people say that knitting an item for a loved one is like saying "I love you" with every stitch. That's a lot of "I love you's".

When you're infertile and you're knitting a baby item, what you're saying with every stitch could be "When will it be my turn?", "Why was it so easy for them?", "When will I knit something for my own baby?" And so on. It's very unhealthy and I am done with it.

So, I don't care who gets pregnant next, she'll get a $2.00 walmart fleece.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not a cook

Today I am going to Stitches West, bringing empty shopping bags and my credit card, ready to splurge in expensive and exotic yarns and have a good time.

A lot of people that have known me throughout the years did not know I was a knitter. But I knitted a lace shawl once that really made me proud, so I posted it on Facebook.  I am still getting comments on it two years later, as I add people to my friends list.

A friend asked: "Is there anything you cannot do?"

"Gestate a live child", would have been my answer of choice. But it would have been too gloomy. So I replied instead that I cannot cook, which is kind of true.

I love food, but I have serious ingredient issues, not only because of carbohydrates. In general I stay away from too  many things people add to their food everyday. For example, I don't have sugar or flour at home, which is not surprising given my carbohydrate intake. But the only oil you find in my home is olive oil. No shortening, no butter, no margarine. I have no bread, no mayo, no ketchup. I bought salt, and a salt shaker, two years ago, when my parents came to visit. Before then I did not have either at home. I still have the same container. It must be all caked by now.

I ruin every recipe by substituting with "healthier" ingredients. A soup needs to be thickened with flour? I add ground flaxseed instead. A flan needs two cups of sugar? I use a tablespoon of honey. The recipe for meatballs calls for bread crumbs? I use chia seeds. Refried beans should be prepared with lard, but I use olive oil.

It's funny that whenever someone else is cooking I eat the real thing with gusto, but am unable to do the same at home.

Then again, I cook my own lunch and bring it to work everyday, and I cook my own dinner (except when we eat out, about twice per week). I have kept a BMI of 23 for four years since I started with my low carb obsession. So maybe I am not such a bad cook.

Still can't gestate a live child, though.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Even more PO

I bet you've heard by now of the Florida man whose adoptive daughter was found dead in a plastic bag, in the very same truck where his adoptive son was found, doused with unknown chemicals that almost killed him.

I don't want to link to that horrible story. It's bad enough that I read about it.

Who decided that this lunatic can be a parent? He has other adoptive kids. He also has at least one biological child, given that it was his biological granddaughter who alerted the authorities on the abuse he inflicted on the kids. The case worker came by, was not allowed to talk to the children, and happily left to enjoy life while the little girl was killed over the weekend, and her brother came close to being killed too.

Unlike this criminal and his wife, we are not worthy of becoming adoptive parents. Neither the spouse nor I are citizens. I could (potentially) adopt a kid in my own country, but I would not be able to bring her back to the US. Adoptive kids are not considered your dependents unless you've been their parent for at least two years. But staying out of the US for more than six months means having our green cards revoked, not to mention the spouse quitting what is a very good job, far from what he could find in his own country or mine.

So here's the thing, do I return forever to the place I left searching for a better life just so that I can become a mother? There's such irony in this..... I want to stay in the US because, among many things, it is a safer place to raise a family.

Another option is that one of us could become a citizen. We will have to wait until we have been residents for five years. That means that I'll be 44 by the time they allow me to apply. I am sure I would get it, but it bothers me that we would have to wait so long.

And then there's the spouse, who does not share my feelings about adoption. I don't want to keep raising the issue because, what's the point anyway?

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm PO

Remember my friend K? She's been working full time and paying for daycare. Her husband has not put a single penny towards that expense. In fact, his only contribution to the household is paying the mortgage, a hefty sum, but not even close to the sum of other expenses. He does this just to spite her, probably to give her one more reason to leave him.

She is about to make a major career decision that translates into a major pay cut. He, of course, is not supportive and will still not contribute towards daycare. This means that the kid might end up in granny's care, which is not ideal, given her advanced age and the fact that she cannot read or write.

He does not care. He would rather put his baby at risk than put a penny towards daycare. And he does not do this because he cannot afford it. Like I said, he just wants to upset his wife.  It is unbelievable, but for this madman, his major priority in life is to make his wife unhappy. That, and watching baseball. Everything else, including his child's well being (not to  mention a healthy relationship) is secondary.

So of course I was furious when she told me about it. I usually try to stay cool, knowing that there is always more than one side to a story, but this was too much for childless me. I was blabbering on about how he should be grateful to be a father, and that he should make everything he could for his baby, when I realized that I was probably the worst person to share this problem with. I cannot offer any solutions, and I am heavily biased against her idiot husband.

Infertility really messes up with my objectivity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Low carb diet and PCOS

Women with PCOS are supposed to follow a low carb diet. I confess to cheating quite often, I am quite successful in limiting my carbohydrate intake to only one portion per day. It's not a perfect method, since I don't count carbs in fruits and vegetables, of which I have a minimum of four portions per day (my goal is five to nine). I do count bread, cereal, tortillas, pasta, corn, rice and potatoes. I don't drink sodas nor any sweet beverages, I don't sweeten my tea or coffee and I don't eat desserts. I do indulge in chocolate, but always a reasonable portion.

One of my friends cooked an ethnic dinner for us and asked me if we had any dietary restrictions. So I mentioned that we can eat everything, but that I usually limit my intake of carbohydrates. I also told her that I do cheat on special occassions and that she should not worry too  much about it.

Which makes me wonder if I set myself up. There were four dishes, three of which were carbohydrate rich: potatoes, rice with meat, and dumplings. The only non-carb dish was a salad, of which I had three servings. I did not even taste the bread. I had a little tiny slice of dessert (very sugary!), which seemed foolish, given that I had already had more than my carb allowance for two or three days.

Of course, I did not complain nor lecture her. After all, the food was delicious and you could tell that she had put a lot of effort into this dinner. But it reminded me of how hard it is to eat right. Even at the hospital, where nurses and doctors should know better, I was pumped up (literally) with carbs.

My heart goes out tho those afflicted by diabetes, a terrible disease. My ovarian cysts and the few symptoms I deal with are nothing compared to the risks they run if they do not control their carbs. It must be really difficult for them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not a Valentine's gift, but still nice

In the pharmaceutical industry, cleanliness is a big deal. What is taken for "clean" at hospitals is not acceptable in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment. Even sterile is not good enough. Dead bacteria are definitely not allowed, not even enzymes, nor random pieces of DNA. That's why they use blister packs and tamper evident packaging, to ensure sterility and wholesomeness. They do random quality control tests to make sure all batches adhere to their standards, which of course ensures no contamination.

So why, then, when you get prescription medicine, a random technician counts your pills by hand in a non-sterile environment? Who double-checks if he/she is actually putting the right medication and dose in the bottle? Is he/she wearing sterile gloves, a net and a mask? Who knows?

That was one of the shocks when I first came to the USA. A country where everything is supposed to be regulated for the better was allowing for this unreliable practice. And of course we've all heard of pharmacists giving people the wrong pills or the wrong dose. Human error comes to  play each time a pharmacist prepares a prescription. This defeats the industry's purpose of striving to have proper quality control.

Last time I picked up my antidepressant, I was gladly surprised. It did not come in an orange bottle where a technician had stuck his fingers into, like the two previous months (and like they always do with all my prescriptions). It came in a sealed bottle. Now that's what I call progress.

I really don't care for Valentine's Day, but this was a good gift.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Yesterday was, overall, a very good day. I finally got my feast of  raw oysters and mercury laden swordfish, washed down by birth defect causing beer. This was my negative HPT celebration, long overdue.

I also brought the yellow dog to the dog park, made great progress socializing her and got great tips from other dog owners about stopping her barking to strangers. I even met an extremely friendly guy who had learned Spanish in Guatemala and wanted some practice.

I later checked out this book from the library, thinking it would help me understand some of the yellow dog's behaviors and deal with them. It's nothing serious, it's just her barking to strangers and some of her rough playing. We've made some progress but I wanted some additional pointers.

After the library, I went with the spouse to a coffee shop and began reading. A few pages into it, I started crying. Later, reading at home, it happened again.

Let me tell you, this is no tear-jerking story, it's just a dog trainer narrating her experiences with service dogs. Some of the anecdotes are very sad and have made me think of my own loss.  Normally I am good at not crying when the spouse is around, but this time I really could not help it.

I feel like a wuss. The stories themselves prove that there are worse losses than mine. I know many bloggers have had multiple losses, while I only had one miscarriage. Why can't I just move on and be grateful for the good things in my life?

I wonder if I ever will be able to read a book or watch a movie without the sad emotions surfacing and taking over me. It's got to stop, but I don't know how.

For now, I think, I am going to read Calvin and Hobbes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fun with genetics

According to 23andMe, I have a slightly higher than average risk of bipolar disorder, heart attack and retsless leg syndrome. Other than that, nothing serious. The bipolar part is interesting. Would that explain my bouts of depression? I don't think I've ever been through a manic episode, though. I do know that SSRI's (like Prozac) are not for me.

I already knew that my maternal haplogroup was Asian. Which is not surprising, 85% of us Hispanics have an Asian maternal haplogroup. Still, looking at the rest of my DNA, in addition to South American ancestry, I also have lots of European Blood, along with some African and Asian. I am a carrier of Bloom's syndrome, a very rare disease. One quarter of reported cases are Ashkenazi Jews. Could there be some Jewish DNA in me? Maybe. The important thing is that I am truly mixed!

I feel closer to my dog now. Given that pet insurance is cheaper for mixed breeds versus purebreds, I should consider myself lucky.

Another thing 23andMe told me was that I have the typical odds of developing PCOS, based on one locus, and slightly higher odds of developing PCOS based on a second locus that has also been linked to the condition.

In other words, I paid 200 dollars to be told what I already knew. It is fun though, and I will be spending many hours at their website looking at my DNA quirks.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teddy Bear

Last Saturday we spent over a hundred dollars in pet supplies. When the old dog died, I gave away all his things to the local shelter. Food, treats, beds, blankets, toys, towels, coats... The only things I kept were the grooming supplies, a hand knitted sweater and that little brown teddy bear, which in the end was the only toy that interested him. He last played with it five months before dying. I left those things in a plastic bag at the bottom of the linen closet. Sometimes, when pulling out cleaning supplies, seeing the teddy bear made me sad.

When the yellow dog arrived, I decided she could have the teddy bear. I don't want it to be stashed away, bringing me sad memories whenever I come across it. I prefer to watch the yellow dog chewing on it. Given how rough she plays, the teddy bear will not last too long. But you know what? It does not matter. If that teddy bear ends his days being destroyed by a doggy, he will have served his original purpose.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Once upon a time..

When I was very little, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my standard response was: "I want to be a mom with many kids". I later had more interesting answers, such as marine biologist, geologist or chemical engineer. Maybe I was overcompensating because, as I grew up, my first choice seemed kind of lame.

In the end, I became a biochemist with a so-so career path, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always interesting, and always some degree of professional satisfaction.

But you know what? After all these years, deep inside, I still want to be a mom with many kids.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What if...?

February is the month where my pregnancy started to go horribly wrong last year. These days, I find myself trying not to remember it all and not think about it anymore, but I can't help it. I sometimes think I should have ignored Dr. Mediocre when he said I could go back to work if I stopped bleeding. I should have quit that stupid job at the first sign of alarm. I should have seen a perinatologist right away.

You can't win this game. It gets worse as I wonder if, before getting pregnant,  I should have seen another doctor who looked deeper into the complications of my bicornuate uterus or PCOS. And then I remember all the doctors I've been through already  and tell myself that I could not have done things differently.

It's very difficult not to hate myself or my body when I remember everything that happened. And so I try very hard not to remember.

Luckily I have a distraction.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Doggy pictures!

Of course we made more pictures but  the spouse has yet to email them to me. So I copied the pictures from the rescue webpages. After all , these are the pictures I saw when I decided I wanted her.

I like that she's small, cute and curly like my old dog, but she's different enough that she does not remind me of him. For starters, she's YELLOW.  She has brown nose, eyes and ears. The defunct pooch was all white with black eyes and nose. He was taller, but she has a longer body. He had a very thin coat,while hers is thick, a little less curly and has guard hairs. Her face is completely different.
And the energy! I had forgotten what it was like to have a young dog. She's about two years old, so she is no puppy. But compared to my senile pooch she is amazingly playful. I was told she was a picky eater,  but she gobbled everything up, in contrast to my anorexic dog who needed a lot of coaxing.

She has had two accidents, and she took them well. I thought maybe she'd resent me after scolding her but a minute later she was again following me around. We'll see what happens today, when she will be home alone while we are at work.

I believe she's a keeper!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


T's IVF failed. She's heartbroken and so are all of us, her friends from afar. I cannot imagine a better set of parents, and yet it is just not happening for them, in spite of all the money, effort, tears and indignities that the procedure entails. Some of you know more about it than I do.

I already sent her an email, but I feel I should call her tonight. What can I possibly tell her? I know nothing I say will cheer her up. The best I can hope for is not say anything stupid that will upset her.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The yellow dog

I've wanted another dog for a while now. The new job and the kidney adventure got in the way, but I've known for months who I am getting my dog from. There's this charity that rescues dogs from kill shelters in LA and brings them to the Bay Area. I've been browsing their pages since December looking for a mutt.

Last week I dreamed we finally had our dog, a female poodle. She was not white, she was yellow. Only when I woke up I wondered what was with that, given that all the time I have pictured our future dog as a white poodle or poodle mix. I usually ignore my dreams, but I shared this one with the spouse, and with Dr. Funny. The only thing Dr. Funny had to say was that I should speed up the process of getting a dog, since I obviously yearn for one.

Last time I checked the website I found a pretty butterscotch lady that happens to be a Dachshund and Poodle mix. She reminded me of my dream, and I forwarded the info to the spouse in an email that said: "I told you she was yellow". He liked her too and gave me the go ahead.

Today we get to meet her, and hopefully bring her home.

I called Dr. Mediocre and he told me to start the birth control pills this Sunday, even if I never got my period. He did recommend that I perform another pregnancy test because, you know, pregnancy is still the main cause for missed periods. I told him of the three negative results, one of them in the ER, and he said that I could skip the test.

Of course, he planted again the doubt on my mind, and I feel the urge to test again, but I will resist.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More trouble ahead

The urologist has an unpleasant way of cheerfully smiling while giving you bad news. I'm calling him Dr. Sardonic.

I have two kidney stones, that's why this infection was particularly painful. He wants to break them in pieces and leave a stent for five days so the pieces will come out on their own. During those five days, I'd be very uncomfortable and urinating frequently.

I'd miss many work days. As a contractor, I don't get sick leave, though getting paid is the least of my worries. It bothers me that I might be giving the impression of being an unhealthy person that constantly misses work. When I was interviewed, they asked me why I had left my previous job, and I mentioned health problems as the main cause without giving too many details. I could tell there was a concern about me being healthy enough for this position, and I assured them I was. But this new situation certainly does not help.

I spoke to my primary care physician, Dr. Nice,  and according to him there's no need to rush this. Since I am no longer in pain, he thinks the one stone causing all the trouble has passed already. As for the second stone, he says I can deal with it when in acts up, but for now it's small enough that there is no need to do this.

So, no procedure, for now.

As for my missing period, no luck, Dr. Nice wants me to call Dr. Mediocre. Ugh.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The hypothetical kids

We used to talk about them all the time. They squeezed themselves into our conversations constantly. Will I still be working when we have kids? Will we buy a house in a good school district? If we don't, will we send them to a private school? Will we teach them Spanish or English, or both?

Slowly we moved on to the next verb tense, as we felt less confident. Would we let them spend time with their grandparents? Would we teach them to read at an early age? Would we let them watch TV? Would we be good parents? Would they be healthy?

Now the hypothetical kids seldom appear. I caught myself evaluating a house with no consideration to them. Worse, when the spouse asked if that particular house seemed large enough, my reply was: "It's large enough for the two of us".

And then I held my breath. Where were the hypothetical kids? Am I giving up on them or just giving up talking about them?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 44

With all the recent excitement I kind of neglected this issue. I am still awaiting my period. I know I should call Dr. Mediocre but I kind of want to put that off as much as I can. Plus, do I really want to see him ever again? Not really.

I also need to see the urologist for a follow up.  Maybe he'll have some ideas, or as a minimum recommend someone else...

As for the knitting event, I have not bought my ticket yet. Instead, I spoke to L, whom I met last Summer through HAND. She also happens to be a knitter and is happy to come with me. So now I have to buy tickets for both of us.

I feel a bit uneasy. What if I am unhappy and want to leave early? Will I be spoiling the fun for her? On the other hand, I believe she is the one person that will totally understand me if that happens.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Decisions, decisions

I am a knitter. I have other hobbies, but knitting has been an ongoing thing since I was 13. Every year I go to this event.

Last year I was 15 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding in the middle of one of the knitting classes. I went to see my doctor immediately and they found out that the subchorionic hematoma that had been detected earlier had grown much larger.  Less than a month later I miscarried.

This year I did not bother to sign up, not wanting to ever be there again.

Dr. Funny insists I should go. It's too late to sign up for classes, but he wants me to go to the "Market" anyway and buy lots of yarn and supplies. Then I should go sit near the conference rooms where the classes are held and pull out my purchases, admire them and be happy about them. He says I should not let my miscarriage ruin the good things in my life. And I know he is right. So everyday I visit the website, browse around, read about the few classes still available,  the merchants that will be there, and think how much fun it is going to be.

But I have not bought my ticket yet.