Thursday, March 31, 2011


We already paid the deposit to the title company. We also paid for a general inspection and a termite inspection. We secured a loan, although I had to explain why my income was so low in 2010. Well, I only worked  a little over two months, then was on sick leave, then on extended sick leave and then I quit. I had just written that I quit for health reasons, but he spouse insisted I had to explain about the miscarriage.  He does not want anyone to think that I might have a serious illness. So there it was again, on paper, our little tragedy.

I need a beer, but I have to read the inspection reports and get some quotes from contractors. I knew this process was going to be  scary, but my, it's also exhausting.

Yesterday I found myself explaining to our agent the reasons why we stayed in this apartment for five years. Truly, this is a great place to live, bad memories aside. I should be grateful we were living in a nice and convenient place that also allowed us to save for a down payment. I am even more grateful that soon we'll be living in an even nicer place of our own.

Monday, March 28, 2011

We got the house!

Our offer was not accepted right away: We received a counteroffer, which we agreed to. The counteroffer involved a little more money, but not too much. The main change was that they want to close escrow in 12 days, so we need to move fast.

A friend of mine (who will now be a block away from us) has a cousin who is a good friend of the family that lived there for forty years. The husband was a contractor. When he died, his wife sold it to her own son, and he rented it out to his sister until recently. I am therefore confident that we will not find any surprises during the inspections.

I am feeling very optimistic that this deal will not fall through. But boy, there is so much to do in so little time. It will be stressful, but stress of the good kind.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Catharsis through tragedy vs good memories

 I mentioned on an earlier post that a Verdi aria from Rigoletto made me feel a little better. I also decided to watch a few more tragic operas to see if I could get the same effect.

So I went to the library and checked out not one, but two of Verdi's tragic operas.... along with a non tragic one by Donizetti: The Daugher of the Regiment.

I had seen that production in the SF Opera right after a failed IUI. We spent the whole weekend in San Francisco, ate in expensive places and went to two different museums, in addition to going to the opera and having a great time. I like Donizetti, and this particular production was very amusing. I don't think I had ever laughed so much at the opera as when I saw this production.

So I of course ended up watching The Daughter of the Regiment and remembering how much fun I had when I saw it live.

I never got to watch the other two. Which is all right. I have now to return all three to the library, and though I could check out the Verdi operas later on, it is nice to remember that laughter is the best medicine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A house for us

After two years of kind of looking around, but not really trying very hard, we found a house that we like. We got a loan approval, an agent, and made an offer. We're crossing our fingers right now.

It's not a huge house, so it will not feel empty even if we never have the hypothetical kids. If we do, it has three bedrooms. It's in a neighborhood we like, that still allows the spouse to bike to work. The houses in that area are very old, mostly from the fifties. Nowadays people like bigger closests, larger bedrooms and open kitchens. This means that a lot of the houses in the area have been remodeled, and not always to our liking. We've seen quite a sample of horrors, like having to go through the kitchen in order to get to the master bedroom, having a pantry in the living room, or, the worst example, having a third bedroom that could only be accessed through the yard.

This one is simple enough and most of the work done involves simple upgrades, with no major surgeries done to the floor plan. So we're happy with this one, though we will still need to fix a few things. We did study this very carefully and we know we can afford this. But thinking of spending that much money gives me pause. As in "How many IVFs could I get done with that much money...?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My convoluted career path in the US

More than five years ago, I moved to California from North Carolina. I was happy for the spouse, who had received a really good job offer, but I did not want to leave. I had a wonderful job that I loved, surrounded by nice co-workers that I could actually call friends. Not only that, but under the new conditions, my employment authorization was going to be voided: Students' spouses can work, but workers' spouses cannot. My employer in North Carolina would have undoubtedly kept me under my own work visa. I had been with them for a year and they were very happy to have me... but I was moving to another state.

Moving to California meant starting from zero, in a very competitive job market, where employers preferred hiring someone with a green card rather than wait for an applicant that needed to get a work visa after an offer was made.

Unbelievably, it happened. Not immediately, but eventually someone in California wanted to hire me. Of course, the union protested that the employer could not make a job offer if I was not authorized to work in the US. In turn, without a job offer, I could not request a work visa. The argument went back and forth for about five months... By then I had let go. I had been engaging in all sorts of cultural, recreational and educational activities, and, more importantly, going through my first serious steps in ART.

I had resigned myself to be a homemaker when the offer letter came in. I was able to get my work visa and finally begin working in California.

I had wanted for so long to be able to work again, especially in my area of expertise, that I tolerated too many things that were out of whack from the very beginning, and then got much worse. The job was far from ideal, but it took me more than two years to admit it. Still, without that job experience, I probably would not have been hired in my current job. Also, it is during those two years that I finally got a green card.

So what's the best job I've ever had in the US? My last job in North Carolina comes to mind. In addition to working with really nice people, I also used my lab skills and my language skills, and I was helping save people's lives, which always made me feel good even after really crappy days. I actually cried when I left.

But after infertility, I am glad I am not working there anymore. Not only was I surrounded by pregnant women,  I was actually present during more than a hundred vaginal deliveries and C-sections. I shudder to think of myself doing that again.

And you know what? I am very happy to be in Northern California, where immigrants and mixed marriages are quite common, where all sorts of languages are spoken in public places, and where the weather is never too hot or too cold. There's the earthquake risk and the housing prices, but those are the only two disadvantages that come to my mind right now.

I have to admit that, in spite of all the shitty stuff in my life, it does seem that someone out there is looking after me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The little details

I posted a comment on a miracle for us about me asking the spouse to trade seats with me so I would not have to sit next to a pregnant woman during a concert. He would have done it, but in the end it was not necessary since the lady herself changed seats. Still, he rolled his eyes when I asked.

In reality the spouse is quite a thoughtful guy. He was browsing on amazon and saw a pillow that I would love, since I sometimes experience acid reflux and this pillow allows me to sleep with my upper body at an angle. He ordered it right away without even asking if I wanted it.

I also mentioned two days ago that the headphones I use when I practice piano on my electronic keyboard are falling apart, and he ordered me a pair of expensive noise canceling headphones that same day. In reality my objective is not to make any noise for him and not the other way around, but he likes pampering me.

It still puzzles me that he valiantly sails through our fertility woes without being touched by grief. It's almost as if he had some sort of teflon armor, so whatever you throw at him slides off easily. Given that this includes my anger and grief outbursts, I should actually think of it as a blessing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My non-evolution diet

Years ago, I got this book, which convinced me to limit my carbohydrate intake. Still, I found some contradictory information in it. For example, she still likes including simple carbs in evey meal, which definitely has never worked for me. Wholegrain pasta is still pasta, raw sugar is still sugar. There's stuff in her recipes that I had to avoid almost entirely to really feel the health benefits. Also, it is kind of repetitive, and written a little bit like those self-help books that make me yawn.

I am now reading this book and realizing that I should have bought this one instead. I am not finished with it yet but I like it so far. The main premise is that our bodies have not changed much in the last 40,000 years, so why should our diet and physical activity be any different now? I agree with him regarding his diet recommendations. After all, Doritos were not around back then. He really got me thinking about legumes, which is my main source of carbs. He does not recommend them much and I agree they make me a little lethargic and I do not digest them very well.

What I cannot agree with is his exercise suggestions. The idea of imitating our paleolithic ancestors is fair enough, but doing it in the gym with weight lifting machines does not sound very paleolithic to me.

Still, I don't feel like hunting a bison and dragging the carcass back to my apartment just for the exercise. I hope the Zumba classes I've been taking twice per week since September are a good substitute. At least the music sounds primitive enough.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The monetary (and other) costs of IVF

A few days ago I mentioned in a comment on AP's blog that my friend T's IVF cycles have cost around $1500 dollars each in my home country. That's because she is doing it in a public hospital with a long waiting list. Basically, she gets to do IVF for free except for the meds. If she were doing it in a private clinic, the waiting list would be much shorter (she now has to wait four months for her next cycle), but the cost would be about $10,000. Still, much less than what you pay in the US.

That said, my home country is plagued with violence, insecurity, devaluations and, in general, a bad image here in the US. I would still consider going back to do IVF, especially if I were not working, because I probably would have to stay there for the whole cycle.

Then again, I have no way of knowing if I still will be working by the time I get my ovaries checked for cysts. Also, I still don't know if I will ever want to do IVF, for a number of reasons. Among them, I have witnessed the pain the two failed IVFs have caused T and her husband. Each dead embryo was for her a painful loss. The roller coaster of fertilization and transfer ending in no pregnancy seemed to me much worse than my own experience with failed IUIs.

I wonder if other people who have done IUIs and then IVF feel different levels of grief when the preocedures fail.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Progress on two fronts

My depression is improving. I've been listening to a Tito Gobbi CD. One of the most tragic arias is when Rigoletto discovers that his daughter has been kidnapped and sold to the duke of Mantova, for whom he works as a jester.

And then it hit me: my own tragedies are much less operatic. At least I was not born a hunchback whose only possible job is to be a jester, and whose daughter ends up being kidnapped, sold, raped and finally killed. Somehow, miscarrying at 17 weeks does not seem THAT bad. I am planning on watching other Verdi operas. They might bring me some catharsis.

Another thing of interest happened today. We were talking about doggie daycare for the yellow dog. We had a week long free trial. If we do it everyday, the spouse will not have to come at lunch to give her a potty break. Also, more importantly, she will be playing all day with other dogs and be a bit more restful when we get back home. She basically sleeps all day when we are at work and that's why she wakes up at 3:00 am to romp around and play. During this week trial she was always exhausted at the end of the day and she woke up at 6:30 am everyday.

The spouse and I were discussing whether or not to indulge in this luxury every day of the week. His position is that, as long as I am working, I should not feel guilty for this expense. He digressed and mentioned that being able to give a loving, comfortable life to a mixed breed mutt from a kill shelter made him feel good. And then he added that maybe it would feel even better if we were to adopt a child in need.

I call that progress.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In memoriam

A year ago an ambulance took me to the ER, where I delivered a dead baby at 17 weeks 4 days, without anesthesia, after which I had two blood transfusions to make up for the heavy blood loss.

For some reason, I was impervious to grief and pain during the day. Maybe what happened last week gave me perspective. I knew it was ash Wednesday but I ignored it completely, just as I have been avoiding all religious ceremonies and traditions for almost a year, although I still had no meat today, go figure. In general, I was doing OK even after I got home.

And then I checked my email and there it was, a kind message from my mother, which opened the floodgates again.

In my last post, I complained about people diminishing my pain. Well, apparently, having my mother respect it and commemorate my baby's death is also not helpful, because I cried and cried and am still crying.

Or maybe my grief was just waiting for a good excuse to finally surface. Who knows? I will not see Dr. Funny until next week. I must remember to ask him what this all means.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pardon the Silence

Last week I got my period. I will not describe in detail what I found on my pad, except to say that now I know that I probably had an empty sac at the time I was testing for pregnancy. That would explain why my period had failed to show up by day 44. Or was it day 45? I don't remember. All I know is that Dr. Mediocre did not deem it important enough to see me in person, and only told me over the phone to start taking birth control pills that weekend instead of waiting for my period.

Which is actually not so bad. If this was, as I suspect,  a blighted ovum, he would have wanted to do a D&C. It's better this way. Almost no pain and, because I had convinced myself that I was never pregnant, not so shocking.

Still, it made me very depressed and made me feel very alone. Nobody I talked to about this seemed to think this was a big deal. After all, I never knew I was pregnant.

I am better now, though still a little bit angry. I need to find another doctor. I'm never going back to Dr. Mediocre.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who decides what's best for me?

Dr. Funny graduated me from weekly visits to bi-weekly visits. And not precisely because of my mental stability, but due to pressure from my insurance company.

Back in September, I was seeing him twice per week. After a month when he asked me if I would be all right if we saw each other only once per week, I said yes, and felt very proud of myself, thinking that it was a sign of progress, that I could go through a whole week without the need of sharing my thoughts and feeling reassured.

Well, it turns out that, back then, it was also the insurance company who insisted that once per week was enough.

Said insurance company recently sent me a self-help brochure on depression and anxiety, probably hoping that I will pull myself from my bootstraps and stop causing them such an expense.

I hate self-help books. Even if I agree 100% with what they say, I just can't bother to read them. I reserve my reading moments to books I actually enjoy. Self-help literature feels like unwanted homework.

That said, I've checked all sorts of books from the library on depression, infertility, miscarriage, meditation and even relaxation. Whenever someone recommends a book I make a honest attempt to read it. No good. I'm not meant to read that kind of stuff, even when it seems like a good idea.

I wish I could explain this to my insurance company.