Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My depressing little corner

Apparently, I don't feel like blogging when all is well, but as soon as stuff starts happening, here I come again. Pitiful, really.

So rather than complain about what is not going well, which is not that significant anyway, let me tell you I've really enjoyed the opera season this year in San Francisco. Additionally, I went to two operas in San Jose, and I even drove to Sonoma to see the Yankee Diva live (which makes it *FIVE* times that I see her live! Woooohooo!) And I can do all these things because I am not saving money for sending any kids to college, and I don't need a baby sitter, and so I have the time and the money to bring beautiful things into my life (or rather, haul my ass to where beauty is happening).

By the way, I've yet to see a fat lady with horns and braids on stage. I just chose that image because I know this is what pops into people's minds when they think about opera. When I saw Die Walk├╝re I got a very modern production, with paratrooper Valkyries descending from above.

This Saturday I'm going to the opera again. It's going to be my third Tosca, and it will also be the third time I get to see Angela Gheorghiu live.

I like Tosca. Opera is full of stupid female characters who let stupid and horrible things happen to them. Horrible things happen to Floria Tosca too, but hey, she's willing to do something about it, fight back, get her hands dirty, kill the bad guy if necessary... oops, spoiler there.

Anyway. I've been thinking that those of us who are childfree not by choice tend to pour ourselves into a hobby, or a craft, or traveling... It's not a substitute for the children we don't have, it's simply happens that there are things we enjoy doing, and we do them because we can. Why not?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Over the counter stuff not intended for eczema

It seems that I´ll make it to three years without a manicure, since the eczema patch on my left hand is not going away. I've decided not to gripe too much about it and instead share some of the crazy eczema remedies I sometimes use.
Yes, Carmex, the lip balm intended for cold sores and the like. It calms the itchiness almost right away, better than many over the counter itch remedies. One problem I have with anti-itch gels and creams is that, if the skin is broken, they cause a horrible burning sensation. And my eczema patches crack easily, even without scratching them. The skin is so dry that it feels almost like cardboard. Carmex takes away the itch without any unpleasant burning first. The only con is that it is extremely greasy. So applying that stuff on my hands means leaving greasy fingerprints everywhere. But when I can't stand the itch, having greasy fingers is a minor disadvantage.

Monistat anti-chafing gel is a good alternative for lubricating the skin without leaving it all greasy. I like to wear it under my latex gloves at work so I don't get any further irritation. At first I worried that  I might be causing even more dryness, because this really feels powdery, but after more than a year of using it  under my gloves my only regret is the Monistat name. Keeping this in my drawer raises a few eyebrows. Also, it is not easy to find. Mostly it is sold next the yeast infection treatments but I also found it once next to shaving needs. Sometimes it is not stocked at all and I fear for its disappearance. Luckily, I've been always able to find it in amazon.

Finally, here's a remedy that I like to apply when the skin is very dry and has started to crack. Once it is open, anything I apply to it is very painful. But this ultrapure lanolin does not cause any pain. I apply it at night right after witch hazel extract, put on a cotton glove, and when I wake up, the skin is much more flexible and feels less dry. I wish I could apply it during the day, but if Carmex is greasy, this is equivalent to lard. Sometimes I come in contact with a new soap or a new household cleaner that causes an unbearable burning sensation. I like dunking my hand in ice water when it happens, but I apply my corticoid cream first followed by lanolin to keep the cream from dissolving into the water. My only issue with this remedy is that it is found among breastfeeding aids. This means I have to go through aisles of baby products in order to find it. Never a pleasant experience, but I don't have to do it very often.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The visitors

Lately life just does not want to be blogged. And so a whole month went by with no posts.

Not that there weren't things going on. A couple of operas, a few movies, a couple of concerts. Plus lots of things to learn in the new job.

Last week something worth blogging did happen: I was visited by the Little Beast (5 yrs old) and Mr. Octopus (2 yrs old). They and their parents stayed with us for four days.

It was better than I expected, given their nicknames (I did not come up with those). In fact, we had lots of fun, with not a single incident regarding vomiting, food spilling or breaking any valuables. The yellow dog was stressed out for about 5 minutes, and then moved on to happily play with the little guys, who were great with following instructions on how to interact and play with her.

They left last Sunday and the sense of vacuum was unbearable.  Even worse, I had once more the urgency to fill up that vacuum and start shooting artificial hormones again. To say I was depressed is an understatement.

I am  better now. The fact that I am still washing sheets and putting stuff back where it belongs helps me realize that it's nice to clean only after myself, the spouse and the yellow dog. If I had a couple of kids I would not be enjoying a Netflix movie with a beer in my hand at 9:30 on a weekday, with a mountain of clean laundry in the middle of the guest room, still waiting to be folded and put away.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The non-mom at the workplace

A new job means signing  up for new benefits. I will not be enjoying many of them, like discount tickets to kiddie stuff, discounts for daycare, the possibility of adding children to my medical insurance, money towards IVF, money towards adoption... wait, that one is still a possibility, right?

It's OK. Nothing is being taken away from me. Reading about it brings me some sadness, but that's nobody's fault.

What I can't stand, though, is the assumption that I can take just any shift or work overtime on a short notice. They can't really ask if I have kids or not, but they have probably guessed by now that I don't. I had to hear how X, Y and Z have flexible schedules in spite of them being parents of young kids... Well good for them. It still does not mean that I have to be as flexible as they are. Why does that make me feel selfish?

I've been there before, putting up with students who never left the lab on time because they had not finished their work. I had to stay late and deal with their rudeness and clean up after them, while my co-worker left on time because she had to pick up her kid from daycare. Nobody cared if I had tickets to the opera or plans for dinner. And I was never paid for overtime.

Anyway. My schedule is weird but I'll survive. And if the need arises, I hope they don't pressure me too much into volunteering for extra work. At least here I am guaranteed overtime pay.

Monday, June 4, 2012

PCOS decal

I did not know they made them.

They look like this:

Why would anyone put this on their cars? To spread awareness, sure, or maybe to avoid explaining their own weight or acne issues. Me, I prefer to avoid thinking about all those issues, and I'd hate to be reminded of them each time I approached my car.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


For a couple of months now,  the spouse and I have been having smoothies for breakfast.

I used to do this everyday, back when I was stuffing myself with pineapple because it was supposedly helpful for implantation. Is that a myth? Anyway, my pineapple smoothie was always too bitter for the spouse, given that it was unsweetened. He preferred to fill up with starch and sugar for breakfast, especially knowing that there are never any carbs for dinner.

But the spouse picked up the smoothie vibe recently, as long as it includes oranges and any kind of berry. And I followed along, adding celery, almonds, flaxseed, chia, hemp protein or whatever I find to add all the protein and fiber I need. The berries and oranges make it palatable enough, and if there are no oranges, orange juice is just as good.

Taking the pineapple out of the equation has brought us together for breakfast.  I count that as yet another positive consequence of not trying anymore.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More gratuitous Schadenfreude

This time around I don't feel so bad, because the object of my Schadenfreude is  a total stranger. I had coffee recently with a friend, one of my former co-workers from the job I quit two years ago. I never regretted that decision, but it must be said that by the time I left, my supervisor had decided to cut my load. The person who was hired in my stead had it sooooo much easier... until now, that is. Another worker was fired, things have been rearranged and the load on that position is almost as bad as when I left. So as much as I pity the person who has to perform miracles in just 40 hours per week, I feel quite smug about having left.

Meanwhile, I am leaving my current job. It's been almost a year and a half and I was still under contract, feeling much like a horse with a carrot tied to its head. So I'm happy I'm leaving, even if it makes me look like a person who keeps changing jobs. I just wanted a job with benefits,  like paid vacation, a 401 K and health insurance. By the way, the new job's insurance covers IVF. So nice of them, but no thanks!

For the first time in almost 10 years I am starting a new job without any pregnancy worries. You know what I'm talking about: When you're just married (and you don't know you're infertile) you worry you'll get pregnant right after you start working, even if you're not trying to, and look like an idiot. And later, when you are doing ART but you don't want people to know at work, its hard to explain all those doctor visits, and deal with all the side effects while staying functional.

This topic still causes a little tension with the spouse, but otherwise the fact that we are not trying to get pregnant anymore gives me a sense of peace and freedom... the freedom to commit to a schedule and not have to worry about cycling, checking my ovaries, mood swings, bloating, swollen legs... And more importantly, no more heartbreaking.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another woman's sorrow...

Right now my friend K is going through a divorce. We all saw it coming, even before she got married, except her. She's not prepared for this, while her husband is well stocked with expensive lawyers and a list of complaints and accusations, all of them based on an exaggeration of reality, while she aimed from the beginning towards a "friendly" divorce... Is there such a thing?

The kid's at risk of ending up with a chauvinistic father who will teach him to hate all women, especially his own mother, and treat them all as dogs. With the added irony of my friend paying for child support.

I know my friend needs me, but I am spent. No matter what I say, I don't understand. I'm not a mother. I did not end up with a lunatic incapable of any empathy, and I don't  have to send money back home to my parents or to a sick sibling,  I don't have to pay for daycare and a separate rent after moving out from an abusive household, and on top of that find a way to pay for expensive lawyers. I've no idea what she needs from me at this point, except listening and saying how sorry I am.

And deep inside me, a perverse voice tells me to cheer up because at least I was spared all those horrors.

I feel terrible.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ack. It's that day again.

Found on facebook:

Mother's Day according to Louis C.K.: "To me, you're not a woman til you had a couple of kids and your life is in the toilet. That's really when you become a woman, when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams."

Far be it for me to complain then, about dead people coming out of my vagina and ending up in the toilet, thus shattering my dreams.

Monday, March 19, 2012

You can't make this up

I work in analytical chemistry. I needed some information on a Passing Bablok regression and did a Google search. I got as far as "passing bab..." when I noticed that Google's helpful pull down menu included a "passing bablock regression excel" search term, and I clicked on it. Well, I thought I'd clicked on it, but in reality I clicked by mistake on the listing right underneath it. And the very first search result was, of course, someone asking how you can tell if you're passing the baby or just a bunch of blood clots.

And so I cried at work once more. Not too much, hardly anyone noticed,  I think.

This stupid incident reminded me that:

a) I'm still very sensitive to the topic.
b) I used to have a blog where I whined about these things.

It's been a hard month. Even if it included the joy of meeting with very dear friends and family members, it also included the anniversaries of my two losses. It's been also a time of transitions and new challenges at work. The slow process of tapering off my antidepressant dose is not helping. I have not contacted Dr. Careful at all. I guess have no clue what I am going to tell her because really, I'd rather not go through another cycle.

For the same reason I find it hard to write about infertility. If I hate it so much, why am I so unwilling to do something about it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The other shoe dropped

Back in October, the spouse and I decided to try one more time for another FSH- IUI cycle. Not that I have any hopes that it'll work, it is simply that it might bring him closure. We were supposed to do it after our guests left, which happened early in January. I did not bring it up, he did not bring it up, I kept on taking my birth control pills and my antidepressant.

I was hoping he'd have forgotten about it. I don't feel like going through all that trouble again, especially knowing it will not work. Heck, I think I am even more afraid that it will work and I will end up having  another miscarriage. But I agreed to do it, so now that he finally brought it up I feel that I have to.

The interesting thing is, he had not mentioned it because he obviously perceived my reluctance. But the fact that he finally did means that, as much as he does not want to hurt my feelings, he feels this is important. Why, I've no idea. He's said a thousand times that he would not mind not having kids, and that has been one of his many reasons not to adopt.

At least he did not mention IVF. I'm not going there. Not now, at 42. I know my chances are higher with IVF but frankly, still pretty low.

Anyway, I am going to spend one week back home, so we cannot do anything until I am back. (He's not coming, he does not want to waste his vacation with my friends and family). I'll start tapering myself from the antidepressant and consult with Dr. Careful about the birth control pills.

She sent me an email, once. I wonder if she'll reply if I send her an email? I hope so.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I hate the news. Somehow I managed to not find out about the stupid guy who killed his kids and himself in Washington State.  But today I tried to catch up with what has happened during the week and BAM!, there it was. Horrible news, full of heartbreaking and infuriating details.

Whenever I read stuff like this, I remember my mother's words when she heard about my first miscarriage: "It was God's will".

To this day, these words haunt me when I hear these stories. Is this God's will too? is it?

I'm not an atheist, but being one might make things easier.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On marriage and hobbies

I met again with my faraway friend. I'm very lucky that she keeps coming to the Bay Area. She's even planning to return! I hope she does. This time, another friend we have in common also had dinner with us. It was difficult to schedule because, in addition to being a mother, she works full time.

A lot of our conversation revolved around marriage. We all got married at different ages, under different circumstances, but we all agree that marriage requires a lot of work on both sides to keep it going. At some point, the one who is actually a mother said it was kind of miraculous that the spouse and I are still together after all we've been through.

What can I say? I married a chess player. He's used to losing battles and moving onto the next one. Me? I am a knitter. When a project is not turning out as planned, I rip it down and start again.

Is that what keeps us going?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Unsuspected parallels

I met N when she moved to California. I was new to the area, having spent less than a year here. I was walking the old dog, minding my own business, when she came to me, greeted me and said we were going to be neighbors. She also mentioned that she had a mini poodle just like mine, and that maybe we could walk our dogs together.

Indeed, right after she moved in, we became friends, and our dogs got along very well. She was very supportive after the first miscarriage, and also after the old dog died less than a month later. Still, one thing she said was that everything was going to be all right. What did she know? She had three grown kids, and a healthy dog.

Now N's dog has died too, and she is very sad, and nobody takes her pain seriously. And I wish I could tell her that she is going to be all right, but that would be a lie.

I have the yellow dog now, but I still miss the old dog. Whenever we go to places where we used to go with him, the memories still make me sad, even though it's been almost two years since he died.

All I can tell her is that yes, hers was a cute little doggy, funny, loving and well behaved, and that she has every right to feel sad about her dying.

Her pain is real and nobody should be telling her to pull herself together because it was just a dog, or because she could easily get another one if she wanted, or that she should get a shelter dog because there's many animals in need of a home.

Hey, all of a sudden this sounds familiar. I've been told that mine was just a miscarriage, not a real baby, that I could just (HA!) have another baby, or that I should adopt because there are many children in need of a home.

Argh.  People seem to have a limited repertoire, whether it's fetuses or puppies. Depresssing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just like everybody else

My friend J struggled with infertility. After a painful procedure (she never mentioned what it was,  but I remember her leaving work the next day because the pain got too bad) she was able to get pregnant. And then she had a miscarriage. This happened at the time I was beginning my own efforts to conceive. I tried to be supportive, but shortly after that I moved away. She finally made it into motherhood and now has two beautiful kids, whose pictures she constantly posts on facebook. And I always look at them fondly and think that she deserves such joy after so much pain and suffering.

Se recently posted the following comment:

 kids spent the night with  ___ and i got to sleep til...10!! and now i am drinking my HOT coffee and watching NO cartoons!!

My first reaction was anger. Wasn't she supposed to forever cherish the presence of her kids in her life??? Was this not why she fought so hard to have them??? Two seconds later I realized I was overreacting. Yes, I want to have kids too, but I also enjoy drinking my morning coffee while it's still hot, and I hate cartoons.

If anything, this proves that whether you go through infertility or not, once you're a mother you get to be like everybody else, always putting your children's needs before your morning coffee. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying a break from that once in a while. Infertility leaves some scars, but it does not have to change your enjoyment of hot coffee.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'm the lucky one

Due to a big eczema flare on my hands, I have not worn my wedding band much. Sometimes I wear it on my right hand, which for some reason fares better.

And so the other two women in my team had not noticed that I was married. This also shows how little we talk to each other. Isn't it sad? In our defense, in the old building we barely saw each other. Now that the whole team is in the same area we communicate much more.

When I told them I had been married for nine years they congratulated me and told me I was very lucky to have found love and to still be together after so many years.  Neither of them mentioned kids. Both of them are single, probably not by choice. Perhaps for them finding love is already a huge gift.

The truth is, our marriage has gone through some major earthquakes, but somehow we've always managed to patch up the cracks and keep going. I do love my husband. I hate that he does not want to adopt or foster kids in need. I hate that he still wants me to go through yet another cycle. I hate that he never brings up the topic, it has to be me.

But you know what? There is nothing else to hate. Not even to dislike. And frankly, that is a very short list. The stupid things that used to bother me years ago, now make me laugh. There is, in contrast, too much to love, and too much to be grateful for.

I am lucky indeed.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

PCOS joke

I sometimes read xkcd. A few of the jokes are way over my head, but I also enjoy a lot of them. I had missed this one, which deals with absurd mnemonics. Here's the one for Geologic periods.

It's nice to know that someone is spreading awareness on this condition. This answers a very common question: So why are you taking contraceptives if you want to get pregnant? Well, thanks to them I know when my period is coming, instead of getting it unexpectedly four to five times per year. It usually lasts a couple of days instead of two weeks, and therefore I don't get anemia, tiredness, irritability or maxi-pad rash. I also do not get bloated and don't get as much acne or unwanted hair as when I am not taking them.

My years of not taking BCPs never resulted in a pregnancy. My only two pregnancies were achieved through artificial hormones. So allow me my contraceptives for now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A phrase to ponder

"People who have information about an individual case rarely feel the need to know the statistics of the class to which the case belongs".  ~Daniel Kahneman

And so I get to hear about so-and-so who gave up on trying to get pregnant, but got pregnant anyway later on. I am very tired of this story. This has happened to many infertile couples, but I am pretty sure that there's plenty of couples who never made it. It's just that nobody talks about them.

Too bad that just a few days ago I promised not to get mad at people who blab some nonsense trying to make me feel better. How does someone else's unintended success is supposed to make me feel better about my own failure after six years of trying?

Oh, right. I am not supposed to lose hope. Yeah, got it.

But you know what? Maybe it's time to move on and hope for something different.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Battling the "wig"

One of the gifts of PCOS is hirsutism. Which is a polite way to say that you might look like a werewolf. Actually, the worst that ever happened to me was to grow a mustache, and that was when I was overweight. My legs and underarms have what I consider normal hairiness, which I can control with a razor. But I do have unsightly hair on my belly and bikini area (not that you'd ever see me in a bikini).

When I reached my teens it was impossible to wear any kind of swimsuit without exposing some hair. Even granny style boy shorts are not enough. I've never met a single woman (and I've seen plenty of naked women) whose hairline extended so much as mine does. I cannot use a razor because I get bumps. Depilatory creams are a hazard (eczema, remember?) and so, waxing it is.

Last week, while we still had guests, we made an impromptu trip to some hot springs, and I did not have time to make an appointment. So I did the unthinkable: I used a depilatory cream. It did say it was for sensitive skin, so I took the risk. I applied plenty of cortisone after the deed, and in the two following days, just in case.

All went well, and I did not get a reaction. But now, more than a week later, all of a sudden I got itchy bumps. Nothing seems to be working, not even my anti-itch ointments.

So now, as I try my best no to scratch my crotch in public, I promise myself to stick to wax forever.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Better things are coming

That phrase, in a nutshell, sums up what people mean, no matter what idiocy comes out of their mouth (God knows best, just relax, those treatments work miracles, you're still young, just adopt, etc).

I do not usually make a list on New Year because they tend to lead towards disappointment in myself. Why pile it up? But here's a good thing to try out: Each time I hear another person condescendingly throw one of those idiocies at me, I'll do my best to thank them, and repeat the above phrase in my head, because,  ignorance or disinterest notwithstanding, that's probably what they're trying to say anyway.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A brand new year!

It's nice to start a new year with family around us, even if there's only four of us. It made for a relaxed Christmas too, without any of the stress I usually find attached to holidays. As I explore my new toy (a chromebook) I came across this article.

There's a list there of words that last year suffered, as the article explains, overuse, misuse and general uselessness. Among them, "baby bump". OK, this means it was not me the only one noticing the word everywhere. It's good to know I am not paranoid.

But "pet parents"? Apparently that raised a few brows too. Not that I would ever refer to myself as the yellow dog's mommy, but it seems that those who put together the list really wanted to be "fair and balanced", doesn't it?