Friday, May 30, 2008


So. Don and I have an opportunity to buy the house we're living in from our landlord. I think we're going to try to do it. I am FREAKING OUT over here: so much stress and anxiety over this spur-of-the-moment decision. It is sort of a now-or-never deal because if we buy directly from him, we don't need to get real estate agents involved, and can save some money on both ends. He's selling either way, so if we don't (or can't) buy the place, he'll be listing with an agent: random people will be wandering through our apartment, and--eventually-- we'll have to move out and find a new place. Argh. So many different issues to address, I don't even know where to begin.

There are two apartments in this house; one that's the upper level (where we live), and a smaller apartment below. If we buy it, we'll become landlords ourselves, having this second unit to rent out. The current tenant (who's lived there for eight years), is moving soon, so we'll have to find new tenants and all that jazz.

Money. Money money money money. That's what it's all about, right? Hmm. Has anyone else ever noticed that it's impossible to figure out how much a house will cost per month? Sure, you can run mortgage estimates to get an idea of principle and interest, but that's assuming that you know what interest rate you can get: the difference between 6% and 7% for the figures we're looking at is almost one hundred dollars a month. It's hard to estimate the home owner's insurance and property taxes that are rolled into the monthly payments as well. From my rough estimates, I come up with these ideas:

The mortgage payment will be more than what we're currently paying in rent. What we're paying, though, is really low for the area, so if we have to move to another apartment, our cost of living will go up anyway. If, however, we can get (and keep) the lower apartment rented out, we'll actually be spending less on housing than we currently are. It is imperative that we be able to afford the entire mortgage, independent of tenant rent, but I think we can. The asking price of the house, incidentally, is exactly the highest figure we were willing to consider back when we were actively house-hunting. That was assuming, of course, that we'd be responsible for the entire mortgage. With me?

We know perfectly well that house prices are falling, and aren't likely to recover any time soon. If we buy this house, we have to be prepared to hang on to it for several years, or face losing our investment. So, if we still decide to move away from Charlottesville in the next few years, we'll be looking at renting out the upper apartment as well. Oy. This is a college town, with more houses occupied by renters than owners, but we're pretty far from the school-- not walking distance. I don't know how easy that will be.

The house doesn't seem to need any work for now. (We should know, having been living there for the past 18 months...) It's structurally sound, the roof is good, the foundation. Still, Don and I are both nuts for house projects, and I imagine our homey ambitions combined with years of frustrated desires will cost us a lot of money, that will probably never be recovered.

We could finally fence the yard. Paint. Garden. ARggh, I just don't know. Can we do this? Do we want to? Could the timing be any worse, what with trying (AGAIN) to start a baby? My study would make an adorable nursery... We're still walking-distance to down town, and Don's work. Why don't I own a Ouija board, or at least an 8-ball? Who can answer these questions for me?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


If only I'd been able to live-blog the entire journey, to really give an idea of the crazy that is camping someplace twelve hours away, with the entire 'family', in a small car. My mind is so full and tired, that all I can offer is snippets...

Like getting pulled over on the interstate in New York, going through the whole license-and-registration rigamarole, and finally:

Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Don: Honestly? No. No idea. (We weren't speeding, see, because the were police everywhere due to its being Memorial Day Weekend.)
Officer: Don't laugh, but I saw your dogs moving around in the back seat, and thought that they were kids that weren't buckled in. Now I see that I was mistaken. Sorry about that.
And so we were let back on the road, our "kids" still loose in the back. Too bad that the next time we were pulled over-- about four hours later, in Vermont-- it was because we were speeding, and resulted in a ticket.

There were lovely meals with friends we haven't seen in years... Friends that should come with a label: Do not be afraid of the vegans, they still eat pizza* and drink beer, and they don't sneer at your omelet! Friends that are coming down to visit us next month, at last!

"Camping" within the city on a holiday weekend was a new experience for us; we usually aim for off-peak times and out-of-the-way places, hoping to get a little peace, quiet, and privacy. This time, we were sort of treating the campsite and tent as a very cheap hotel room; not a 'getting away from it all' time so much as just a place to crash after being in town all day. Good thing, too, as it was pretty crowded and loud. The cat was wonderful; twelve straight hours in the car, two days in a tent, and another day back in the car doesn't phase her at all. She is the best road-trip cat imaginable**. Sometimes she's so quiet in the car that I have to check to make sure she hasn't slipped out somehow, but she's always just sleeping under the passenger seat. Alice loves it, too. We've taken so many trips (and moved cross-country) so many times in the eight years we've had her, that she seems to think spending days in the car is perfectly normal.

Cocomo, the sister's dog, was less relaxed. She is not a fan of the road trip, but that's one of the reasons why we took her; my sister is coming up in a few days to collect her and drive her back to Texas. We were hoping this trip would normalize the experience of being in the car, and I think it helped. Mainly, though, we just wanted to enjoy our last week with her:

Vermont is still awesome. We sort of spent the entire weekend saying, "Why did we leave this place, again? Why aren't we still here?" and reminding each other of the six-month winters. It just doesn't work, though, because who can think of snow, in the face of this:

Or this:

That picture encapsulates so many things that I love: my husband of one year, two days; my baby with the floppy ears; the neice-dog; and Speeder & Earl's mochas, of which I have been suffering withdrawal pains for four years. It's been too long.

*hummus, no cheese, tons of veggies. Looked yummy.

** I don't know anyone else that takes their cat on road trips, so I'm just guessing. But she handles it like a pro!

Friday, May 23, 2008

To think, for some people it's free

OK, so I was all exited and smug because a jumbo, nasty bill came from my infertility doc's office, but it had all been covered by insurance, (thank you!) leaving me only fifteen dollars left to pay. (Which really makes me wonder-- why? Do human people ever actually look at these bills? Why cover over nine hundred dollars' worth of procedures and etc, but leave the last 15? Anyways.) You know how you're supposed to read through those bills to make sure you're not getting charged for stuff that wasn't done to you? Nothing like seeing, "catheterizing" on that list and going, "yup, yup, sure do remember that catheter! At least my bill's correct!"

Right now I'm less exited, having been informed that the twice-daily progesterone supplement that is my future offspring's only chance for survival, is NOT covered, for the stupidest reason involving how it's billed or something. It's going to cost me sixty dollars a month until we conceive, then $120/ month for the first three months of the pregnancy. (Hopefully.) AND, I have to use ovulation-prediction kits every month to pinpoint exactly when to start the hormones; I thought those would cost about what a pregnancy test does, seeing that they do the same trick of analysing the chemical content of urine. They don't. So, a couple of those kits every month, also until we conceive again. Essentially, trying to concieve is going to cost over a hundred dollars a month until we get lucky. I ran all this by Don, with the inevitable conclusion: conceive ASAP, save $$! It's going to be a busy month...

But first, we get to go camping* with not one dog, not TWO dogs, but two dogs AND a cat**! This is going to be super, super fun. Or, at the very least, give us good vacation-from-hell stories for another few years.

* What, isn't that how everybody celebrates their one-year marriage anniversary?
** She gets LONELY if we leave her behind! I know I swore she'd never come camping with us again, but it will be different this time. Really.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When Bank Tellers PMS

Reasons why people come into the bank to do transactions that could be done at the ATM:

1. They need specific denominations: two fives, a roll of quarters for laundry, anything the machine can't handle.
2. Or too little, as in: I only have eight bucks in my account, can I take out five?
3. Or, conversely, too much: nobody wants eight hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills, it makes the wallet all fat and awkward.
4. They want the money from an account that isn't connected to their ATM card: not the primary account, in others words.

Those are really good reasons. Less-good reasons include:

5. They don't know about ATMs/ are afraid of the freaky technology embodied by this "cash machine". (Seriously.)
6. Variant: all plastic money is the devil, including ATM cards.
7. They crave human interaction, and don't have enough friends/ acquaintances/ bartenders/ barristas/ random people on the street, to fulfill said need.

It's not like it's my business, really. If you want to wait in line for ten minutes behind people doing cashier's checks and address changes, whatever. Personally, I'd use that shiny ATM by the front door... But then again, I'm an antisocial, PMSing, time-valuing technophile, so what do I know.

You know what's weird? I can never, ever spell "particularly" right on the first try. No other words give me such trouble.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Answers, Answers!

Apparently, my progesterone sucks! It should be at least 10 parts per whatever (and I've heard 25 is better); mine is 6.8. This is fantastic! Out of the sea of perfect test results, a Problem has reared its monstrous head and announced, "it is because of ME that you can't hold a pregnancy! Me! ME!" And not a hard-to-fix problem, either. What is also amazing is that the doctor himself called me the very next day after I took the test. I could get used to this kind of care... We had quite a long discussion about progesterone deficiency and treatment: using ovulation-prediction kits to know just when to start the supplements, and whether I'll stay with the suppositories or go for the intra-muscular injections. (Ewww.) On the bad side, I was (am, actually) at work, so this lively talk of periods, ovulation, and suppositories took place in the bank lobby. Hey, it's really slow and there were no customers. I think that the doctor's average patient is probably a bit older than me (seeing that he's an infertility specialist) and perhaps more mature. All I know is that I have a tendency to giggle, especially at things like this:

Doc: ... and so if it were me, I'd probably stick with the vaginal suppositories for now.

Me: that sounds really funny coming from a man. . .

I mean, it's not possible, you know? See? Anyways. Very happy, have answers, can get started baby-making again ASAP. The only nagging doubt right now is that I had been supplementing progesterone already for the last two pregnancies, but maybe it was just too little, too late? I hope so. I hope this will be the safety net I was searching for.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Netflix, Buffy, Harry, Doctor

A lot of nothing has been happening in these parts lately, hence the lack of updates. Perhaps the most exiting new development is this discovery: Seasons of television shows, on DVD, through Netflix! Oh, my. For someone with a slightly addictive personality, this is so dangerous. For example, Don was out of town most of last week (business trip), and I may or may not* have watched 12 hours of Gilmore Girls** within four evenings. Because you can get whole seasons! In order, from the very beginning, with no commercials... it's lovely. The difficulty is in remembering that you can pause the show, instead of subconsciously waiting for the commercial break to visit the bathroom or whatever, and finding yourself desperately having to go much later, not having realized that there are no commercials. It's like watching a PBS documentary-- you don't want to walk away, and yet there are no breaks! I'm working on adapting to this "DVD" concept.

Don and I are working our way through the first and second seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer too, a show that featured prominently in the early days of our friendship and thus has a nostalgia factor that's almost as appealing as the show itself. I think that any Harry Potter fan trying to come to grips with no more Harry, would do well to rediscover Buffy. Almost a year after the final book release, and I'm still saddened by the End of Harry Potter. Oh, sure, we can always re-read the books. There are movies still to come, but... whatever. To me, the movies were always a pleasant diversion, nothing more. Certainly not cannon. And yes, that encyclopedia sounds great, but it could be years more in the making. I miss that feeling of anticipation for the next book, the hours spent theorizing, analyzing details of plot and character, the heated discussions in person, on the phone, online. It's hard to close that chapter-- the chapter in which Harry Potter was this ongoing, alive thing-- even a year later. I have yet to find something that engages me the way it did.

Almost all of the lab results are back from the RE's office now. The doctor (!) called me this morning to let me know that Don's chromosome analysis was normal, and we had a chat in person about what's next. Which turns out to be... nothing. They have exhausted their battery of tests, and everything is normal. The only thing left is the progesterone, which they drew for this morning. I've been supplementing the stuff for the last two pregnancies, though, so it's probably not our issue. Especially considering that previous tests have showed it in normal range. Still, the doc said he'd write me a new prescription for it anyways, since it can't hurt. Either way, we're free to start trying again whenever we'd like. Since we have the daring to hope for a baby by next Mother's day, that means pretty soon.

You know, the weirdest part of the whole paragraph above is that the doctor called me. That has never happened before. Nurses call me. Receptionists call me. Doctors do not call me. And they do not say, "Well, if you're coming down for a blood test now, I'll rearrange some things so that we can sit down and talk for a few minutes while you're here." I finally find a doctor like this, and now I am essentially leaving his practice because they've done what they can. Ironic, yes?

Before, we had three completely unexplained miscarriages ... they could have been the result of any number of common problems. Now, we have the same three; completely unexplained, that are the result of anything except any of the usual causes of miscarriages. It's not my blood-- not a clotting disorder, nor bad antibodies. Not my genetic material, nor Don's. Not my uterus, not my tubes. And most likely, not my hormones. It's hard to wrap my mind around this bit of failure by modern medicine. Most definitely, a problem exists: three consecutive losses, no babies, it falls outside the probability of chance. And yet, the problem is undiagnosable. According to the doc's statistics, we have a 60% chance of carrying the next pregnancy to term without any kind of medical intervention. Considering that the chart lumps together everyone under 35, and combines those with 3 and those with 4 losses, it's probably a bit higher than that. He said, I can take a baby aspirin every day; even though all of the bloodwork came back normal, "It can't hurt and you never know". I can start supplementing progesterone even earlier, starting days after ovulation instead of waiting until we know we're pregnant.

I can just hold my breath, and hope that that "60%" actually applies to us.

* I definitely did.
** Don likes this show too. I'll bet that a lot of men do but don't admit it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They said it better.

Twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift.

Work sucks--

--I know.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Renter's Daydreams

I want to keep beehives in my backyard, harvest the honey and beeswax. I would like to have chickens-- not a lot, maybe three, or five. I want a big garden, with lots of tomatoes and zucchini, and fruit and flowers. Someday, I will make tomato sauce and raspberry preserves from scratch, from my own yard, sweetened with our own honey. I have considered keeping a milk cow, but don't know if I could deal with the responsibility, and doubt that we'll ever have that kind of land. There will be lilacs, roses, black-eyed Susans, nasturtiums, morning glories. A teepee for green beans and squash, big enough for a child to hide in. And children. Of course, of course.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My uterus is beautiful. No, really, it is. It looks just perfect; the right shape, nothing hiding out in there, no cysts, no growths, no abnormalities, tubes all clear and leaking X-ray dye into the rest of my abdominal cavity...( Something I'd rather not consider. Where does it go after that?).

Which leaves us with absolutely no ideas re: the chronic miscarriages. Every test I've taken has returned nice, shiny, positive results. No blood-clotting factors, no overzealous antibodies, no chromosomal abnormalities. And now, a lovely, healthy-looking uterus. The doctors are doing a karyotype on Don's chromosomes now. They are to check my progesterone level later on this cycle, and we've both been prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic, in case there's some kind of infection involved. (Something that's easier to just treat than to look for, apparently.) But, Don's genetic material is already proven, I've was taking prescription progesterone for the last two pregnancies, and... an infection? Seriously, the odds of that being our problem are pretty small. But we're slowly ruling out all of the major causes... I'm afraid we're about to enter Unexplained Infertility land, the diagnosis that comes only after you've spent all your time and money to figure out what's wrong. The doc stated that he has confidence that our next pregnancy will work out, but that doesn't make me feel particularly warm and fuzzy. After all, he would have said the same things about the other pregnancies-- everybody else did. And while we've done scads of testing, we haven't actually changed anything since the last miscarriage, with the exception of this antibiotic regimen. I guess what comes next will depend partly on that progesterone test. If it measures low (and I think it will), then I want them to change my prescription. Either make it stronger (twice as much in every suppository), or change how it's administered, so that I take it orally or via injection. Also, I want them to write enough of a prescription so that I can start taking it way before I can even get a positive pregnancy test-- from ovulation, not twelve days later. Every month.

It turns out that the test wasn't nearly as bad as the medications I took in preparation for it. From now on, I will inform all future doctors about my extreme drug sensitivity, because my low level of pain tolerance is nothing compared to my complete inability to metabolize drugs properly. The procedure wasn't bad at all-- uncomfortable, but over in twenty minutes. But I was still throwing up from the Percoset (or was it the Valium?) four hours later, and spent all afternoon in bed with a wicked headache. Next time, I will just steel myself for the pain, take a few Advil, and refuse prescription painkillers. They are not for me. (Which is really too bad, because for the first hour or so, I felt REALLY good.)


P.S. Don turned to me last night during a commercial, and said, "Next year for Mother's Day, I'm going to get you that." I can't remember what it was, but his confidence that by this time next year, we'll be celebrating Mother's Day touched me. (Oh, I remember now. A box of Rice Crispies cereal. You'd have to see the commercial for it to make any sense at all.) I want to be pregnant again by mid-summer, assuming that by then we'll have exhausted any available tests or treatments, and it's looking that way.

P.P.S For this test, they had to do it a certain number of days after my period. Easy... just wait for period, call and make appointment. For the progesterone, he said to call X number of days BEFORE my period starts. Am I the only one that sees the difficulty in this?

P. P.P.S. Becca, how can you, as a vegan, support breastfeeding? You know that it's.... DAIRY, right?