It was a Cruel, Cruel Summer

You know you’ve been in the fertility game too long when a friend tells you they’re pregnant and you look at them with total, utter confusion.

Friend: We’re pregnant!

Me: Oh my God!  But… how?

Friend: What do you mean.

Me: Like, from doing it?

Friend: Yes…

Me: With each other?

Friend: Yep.

Me: That’s all you did.  You just… did it.  And now there’s a baby in there.

Friend: Um…

Me: Wow, that’s just… I had no idea people got pregnant like that anymore.

This past spring BR and I went through another long, painful round of fertility treatment.  Number six.  We’d had pretty crappy luck so far, so this time BR wasn’t taking any chances.  We were going to the best clinic with the best doctor.  We were going to New York.

At first I wasn’t really jazzed about this decision.  I was comfortable at my usual clinic and I didn’t want to start all over again in a strange city away from home.  But BR insisted.

BR: Blondie I’m not giving our idiot doctor any more money.  All this time and he still hasn’t gotten us a baby!

Me: Yeah, but it’s not exactly a guarantee.  I’m not really sure it’s the doctor’s fault… I’m kind of out of eggs.

BR: Of course it is!  That’s why we’re going to another doctor!  A Jewish doctor who knows what he’s doing!  In New York!

So we flew to New York before the cycle began to meet our new doctor and to get some tests done.  We also went to look at some hotels which would be suitable for me to stay in while I was there.

Me: Um, BR?  Why do we keep looking at all these shitty hotels?  I’m starting to get a little nervous.

BR: Blondie, I’ve looked up a bunch of prices and there’s no way you’re staying in a nice hotel while you’re here.

Me: What’s that supposed to mean?

BR: It means you’re going to have to lower your expectations.  I’m not forking out a jillion dollars for you to live it up at the Plaza for three weeks.

Me: First of all BR, I’m not “living it up” during an IVF cycle.  I’m suffering.  Second of all, it wasn’t my idea to come to New York.  So if you want me to stay here you better make sure I’m comfortable.

BR: Blondie!  This baby is costing me a fortune!  Do you know how painful this is for me?

Me: But you have a fortune!  And you’re not the one going through it!  And making me stay in the Bates Fucking Motel isn’t going to help me get pregnant!

BR: Oh really?  You’re lucky I’m not making you stay over there!

Me: In that cardboard box.  With that homeless man.  Oh that’s nice.

BR: It is nice.  Too nice.  You’re getting spoiled.

But after a few days BR finally relented.  I think he was just tired of listening to me cry.  So we booked the room and a month later I was off to New York.  BR came for the first couple of days to help me get settled in.  But then he flew home and I was left to fend for myself in a big city while facing inevitable hormonal delirium.

And for approximately two and a half weeks, the cycle was relatively manageable.  I pumped myself full of hormones, went to my appointments, ordered room service, napped, watched a bunch of trashy television and hid out in my hotel room.  And I was sort of doing ok.  So one night I called BR to wish him a happy birthday.

Me: Happy birthday BR!  What are you doing tonight?

BR: I’m going for dinner with my parents.

Me: Oh that’s nice.  Are they taking you to the strip club after?  Haha.

BR: Ugh, Blondie… I’ve already been there so many times since you’ve been gone, I can’t go back for a while.

Me: Pardon?

BR: I need at least a week off from the strip club.

Me: Are you telling me that the whole time I’ve been in New York enduring fertility torture alone, you’ve been whooping it up at the rippers?

BR: Blondie, I’m helping to support to single moms.

Me: (pause…)

BR: It’s my way of giving back to the community.

Me: How charitable of you.

BR: Exactly.

Was I annoyed by this?  Oh slightly.  He was at home having all sorts of scandalous fun while I was here suffering through yet another agonizing round of IVF.

But then I thought, what would the alternative be?  Would the alternative be having him here to support me through this difficult treatment?

No.

The alternative would be me trapped in a New York hotel room with BR for three weeks while trying to manage exhausting levels of physical, emotional and psychological stress.

The alternative would be having to hear things like, Blondie i’m bored.  Blondie I’m hungry.  Blondie massage my feet.  Blondie stop complaining about the hormones and massage my feet.  Blondie I’m still hungry.  Blondie I don’t want to watch Mad Men.  Blondie change the channel.  Blondie turn the music back up.  Blondie I don’t understand why you don’t want to listen to Rhianna really loud at 7am.  Blondie where’s my Iphone.  Blondie where’s my Ipad.  Blondie.  Blondie.  Blondie.  Blondie!!!

The alternative would be me losing my shit and eventually murdering him.

So that’s fine BR.  If Cinnamon and Destynee are what it takes for you to leave me alone in New York with some well-deserved peace and quiet, then knock yourself out.  “Make it rain” for all I care.

But then… BR came back.  He came back for the egg retrieval and to make his small yet important contribution to the cycle.  He blew in like a hurricane and as the door to the hotel room swung open I realized that my little cocoon of solitude was now ripped to shreds.

Me: BR you have to turn the TV down, it’s really loud.  I can’t think.

BR: Blondie no one’s paying you to think.

Me: If you don’t turn the television down, I am literally going to punch you in the throat.  Please turn it down and come and help me take this shot.

BR: What shot?

Me: The shot that’s supposed to induce ovulation.  I have to take it at exactly 10:30 and I need your help sticking it in my butt.

BR: Are you coming on to me?

Me: NO!  Now turn down the TV, get over here, and please help me with this giant fucking needle! 

BR: Wow, that is a really big needle.  How do you want to do this?

Me: Ok, I’m going to pull my pants down, lie on my stomach, and you’re going to gently stick the needle in my butt and carefully push the plunger.  Ok?

BR: Blondie, I’m basically a surgeon.  I’ve got this.  Now take a deep breath and count to three.

Me: Ok.  One… two… MOTHER OF FUUUCK!  I said gently!  GENTLY!

BR: Oh.  Whoops.  I thought I was supposed to jab it.

Me: Who said anything about jabbing?!  I never said jab!  That really hurt, what’s wrong with you!

BR: Blondie, you’re overreacting.  That was way more stressful for me than it was for you.  I’m tired now.  Come and put me to bed.

Me: BR, you just stabbed me in the ass.  My ass really hurts.  So do my boobs.  So does my head.  And tomorrow I have to go and have my ovaries harvested, which I’m dreading.  So maybe for once you could put me to bed.

BR: Blondie, shhhhh.  Nobody likes a talky-talk.  Now shutty your trappy and come tickle me to sleep.

So I did.  I also contemplated smothering him with a pillow.  Many times.

So after an anxiety-ridden, sleepless night it was time to go to the hospital for the egg retrieval.  I was not looking forward to the procedure but I was looking forward to being heavily drugged.  Now I won’t go into graphic detail about what an egg retrieval entails, but if you feel like barfing, google it.

Anyway, the retrieval sucked as usual but the recovery was no picnic either.  I had a solid week of abdominal pain and swelling.  I was put on progesterone shots which immediately made my boobs ache and my entire face break out.  I couldn’t really move around without moaning like a wounded animal.  I couldn’t really wear pants.  I was only allowed to take Tylenol.  And BR was my nurse.

Kill me.

All this for three piddly little eggs.  Then a few days later it was time to have the embryos transferred.  Miraculously all three eggs fertilized, and all three were put back in.  I should have been happy (or at least hopeful) about this but I was so tired of being poked at like a barn animal that all I could do was quietly sob in the recovery room afterwards.  I was just too exhausted and sore to do anything else.

But I was also mad.  Mad that all of our hopes and efforts to have a family had resulted in… this.  This wasn’t baby making.  This was bullshit.

Then a couple of days later we flew home.  I didn’t have high hopes for this cycle, so I spent the next couple of weeks waiting for my period to come.  But then it didn’t.  So I peed on a stick.  And I was about to chuck it in the garbage when I thought I noticed a very faint, second line appear.  What the… so I peed on another stick.  Same thing.

Holy shit.

A couple of days later our family doctor confirmed it.  We were pregnant.

Once the initial shock and confusion wore off, I was thrilled.  Panicked, but thrilled.  But BR was a little more cautious.  He wouldn’t allow himself to emotionally react to this baby until he knew we were in the clear.  And until then, he took it upon himself to micromanage my every move.

BR: Blondie!  You’re not supposed to be having coffee!  Spit it out.

Me: BR, I’m allowed to have a cup of coffee.  Stop overreacting.

BR: And what are you doing walking around?!  You’re supposed to be lying down!  Lie down!

Me: But our doctor said I can resume normal daily activities.  I don’t think puttering around the house is going to kill me.

BR: Blondie, he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  He already lost a patient this year.

Me: Your grandmother – may she rest in peace – was 91.  And this is not a high-risk pregnancy.

BR: It’s high-risk to me!  Now put down that coffee and get back to bed!

So aside from BR acting crazier than usual, and having to hear lots of unsolicited advice from family, I was actually doing ok for the first couple of weeks.  Until the nausea kicked in.  And never. Let. Up.

This happened at about the same time we moved up to the cottage for the summer – which should ideally be a relaxing and tranquil place to be.  It isn’t.

The “cottage” is an enormous property that functions more like a small hotel.  We move up there with BR’s family, and there is a revolving door of guests from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave.

Allow me to sum it up for you: I was pregnant, constantly nauseous, and exhausted.  I had a huge ass and raging acne from the progesterone.  I was too sick to stand upright for more than a few minutes, let alone walk around.  I was too hormonal to talk.  And the cottage was full of people.

Now I don’t care how much you love your friends, family and in-laws – I don’t recommend this.

So I basically slept through the summer until it was time for our 12-week ultrasound. We drove back to the city and arrived at the hospital.  BR was nervous, but I wasn’t.  I was actually excited.

A nice, young technician performed the ultrasound and then called in another doctor to take a look.  Neither of them said anything, they just nodded and smiled.  It wasn’t until our own OBGYN came into the room that we were told there was no heartbeat.

No heartbeat.  No baby.

We were devastated.  But then it got slightly worse.

Me: So… what do I do now?  About the pregnancy, I mean.

Doctor: You have two options.  We can give you some medication to take at home which will induce a natural miscarriage, but the results can be a bit unpredictable.  Or we can call you in a few days when there’s an opening and you can come back and have the fetus surgically removed.

Me: Well those both sound awesome.

I chose the latter.  At least I would be knocked out.

So we left the hospital and drove back up to the cottage where we would have to break the news to everyone.  I didn’t feel like speaking during the drive so I just numbly stared out the window… until BR provoked me.

BR: Blondie, don’t be upset.  This will all work out eventually.

Me: I hope so.  I don’t know how many more times I can do this.

BR: Blondie that’s loser talk.  You need to be more positive.

Me: Oh really?  About what exactly.  The weight gain?  The nausea?  The exhaustion?  The explosion of acne all over my face?  The fact that I have to wait around for a phone call so I can go back to the hospital to have our baby removed?  The fact that I have to go through another painful gynaecological procedure?  The fact that once I recover I have to do this ALL OVER AGAIN?!  THE FACT THAT WE HAVE NO BABY?!  No BR.  I think the only “positive” thing here is that I haven’t flung myself off a bridge yet.

BR: Blondie, come on.  You’re not the only woman going through this.  I think you should suck it up.

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: It’s not like you have cancer.

Me: is that the most… helpful thing you could think of to say right now?

BR: Blondie, it’s not my job to be helpful.  It’s my job to be in charge of getting us a baby.  Damn it, why am I not allowed to just clone myself?  All of this would be solved! 

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: Seriously, how awesome would it be to have a bunch of Me’s running around.  I’m going to do some more research on this.

Me: Oh look, a liquor store.  You can just… drop me off there.

And then summer was over.  What a shit-show.

We planned for another round of IVF last month, but I cancelled at the last minute.  I just wasn’t ready.  BR was disappointed but I told him that I need a bit more time to recover.  I think he understands.  Or at the very least he hasn’t been pressuring me.  And now I’m looking forward to another winter in Florida with the dogs and lots of visits with family and friends.  I can walk the beach, get some sun, do some yoga and finally feel like myself again.  I can allow myself to feel happy and fortunate for all of the things we do have.

Until the next cycle.  But I’ll worry and blog about that later.

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New Car

Last year in Florida BR decided he would buy me my very own car.  One that I could actually drive (without crying or hyperventilating which is usually what happens when I’m forced to drive one of his fancy sports cars).  How sweet of him!  So I told him I would like something small and cute and – most importantly – easy.  

I also didn’t want anything too flashy or fancy because I really don’t like to draw unnecessary attention to myself when I drive.  My driving gets enough attention.

So BR surprised me one afternoon by taking me to a Mini dealership.  Perfect!  We would look around and BR would let me pick out my very own small, cute, easy-to-operate car.

BR: Now Blondie, this is going to be your car.  Probably for the next 30 years.  So I want you to get something you really like.

Me: Ok.  Well I like the off-white one over there.

BR: No.  That’s a stupid colour.  How about the silver one.  Do you like it in silver?

Me: Well no, not really… I like it in that off-white colour.

BR: Alright Blondie.  I will consider the white one.  But you’ll probably end up getting it in silver.  So I would suggest that you start liking silver.

BR began walking towards the car.

Me: No, not that one – the one over here.  With the extended back.

BR: No Blondie, I disagree.  I think you like the smaller one.

Me: But I can’t fit the dogs in the smaller one!  Don’t you think this one’s more practical?

BR: Now Blondie, I’ve already told you – this is your car.  I want you to love it.  But the smaller one is definitely cooler.  In silver.  Don’t you like it better than the bigger one?  I think you do.

It was becoming painfully obvious that BR was having a “difficult” time letting me pick out my own car.

BR: Oooh Blondie, look over here!  This one has a Union Jack on the roof!  You’re getting that.

Me: I don’t really want that.  Besides, neither one of us is British.

BR: Blondie, the car is British.  That’s why it’s cool.

Me: No, the car is German now.  And you don’t really like Germans.

BR: No, I don’t like Nazis.

Me: Right.  And because of the war, you’ve banned all German cars.  So I’m actually surprised we’re even looking at these, because you’ve repeatedly said that you don’t want either of us driving a “Nazi sleigh.”

BR: That’s true, I don’t want either of us driving a Nazi sleigh.  Which is all the more reason that your car should have a Union Jack on it.

Me: I really don’t want the Union Jack.

BR: Blondie!  It’s not optional!

And that’s how it went for the next hour or so.  I would pick out something I liked and BR would swiftly stomp all over my dreams.  This was going nowhere fast.  And if I did end up getting a car that day – which was starting to seem highly unlikely – I would probably end up running him over with it.

Finally I suggested that maybe we should look at a few other brands.  My heart wasn’t necessarily set on a Mini… with a Union Jack on the roof… and checkered racing stripes… in silver.  So BR took me to look at some Fiat 500’s.

Me: BR, these are super cute, but they’re even smaller than the Mini’s.  I’m definitely not going to be able to fit two standard poodles in here.

BR:  Blondie, the dogs will fit if you squish them in the back together.

Me: I’m not squishing our dogs.

BR: Blondie, don’t be ridiculous.  Just squish them together and they’ll be fine.  Besides, don’t you remember how much fun we had driving one of these around Italy?

Me: No, you had fun.  I almost barfed.

BR: Blondie, it’s not my fault that the Italians make their roads really windy.  Now do you want a Fiat or are you going to keep acting like a selfish, Nazi-loving Christian?

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR: Perhaps you would like me to buy you a great big Mercedes with a licence plate that says Heil Hitler on it.  Maybe a nice swastika bumper sticker!  Is that what you want?!

So we left the dealership.  BR was acting a bit nuts and I was frustrated.  I just wanted to go home.  But then we drove past a Volvo dealership.

Me: Pull in there.

BR: Where?  Volvo?  Are you kidding me?

So we pulled in.  And pulled up right beside a very cute, very practical little hatchback.

Me: I want that one.

BR: Blondie!  Come on!  Volvo’s are for old people and soccer moms!

Me: I don’t care.  They’re very safe and very easy to drive.  I want that one.

BR: Blondie, be reasonable.  You’ve obviously gone bonkers.

Me:  I am being reasonable.  I’ve picked out a reasonably priced car that won’t make me cry and that I can probably parallel park and won’t smash to pieces… probably.

BR:  You’re killing me.

Me: And look, the seats fold down!  I can totally fit our fluffy children in here.

BR: How about a Porsche.  Would you like me to buy you a Porsche?

Me: No, I don’t want a Porsche.  I want a Volvo.

BR: Who doesn’t want a Porsche!  I WILL BUY YOU A FUCKING PORSCHE!

Me: I don’t want a fucking Porsche!  Where am I going to drive it?  I only drive to Target and the grocery store and the FUCKING DOG GROOMERS!

BR: Fine.  I’ll get you a Maserati.  Would you like a Maserati?

Me: I can’t drive a Maserati!  What is wrong with you?  Why won’t you let me have a Volvo?

BR: Because… if I’m going to spend money on a car for you, then I would at least like it to be something cool.  Now do you want a Maserati or not.

Me: BR, we’re in Florida.  Everyone here owns a gun.  I get lost all the time and some neighbourhoods are sketchy.

BR: So?  What does that mean?

Me: It means I don’t want to get a car-jacking on my way to Target!  I just want a normal car!

BR: Fine.  I’ll just get you a bicycle then.

Me: You know I can barely ride a bicycle.

BR: Ok, fine.  A unicycle.  And then all of our neighbours can point and go, oh look there’s Blondie riding her unicycle again.  She must be going to TARGET!

Me: I don’t understand, I thought you’d be happy that I’m picking a Volvo over a Maserati.  I’m saving you like a hundred grand!

BR: No Blondie, you’re costing me a hundred grand.  Because now I have to go out and buy another sports car to compensate for THIS GEEZER-MOBILE YOU’RE MAKING ME BUY!

BR and I were clearly not seeing eye to eye.  In retrospect I shouldn’t have been all that surprised that he wasn’t letting me pick out what I wanted.  He has a difficult time “giving up the reins” so to speak.  Which is a nice way of saying he’s a bossy control-freak.

But after a week or so, he began to change to his mind.

BR: Ok Blondie, I’ve thought about it.  I’ve weighed all the options.  And I’ve concluded that you might be better off with a Volvo instead of a sports car.  I think it will be easier for you to drive, and you can fit the dogs in the back.

Me: Those are excellent points BR.  You’re so smart.

BR: I know.

But the battle wasn’t over yet.  BR had to do his “research” and find the cheapest Volvo on the planet that also had all of the things I wanted.  As it happened, my exact little dream car was sitting at a dealership about 20 minutes away.  So a couple of weeks went by and once BR was convinced that he probably couldn’t find that exact car anywhere else for less, he began his ruthless process of negotiation.

Another week passed.  Apparently this particular car salesman wasn’t as cooperative as BR would have liked.  Then another week passed… still no car.

Me: Um, BR?  How’s my car coming along?  Did you and the salesman agree on a price yet?

BR: Not exactly.

Me: What does that mean?

BR: It means I gave him my final offer and he’s not returning my calls.

Me: Are you kidding me?  How much more does he want?

BR: Never mind.

Me: What do you mean, “never mind.”  You must have really low-balled him.  What does he want, a couple thousand?

BR: Not exactly.

Me: How much are you fighting over.

BR: Blondie…

Me: How much.

BR: Six-hundred dollars.

Me: Six-hundred dollars?!   It’s taken you five years to finally get me a car and finally we agree on one that I like and you’ve lost it over SIX-HUNDRED DOLLARS??  I would have given you six-hundred dollars!  I can’t go through this whole demented process with you again, IT’S EXHAUSTING!

BR: Blondie, that’s not the point.  It’s not the money, it’s the principle.  And that salesman is being a real douchebag.  And I refuse to buy a car from him.

Me: (blinking and staring)

BR:  Apparently he’s also refusing to sell me one.

Now, I know BR has very frugal tendencies.  I know he’s a control-freak.  And I also know it takes him an abnormally long time to pull the trigger on anything – practical that is.  But the thought of having to go car shopping with him all over again was about as appealing as gouging out my own eyeballs with a rusty spoon.

So I started to cry.  Not out of disappointment, but out of sheer psychological frustration.

Another couple of weeks passed and I was starting to accept the fact that a new little car would likely not appear anywhere in the near future.  Then one night BR told me to get dressed to go for dinner.  So I did.  We got in the car and drove for an unusually long time.

Me: Where are we going for dinner?  Miami?

BR: Blondie, do you have any sense of direction?  No.  We are not going to Miami.  Oh look, there’s a Volvo dealership up ahead.  Let’s just pull in and see what they have.

Me: What?  No.  No no no.

BR: Come on Blondie.

Me: BR, please.  I’m starving and I really don’t have the energy to battle it out with you in another dealership right now.  Let’s just go to dinner, we can look at cars another time.

So we pulled in.  We walked inside and a nice salesman approached us.  He told us he may have something I might like.

Well duh, of course he’ll have something I’ll like – I’m not the one who needs convincing.

So we followed him around the corner and there in the middle of the room, wrapped in a giant red bow was… my new car! 

Me: Holy shit!  You actually bought this for me?  In secret?  It’s exactly what I wanted!

BR: Yes Blondie.  Happy birthday.

Me: Awwww, thanks BR!

I jumped up and down a little and then threw my arms around him.

Me: Um, not to ruin the moment or anything, but you know my birthday was like 3 months ago.

BR: What’s your point.

I was so thrilled I couldn’t even be mad at him for having no idea when my birthday was.  He bought me Volvo!

Me: Do I get to drive it home?

BR: Yes.  After we make a quick stop at Best Buy and get you a GPS.  You need one.  You think we’re in Miami.  We’re nowhere close to Miami.

So we went for dinner, picked up a GPS, and I followed him home in my super cute, brand new car just for me.  I was beaming.  I was also singing along loudly – with feeling I might add – to George Jones for most of the drive when I realized I had left my interior lights on.  Embarrassing, but oh well… I’m in a Volvo bitches!

When we got home BR immediately got into bed and grabbed his Ipad.  After a couple of hours I finally asked him what he was doing.

BR: I’m looking at freightliners Blondie.  That’s what I’ll be buying next.

Me: Oh.  Can I ask why?  I mean, where are you going to drive it?

BR: Anywhere and over anything.  That’s the point.  You and your little Volvo better watch out.

Did I roll my eyes or make any comments about him having Napoleon Syndrome?  I did not.  Did I point out the fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for us to own a freightliner?  Nope.  I just let him browse freightliners until he got really sleepy because I knew how hard it was for him to pull the trigger on a car he didn’t like… a car that wasn’t even for him.

Me: Well if that’s what you want then you should totally get a freightliner.

BR: I will get one.  I’ll show you.  I’ll show everyone…

And then he fell asleep.

Nighty-night BR.  Thanks for the Volvo.