Here We Go Again

Yesterday was CD1. That means we’re back on the FET train. I’m going in Saturday to get my baseline blood work and ultrasound. Not as pumped for this round as I was for the last. I’m coming into it much more skeptical. Also, insurance infertility coverage has run out for us, so this cycle is going to be totally out of pocket. Yay…. 😦

In the meantime, stress. I don’t know how I’m going to go to the monitoring appointments. I pulled baby out of daycare for the summer since we have all these trips planned. So he’s going to be around. All. The. Time. I already told hubby he’s going to need to help me out on this. At least go into work a little later once a week so I can go to my morning monitoring appointments without having to bring a toddler (cuz how would that work anyway??)

In other news, my parents are coming to visit us this weekend. For a whole week! I’m so excited! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss them all the time. I’m so thankful that this will be a very family filled summer. My parents are coming to us this weekend. Then beginning of July we’re going back to Chicago. And then end of August baby and I are going to meet them in Florida for 6 days. Another thing I’m scared about: flying solo with a toddler while possibly (hopefully) pregnant. But that’s for another post.

Honestly I’m so tired right now I can’t keep my eyes open. Think this post is a little all over the place but I’m too tired to even proofread it right now. So, um… sorry. Hope the next one is better I guess. Night all.

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Sexism in the Workplace

I’ve been looking for a job. Monkey (baby) is now 18 months old and I feel like it’s a good time for me to go back to work. Actually, I’ve been looking for work for over 6 months. It’s a tough market out there. On top of that I’m in a niche field, and there are no jobs in my niche within a reasonable commuting distance. I could probably easily find a job if I was willing to commute an hour and a half each way, but with Monkey being in daycare, dh working something like 80hrs a week, and us not having family around to help, the commute time plus a full work day would just be too long of a daycare day for him. And I’d never see him, which isn’t ok with me.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for a while. A long, long while. I apply to wherever I can at least once a week. I’m not even looking in my niche. I’m totally accepting a pay cut to just get a job, anywhere. But I rarely even get call backs. I think in the last 6 months I’ve had 2 phone interviews and 3 live interviews. One of those live interviews was yesterday.

The interview was going well. I liked the first guy I interviewed with. He talked to me like an experienced adult. Not like a woman who didn’t belong. Oh, did I mention that I’m in a very male oriented niche? To give you a taste, my last full time job had about 15 employees dedicated to the main business (not including support staff). Of those 15, only 2 were full time women. The last interview I had before this was was a small firm of 8. No women. So yes, the fact that he was asking my opinion on real life issues they were having made me feel respected.

And then I met with the second guy. There’s a gap of about 2 years on my resume since I left my last job at the end of my pregnancy. It was a high risk pregnancy and hubby was super scared of me going into preterm labor, so he strong armed me into leaving my job well before my due date. As you can imagine, the 2 year gap on my resume doesn’t help me find a job in such a tough market. So of course the interviewer asked me about the gap. I told him that I was home with my son and am now ready to get back into the work force. His response: “So you really don’t have much maternal instinct, huh? <hahaha>”

My jaw dropped. I mean WHAT!? Not only is that super insulting, but I’m pretty sure illegal. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go off on him. I wanted to tell him that there are multiple reasons why a woman would want to go back to work: finances (I’m sure he’s rich and would know nothing about needing the money), the desire for an identity beyond belonging to someone else (mother, wife, etc), the need to talk to adults and not just a toddler all day, etc. But most importantly, none of these reasons are any of his business! Would he tell a man that they had no paternal instinct!? It’s seriously the most sexist comment I’ve had directed at me in a long while.

He laughed the comment off, like he was making a joke, but it wasn’t a joke to me. I  couldn’t go off on him, because I need a job and I’m pretty sure that would take me right out of the running. Horrible as that sounds, but yes, I sold myself out. After the initial shock I was able to pick myself off and calmly told him that I was with my son for 18 months and it was time for me to go back to work. I wanted to be a role model for my children. We then continued the interview as if nothing happened.

To make matters worse, when I told my husband and mother (in separate phone calls) what had happened during the interviews, their first reactions were to laugh. TO LAUGH! That pissed me off even more. This is not funny! It’s sexism. As a white male my husband obviously has no idea how to be discriminated against in the work force, but I expected so much more from my mother. When we came to America 25 years ago we had nothing. My parents each worked 2 (or more) jobs at once. My mom is a strong, smart woman. She knows what it’s like to be more competent than a male counterpart and still make less. I could not believe that she thought it was funny.

It makes me sad. Sexism is so prominent in our society that it’s expected I guess. What are the next steps? How do we move away from this? Because it’s not just jobs, it’s also things like the state laws taking a woman’s body decisions away from her. What’s next? Taking away her right to vote? Taking away her right to drive? Maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but maybe not. I never thought our society would be going backwards, but the slide has already started. You laugh now but when you’re back to only being valued based on your husband’s worth, the men will be the only ones laughing.

Goodreads Is My Friend (Part 2)

Part 2 of my series recommendations list. Again, these are in no particular order, except one ;-). This post is more of the adult books. I read mostly YA so this list isn’t as long as my earlier YA list. Read to the bottom of the list for my #1 favorite series.

Dark Swan by Richelle Mead

Storm Born

This started as a great series. Kick ass heroine: check. Hot fay: check. Some light sex scenes: check. A love triangle (something I usually hate but totally worked in this book): check. Total win. The series kind of fell apart in the last book, but I’d still recommend it as a great series overall.

Category: Paranormal, Fay, Adult

 

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels

This is one of my newest obsessions. I haven’t finished the series yet, but I’m sucked in. The first book was just so so, so stick with it. I think by book 3 I was addicted. Worth it. And I have to admit that Curran is giving Barrons a run for his money in terms of my lover for life (keep reading for my review on Barrons).

Category: Paranormal, Shapeshifter, Vampire, Adult

 

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful

Technically a series, but really it’s 2 books from 2 different points of view.  I didn’t read the second since it’s basically the same story.  It’s a messed up love story, a true beautiful disaster. Very alpha male. Not someone I’d date in real life, but would fantasize about when in book form.

Category: Adult, Fiction

 

Healer series by Maria V. Snyder

Healer

 

I love this series. It reads like a YA, so no grittiness and not overly deep or depressing, but the main characters are all over 18, so it lost it’s YA status. Smart heroine with a power to heal in a fantasy setting. I love fantasy books. Woods, horses, kings. Totally up my alley.

Category: Paranormal, Fantasy

 

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

GoT

Not for everyone. These books are all about a thousand pages. It took me a while to get into but once I got my stride they’re highly addictive. Unlike other large books <cough, cough> Outlander <cough, cough> the details feel necessary. It’s not a filler. He generally doesn’t waste words, or not too many anyway. Kings, plotting, sabotage, conspiracies. It’s a political book that actually captures my attention. Also helps that no character is safe, not even the main characters. You really never know when your favorite character is going to get the ax (maybe literally).

Category: Fantasy

 

I’ve saved the best for last

Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

Fever

 

This is the book that basically started my obession with reading (yes, obsession. In 2011 I read almost 150 books I think). It’s the reason my Goodreads name is “Mrs. Barrons”. This book might have just been in the right place at the right time. I was going through IVF #1 and needed a distraction, and found a good one. I finished the 5 book series in just under a week and a half. I would stay up until 2 am reading, and then get up at 7am to go to work. I must say that book 1 wanted me to strangle Mac more often than not, but it’s written that way for a reason. You get to see her transform from a shallow girl into a serious hero. Also, Jericho Barrons will always be my first (book) love, and you never forget your first.

Side note: Today is MacKayla Lane (the main character)’s birthday! So let’s all wish this oh so real main character a very happy birthday! (What? There’s nothing weird about that, right?)

Category: Paranormal, Fay, Adult

 

I want to add a book as honorable mention.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before

Totally not in line with my normal paranormal reads. Very mainstream. I read this book for a book club I joined, and surprisingly loved it. I admit, there were tears. I hate books that make you cry but loved this one. It’s not a series, but I recommend it.

Category: Fiction

 

Happy reading 🙂

 

Goodreads Is My Friend (Part 1)

I’m an avid reader. Well, more so before I had my son. But I still have to read at least a chapter or 2 before bed every night. It’s my me time. The best is just after hubby falls asleep. Then it’s REALLY my me time. I’m the only one in the house awake (except the cats probably) and  I can get some real peace.

Mostly I read YA books (young adult). For some reason the most interesting stories star teenagers (go figure). I also really enjoy fantasy, paranormal, and historic fiction. Basically, if it happens in the present and is likely to actually happen, I’m not interested. I read to escape reality. If it’s too close to reality then there’s no reason for me to read it.

Recently I’ve been asked to put together a list of series that I recommend. For some reason, the best books come in series form. Anyway, ask and you shall receive. I’ve made a list of my favorite series. I actually had a list WAY longer. It was a little ridiculous so I had to cut the list down a bit (I took out older classics like The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and stand alone older books like Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess). What I was left with was another super long list, so I cut it even further, breaking it into 2 posts, one for YA books, and one for none YA books.

I’m also including a link to the first book of the series’ Goodreads page so I don’t have to take up space with intros to each book.

So, here’s a list of my top YA series, in no particular order. Next will be my shorter non YA list.

 

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games

At this point is there anyone left who HASN’T read this series? In case you haven’t, there’s a strong heroine, a love triangle, and a HUGE plot that will blow you away.

Category: Dystopian, YA

 

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy

This one one of the first series I read when I started getting back into reading as an adult. A strong heroine, a meaningful friendship, a forbidden love story. Richelle Meade has other series as well, many non adult ones, but I haven’t read them all. She’s a highly talented author, so I suggest you check them out, as well as this one, of course.

Category: Paranormal, Vampire, YA

 

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under

I was hooked as soon as I started reading it. Oh Perry, my love. One of my favorite YA book boyfriends. I just finished the third and final book and can say the whole series is well worth it.

Category: Dystopian, YA

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

This was my favorite book of 2012 (it helps that it’s set in my sweet home Chicago 😉 ). At this point everyone has at least heard of this series. I know there’s been a little disagreement about how the series ended, but I think it worked with the message she was going for in the books. I still highly recommend it. Plus Four is super hot. Yum.

Category: Dystopian, YA

 

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Graceling

Like Divergent, this is another series that gets compared to Hunger Games a lot. I guess it’s because the main character’s name is Katsa (sounds like Katniss?) and because she’s super kick ass, but Katsa is SO much better than Katniss could ever be. One of my all time favorite YA books. Plus Po is in the 3 way tie for my favorite YA book boyfriend. Truthfully book 2 wasn’t quite as good (mostly cuz Po wasn’t in it), and book 3 left much to be desired, but each book can be read as a stand alone novel, so at least read the first one. Really. Do it.

Category: Fantasy, YA

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter Smoke Bone

Angels are fighting monsters and humans are completely oblivious, except for one girl. Action filled. Love story. Addictive. The third (and last book) just came out and is next on my reading list. Can’t wait!

Category: Paranormal, YA

 

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Shattered

 

The lesser known of the books on the list, it’s a well written paranormal-ish love story. Alden will melt your heart. It was originally written as a stand alone book, but got such praise that she wrote a second one. I haven’t yet read the second one but it’s high on my to be read list.

Category: Paranormal, Spirits, YA

 

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

TMI

The 6th and final book comes out this year. I cannot wait. Vampires, werewolves, nephilim. It’s a paranormal extravaganza. Plus there’s a bit of a romance twist that’ll leave your mouth hanging open. It’s cringe worthy, in a good way.

Category: Paranormal, Vampires, Werewolves, Nephilim, Witches, YA

 

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

ID

This is a prequel (by a couple hundred years) to The Mortal Instruments. Both series have difference characters so each series can be read as a stand alone, but I think if you read one you’ll want to read the other. Many people I’ve talked to like The Infernal Devices series better, but I think it might just be because it’s shorter and therefore more to the point. I have to admit, I loved the series until the epilogue. Wish I skipped that one chapter.

Category: Paranormal, Vampires, Werewolves, Nephilim, Witches, YA

 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven Boys

I just finished reading this book (well, listening to it on audiobook) and I am already itching to start the next one. That’s how much I loved it, that even an audiobook could capture my attention. I seriously didn’t take headphones off for days until I finished it. The 3rd of 4 planned comes out later this year and I will be grabbing it as soon as it comes out. Hooked.

Category: Paranormal, Witches, YA

 

Honorary mention:

The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver

I believe this was the first series by Maggie Stiefvater, and while not at good as The Raven Boys, it’s still a sweet love story with plenty of action. Fast and easy read. Not the best series ever, but still an enjoyable read.

Category: Paranormal, Werewolves, YA

 

Part 2 will contain the more adult books (where the characters are over 17 years old). It’ll also include my all time favorite series, so stay tuned! 🙂

NIAW – Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Our Infertility History, Azoospermia, And Extras

Last week was national infertility awareness week. I meant to post something, really I did, but as always life got in the way. I know this is late, and not exactly infertility awareness, but since I closed my old blog I should probably lay out my history here. I mean, I know no one actually reads this blog, but one day they might, so I might as well hit the main points.

2006 Dh and I met and started dating. 3 months later we moved in together, and celebrated by adopting 2 kittens. We got married in the summer of 2009, followed by our first house purchase in the fall, followed by a dog in the winter. That spring we started trying to conceive. We started by not taking precautions. We took the “if it happens it happens” approach. 3 months later I got worried. I know 3 months is nothing but I have PCOS so I already suspected it might be hard for me to get pregnant. I started charting, and at the same time I went to see my OB about trying to conceive. She checked my tubes. All clear. She put me on Clomid. I did about 6 cycles of Clomid (which took about 10 months due to my long, unpredictable cycles). I went back to my OB for help. She said the next step was to get dh’s sperm checked (really this should have come before the Clomid. If you’re trying to conceive, see a real reproductive endocrinologist and not just an OB! That bit of advice is my NIAW contribution right there).

Winter of 2010, a year after we started trying, dh got his semen analysis. No sperm. My OB was shocked (again, this is why you go to an RE). Dh was referred to a urologist. But not just any urologist, head of the state urology board, or something like that. Anyway, dh was diagnosed with an unexplained hormone imbalance (we have his and hers hormonal imbalances. Not looking good for our kids). Because of his imbalance he makes VERY little testosterone. So he was prescribed Clomid (his and hers Clomid treatment, too). 3 months later he had a blood retest. No change. Prescribed anastrozole. 3 months later, tiny change. He was to continue on the drug another 6 months. Another 6 months of waiting. In the meantime, dh was trying everything. He was exercising more, drinking muscle shakes, changed his diet, etc (all supposed to increase testosterone naturally). He even went to a homeopathic doctor, who put him on another “natural” medicine. Back to the urologist for testing. Semen analysis still blank. Next step would have to be surgery. So we got another dog.

Let’s back up a step. Dh has male factor infertility. Because of his hormonal imbalance his body doesn’t produce mature sperm. He has what is called azoospermia, which is when there is no sperm at all in his semen. More common forms of male factor infertility are low sperm motility (the sperm’s ability to move forward), bad morphology (the shape), or a low sperm count. There are generally 2 forms of azoospermia: due to blockage, or due to other reasons. Blockage means that the sperm is there but can’t get out. Other reasons can be cause by chemotherapy, hormonal issues, trauma, etc. Azoospermia in general is found in 1% of men. Pretesticular azoospermia (which is characterized by inadequate stimulation of otherwise normal testicles) is found in 2% of men with azoospermia. That’s what dh has. A condition affecting 2% of 1% of men. That’s how lucky we are. The worst thing about pretesticular azoospermia is that there might still be immature sperm somewhere in there (if you can find it), or there might not be anything at all. 

With dh’s diagnosis we were left with 3 options: donor sperm, adoption, or micro tese surgery to see if anything could be found.  Micro tese surgery is when the doctors make a small incision in the scrotum based on where they think they are most likely to find immature sperm. Anything they find they freeze and use later with ICSI IVF (we’ll save ICSI IVF for a possible future post).

October 13th 2011 dh underwent surgery. I will never forget that day. I was so scared that they wouldn’t find anything. At the time dh wasn’t open to donor sperm and I was scared of the uncertainties of adoption. When the nurse came out and told me they found “immature, twitchy” sperm it was the happiest moment I had in 2 years. They were able to freeze 4 vials (1 vial is generally used at each IVF, so this gave us 4 chances).

November 2011 was IVF 1. 18 follies. 11 fertilized. 3 grew to day 5. We transferred 1. BFN. Right before Thanksgiving. Ouch. We froze the other 2 and opted to do another fresh IVF cycle in March. My company just changed their IF coverage the prior month (from none to some) so I wanted to use it in full while I could, and IVF is more expensive than FET.

March 2012 was IVF 2. 21 follies. 13 fertilized. 4 grew to day 5. We transferred 2 and froze 2. BFP! Both took! We were having twins!

I’m going to gloss over this part because I’m not ready to rehash the whole thing. Baby B was diagnosed with Dandy Walker Syndrome at the 20 week anatomy scan. What followed was MRIs, multiple ultrasounds, and countless tests to confirm and check severity. It was severe. After much tears, as you can imagine, we decided to do the humane thing and “reduce” the pregnancy. I had to fly to NY (we were still living in IL at the time) to do the reduction because by the time the test results came back and were fully analyzed I was 25 weeks, and IL doesn’t allow abortions past 24 weeks. I’m still not fully over it and suspect I will never be. You can read more about it here if you really want to. It’s a guest post I wrote for a friend’s blog about the abortion bans being enacted by certain red states.

I gave birth to my son in November 2012 at 38 weeks and 2 days. He is my joy and sunshine and I love him to itty bitty pieces. But I’m ready for another. We did our first FET this past February. We used the 2 frozen embryos from the 2nd IVF. BFP! Both took. Neither grew. I naturally miscarried after stopping meds in April. So if you’re keeping track, that’s 7 embies total, 3 losses, 1 live baby, and 2 frozen embies left. Now I’m in limbo. We still have 2 frozen embryos. We’ll see if they get used this year.

On My Mind

Ok, the reason I decided I needed to start a blog. This has been on my mind since my miscarriage. I need to get it out.

We have 2 embryos left. I don’t want twins. The more I’m on twitter the more I see the risks of twin pregnancies. Also, I can’t imagine taking care of a 2 year old toddler and newborn twins with no family to help out. Hubby wants to hire a live in nanny to help if this situation happens, but I’ll feel absolutely worthless having no job and a nanny taking care of my kids. But I know I absolutely can’t do it alone, and with hubby working the hours he works, I would definitely be doing it alone. He leaves the house around 6-6:30 every morning and doesn’t come home till usually 8pm, or later. A (as baby will be referred to from now on) doesn’t usually see him Monday-Thursday (or even Friday if he doesn’t work from home that Friday). As much as I’d love the “instant family” and “one more pregnancy and I’m done” approach, it’s scary to think of all that will follow.

But if one of those embryos takes and the other doesn’t, it basically means we’re going to be a 2 kid family. This idea sucks. I want three kids. I’ve wanted 3 kids since I’ve wanted kids. I want a large family. I want my kids to be friends. I’m not ok with 2 kids. But if we have 2 I know dh isn’t going to want to go through another round of IVF for a 3rd. The money, the hormones, the injections, the mood swings, the disappointment of a failed cycle, the uncertainty and planning.

I know I’m planning for kids I don’t have and I’m not even pregnant. I’m being totally irrational. I know. And I know I should be happy with 2, when some can’t get that. I know I should be happy with 1, since some can’t get that. And I am. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not grateful. But I’m mad at infertility for taking away my right to choose. Other people get to decide how many kids they have with a wave of their hand. It’s not even a real issue. You want another kid? Done! I’m jealous and bitter and I want that!

Ok, I’m done ranting. I’m sorry if I come off ungrateful. If you know me you know I’m not. This is my outlet to vent any and all of my feelings. Like I said, I’m not editing here. If you don’t like it please don’t read my blog. For those who stick around, thanks for reading. xx

Bad Dreams

Don’t you love when someone starts a blog and then doesn’t ever post in it? Sorry about that.

So let me give you a little background info on my family. Hubby and I are an infertile couple. He doesn’t produce mature sperm due to a hormone imbalance that prevents the sperm from maturing. Since they don’t mature they don’t ever leave in his ejaculate. No sperm = no baby. He’s been on lots of hormone therapy and nothing has worked so far. Therefore, our only solution is IVF. To date we’ve gone through 2 IVFs, 1 FET, and 6 cycles of clomid (before we found out there was no sperm). We have used 5 embryos. 1 didn’t implant, 2 were lost in an early miscarriage, 1 was lost at 25 weeks due to a rare brain disorder, and 1 grew up to be my 17 month old love of my life. That’s the abridged version of our IF journey so far. We are incredibly grateful for my son. More and more so with each loss and failed cycle.

Our last cycle was the frozen one. 2 embryos were transferred, both implanted. We were ecstatic, though a little scared of having twins with a toddler running around. The fears weren’t warranted, though, as neither baby grew. I naturally miscarried at around 8 weeks.

Apparently my brain isn’t over it. Last night I had a dream. I had stomach pains. Lots of cramping. I was bloated and my belly was puffed out, but that’s not unusual with my PCOS. But then things started poking out of my stomach. It was like something out of Alien. It had to be a baby. But it couldn’t have been. I needed to go to the ER. Something was definitely wrong with me. It couldn’t have been a baby. It wasn’t possible. I miscarried. I remembered. I had hcg tests that showed my levels back down to nothing (well, 6, which is close enough to nothing). And I couldn’t have gotten pregnant after that. Not naturally. We have no sperm, remember?  For me to see external movements the baby had to be at least 4 months, right? There must have been something wrong with the HCG, because this was definitely a baby, (Yes, all of these thoughts went through my head in the dream, and yes, 4 months in real life is still probably too early for such extreme movements, but in my dream it worked). I was elated. I was going to have a baby! And then I woke up.

That was the hardest wake up ever. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointing it was to wake up after such pure joy to find out that none of it was real. A hard smack from reality.

I’m sure part of the reason I had this dream is because I’m considering pushing back next FET from early July to end of September. 3 months might not seem like a lot but in the world of infertility it can feel like forever. Hubby needs to use up his vacation days and so we were considering taking a 2 week cruise to Alaska in June, but that would mean I couldn’t be monitored, so FET wouldn’t happen. I’m on the fence. We might just do a 1 week trip to Maine instead, which would actually end up being more expensive probably (long story). What I wouldn’t give to just get spontaneously pregnant. To bad that would never happen.