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25 March 2009

The Male Biological Clock..TICKING!

I have no clever words or funny perspectives on Todd's initial exam results from the Urologist. Ok...maybe just a few sarcastic innuendos to keep it real. But if anybody knows him at all, this sure does explain a lot!

Todd has been diagnosed as having Varicoles. While not fatal or even rare, it makes total sense. He described it to me as a 'vein sack' much like your everyday varicose veins prevalent in the legs of many women. He reported, rather unscientifically, that this condition if coupled with low motility means that he is infertile.

Typical of most, I am not one to take my husband's word for the gospel. So I did what any educated wife would to and consulted Google search...the bible of all factual, current and worldly knowledge. While his generalities were correct according to MedTerms - there is certainly more to the story.

Varicoceles can develop after puberty but is not usually detected until undergoing said evaluation for the reason of suspect fertility problems. They are common and found in nearly 15% of all men. Out of those, it accounts for up to 40% of all male subfertility cases. Get this...a whopping 81% of men are diagnosed even after fathering their first child. This is because, over time, the little buggers lead to the deterioration of fertility.

This is what happens: the blood flow gets stuck in this veiny mass positioned right inside the cord that produces sperm. So the blood fails to effectively pump back up towards the heart. This raises the temperature in the testes causing either malformations of the sperm ...or just really lazy ones. Who can blame them! It must be 1000000 degrees down there!

This is why it now all makes sense. If you have ever been on any kind of a roadtrip or spent even just an evening with Todd, you will bear witness to his sudden and hilarious outbursts of "Is it HOT in here?!?! It's HOT in here!!!!" whereas he proceeds (if in the company of very close friends and family) to open up his sweat pants, shorts, or jeans thereof to get some air. We lovingly call him "Sweaty Balls". I'm sure he will be thrilled that I am now telling the world!

So what does this mean? Well, there are treatments that offer varying hope for success, but now appear to be unavoidable. Outpatient surgery is required with about a week of downtime before returning to work on light duty. Repair has been reported to significantly improve fertility function in 60%-80% of men. This is great news! The more unfortunately statistic I found was that only about 44% of those successes result in unassisted pregnancy after a year and 77% after two years. At our age...we are fighting against the clock already!

23 March 2009

Back to Normal

My blood test results are in. I should be thrilled! But I have more questions than answers now.

I received a little postcard in the mail with a box checked "normal" on it - mixed in with my NY&CO discount postcard and a reminder card from the donation curb pickup. I needed a bit more pomp and circumstance for my blood results. Like confetti and balloons popping out of my mailbox like it does when you get a birthday invitation from Disney on TV! I feel so cheated. ;)

How can I be normal?!?! (insert lame jokes here) I've got my own boxes to check:
  • Hairiest woman on the planet. CHECK!
  • Uterine fibroids in my retroverted uterus (not so magnificent AFTER ALL, HUH!) CHECK!
  • Raging PMS. Think Mommy Dearest on a good day. CHECK!
  • Painful Periods. I cannot even describe. CHECK!
  • The sex drive of a sloth. CHECK!
  • Bladder infections like most people get a head cold. CHECK!
  • Horrible skin. CHECK!
  • A permanent front butt due to constant bloating and water retention. COOL! CHECK!
  • General lack of energy and constant anxiety. Man I rock! CHECK!
I even tried to pee on a stick for three months straight, taking my temperature and trying to track my ovulation. Nothing every changed colors and my temp never changed to any degree or pattern. The only way I knew I was laying an egg was the pain I always feel while my body tries to squeeze one through my tubes. Technically called mittelschmerz.

These are things most of us live with at one time or another and are very good signs of a hormone imbalance when combined and with extreme symptoms. I just thought this was the way things were supposed to be until my doctor corrected me - giving me hope that my whole world could change with the simple popping of some designer pills.

And so continues the saga as my reasons for not conceiving are dwindling. Back to being normal! I think I'll go spend that NY&CO coupon and gather some clothes to donate now.

20 March 2009

Inspired by Robins

Spring defines the birth of new beginnings.

One comforting memory is my mother's yearly excitement as she would point out to me the first robin of the season. Her eyes would sparkle and we would anxiously and vigilantly wait for the first glance of those amazing blue eggs. Perfect with each one uniquely speckled. As I grew older, she still sometimes calls, "Spring is here! I just saw my first robin!"

Today, as I watch fat little robins waddle through my yard, busy in loving preparation for mommyhood - I am reminded of my own natural urge to nest. While the instinct of nesting is common in women who are pregnant to full term, some of us are hard-wired to bustle about looking for the next home project at any given point in our lives. I am one of those people.

Like a bird without a tree during the renovation of our house that has taken over a year to complete, I find my creative juices stifled and my sense of security often on the edge. As a self proclaimed homebody,
decorating it is how I express myself - currently a hunger that goes unfed! My storage space (and my neighbors garage) is a collection full of art and furniture I hope to soon reveal; things for my new kitchen, dining and living room with no idea how any of it will match. An eclectic little collage of things I love....for every room except a nursery.

Our modest house is basica
lly now a bedroom and a half since restructuring the old floor plan. When guests stop by to see our building progress, I present the smallest room as my office.....or nursery my voice will trail. I try to avoid letting my brain go there. I do not want to set myself up for heartbreak - creating the baby room of my dreams with no signs of baby-to-be. But the nester inside me does not always keep those wanderings at bay.

..and so I am inspired by
the robin and her eggs. I love the metaphor as I also prepare a home with love in shades of blues, greens, browns and taupe. As I flip through magazine clippings in my worn "Inspiration Folder" I see reference of this color and hints of 'bird style' with a modern twist. My own teal dishes and accents begging to come out of the closet to help me hearken the warm weather to brighten my day.

So as I decorate my "office" I will keep these things in mind and cautiousl
y create a space that can easily convert into a nursery. ;)



VS.

18 March 2009

I Believe

I believe I was pregnant once.

I have no proof, though I tried to get answers at the time. I did not miss my period. In fact, most things were regular despite being a few more days late than typical for me. My cycles are very short and this one probably would have been considered average for many being at just about 34 days. I woke up on a Saturday morning with more pain than usual and was complaining because my normal 3 days was turning into 6 days. I knew something was odd that day with some weird spotting and discoloration, but didn't think much of it after tossing back a handful of Midol and going back to bed.

Todd had kissed me goodbye before leaving for work or golf or something that morning. When I finally got my lazy self out of bed and into the shower, my stomach felt a bit nauseous and I became light headed. Enough to make me take pause and brace myself against the wall. (If you have a light stomach yourself, you might want to skip down to the end!) A small 'chunk' came out of me, for lack of a better word. I picked it up and rinsed it off. VERY strange. About 2-3 inches long, solid by very pliable, curved, having a cloudy transparency with just a bunch of 'strings' or membranes hanging or growing from it. Almost a tail-like ending. This was not your common clot or debris.

Now I am no doctor and I am too dumb to be scared. I was actually excited and just had a feeling. I called my mom to get her opinion and she told me to keep it in a ziploc bag and call the doctor on Monday. So I did.

Liberty Clinic. Dr. Christine Nadeau. Her office full of photos of her first baby from which she had recently returned to work after maternity leave. A few more Polaroids stuck to the cabinets of babies she had helped deliver. When it was my turn, she not only would not look at the contents in my baggie, she laughed in an uncomfortable disgust and asked me to throw it in the trash next to her. Nothing more. No clinical explanation or suggestion that 'chunks' were normal.

Now I am not an overly dramatic person and I keep my reactions and feelings inside to a fault when something greatly upsets me. I thought it was weird, too, for taking in a saved unknown specimen like a kindergarten show-n-tell! I almost cancelled the appointment twice! I was embarassed to be sitting there, but never expected my doctor to make me feel even worse.

I had spent the last two days contemplating the thought of starting a family and was ready to move forward. My husband had always been ready. So when I could finally find my own voice, I asked her if there were any tests she could give me or anybody she could recommend that may specialize in fertility. She ordered her nurse to give me a pregnancy test and send me to the referral desk. My blood test came back inconclusive.

I believe this gives me hope.

16 March 2009

Gimme an M! Gooooo MAMMOGRAM!

I believe I have completed my first round of testing. Every fluid, nook and cranny has sucked up, gawked at and felt up. I am not one to be terribly shy at this point in life. And I'm reminded that every test gets us closer to an answer!

The first of these tests was a simple mammogram. I am now officially a member of, as my friend and founder of our Breast Cancer 3Day team Raelyn says, the REAL
team FRESHLY SQUEEZED! A very elite group, I must say. I recommend EVERYONE join - quick!

I was first relieved to find out that my insurance paid for the mammogram. While private insurances are now required to pay in in accordance with the current American Cancer Society guidelines for screening, I was suprised that I was covered for one exam between ages 35-40. The Komen Foundation often holds free and/or low cost mammogram events for those whom are uninsured or underinsursured as well. Click here for more info. There are no excuses anymore, ladies!

At any rate, I was caught off guard at how emotional I became...as I do anytime...and as I do now...when reminded of my dear friend (and many of your's) Laura Plunkett. Thoughts of her so often creep into my heart and make me smile! (Please check out the link to her blog for a glimpse into her amazing legacy in my favorites column!)

The mammography itself was not nearly as horrible as I expected. Here is a handy little link should you have questions.

The technician, Margaret, was great (dare I say magnificent?!?!). She was not overly sappy sweet. She was a bit of a tomboy with some girly flair. She did not treat my newbie self like a child or talk down to me nor was she overly clinical. She was respectful and very matter-of-fact without being distant - keeping my tears at bay that kept threatening to break the Eyelid Dam.

The changing room was a small but comfortable little space with tasteful wallpaper and the most current magazines to read...though my wait was not so much that I needed entertained. The exam room itself was also pleasant. All of it had a fresh smell. Somebody was obsessed with Febreeze apparently. I could appreciate the few personal and homey touches with tasteful pink ribbon decor sprikled throughout.

Just as the jaws of life came down upon me, I thought again of Laura. I think she was there with me. Walking me through it in words I could hear like the whisper of an angel, strung together in a style distinctly hers. Not overly sappy sweet with a bit of tomboy girliness - never talking down to me or being overly clinical. Just very matter-of-fact and very close as friends should be. Yep....she was there.

15 March 2009

G is for Genetics

Todd carries the good looking genes between us. My nieces and nephews are all absolutely gorgeous with high cheek bones and dark eyelashes - all sharing something strikingly Reuscher between them. Of course the priority is to have a happy and healthy child, but I have to wonder: What will my baby look like?

While very unscientific, this link has been fun and good for some laughs between us - check it out: http://makemebabies.com


Here is what our baby girl will look like. Love that hair! ;)










It's a boy!??! I think he looks suspiciously like Benjamin Button. What baby has a full set of teeth?!?








So then the fun REALLY began (or I am just bored today)...


I like to call this one Little "WhoNeedsBradAnyway". I would put a duck on my head, too!








But I have to admit I am a bit frightened most by Little "AngelinaWho". YIKES!








For those of you with kids already - see how close it gets to the real thing and share! So fun ;)

12 March 2009

M is for Magnificent

Did I mention that I love my new Gyno?

I lucked out when my finger landed on her name as the meeny to my miney-mo from a list of network providers. Her name is Patricia Mooney-Smith at Heartland Women's Clinic in the NKC Pavillion.

During our first meeting, she glided into my room and the energy around her immediately changed. Her eyes lit up when she spoke. And she she listened - REALLY listened and became increasingly and genuinely excited as I explained to her why I was there. I have convinced myself that it was my circumstance and not the exam she was about to perform that aroused her so.

Once on the gurney with my feet placed stragically aligned to the Betty Boop foot straps - all spread eagle and talking about the warm weather that day like it was the most natural thing to do in front of a total stranger - she exclaimed, "You have a magnificent uterus!". Wow. I may not have fame or fortune in my life, but I have a MAGNIFICENT uterus. It's something I suppose.

Once back in my street clothes and ironically feeling more exposed than ever, she reported all the clinical things to which she is required and gave me orders for testing and explained what each one was for. She then reached over and touched my my hand with pause. "I want to ask you to hang with me for the next three months. We will figure this out together and I want to head into this with all the ammunition I have. Will you hang with me?".

She is also magnificent.

11 March 2009

P is for Period.

Talk about "GEEZ!" - I enjoyed my first visit to a real gynecologist earlier this month.

"HOW?", you might ask, has anyone of the female gender gone through 36 years of life avoiding this right of passage into womanhood? "Complete laziness, avoidance....and ignorance", I might answer.

I grew up an only child to a single mom. She remarried when I was in the 4th grade where I started a new school at Westview Elementary. Very nervous in my new surroundings, I sat in Mrs Coleman's class, trying to translate her German accent into some kind of sense, when I felt dizzy and an overwhelming desire to barf up my enchilada surprise and apple crisp from just a few hours before. I was granted the coveted bathroom pass. Once there, I nearly passed out in terror. I was surely dying! Blood - so much blood!

Eventually, my secret was somehow found out and my mother gave me a Kotex pad the size of a mattress to wear. There was no sex talk - only the assurance that I was not on my death bed and that I would live with this strange condition monthly for the next 60 years. Awesome.

Once I made friends and finally moved on to middle school, getting your period suddenly became as cool as getting braces. Everybody wanted theirs and I was the one clueless about it! My introduction to tampons occurred, like so many firsts do, in the girls' restroom at Lewis Middle School from the bossy girl who knew it ALL. She handed me a harpoon and told me I was truly about to be a woman since using one would cause me to lose my virginity. I was pretty sure I didn't own a virgin so was unfazed by her threats. I fumbled around without instructions, took the contraption completely apart placing it sideways inside myself lengthwise for the best fit. Perfect.

My mother divorced again after a few years trapped in a horrible marriage when I was in the 8th grade. We moved from luxury into the ghetto and I began to put all my energy into trying to be popular, making myself as skinny as humanly possible by any means available, and delving into any after school sport that would have me in order to avoid going back to an empty apartment. I met my first 'real' boyfriend. That summer, I found out what my virginity was and sure enough, lost it. Brilliant.

I started having such pain in the middle of my cycle, then cramped so bad I had to miss my beloved activities. My mother feared something was wrong and took me to our family doctor. I had no idea what a pelvic exam was or what to expect. After that initiation into humiliation, we were told it was all in my head and he gave me some pills that I could take to knock me out of my misery at will. No interview about my personal life or guesses as to any underlying issues that we may need to address. Just normal teenage angst I suppose.

To make a long story - and well, to end YOUR misery - this is why I avoid the inevitable gyno visit. So much trouble, this female reproductive system. So many unanswered questions and so much mystery that still goes unanswered for me. So begins the end of my ignorance...PERIOD!

My First Blog

Hello! ...And thanks for stopping by and for sharing in my new life adventure - that of trying to have a baby. Though my thoughts may be personal, I hope you will find something meaningful in the words to which you can relate or that you can find laughter and irony in your own life in comparison. Please do add your own personality to my blog with stories, observations, experiences, and insight! But most of all - have fun!
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