Thursday, October 24, 2013

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Last week, we got to see our little blob again and got a picture:

Everything was measuring on track (you can see the numbers on the bottom right) and the RE said the heartbeat looked good. The cross hairs on the photo mark where baby's head and bottom are. To me, it's the cutest little blob I've ever seen.

I couldn't stop staring at that photo for the rest of the day but had a hard time connecting the tiny person in the picture with what was happening inside me. It seemed like two separate things, neither of them completely real (even though I threw up right before we left for the appointment that same morning). Today, I could actually feel the beginnings of a bump forming above my pelvic bone and now it's starting to sink in. This is really happening.

Next week, I'll have my first appointment with my family doctor. It looks like the midwife thing is a no-go so I will have to spend some time researching good OBs. Nothing is guaranteed but my GP at least asks if we have a preference for specialists, so I should be able to make a request when referral time comes.

The first trimester has been a bit of a drag so far but I'm starting to see glimmers of my former self again in between bouts of nausea and exhaustion. I'm hoping that will start to taper off soon and I can get some energy back. Now if my body can just figure out the whole "sleeping through the night" thing again, we'd be all set!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Being Thankful

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I also have a lot to look forward to, starting with the 8 week scan this Thursday when we'll get to see our bean again. I will confess, however, that I've been doing more complaining lately than giving thanks.

I promised myself that I was not going be one of those women who tries for so long to get pregnant only to constantly complain about it once she is. As it turns out, that's a lot easier said than done when the first trimester is a rough ride. I've been doing my best to limit the moaning and groaning but this week, the insomnia, nausea, aching breasts, bloating, gas, constipation, and exhaustion really started to wear me down. Not being able to predict my appetite, my mood, or my energy level from one day to the next (or from one hour to the next) is getting frustrating. Work has been slow so I had hoped to get all kinds of things done around the house. Instead, it's all piling up while I lie on the couch staring at it.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought this might be a good time to revisit the Good Things project and remind myself that there are still good things happening while I'm semi-conscious on my couch. Here's what I came up with:
  • All of those symptoms are caused by a baby. There's still a baby in there.
  • We'll get to see it again in a few days and finally get a picture to keep.
  • DH has been wonderfully patient and understanding, and willing to live on carbs with me while I continue to avoid most meat.
  • We survived three consecutive days of family meals this weekend without our secret getting out and without me feeling horrible (at least not in public). 
  • I don't have to worry about lesson planning and facing my classes every day feeling like crap this semester. Supply teaching has its advantages.
  • Egg McMuffins and hash browns. Breakfast of champions (and the only breakfast that appeals to me these days).
  • Just 4.5ish weeks to go until the second trimester and hopefully some relief.
If you're in Canada, I hope you've had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A New Type of Waiting Game

They say that there is a magical time (also known as the Second Trimester) when the nausea goes away and energy returns. I am very eagerly anticipating this magical time because right now, I am a useless lump.

On Thursday, we had our viability scan with the RE. It didn't go exactly like I'd expected but the important thing is that all is well so far. We saw the yolk sac and fetal pole on the ultrasound, and a beautiful flickering heart beat. It still blows my mind that there's a little creature in there with a beating heart!

We didn't get a picture; Doctor P. said he doesn't give them out this early (I was 6w1d at the time) because everything is too small. We also didn't get any measurements. They prefer to just check to make sure that everything that should be there at this stage is there and wait until later on to start measuring. This seemed odd to me but it all went so fast I didn't have a chance to question it. I am supposed to go back in two weeks for another scan and at that time, they will do all of the measurements and give us pictures to keep. I thought I was supposed to be done with the clinic after the initial scan so this was a surprise, but I'm not going to complain about another opportunity to see our bean!

If I am done with the clinic after that 8 week scan, I'm not really sure what happens next. I've contacted the two midwife clinics in my city and am on the waiting list with both of them but it doesn't look good. The demand in my area is much higher than the supply and one of the clinics I spoke with already had 30 women waiting with May due dates. I will most likely be stuck with my GP until the time comes to refer me to an OB.

For the time being, we wait - for the next scan, for midwife call, for me to start feeling somewhat normal again. Turns out, that game doesn't end with a +HPT ;)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Of Nausea and Prunes

The good news is that I'm still pregnant, chugging along at 5w5d.

The bad news is that "occasional bouts of queasiness" has turned into full on morning sickness. For the last few days, right around lunch time, the nausea would start and stick around for a few hours. At first I assumed it was because I was hungry but eating didn't help. And this morning, I was actually sick to my stomach. That one snuck up on me; I wasn't even feeling nauseated until suddenly, I was overwhelmingly so. Also, stewed prunes have recently become part of a complete breakfast. Those go great with the nausea...NOT.

So, in the span of a week, I've gone from feeling mostly ok to feeling mostly like this (though considerably less cute):

But I am not complaining. I will take whatever crap I need to take as long as it means baby is staying.

(Seriously, though, stewed prunes are gross.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Friday Before Last...

...this happened:

Um, what?!

I always promised myself I'd never test that early but starting at about 5 DPO, I began feeling really weird. By 9 DPO, I was a hormonal mess and my temperature, which usually takes a dip on that day, stayed up. Then, on the drive to work that morning I saw one of these:
Full disclosure: this was not on the drive to work. I was too busy driving to take a picture. This was taken from my driveway two days prior. Multiple rainbows this cycle = definite sign when you are getting desperate.

I decided that if that wasn't a sign, I didn't know what was and tested as soon as I got home. My initial reaction was "I KNEW it!" followed by "I can't wait to show DH the second he comes home!" followed by "holy shit, it's only 9 DPO, what have I done?!"

Needless to say, we are extremely nervous about this. Excited but also really nervous. As of today, I'm 4w6d, which is three days farther than I made it last time. We have a viability scan coming up on Oct. 3rd with the RE, at 6 weeks, when we will hopefully see everything in the right place and a beautiful little heartbeat. If all goes well, EDD is May 28, 2014 - just a few days after my own birthday and just about a year after our first BFP.

For the most part, I've been feeling pretty good. From 5 DPO to about 12 DPO, I had lots of symptoms but they've settled down. Now I've just got major bloat, occasional bouts of queasiness, and want to sleep 24/7. Oh, I can also smell everything now and it turns out that everything smells bad. That's been fun.

Over the weekend, we told our parents by giving them each one of these:

They were a hit!

We are trying not to get too excited or attached yet, but we are so grateful for each day that this baby sticks around and are hoping that we get to bring this one home.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

[Today's usual TTC Friday post is going to be a few days late. I haven't been feeling great this week and I've been sitting on this review for a while, so it will have to tide you over. I'll be back soon!]
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Like China Road earlier this year, this is a book I only discovered because the author was interviewed on The Daily Show. Being a physics teacher, the story of William building a windmill for his village after teaching himself about electricity sounded interesting and potentially inspiring.

Here's a condensed description, taken from
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the immensely engaging and inspiring true account of an enterprising African teenager who constructed a windmill from scraps to create electricity for his entire community. William Kamkwamba shares the remarkable story of his youth in Malawi, Africa—a  nation crippled by intense poverty, famine, and the AIDS plague—and how, with tenacity and imagination, he built a better life for himself, his family, and his village.

William's story is amazing to me for a few reasons. First, William grew up in a superstitious community. People tended to explain things away with magic and didn't really encourage scientific curiosity. William, however, never stopped asking questions no matter how many times the adults around him tried to dismiss them. Also, this young boy takes it upon himself to make his own education. He goes to the library to read books on the subjects he would have studied in school. He works to improve his English so that he can understand the physics books that captivate his interest. His determination and drive are inspiring.

As a teacher, I found myself wondering how many of our North American students would do what William did if they couldn't go to school? The way that our students take their education for granted often frustrates me, especially when I read books like this (see also: Three Cups of Tea, Little Princes, or Reading Lolita in Tehran). When my physics class began our electricity unit last semester, I showed my students a TED talk that William gave and told them his story, hoping to show them how the concepts they were learning are fairly basic but their applications can be life changing. I hoped that they, too, might get something out of William's determination and ingenuity. Unfortunately, it sparked nothing with that group. So disappointing.

All of this sounds like great stuff but the enthusiasm is entirely mine. The book itself is actually very dull. It's marketed as the story of the windmill but that part is just a very small portion toward the end. The majority of the book talks about William's childhood, some of his parents' history, his village, and Malawi. I get that all of those things are important for context and to convey the significance of the windmill for the people in William's village, but it was long and meandering, and at times just boring.

If you're interested, here is the second of the two TED talks that William has given:

There is also a documentary in the works. The video at that link has a more current interview with William and talks about what he's been up to in recent years.

Overall, William's story is worth hearing and learning about but the book may not be the best medium to do it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

TTC Friday: My Wish

Doesn't it feel like I start every post with an apology for being MIA? This is one is no exception! I have so many things waiting in the wings to be written about, just haven't had the time. I will be playing catch-up again next week but for now, something short and sweet...

A friend who was TTC a few years ago found a song that she'd use to help her every time CD1 came around and after she had her baby boy, it became "their" song. It was Michael Buble's Just Haven't Met You Yet. I loved that, but never really found a song that conveyed the same thing for me.

A few days ago, I got this Rascal Flatts song stuck in my head and everytime I got the part of the chorus that goes, "while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you..." I started to get a little choked up. Call it PMS hormones or whatever, but this is my song:

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big
Your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
Rating: 3.5-4.0/5.0

If you are a sucker for a good coming of age story like I am, this one's for you!

Black Swan Green is a novel but it's structured more like a short story collection. Each chapter is a month of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor's life in the English village of Black Swan Green. We follow Jason as he navigates the bullies at school, the disintegration of his parents' marriage, and his own budding identity. While many of the chapters could easily stand alone, there is definitely continuity and a plot.

The novel is well written; Mitchell really captures the tween mentality. It's funny and poignant in the right places. There are also some shades of John Irving: Jason's speech impediment, the older woman who teaches Jason about himself (in a non-sexual way, so not entirely Irving-like). Being a big Irving fan, that was a good thing.

There were two chapters that really resonated with me. My favourite was "Solarium," in which Jason meets Eva Crommelynk. She is the only person in Black Swan Green who knows that Jason writes poetry, which  is published in the parish newsletter under a nom de plume. Their meetings give Jason a new perspective on art and his own identity. Crommelynk's character was interesting and entertaining. Apparently, she also appears in Cloud Atlas, one of Mitchell's much more famous novels that I have not gotten around to yet.

The other chapter that stood out was "Maggot." This one really got to me, I think largely due to the timing. I was dealing with some behaviour issues in one of my classes and was quite frustrated by the things I was observing at school. There are several parts of the book that describe obnoxious teenage behaviour, but this chapter in particular features some quite cruel bullying. For starters, the title of the chapter refers to the name Jason's classmates like to call him. Though I have never experienced what happens in the book (and hope not to), it just hit a little too close to home emotionally at the time.

This year has been shaping up to be a pretty lacklustre one so far in terms of books. Black Swan Green is one of the few that I'd recommend and that I think I'll still remember having enjoyed at the end of the year.

Friday, August 23, 2013

TTC Friday: The Ball, It Is Rolling

On Wednesday morning, we had our first appointment with the REI (Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility) specialist. We spent more time sitting around waiting than we did actually talking with the doctor, but things went well and we're now on the path to IF testing.

Before we met the doctor, we met one of the fellows who works with him (the clinic is at a hospital) and she took both of our histories, including details about my cycles. She took that information to the doctor, they reviewed it together, then both came back to discuss with DH and me. I was expecting to get a pelvic exam or ultrasound as well but they didn't ask. I don't know if it was because they already had that information from when I had them done in Feb/March (they did make reference to the u/s results at one point), or the timing, or if they just don't do that during consults at all.

The doctor told us the same thing I'd read in one of my TTC books: after trying unsuccessfully for one year, 40% of the time, it's a male issue and 40% of the time, it's a female issue. He said that based on my history over the past year, he suspects PCOS, but won't say for sure until after all of the testing is done. I had thought that the fact that I'm still ovulating each cycle would be significant but it didn't seem to be. I got the impression that egg quality could be an issue given the delayed ovulation in most cycles, though the doctor didn't explicitly say that. He did say that based on all of the information he has so far, the goal will be to get me ovulating properly. I'm totally onboard with that!

As I had suspected going into the appointment, the timing wasn't ideal for any testing this cycle. The plan is to wait until next the next cycle begins, then go in for CD3 bloodwork, an HSG somewhere around CD7-10, and 7dpo bloodwork. The DH also got a requisition for a semen analysis, which is all the lucky bugger needs to do and he was able to schedule that for next week. Once all of the results are back, the doctor will bring us back in and we'll discuss where to go from there. I'm hoping, though, that I'll be able to call and get the results of the individual tests before that meeting. It would be nice to have a rough idea of where we're at without having to wait that long! The semen analysis results alone could eleminate 40% of the worry.

We both came away from the appointment feeling good about it. We both liked the doctor, Dr. P, who was very friendly and very empathetic to our situation. One of the things I'd been concerned about was what happens if we were to conceive again before we were actually getting treatment. The family doctor doesn't typically see people very early and they don't do anything beyond a urine test, but I'd like to know what's going on given what happened last time. Before I could even ask about this, Dr. P said that if I should happen to get pregnant again before we made it to the testing, to call and ask for a beta draw so that they could monitor it. When I told him that this was the exact thing I'd been wondering, his response was, "Of course we'll look after it. You're a part of the family now." I don't think we could have asked for better than that.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Working On My Fitness Part 2: Let's Get Physical

Note: You can find Part 1, discussing mental health, here. I promise that today's installment doesn't ramble as much!

Ok, I may not be as bad as Liz Lemon but my arms do need some serious work. Among other parts.

In terms of physical fitness, the original plan was to do a combination of yoga and Couch-2-5K. Both of those turned out to be a lost cause while school was still on. Once summer holidays began, we had a brutal heatwave and there was no way I was leaving the comfort of central air for that mess. Thanks to youtube, this became Plan B:

Keaira Leshae is fabulous. And that body! Damn, girl. This dance workout is pretty intense and I'm still not coordinated enough to get all the moves right, but it's fun. I've never really gotten into running on past attempts anyway, so I think I'm going to stick with this. Keaira has a bunch of other workouts that I'd also like to try at some point.

For most of July, I was alternating the above workout one day with yoga (still doing The Joy of Yoga by Crunch Fitness) the next day. This combination has been great for my abs, butt, and thighs - the major areas I am looking to tone up. Unfortunately, it doesn't work my upper arms the way I'd like; it hits the triceps but not the biceps, which is what I really need. We have some free weights at home so DH has been giving me suggestions for exercises I can add to my routine to help fill in that gap.

Before the cruise, I was just starting to see some tightening and muscle tone forming. I had more energy and was feeling good about my body. While we did a lot of walking on port days, I didn't end up mainting things as well as I'd hoped during the trip so the current goal is to get back on track. Once I'm back into the routine, I'll start incorporating DH's suggestions for the biceps.

If you have any suggestions for for workouts that might be fun to try, let me know!

PS: Over the next little while, I'll be giving the blog a makeover and updating/organzing the blogroll. Sorry if things start to look a little wonky!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Working On My Fitness Part I: Staying Sane

Note: This was originally intended to be one post discussing what I've been doing to manage both mental and physical health this summer. As it turns out, I'm a little longwinded so I've broken it up into two seperate posts. This one covers the mental health and Part 2 will discuss the physical. 

Remember way back in February, when I was trying to get motivated to exercise again? I had set a goal of doing yoga at least once a week and that didn't happen. I made it all the way to the end of the school year in no better shape than when I'd started. Combined with all of the emotional and physical stresses of the year, I was in considerably worse shape all around by June.

One of the things I've been doing to get back on track is something I've already mentioned: Circle + Bloom. This is a guided meditation that has been really helpful in managing stress, and getting my mind and body on the same page. I haven't really been doing it lately, just haven't felt the need, but I'm sure that once school starts again, I'll get back into it. My cycles have been more regular than ever since I started C+B but there's really no way to know that it's responsible, obviously. It has helped me stay relaxed and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing as far as my own sanity goes.

Aside from TTC, work had me really burned out this year. When you get classes that are well-behaved and everything runs smoothly, teaching is a great job. More often than not, it doesn't turn out that way. I had a couple of really challenging classes this year (grade 9s that were below grade level, behaviour issues all around, a split class that was basically two different courses in one period) and as a school community, we were hit hard by various issues (a threat right before Christmas break, a few suicides) that had to be managed very carefully. By the end of the school year, I didn't want anything to do with it anymore. Naturally, that meant it was a good time to dig myself deeper.

Right after the school year was over, I began taking an online course. It was an Additional Qualification course in special ed. It was more intense than I'd expected it to be and at first, I thought I'd lost my mind going straight into that when all I wanted to do was stop thinking about work! In the end, though, it turned out to be exactly what I needed. The discussions with other teachers put some of my own issues into perspective, made me feel better about some of what I was doing in the classroom (it can feel very isolating at times so it's always nice to hear that others have had the same issues), and gave me strategies to try in the future. I've also been participating in the Facebook group for teachers in my region, which has had a similar effect. Spending this time reflecting on work and building up resources has actually been a very good thing. I can't say I'm going back to school completely rejuvinated and inspired, but I'm certainly going back feeling a lot more prepared and capable than I felt in June.

One positive aspect of work and my course was that they served as an effective distraction from TTC troubles. Now that both are over, I'm trying to make an effort to fill my time with other things so that I don't end up on the couch, just ruminating. Deep cleaning parts of the house and organizing all of my teaching materials should take me through the rest of the break. I also gave in and created a Pinterest account yesterday, which has been filling my head with all kinds of inspiring ideas I'll probably never get around to.

So, for now, it's all about knocking some projects off the To Do list, getting inspired for future projects, and using C+B as needed to help keep the anxiety and stress levels in check. Blogging and having a good support system offline has been helpful. I still lurk on The Bump occasionally but there are times when I just need to avoid it, and that's ok. Once the new school year begins, there will probably be some more juggling until I find another new balance but so far, so good.

Friday, August 16, 2013

TTC Friday: Still Chugging Along

The good news on the TTC front is that I've now had two normal length cycles in a row - this last one was the shortest so far, at 33 days. The bad news is that I'm still not pregnant. And I'm still not convinced that my body is totally fine either. Back in the fall, I had two cycles that were on the shorter side and I got my hopes up, but it all went to hell again from there. Nothing has been a reliable predictor, unfortunately.

In the meantime, DH and I have our first appointment with the REI specialist next Wednesday. How I feel about it changes multiple times a day. Part of me is nervous about it and dreading having to go through all of the testing. There, too, I'm torn between being afraid of the results and being afraid of an "unexplained" diagnosis. Part of me is disappointed that we're at this point in the process; it feels like a failure, or like giving up. Yet another part of me just wants to get this show on the road and get a plan in place, to start making some kind of progress. It's a strange, confusing, frustrating place to be.

The cruise we took last week was a fantastic getaway and helped us unwind from all of the stresses of the past year, which was the whole point, but the last couple of days were bitterwseet. Just the fact that we were on the cruise in the first place was a bit of a kick in the pants. We had gone on an Alaskan cruise last summer that was intended to be our last big trip before we started TTC and we naively expected to be either pregnant or with a new baby by now. Instead, I woke up to a couple more BFNs on Thursday and Friday morning, and we sat in our lounge chairs figuring out how to get DH out of work for the REI appointment. It also became evident those last couple of days that this process is really starting to wear on DH, too. I think that the longer it takes, the more he starts to worry that he is the problem. He's also getting tired of the endless waiting and the emotional roller coaster of each cycle, which I completely understand.

Despite all of the worries and fears, I think it will be a good thing to have a sense of direction and some kind of plan in place. At the very least, it will be great to finally talk to a doctor who doesn't need me to explain to him why androgen levels in my blood might be useful to check and that androgens are not actually progesterone (my new family doctor and I are not destined for a long-term relationship). There will probably be a lot more waiting - I'll be on CD11 so blood work will likely have to wait until next cycle - but this kind of waiting feels more productive and less like we're drifting in the wind.

For those three short days back in June when I was pregnant, I had this sense of happiness and peace that I can't explain but that I desperately want to get back. If all of this will get us there, then it's worth it. I just have to keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back at it

Oh. Hi there. You're still here? Thanks for sticking around. If you're wondering where I've been for the last month and a half...

First, I was doing a lot of this:

Once that was over, I started a summer online course so I was doing a lot of this:

And last week, I finally got to start enjoying the summer break properly. Hubby and I were away doing a lot of this:
This is the Carnival Liberty at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. It was glorious.

We're back home now and  I've got three more weeks of freedom to enjoy before the school year starts up again. I've got a lot to write about over the next little while: I'm way behind on book reviews, I actually have some fitness updates since I did manage to squeeze in some progress on that front this summer, and TTC Friday will continue as we prepare to see the REI specialist next week. So, stick with me a little longer and we'll get this show back on the road!

Friday, June 28, 2013

TTC Friday: Tick, Tick, BOOM

Well. Look at that.

It's hard to say what brought on this "normal" cycle. Could have been my body resetting itself after the chemical pregnancy. Could have been reduced stress levels/better management of stress thanks to Circle + Bloom. Could have been better eating habits (no skipping lunch this time), drinking more water each day, and taking my vitamins again. Could have been because it was Tuesday. Who knows. Whatever it was, I'm grateful for it because it's given me some hope and a real sense of a "fresh" start.

I got the call yesterday for my specialist appointment. DH and I both have to go in for the initial session, which will be on August 21st. I'm glad it's later because it'll give us some more time to mentally/emotionally prepare for it, and get in at least one more cycle on our own if this one is not it. My fingers are staying crossed that we won't need to keep that appointment.

Not too long ago, I came across this article about Khloe Kardashian where she discusses the speculation about her infertility. I feel for her (who'd have thought I'd ever say that about a Kardashian?!) because that is nobody's business and she shouldn't have to explain herself. Khloe's argument was that she's not dealing with infertility, her hormones are just off. My reaction when I read that was, "the denial is strong with this one." When you're being medicated and having monitoring ultrasounds...yeah, you're dealing with infertility.

The doctor I've been referred to specializes in REI - reproductive endocrinology and infertility. The receptionist at my doctor's office kept making reference to going to the "fertility clinic" every time I spoke to her on the phone. Each time I'd hear the terms "infertility" and "fertility clinic" I'd find myself feeling defensive and wanting to say, "wait! I'm not dealing with infertility here, I'm not going to the clinic for all that. I probably just have hormone issues." So, it seems Ms. Kardashian is not the only one with a touch of denial. I have been feeling better about this whole thing compared to last week (thank you for the supportive comments, by the way!) but these labels are something I will need to get my head around and come to terms with.

(In case you're wondering, the title of this post comes from the fact that my DH keeps calling Circle + Bloom "Circle and BOOM" so when I actually ovulated, that's what came to mind. Well, that and "boom goes the dynamite" but I think I'll save that one for a BFP!)

Friday, June 21, 2013

TTC Friday: Surreal

Where has the last month gone?! Work has been so busy that everything, blogging included, fell by the wayside. The school year is winding down now, though, and it's time to start catching up.

The last month has been somewhat surreal as far as TTC goes. When I last posted, I had just gotten a +OPK on CD64. Here's how that cycle turned out:

I was convinced during the entire LP (luteal phase) that my period was coming because everything felt like typical PMS. When I saw the temp spike on CD76, I remember thinking "WTF?"  but then it went back down and by CD78, I was sure my period would start the next day. It was the usual pattern. I had no plans to test at all and had already mentally checked out of cycle 6. Then my temp went back up and, well, you can see the rest.

I've been trying to come up with the right words to describe or explain those few days but  I can't quite get there. On the one hand, it is a relief to know that we can conceive and maybe it's a good sign that things are working. On the other hand, it still seems awfully cruel, after all this time, to have been given those few days and then have it taken away. Most of the time, DH and I are optimistic but some days (like today) are just hard.

Stress has been a big factor in my life this past semester and it's very possible that my last cycle was so long because of it. I'll never know for sure but it's likely. This cycle, I've started listening to the Circle + Bloom freebie recording to help manage the stress. It has worked wonders so far, though the jury is still out on what effect it may have on my cycle. I'm not sure I'm willing to spend the money on the full program but I do believe in their philosophy, and I have noticed positive changes since I started using the free download. School being out for the summer will go a long way toward relieving my stress too!

As I get further on in this cycle and (hopefully) closer to ovulation, the anxiety is starting to ramp up. Part of me wants to believe that we'll be able to get pregnant again really soon and another part of me is terrified that we'll lose it again. I hate that the excitement of getting a BFP is gone and it's now a source of fear.

We're also preparing ourselves for the 1 year mark next month. I saw my new family doctor this week and have been referred to a fertility clinic so I am waiting to hear back on that. My fingers are crossed that I won't need that appointment but nothing about this process has been that easy, so I'm not holding my breath. Now we begin the research into what's covered by our provincial health care plan/our own insurance and what's not. It's also time to start having those conversations we've been  putting off about how far we are willing to go with testing/treatment.

In my head, I always knew this was a possibility and I kow it's what needs to be done, but I still can't quite believe that we are here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: What the Body Remembers

What the Body Remembers, Shauna Singh Baldwin
Rating: 3.0/.50

Here's a good example of how the TTC process can take a perfectly rational brain and turn it to mush. I read the part in the book's description about one of the main characters taking on a second wife because his first was unable to have children and thought, "hey, that sounds like something I can relate to! It would be right up my alley." Needless to say, that was a stupid idea. A really, really stupid idea.

It started off well; I really liked the first chapter. The writing was nice, almost poetic, and it drew me in. It was told from Satya's perspective, the first wife, and begins just as the second wife joins the family. I felt for her and wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the next chunk of the book switched perspectives (to that of the second wife) and went back in time about ten years. Things started to drag and when the narrative finally did return to Satya's POV, she had become much less sympathetic and the writing had become tedious. It was repetitive and seemed to be trying too hard at times. I could have made a drinking game out of certain lines that kept being repeated over and over.

Much of the time, getting through this novel felt like a slog, though this is not entirely the author's fault. Something so long (500+ pages) just isn't a good idea during the school year. Only being able to read a few pages a night before falling asleep is not ideal. On the other hand, I didn't particularly like any of the major characters, even though I did occasionally sympathize with them. The language also made it challenging - a lot of terms were used that I didn't know the meaning of and there was no glossary.

On the positive side: this turned out to be an appropriate follow-up to Committed since there is much discussion about the inequality between men and women and how women get the short end of the stick in marriage here. Also, all of the family drama is set against the backdrop of India during the partition. I knew a bit about it from my high school World Religions course but this novel approaches it from a Sikh perspective, which I knew next to nothing about. I ended up learning a lot more about what was going on in India during that time and about the Sikh religion.

Friday, May 17, 2013

TTC Friday: A New Record

It's about damn time:

(In case that's too tiny to read, it's a positive OPK on CD64)

I don't even have words for this anymore. Between this shit and the crap I'm dealing with at school on a daily basis, it's a miracle that I am still relatively sane.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Committed

Committed: A Love Story, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Rating: 3.0/5.0

First of all, can we talk about the title of this book? Its original subtitle was "A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage." Between the time that I saved this book to my library wishlist and the time that I actually got around to reading it, it had changed to "A Love Story." I don't get the need for this, other than marketing. Considering that one of the most common criticisms of Committed is that it's not like Eat, Pray, Love, this seems to be deliberately misleading people. The original subtitle is far more accurate.

At the end of Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert meets Felipe and the two fall in love. In Committed, they learn that if they want to live together in the United States, they are going to have to get married. As both of them are divorced and swore that they'd never remarry, this is not good news. Adrift in Southeast Asia while they wait for Felipe's fiance visa to be approved, Gilbert sets out to learn about marriage and to find a way to make peace with the idea of being married again. This is not a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love; the book is partially a memoir but is mostly a dissertation on marriage in a historical, social, and religious context.

It was an interesting read, especially against the backdrop of the same-sex marriage debate going on in the US. The people who argue against it like to argue that marriage has always been defined as being between a man and a woman, and that it's a sacred institution. As Gilbert discovered, none of that is true. In ancient Rome, for instance, it was perfectly legal for two men to marry when circumstances made it beneficial for them to do so. Most of the time, marriage was about politics or convencience. Not at all sacred. The church itself was initially against marriage altogether until it realized that people were going to do it anyway. Unable to prevent it, they began trying to control it instead.

Gilbert's research brought up several facts and ideas that I found interesting/thought-provoking:
  • Western culture has a different view on the purpose of marriage than the rest of the world and we place a very high degree of importance in its role in our lives. We also tend to expect our spouse to be responsible for our own personal fulfillment. Not surprising, then, that we tend to be more unsatisfied and disappointed.
  • The laws of coverture. Ridiculous.
  • There is an actual genetic basis for the dad vs. cad theory. There is a particular male gene, the length of which can predispose a man to either father a child and take off (the cad), or stick around and raise his kids (the dad). 
  • Seagulls mate for life. Who knew? But even among seagulls, there is a 25% "divorce" rate. I found it interesting that there is such a thing as a fundamental compatibility (or lack thereof) between individuals.
  • Educated women tend to have more solid marriages. And in societies where women become financially independent, marriage is the first thing that changes. This is because a woman's "need" or motivation for marriage is lessened or removed.
  • The Marriage-Benefit Imbalance. There is a study showing that while men benefit socially, physcologically, and physically from marriage, it has the opposite effect on women. When I tried to find more on this, I came across a series of articles on Psychology Today which debunk it instead. It starts here.

In addition to the research, Gilbert shares stories of her mother and grandmother's marriages. I enjoyed that and it was amazing to hear how much things changed in just one generation. The book was well written but did get repetitive at times. Also, as much as I like her, Gilbert came across as someone who, even after her journey in Eat, Pray, Love, is still insecure and worried about what people will think. There are many passages in the book where she'll make a statement and then, in anticipation of how someone might criticize or misinterpret her intentions, she'll qualify and defend it. That got annoying after a while. Finally, her entire premise was about making peace with her own second marriage but after laying out all of her research and reflections, Gilbert doesn't really discuss how she ultimately did make that decision to go forward and be ok with it. It just happens. I got to the end and felt like something was missing.

Overall, while it could have been better, the book was still a worthwile read. It was interesting and I learned some new things. It made me reflect on my own relationship and marriage.

Friday, April 26, 2013

TTC Friday: When Coworkers Need to STFU

One of the many things I didn't appreciate before TTC is all of the stupid, inappropriate things people say to women on the subect of TTC. They always mean well and I'm sure I've said my share of idiotic things too, but this is a subject that is best left alone unless you really know the person you are talking to.

Over the last couple of weeks, here's a sampling of what I've heard from one of my coworkers:

"When are you planning to have kids? You've been married for a while right?"
[Followed, of course, in the next breath by complaints about how her mother used to ask her that all the time and it drove her crazy]

"Don't wait too long to have kids. The older you get, the harder it is on your body." [She had twins at 38]

"How old are you? Seriously, just forget this teaching thing and go have kids. It's brutal when you're older."

It was no big deal at first, just casual conversation, but it is getting more persistent and really starting to irritate me. I'm now into month #10 and it's yet another long cycle - day 43 and still waiting for a positive OPK. The longer it drags on, the less patience I have for this crap.

I try to laugh it off and change the subject but what I'd really like to tell her is that it's pretty damn hard to do anything BUT wait and I'd appreciate NOT being reminded of the passage of time. I'd really like to tell her that my plans are none of her damn business. I'd really like to tell her that my body is giving me enough grief just trying to get pregnant, I don't need to hear how bad it'll be if I eventually do manage to get pregnant. And mostly...


Seriously. Why do people think this is ok?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Dead as a Doornail

Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris
Southern Vampire Mysteries #5 (aka the Sookie Stackhouse novels)
Rating: 3.0/5.0

If you haven't been reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels or watching True Blood (the show was inspired by these books), you are missing out. I'm not normally a fan of the vampire or supernatural genre but even I managed to get myself hooked!

Sookie Stackhouse is a bar waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She's a nice, good looking Southern girl who also happens to be a telepath. Her "disability" leaves Sookie without many human friends, but with an inconvenient tendency to get drawn into the dealings of other supernatural beings in the area. In Sookie's world, vampires exist and are "out" to the general public. As the series progresses, we meet more "supes" but the main focus is usually on the vampires. Also, there is sexy time. In this installment, Sookie has to adjust to her brother's newfound supernatural tendencies and we learn more about the politics of shapeshifters. I'll leave it at that because I don't want to spoil the first four books.

These novels are meant to be light, easy reading and with your expectations calibrated accordingly, they are quite satisfying. Actually, up to this point, I thought Harris' writing was steadily getting better with each book. From that perspective, this one fell short. It felt like filler; things did happen but not as much compared to the previous novels. The pacing felt off. It was also shorter than I expected, which was great since things have been so busy, but also a little disappointing.

So, Dead as a Doornail is not my favourite in the series so far. But it's still a fun series and worth a try if you're looking for something easy and different.

Monday, April 15, 2013

March Bingo

Midterm reports are due at the end of this week. I should be working on those right now but procrastination is more appealing. Instead, I bring you the March Reading Bingo update:

I only hit one new square last month. My progress has remained steady with two books and an audiobook in March, though I had hoped for more since I had a week off. The books:

7. Little Princes

8. The Virgin Suicides
  • A contender for Great First Line (I'll decide on that at the end of the year):  
"On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide—it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese—the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope."
9. Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You
  • A book by a Canadian author
March also brought my first abandoned book of the year: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. I had high hopes for it given that it's supposed to be one of the greatest spy novels ever, but I just couldn't get into it. DH and I tried watching the movie but gave up on that too, despite the great cast.

April is shaping up to be a pretty slow month so far. The countdown to summer and uninterrupted reading time is on!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, Alice Munro
Short stories
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Alice Munro is one of my favourite authors. When it comes to short stories, she's tough to beat. That said, she is maybe something of an acquired taste. The first couple of times I tried to read her collections, I just couldn't get into them and didn't see what the big fuss was about her. One year, I was gifted a copy of Runaway for Christmas and something clicked. I have loved her since.

This collection, unfortunately, reminded me of my first few attempts at her work. It was hard to get into. It's one of her older ones, published in the '70s, which may be part of the reason. The style is not quite the same as her more recent work. I often found myself wondering what was going on, particularly with the first several stories.

As the title would suggest, all of the stories in the collection deal with the consequences of things left unsaid, things that were misspoken, or misunderstood. I did like "How I Met My Husband," "Forgiveness in Families," and I especially liked "The Spanish Lady," which is about a woman trying to come to terms with the break up of her marriage after her husband's infidelity. The way that story is told is what I was originally expecting from the collection and is the Munro that I love. She has a way of capturing female emotions and experiences that is so spot on, it's gutwrenching sometimes.

There were a couple of passages that I couldn't help laugh at. Munro was always a good observer of human nature. Consider that these were written long before social media or reality TV ever existed: 

From "Walking on Water":
...what he objected to in this generation , if that was what it was, was that they could not do a thing without showing off. Why all this yawping about everything, he asked. They could not grow a carrot without congratulating themselves on it.

From "Marrakesh":
Dorothy had seen pictures in magazines of this new type of adult who appeared to have discarded adulthood. Jeanette was the first one she had seen close up and in the flesh. It used to be that young boys and girls would try to look like grown men and women, often with ridiculous results. Now there were grown men and women who would try to look like teen-agers until, presumably, they woke up on the brink of old age.

Overall, not a bad collection but not Munro's best either. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

TTC Friday: Saturday Edition

Things have been pretty quiet on the TTC front around the blog lately. There's not much left to say on the subject. When I last posted, I mentioned that the frustration was starting affect other areas of my life and I felt like I needed to take a step back. That has turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

As the months kept passing by and my cycles kept dragging on, it took up more and more mental and emotional space. I was thinking about it and worrying about it more often than not. Work, as I've mentioned many times before, has been stressful this semester and I wasn't handling it as well as I could have because my energy was focused elsewhere. It was getting to the point where I was getting behind with marking and giving up on dealing with some classroom issues; I just didn't feel up to it. Hormones being all over the place didn't help either. When I found myself starting to think bitter things like "I have bigger things to worry about right now than a bunch of immature kids acting like brats," I realized that a line had to be drawn. I was not proud of the job I'd been doing and it was exhausting feeling perpetually behind, never making progress. I don't want my students to remember me as the teacher who was tired all the time and didn't seem to want to be there. That was when I started the Good Things project.

I decided to focus on the fact that, according to my ultrasound and blood tests (however ill-timed they might have been), things are fine. I'd keep charting, temping, and doing all of the things I usually do, but I was not going to think about it beyond what was necessary. I'd start appreciating all of the things that were going right rather than focus on the one big thing that was going wrong. Letting go of that weight has been such a relief. For the first time since the semester began, I feel like I'm in control and on top of things. I'm still a bit behind but it doesn't feel like a bottomless pit anymore. I'm smiling more in class again and am putting more into my lessons again beyond just what is needed to get through each day. I am also more appreciative of my collegues; they are probably also dealing with personal things that the rest of us have no idea about and it is probably not easy for them either.

In the back of my mind, I still wonder how much longer this is going to take. I still wonder what we're going to do when we hit that one year mark. I still wonder if there is something wrong. None of worries have magically disappeared. But those worries are exactly where they need to be right now: the back of my mind.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
Rating: 3.5/5.0

There was a period in mid-March when I felt like reading something sad. Sometimes, a really depressing read can be cathartic. I loved Middlesex, also by Jeffrey Eugenides, so this seemed like a winning choice.

The Virgin Suicides was well written, as I'd expected. I liked the way that Eugenides uses the physical deterioration of the Lisbon house as a reflection of the emotional and psychological deterioration of the family within.

This passage really stood out for me:
The man lashed the fence, in sections, to his truck and -- getting paid for it -- gave Mr. Bates the worst lawn job we'd ever seen. We were amazed our parents permitted this, when lawn jobs usually justified calling the cops. But now Mr. Bates didn't scream or try to get the truck's license plate, nor did Mrs. Bates, who had once wept when we set off firecrackers in her state-fair tulips -- they said nothing, and our parents said nothing, so that we sensed how ancient they were, how accustomed to trauma, depressions, and wars. We realized that the version of the world they rendered for us was not the world they really believed in, and that for all their caretaking and bitching about crabgrass they didn't give a damn about lawns.
I think all parents do this to some extent, and I do this as a teacher sometimes. We try to create a world for our kids/students that reflects more of an ideal than reality. We hope that we can mold kids into it and make something better than what we had. Eventually, though, kids will have to deal with things as they are. This school year has been full of events that have forced us to address serious subjects with our students that aren't a day-to-day part of our courses. This passage reflects so well the way that our true priorities come out when tragedy strikes.

The book did not turn out to be as sad or disturbing as I'd expected given the subject matter. The way the story is told, from the perspective of a group of boys who lived across the street and observed but never truly knew what happened, results in a sense of detachment that never goes away. It's almost more of a journalistic style than novel-like. That made it a bit tough to get into. In the end, I didn't really feel like I knew much about the Lisbon girls or their family, or had much insight into their motivation. It was well written but not particularly satisfying.

Sofia Coppola made the film adaptation:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Things Thursday & Friday

My four day weekend has begun and I've already gotten lazy!

Thursday's good things:
  • Music that made me smile. I heard Red Red Wine on the radio while driving to work. Back when I was thirteen, that song was my definition of sexy. Totally my jam.
  • A mostly cooperative grade nine class.
  • A beautifully done, moving presentation of the Stations of the Cross during our Holy Thursday liturgy (I teach at a Catholic school). Our school was without a drama teacher for the first month of the semester and the person who ended up volunteering to take over has done a fantastic job. 
  • Getting the grocery shopping done without getting stressed. The store was packed, as it always is when a holiday weekend is approaching, but I didn't let it get to me.
  • Pomegranate margaritas!
Today's good things:
  • Sleeping in
  • Spending most of the day on the couch. I will probably regret this, though, since I didn't get any school work done at all.
  • Finished DH's taxes. Both of ours are now done, just have to verify the numbers and send them off.
  • Blueberry-banana pancakes with strawberry sauce for dinner.
  • Knowing that I have three more days off.
That brings me to the end of my Good Things project. Has it made a difference? Yes. Nothing Earth-shattering but I think it has been helpful. For many of the positives I listed throughout the week, I could have listed just as many negatives. There were things that were stressful and frustrating but making this list every day helped to shift my focus away from those things. I didn't end up dwelling on them and that made them easier to deal with. I also noticed that I have a tendency to expect the worst, which gives me something I can work on. Ultimately, I needed a change of perspective and got it so I'd say the idea paid off.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Things Wednesday

A successful Lock Down drill this morning. Last time I had to do one of those, a kid popped a balloon in the middle of it. Not good! This was much better.

The junior boys' hockey team had a tournament at the arena next door so after our lesson in the grade ten class, they went to watch hockey and I got a break.

Also thanks to the tournament, the most disruptive kids in my grade nine class were all absent (they're on the team). It was the most mellow and productive class we've had yet.

Time to eat my lunch two days in a row!

Time to do everything I needed to in my split class. For once, I didn't feel like a chicken with my head cut off. They're still a month behind where they should be but it's starting to feel salvageable.

Shiny new hair dryer! Looking forward to trying it out tonight.

The Daily Show and Colbert are back on this week and I finally had time after work today to start catching up.

Just one more day to go until a four day weekend.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Good Things Tuesday

My travel hair dryer. My normal dryer blew out on Sunday while I was only halfway through drying my hair. I thought I'd have to make an emergency shopping trip after work on Monday but then remembered that I have a travel one lying around. My bangs look like crap but it saved me some time.

My awesome grade ten class. They make me like what I do. It's the one class I look forward to every day and those kids give me the least grief. If it wasn't for them, this semester would be miserable.

Actually having time to eat my lunch today.

Parent interviews went more smoothly than expected. The one parent I was particularly nervous about, because she kind of laid into me a year and a half ago when I taught another one of her sons, didn't even remember meeting me before. She was lovely.

It was still light out when I drove home after 7:30.

I don't have too much planning to do tonight. It was hard enough to stay awake at 9 AM today, even harder now!

The email I got today with the subject line, "Your cruise countdown begins today!" We've got summer vacation plans (booked last week) and I can't wait!

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Good Things Monday

    DH and I have been catching up on Mad Men and in one of the last episodes of season 4, Peggy reminds Don of one of his advertising philosophies: if you don't like what people are saying about you, change the conversation. That resonated with me. It's time to change MY conversation. I need to refocus my thinking and my energy into positive things. I need to start being proactive about the things I'm unhappy with that I can change.

    To that end, I decided to try a little experiment on the blog this week. Every day, I'm going to list at least five good things that have happened. My hope is that by the end of the week, I'll be paying more attention to those than to all the other junk that is going on that just drags me down. And maybe it'll motivate me to keep seeking out positive change.

    So, good things that happpened today:
    1. No surprise on-call during my prep, allowing me to finish what I needed to before I had to start teaching. I try not to leave much work that needs to be done for the same day's classes, just in case, but I really needed that time today.
    2. One of my most obstinate grade ten students assigned himself a new seat today, did more work and participated more than he has been all semester. Progress reports went home on Friday and it looks like he actually gives a damn, despite his attitude to the contrary all this time.
    3. I survived my grade nine class.
    4. I didn't have to stay too long after school. Tomorrow will be a late day; we have parent-teacher interviews from 3:30 to 7:30 so this made me happy.
    5. Dinner was not what I originally planned but it turned out really good.
    I found this while looking for a good image to go with this post and I think it's perfect:

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    TTC Friday: Sunday Edition

    Alternate title: Unremarkable.

    It's been a while since I posted anything of substance (The Virgin Suicides review is coming, I promise!) and a longer while since the last TTC Friday update. I reached a point where I needed a break from thinking/talking/writing/reading about it. The stress and frustration has started to affect other areas of my life, including work, and I needed to take a step back.

    Over the break, I went for a pelvic ultrasound to check for cysts. The clinic said that my doctor's office would have the results within two days. Not so much. After sweating it out for a full week, all I got was "unremarkable." My insides are unremarkable. No cysts, or anything else out of the ordinary. Great. Then WTF, body?

    This is exactly what I was afraid would happen, that I'd end up back at square one. I don't really even know what to do anymore beyond continuing what we're already doing and waiting. After a full year, I can try to get referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist, who may be able to give me more insight. Or maybe I need to accept that this is my "normal" now. I don't know. Tomorrow begins month #9. Cycle 6 started just over a week ago. I'm over this whole thing.

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Reality Bites

    Back to reality this week! Sadly, March Break is over. This is progress report week at school so things are even more hectic than usual. I won`t be back to my regular blogging schedule until Friday, most likely.

    A few random things:
    • As usual, I didn`t accomplish the vast majority of what I`d hoped to during the break. Laziness and procrastination won out. Now I`m paying the price! I actually meant to start on the progress reports during the break and completely forgot about them until the weekend.
    • Not pregnant. My luteal phase this past cycle was so weird, though, that I was convinced I was pregnant until 11dpo, when the test told me otherwise. Like clockwork, my temps dropped the next day and that was that.
    • No ultrasound results yet. This is really bothering me because they said that it should only take two days to get the results back to my doctor`s office. That would have been last Friday. I called them yesterday after work and they had nothing.
    • Work sucks. I`ll elaborate on this, and what I`m trying to do to make it not suck so much, in an upcoming blog.
    • I`m currently reading Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and it is not going well. My brain is too tired to follow something that complex right now.
    Until Friday...

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Review: Little Princes

    Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, Conor Grennan
    Rating: 4.5/5.0

    Little Princes was a case of love at first listen. I'd been putting it off for a while because the description made me think it would be very similar to Three Cups of Tea, which I liked but didn't want to rehash. I'm glad gave it a shot because it's one of my favourites of the year so far.

    Conor Grennan decides to travel around the world for a year, beginning with a three month stint volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal. He readily admits that it wasn't the actual volunteering or the orphans that motivated him, rather the idea of it and of being able to impress people by saying that he did it (here's an article he wrote for the Huffington Post about whether or not one's initial motivation really matters). Once in Nepal, though, he establishes a connection to the kids and when he learns the truth of their circumstances, he is compelled to help.

    Grennan reads the audiobook himself, which is great because his enthusiasm and passion really shine through in his reading. He clearly loves Nepal and all of the kids that he's worked with. I loved all of the sections where he talked about the kids because of that enthusiasm.

    Grennan is a very engaging narrator. It's easy to like him and get completely drawn into his story. And the story has a little bit of everything: memoir, travelogue, history, adventure, love story. Grennan's efforts to start his own organization and to find the childrens' families are compelling, though the story did drag a bit when he was away from the kids (why I gave the book a 4.5 instead of a perfect 5.0). His long-distance courtship of Liz was sweet and fun to follow; I couldn't help but root for them to get together. Grennan is also a great descriptive writer; I'm a visual person and prefer the written word but I could easily picture everything he was talking about.

    My favourite thing about Little Princes is how genuine Grennan appears to be. The book was written several years after the experiences that he details, and Grennan has obviously used that time to reflect on his motivations and his experiences. He is honest and self-aware, which is refreshing. He seemed to be a bit of a douchebag before his trip (the friend he meets in Bangkok reflects that) but he freely admits to it. Later in the book, when he starts interviewing the families of the children, he admits that his initial approach was not the best way to go and that he had, in fact, acted like a jerk.  He just seems very human and while I wouldn't have the cojones to do what he has done, I felt like I could still relate to him.

    I highly recommend this book. It's entertaining, it's informative, and it's thought-provoking. If you liked Three Cups of Tea, this one is even better.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    March Break Retail Therapy

    Happy March Break!

    Things have stalled a bit as far as reading goes. I have about an hour left of Little Princes so I am hoping to get that reviewed by the end of this week. I'm also about 2/3 of the way through The Virgin Suicides. I was hoping to pick up the pace during the break but am finding that I'm just not in the mood.

    Instead of reading, I've been working on getting some of my March Break goals accomplished. Mission #1: shopping! I spent yesterday with my mom, wandering the mall. I have a stockpile of Christmas gift cards to use so I tried to make a dent in them. It wasn't as successful as I'd hoped but I did end up with some good finds.

    From Ricki's, this top...
    I also wanted this one but the store didn't have my size. I'll be going to another location later this week, hopefully I can find it there:

    We had some fun playing with the make-up at Sephora. I ended up with some $5 nail polish and a reminder that I'm not getting any younger:

    Last but not least,  DH and I have been looking for a new car. The DH's car is 11 years old and it's been one issue after another for the last year or so. We've reached the point where it's easier to just replace it and last night, we did exactly that! Meet the latest addition to our household, a 2013 Chevy Equinox:

    We'll be picking it up on Thursday evening.

    Not a bad start to the break so far! Now, I have to motivate myself to get some work done both for school and around the house. I'd like to play in the kitchen a bit too. One week just isn't enough!

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    TTC Friday: We Have Lift-off!

    First of all, it's finally March Break! Hallelujah!

    Second, get a load of this beauty:

    That last portion makes me very happy. See those crosshairs? And the steadily rising temperatures? My body finally managed to get its act together and drop an egg a week ago, so all of the estrogen-related nonsense has disappeared. I'm still waiting but this time, there's a very clear end in sight. By next week's TTC Friday update, I'll know if this was our cycle or not.

    The time right around ovulation and this first week afterward is my favourite part of this whole thing. This is the part that we have some control over and the part when I feel the most hopeful. It's too early for any symptoms (or lack thereof) to mean anything and anything is still possible.

    In past cycles, I was really curious and desperate to know right away whether we were successful or not. This time, I've been pretty mellow about it. I think I've made my peace with the amount of time that's passed and the fact that it may take even more. I'm not expecting anything and I'm not testing early. I know that my temperature will start to drop at 12 DPO if I'm not pregnant and my period will show up either the next day or the one after that. This time, I'm going to trust the temps and wait it out. My husband has been this mellow from the beginning. He's always had the attitude that he'll get excited when he see those two pink lines. Until then, he's not going to worry about it. I think it's easier for him because it's not his body that's being put through the wringer. At least, not in the same way. But now, I think I get where he's coming from and I'm starting to lean that way too.

    Next Wednesday, I have my pelvic ultrasound to check my left ovary. I'm curious and a bit worried about whether or not they'll be able to see anything since the pain is always before I ovulate. That will have been done with for almost two weeks by then. I'm afraid I'll end up back at square one but I'm trying not to think about that. We'll cross that bridge if/when we get there. I'm also curious if they'll be able to check the endometrium and tell me if it looks like an impending period or...not. I'd like to know about the thickness of the lining because of my super-light periods and the spotting I had this cycle. I'm wondering if it is shedding properly each time.

    In any case, regardless of what next week brings, for right now, life is feeling pretty good.

    [In case you are curious, the temps right now don't really tell me much one way or another. They are consistent with my pattern from previous cycles. Same with the CM. My symptoms are not, but I'm trying not to read too much into anything.]

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    To The Left, To The Left

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my fitness goals and tried to come up with a plan. I haven't really followed up on that post because, unfortunately, there is nothing to follow up. No progress has been made yet at all.

    I've complained mentioned frequently that my current semester is kicking my ass. Initially, I only had the one class and for those two weeks of part-time teaching, life was wonderful. After going back to full-time, I kissed that life goodbye again. When I had the time to exercise, I didn't have the energy and vice versa. It is kind of sad, though, that my goal was to do yoga just ONCE a week, I couldn't manage that. Even sadder, now that March Break is coming up (two more days!!) -- when I'll have a week to work on my fitness -- I actually physically can't.

    Those of you who know me offline are probably sick of hearing about that time I was sick over Christmas holidays but, seriously, I was SICK. It was a knock-down, dragout, horrible time. Even after the ear infection cleared up, the remnant sniffles and cough lasted through much of February. The coughing was starting to wear on my muscles near my left rib cage and over this past weekend, one strong sneeze sent those muscles into a spasm that left me laid up on the living room floor for two hours. According to the doctor who checked me out after I was able to get up again, there is likely damage to one of the ligaments in between my left ribs and it may take up to ten weeks to heal. Awesome. And no stretching because it will just aggravate things. So, now that I am finally about to have both the time and the energy to something, I'm not allowed.

    What I'm wondering is, what the hell is up with the left side of my body?! The ear infection was in my left ear. My potential cyst is on the left ovary. And now this. What have I done to make that half of my body hate me so?

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    February Bingo

    Last month, I started tracking my books on the Random House Reading Bingo card (see this post for details). Here's what the card looks like now that February is done:

    The books (continuing the count from January):

    • A book I would have picked up as a teenager
    5. Bossypants, Tina Fey
    • A book written by a celebrity
     6. Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
    • A book with an animal on the cover. I didn't even think about this one until I was updating the bingo card. There were frogs on the cover of my edition.
    I was working on a book by a Canadian author but decided to abandon it for now, so we'll see if that square happens for March or not. Instead, I've picked up The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.

    One more week to go until March Break! I'm looking forward to having time to read more than a few pages before falling asleep.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    TTC Friday: Validation

    On Monday, I saw my doctor for a pelvic exam to address the issues I've been complaining writing about for the last few weeks. Last weekend was very emotional and I was having a hard time preparing myself for what I may find out. In the end, I felt stupid for getting so worked up about it. I left the exam feeling more relieved than anything else.

    It didn't start out that way. At first, it was frustrating because when I started to tell my doctor that I've been having long, irregular cycles since stopping  birth control, his response was the exact opposite of what I'd expected. He asked when I went off the pill and why. Considering that I made an appointment with him at the time to discuss it and the notes from that session are in my chart, this was a stupid question. Then he started to lecture me about how it's not an instant process when you're 30-ish and when conception occurs, blah blah blah.

     Um, thanks?

    After showing him my charts and describing everything I'd been feeling, he finally got around to the actual pelvic. When he palpated my lower abdomen externally, I didn't feel anything. He started the internal check and on the right side, I still didn't feel anything. I was starting to think this was going to be a bust but when he moved to the left side, yikes. In one of my previous posts, I'd mentioned that the angry combination of sensations has always been on the left. Sure enough, it was the left ovary that was very tender. The doc has requisitioned a pelvic ultrasound to check for/confirm a cyst on that ovary. I'll be going in for that over March Break and we'll go from there.

    The doctor also did bloodwork. I had been planning to ask him to check my thyroid levels, which he did. But he also noted LH and FSH on the form. When I tried to diplomatically suggest that perhaps CD39 wasn't the best day for those (knowing full well that it is not), his response was, "if they're out of whack, they're out of whack." Oy. I haven't heard anything yet, though, so either they haven't gotten the results back or they don't see anything wrong -- which would be interesting since my LH was actually surging at the time, according to my OPKs.

    It would appear that I've surpassed the limits of my doctor's knowledge of women's health that I'd talked up so much before, but aside from that, I actually came away from this appointment feeling more relaxed about things. It's still frustrating to know that something's not right but I feel validated; my instincts told me that something was wrong and that there might be a cyst. It is looking very much like that's the case. A lot of uncertainty has been removed from the equation and so many things that I've noticed on my chart since September are making sense now. If it is in fact a follicular cyst, there's still not really anything I can do but at least I now know why I feel like crap for weeks at a time. That helps. It's not much to go on but it's a start. I'll take it.