Friday, February 10, 2012

Homeowners R Us

Here's the proof!  Two shiny keys to our new house.  Zac will be home in 10 hours and then we'll have a long, tiring weekend of moving in.  But we'll be together, making our house "home" so it's all good.  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Highs, lows, it's all part of the ride

I spent part of my afternoon today in an escrow office, signing a stack of papers that will finalize our purchase of a house.  YAY!  The only downside of the experience was the hand cramp than started about 20 minutes into the signing process.  Since Zac is still in Indiana, I got to experience the joy of not only signing my name 20,000 times but "Zachary L. Doe by Katherine L. Doe as his attorney-in-fact" 20,000 times as well.  Apparently I am the first person in the history of mankind to sign documents using a Power of Attorney, since almost every form given to me left little to no space to write the POA signature.  By the time I was done signing everything my handwriting had devolved from borderline acceptable to barely legible.  

In California once you're done signing the papers, it's takes a couple of days for them to be recorded.  Only then do you receive the keys to your house.  Right now it looks like we'll be getting the keys on Thursday.  I've already scheduled our household goods (HHG) to be delivered on Monday.  Plus I have to set up water, gas, electric, cable, etc.  It's an exciting thing, buying a house, and as of last week I wasn't sure it was going to happen (issues with a road maintenance agreement) but now it looks like we're 99.9% done with the process and I can't wait to move in.  A real bed . . . heavenly.

When I got home from signing documents, I got a call from Zac saying that someone from the fertility clinic called him to schedule an appointment.  Color me surprised.  *sigh*  I suppose I need to rewind a couple months . . .

When Zac and I got to San Diego we decided that we would try a few IUI treatments to see if we could get pregnant.  Unlike in Hawaii, in San Diego I can go to a military health care facility for fertility treatments.  I got the referral from my primary care doctor a few weeks after we arrived and we had our first IUI procedure in December.  Clearly it didn't work, or I'd probably be blogging about how we're turning one of the bedrooms in the new house into a nursery.  We didn't tell anyone we were going do the IUI.  In fact, we kind of mislead people close to us into thinking that we weren't going to try any fertility treatments until Zac got back from Indiana.  It was just easier that way.  The whole IUI thing was kind of sprung on us anyway.  I just happened to go to the fertility clinic at just the right time in my cycle and the doctor asked, "Do you want to give this a shot this month?" and we figured, why not?  We're here.  Might as well.  

We didn't tell anyone because it's tough having people constantly wondering, wanting to know, not asking and then finally breaking down and asking.  It kind of reminded me of when you're first married and people ask you, "When are you going to have kids?"  If you say, "Oh, we're not sure. At some point, though." people will continue to ask follow-up questions and continue to pry.  If you answer, "In two years," people stop asking because they're comfortable knowing that you have a plan.  You can continue to answer, "In two years" for as long as you want, because as long as people hear something concrete they're placated.  That's kind of how we feel about the fertility stuff.  If we told people, "When Zac gets back from Indiana," that would buy us a couple of months of peace and quiet.  We figured that people would forgive us for the deception if we successfully produced offspring.

So, like I said above, we had our first IUI in December.  Christmas Eve morning found me in an exam room, having an ultrasound to see if the fertility drugs had done their job of getting a handful of eggs ready.  The doctor said things looked good, so a few days later I had the IUI done.  Zac left for Indiana and a few days after he left I got my period.  I suppose I should say that I was disappointed, but at this point in the process I don't really feel pangs of disappointment anymore.  I suppose the disappointment is there, but it's become like white noise.  It's present, but I don't really notice it.  We've been trying to get pregnant for more than two years.  That's more than 24 months in a row that I've woken up one morning to find that my cycle has started and I'm not pregnant.  You get used to that after awhile.

Since I wasn't pregnant, I called the fertility clinic to ask what the next steps would be in the treatment, since Zac wouldn't be coming home until my February cycle.

Time out.  Okay, if you're uncomfortable with all this intimate knowledge of my "lady cycle" then I'm sorry, but it's hard to tell the story without fleshing out the details.  Fertility treatments are completely dependent on timing.  If you miss your timing it can mean you're out of luck until next month.  It means that your refrigerator calendar is marked up with numbered days of when to take which drugs, what days you need to go to the doctor, which days you need to have sex, and what days should be the end of your cycle so you can start wondering/stressing if this is the month that it will work.  Frankly, I'm excited when I look at the calendar and see something like "Hair appointment 10:00" instead of something related to fertility.  Anyhow, back to the IUI narrative.

When I called the fertility clinic I got their voice mail and left a message.   You always get the voice mail when you call the clinic.  No one ever actually answers the phone.  The message states that you are to leave a detailed message and that someone would return your call within one business day.  The message also expressly states that you are not to call back and leave multiple messages, that you should be patient and the clinic will return your call.  A couple of days after my phone call (not exactly one business day, but whatever) I got a call back.  I explained to the clinic staffer the situation, that my husband was going to be gone for the month, but that we'd like to try an IUI once again when he got back in February.  She said that someone would call me back in a couple of weeks to schedule the appointments I would need to get prepped for a February IUI cycle.  I took her at her word.  Turns out that wasn't a great idea.

Being busy with going to Hawaii, the house purchase and working I didn't even realize that the clinic hadn't called me back until I woke up yesterday and realized that another cycle had started.  I called the clinic back, left a message asking what steps we needed to take, and waited to hear back from them.  I got a call from my doctor(!) a few hours later.  I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was uncomfortable.  He apologized to me, but told me that I wouldn't be able to have a IUI procedure this month because they were already booked with patients.  He said that someone would call me back in a few days to schedule the appointments that I would need to set up an IUI for March.  I was so stunned and, yes, disappointed, that I didn't have much to say except a mumbled, "Ok, thanks."  Once I got off the phone, my initial shock wore off and I got mad.  Really, really mad.  I was mad at the clinic staff for not calling me back and I was mad at myself for not thinking to follow up with their non-call-back sooner.  I was also mad at myself for not being able to think on my feet fast enough to tell the Doctor about the lack of a phone call last time.

I sat down at the computer and found the website for Naval Medical Center San Diego.  I located the customer feedback link and typed out an e-mail, expressing my frustration and disappointment.  I saved it, walked away for an hour, came back, edited it and sent it off.  I knew there wasn't anything that they would be able to do for me this month, but I needed to let someone know that what happened wasn't acceptable.  The fertility clinic is, frankly, overbooked.  There are too many patients and not enough staff.  It's not their fault that there are so many of us that need their services but every time I have been to the clinic I am struck by how busy it is and how rushed it feels.  There have even been times where I've been there and there haven't been enough rooms for the patients and the staff has had to play musical chairs moving patients from one room to the next to make sure that the right patients are with the right equipment at any given time.  I appreciate that they work hard and are trying the best that they can, but they needed the feedback.  I didn't do a good job advocating for my healthcare by failing to follow-up on the non-phone-call so I decided that the e-mail would have to do.  I sent the e-mail yesterday afternoon.

That brings us back to today, and the clinic calling Zac.  Zac relayed the message to me, which included a direct number to one of the staffers, not the main line.  I called her and got her personal voice mail.  I left her a message explaining that I was returning her phone call about scheduling my next fertility appointments.  She called me back within the hour and began the conversation by apologizing.  She said that she had been informed that I was upset with the service that I had received from the clinic.  I didn't ask, but the only way she would have known that is if she had received the e-mail from yesterday.  I was pleased that the e-mail was actually read and responded to.

She explained a number of things about the clinic and the fertility treatment process to me that I didn't know.  She also stated that two of their three schedulers had left within the last three weeks and that the under staffing and training of new staff was probably why my message fell through the cracks.  She said that she wasn't excusing the lapse, but she wanted to let me know that that is not how their clinic usually conducts themselves.   She admitted that the clinic was awfully busy, and that she appreciated my patience.  She also explained how the fertility treatment cycles worked, which no one had done before.  That provided me with a better understanding of how and when procedures would happen.  She ordered me some drugs that I needed to pick up at the pharmacy this afternoon and she again thanked me for my feedback.  I headed over to the pharmacy to get my prescription.

When I got to the pharmacy, my prescription wasn't in the computer.  I sighed and headed upstairs to the fertility clinic to find out what happened.  There was a couple in front of me at the check-in and I recognized the papers in her hand as the ones that were given to Zac and I at our consultation for our first IUI.  The couple left and I asked about my missing prescription order.  It turns out that the order was in the system, but that the doctor hadn't signed off on it, and so on.  They had the doctor sign off on it and I returned to the pharmacy to fill the prescription.

When I sat down in the waiting room I notice two things.  1.)  Someone was wearing waaaaaaaaaaaaay to much Old Spice, and 2.) the couple I had just seen upstairs was sitting next to me.  I played cribbage on my phone while I waited, but I couldn't help but hear the conversation between the husband and wife.  I would guess that they were in their mid to late 20s.  Younger than me anyhow.  What caught my attention was the crack in her voice as she struggled not to cry.  I heard her tell him how frustrated she felt, how she used to be so optimistic that things would work out, but that now she felt like she'd never feel that optimistic again.  I heard her tell him how guilty she felt.  How she felt like the infertility was her "fault".  Her husband was amazing.  He held her hand and was incredulous.  "How can you feel guilty?  This isn't your 'fault'.  You've done nothing wrong."  She sniffled.  "But it's not you," she replied, "so it's me, right?  The doctor said you're fine.  How would you feel if we were sitting in this waiting room waiting for drugs that would increase your sperm count? Wouldn't that make you feel like that maybe it was your 'fault'?"  The husband said all the right things as big tears rolled down her face, but I knew that nothing he would say would make her hurt less.

I wanted to say something to her, but at the same time I didn't.  I recognized all that she was saying.  I have had almost the exact same conversation with Zac on more than a few occasions.  Hearing the words out spoken out loud by someone else was difficult though.  The rational part of my brain wanted to scold the young woman for thinking like that.  I wanted to let her know how ridiculous she sounded, and wanted to say that feeling sorry for yourself wasn't going to help with anything.  But as I sat there, listening to her fight back her tears, I softened and started to feel sympathy for her.  I've had those same thoughts.  Hell, I still sometimes have those thoughts.  I reached across the empty chair between her and I and touched her arm.

"I wasn't trying to listen in on your conversation, but I'm going through exactly the same thing that you are.  My husband and I have been trying for more than two years.  I've said exactly the same things to my husband that you're saying to yours.  There isn't anything I can say to you to make you feel better, because there isn't anything that will.  But what you're feeling?  It's normal.  And it sucks.  It sucks so much."  She blinked through some tears and gave me a half-smile.  I realized that I was about to cry too, so I bit my lip and forced a smile back.  Her number was called at the pharmacy window and she got her prescription.  As she passed me on the way out she stopped, smiled, and said softly, "Good luck to you."  I smiled back and her and said, "Good luck to you too."

That's the most I've ever talked to another woman going through infertility treatments, at least since I've been going through them myself.  I don't particularly want to talk to other women going through this.  But I felt like I had to say something to her, just because she seemed so defeated.  I've come to terms that I might not ever be a mother, and I've started to embrace the idea of the adventures that a life without children will afford me.  I'm still hoping that we have kids, but it's not going to break me if we don't.  But she seemed so crestfallen, so heartbroken.  I just wanted to let her know that it's okay to feel that way and that yes, it does suck.  It sucks so much.  

So for those who want to know when we're going to have kids?  Two years.