Thursday, April 29, 2010

Public Frenemy Number One

So, I hid my annoying and intelligence-challenged fb "friend" from my wall feed (the one who announced to fb, "I'm preggers!" the day she had an embryo transfer for her second IVF cycle). But I am weak. I caved. I checked her fb homepage directly and here is what I found: every day since her transfer, she has posted about her pregnancy-affirming nausea. And her pregnancy-induced food cravings ("Baby wants pizza!"). And her pregnancy-related migraines. And how she tragically "lost twins" a few years ago when her first IVF cycle failed (FYI, she had two embryos transferred and a negative beta). And today....drumroll, please....she posted her estimated due date. Oh yeah, by the way, she hasn't tested with an HPT (I just assume this because there is no picture of a urine-soaked pee-stick posted on her fb wall) and hasn't had a beta yet. Fuckwit.

Breaking News Update: fb "friend" had a negative beta. While I genuinely feel sorry for her, having been through two failed IVF cycles myself, I still think she set herself up like a bowling pin for a painful and public failure. For instance, a comment on her "beta was negative" fb post today: "Hey, I have 2 kids you can have for free -- haha!" Real funny, fertile friend-of-a-fb-"friend." Hysterical. But you know, a little common sense and discretion goes a long way to protect yourself from that kind of asshattery. Just sayin.'

Clinical Development

No, not of baybee. This is a work-related rant. Start with Exhibit A:
One of my projects is writing a study protocol for an upcoming clinical trial, and I sometimes believe I am the only member of the clinical development team with a shred of common sense. Every week we meet, and every week we fail to get past item 2 of the 3-page agenda. People get side-tracked. They go off on tangents. I sit there on mute, waiting for any sign of my name being mentioned or a topic I remotely care about to be featured, and play Scrabble on my iPhone while I eat my lunch. It's a fabulous life, people. (It at least kicks ass to work from home.) The meetings always run over. Action items get deferred to the next meeting. Wonder why it takes so long for new drugs to get approved and make it to the market? Because we are stuck in a clinical development meeting arguing ad nauseum about whether or not we should select more study sites in Brazil than Germany (hint: who gives a fuck?!).

And there are the all-mighty pharmaceutical corporate processes. We are required to follow oodles of SOPs and process mandates so complex it takes a degree in library science just to locate them, let alone follow them. But follow them we must. Part of my job is to enforce these processes, since I prepare the regulatory documentation of the clinical research we plan, that gets sent to study investigational sites and eventually to the FDA or EU regulators. Saying that it's like herding cats is too cliche and too much of an understatement; it's more like getting a room full of cracked-out, rabid monkeys into a tiny cage (without getting pegged with poo, or your face ripped off by a pissed-off chimp). My team members like to waste precious meeting time taking turns bitching about how stupid the processes are, and finding sneaky ways to deviate and just do it their way. Listen, assholes, you are not the decision-makers, you are the decision-followers. When you rise up and become the Executive Director/Overlord/Emperor, you can use whatever process you fancy. But for now, you are but a minion, a tiny cog in a huge pill-manufacturing and money-making machine. [In my best sorority initiation voice: "Fry like bacon, little piggies!"]

I had to run today's meeting to lay out the various risks we are taking by moving forward toward internal approvals without key study design decisions made, for the sake of getting something done sooner rather than right. I had to introduce the concept (lo!) of risk mitigation to limit errors, omissions, failure to get approval (FAIL!), and blowing the project timeline out of the water. Yeah, it was a blast. I had to play bad cop for a solid hour. But, can I say, it was sort of fun? I am actually in my element when I am kicking ass and taking names. It made me feel kind of energized today. Hell, I might do some laundry. Living the dream here, people.

It sucks that, with a PhD and years of experience, I outrank -- and dare I say, outsmart -- half of my team; but, I am a contractor, so that knocks me down about three rungs on the ladder. [sigh] I miss being feared/respected by my students when I was an academic scientist. It was a real perk. I used to keep this picture on my lab bench to remind me what a Philosophy degree might have wrought:
It's funny because it's true.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoarders

I love that show. I want to marry it and make a dozen little babies with it (if only...). KB and I channel surf for a few minutes before we go to bed at night and squeal with delight when we find it on.

There's a twisted curiosity in observing the sad, pathological behavior of people featured on cable network programming. There are at least 2 or 3 intervention-style shows; OCD-focused programs; and now, the coup de grace, Hoarders. Watching it is like watching a train wreck in slow motion -- a train that is piled sky-high with mounds of shit and broken lampshades. That's entertainment.

KB and I are sick fucks and supply our own dialogue to the show, to try and crack each other up. My favorite is when the therapist first visits the hoarder's house to evaluate their attachment to their massive piles of shit. They say to the camera, very solemnly, something along the lines of, "Hoarders have an unnatural attachment to 'things' that is very hard to let go." Wow, did you have to go to school to learn that? All my years of armchair psychology could have been paying off, and here I was giving it away. Then they tour the house, inasmuch as turning from side to side to gaze upon the ceiling-high heaps of garbage counts as a walk-through. This is the point at which the hoarder usually nonchalantly invites the therapist to just crawl over a 4-foot-high pile of broken computer monitors and old toilet seats to get to the next shit-crammed space. No biggie, just grab onto this rickety bookcase overflowing with my 8000-piece truckstop spoon collection and use your left foot to climb on top of this car battery and then place your right foot on this precariously stacked pile of canned goods and hop on over to the kitchen, where gobs of rotten lettuce and spoiled meat await!

Then they move on to the cleaning phase. Oh, this usually goes about as well as you'd expect. KB and I really ratchet up the soundtrack at this point; we had each other almost in tears last night. He decided that I would be great at this hoarder therapy business, and the session might go like this:

"What the fuck is this pile of shit? Are you seriously going to try and keep this? It smells like cat turds. You disgust me. Jesus."

All of the individual items must be inspected by the hoarder, which takes up the entire first day just to empty one box filled with rusted out stray silverware and some other unidentifiable tchotchkes. This is where KB had me in hysterics last night. Every item that came out for consideration elicited KB's spirited, "NOOOOO!  Not my cracked wooden toilet seat! I NEEEEED that!" until I laughed myself to hiccups. We both admit that we feel like assholes for making fun of hoarders, but damn, that show is entertaining.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Welcome Back, Kotter

Nausea is back. Like it ever really left; the little fucker just went dormant for a week or two to lull me into a false sense of relief, only to restrike like an angry cobra. An angry, queasy cobra.

Only it has morphed. I have entered a second trimester sneezing phase, which brings on sneezes that easily register 6.3 on the Richter scale. And they are often double or triple sneezes. And they also cause a mean gag reflex, which makes me dry heave. I know, right? Full of awesome. I am just hoping for no more wet heaves. [sigh]

And enter the insomnia. I have struggled with insomnia for many years, mostly due to an overactive brain that doesn't know when to shut off (and stay off) at night. I've been getting up 1-2 times each night since around 7 weeks to visit the loo, but now I get to toss and turn for hours in the middle of the night with hip pain and abdominal discomfort. Super-duper. KB bought me a body pillow that now forms The Great Wall in our queen-size bed, and I'm still experimenting with how to even use it to get comfortable. When he brought it home I immediately snuggled up with it on the bed and basically have been humping it every night since. (I am thinking of naming it George Clooney, or perhaps Johnny Depp. Any other suggestions?) But that hasn't stopped me from ending up on the couch a few nights a week for the past few weeks, just from sheer frustration with the tossing and turning, irritation that the dog snores in the middle of the night are much louder than I ever knew when I actually slept, and anxiety that I will never sleep again. I can take a TylenolPM if I so desire, but then I worry I'll become a bedwetter (since I have to get up to wee at night). Shite.

So that's how the second trimester is shaping up as I near the 5th month. When will this blissful, energy-filled, symptom-free, libido-boosting mythical period of reprieve reveal itself? Lies, people. Lies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Want to Go to There

[Please don't mind the sorry state of my deck. It was going to get refinished last year, perhaps even rebuilt in a much grander fashion, but then we were infertile and spent all our money on IVF and had none left for any home projects or a new roof, the end.]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rage Against the Machine

While we're on the topic of fb*...remember my fb "friend" who has recounted every last detail of her IVF cycle for her 300+ friends/colleagues/coworkers/acquaintances/family members? I am prepared to drive to Bumfuck, Egypt where she resides (okay, central Iowa) and smack her upside her infertarded head. She is a faux infertile, people. I just have a feeling. From what I can gather, she tried to get pregnant with her second husband for a while, was told IVF would speed it up, and just bought that hook, line, and sinker. No diagnosis to speak of. Has three kids. I don't get it.**

Here's what I really don't get -- her post-transfer fb status update. Drink it in, ladies: ____ is preggers and laying in bed -- BRING ON the morning sickness! :)

The emoticon is hers. Mine wields a dagger and a stinkeye smirk.

So, I guess we can assume she believes that placing 1 or 2 embryos in one's uterus makes one instantaneously pregnant. Dude, I've been pregnant (excuse me, preggers) three times -- two singletons and triplets! I should plaster that shit all over fb for the whole fucking world to see! And you know how generally knowledgeable the population at large is regarding how IVF works, right (and think more specifically about the population in Bumfuck, Egypt)? So she is getting congratulatory posts out the ying-yang for announcing a pregnancy, when she merely had an embryo or two pipetted into her hooha. Not a slip-up of semantics; she posted all day, every hour on the hour, before her transfer that she was "on her way to get pregnant!!!!!" Bollocks. Fuckshit. Damn. Twatwaffle. (Okay, I'm better now.) She's on bedrest for 2 weeks (who still does that? Medieval barbers?) so I'm sure there will be endless updates on her pregnancy symptoms. Because there's at least one fully-formed baby inside her ute, so obviously. Oh lucky me, and the other 299+ fb members who may get to enjoy that onslaught.

I don't care about disclosure, because here we are on our blogs, but public disclosure to virtual strangers, coworkers, distant relatives, and such...and the level of abject ignorance associated with it all...and the cavalier stupidity...it's time to "hide" her. Done.

* Yep, three blog posts in one day, people. My mind is a series of cogs today, just turning and turning...

** Yep, I'm judging like Judy, y'all. I mean, she actually bragged in a post last week that she spent $27k on this IVF cycle to fish for compliments on her financial status, which her sheeple fb friends obliged (on a related note, does she know that she is being robbed blind? Are her follistim cartridges gilded with gold leaf?). And she made a pity post about her first failed IVF cycle, claiming it ended in miscarriage when in fact, it simply didn't work. Fuckityfuckitall, I hate ignoranuses***. (Really okay, now.)

*** Yep, I'm letting my bitch flag fly high.

Facebook Bingo

Yell it out with me now: BINGO!
(Dis)honorable mention:
  • Friends who construct their status updates like they've just penned a Prince song: "not looking 4ward 2 2morrow" (verbatim from a real post, people)
  • Friends who announce their pregnancy at ~4-6 weeks (because who can be sure when you're carefree and fertile?) while the pee on their EPT is still drying
  • Friends who invite you repeatedly to join FarmVille/Mafia Wars/Sorority Life/Zoo World/Cafe World/Which Star Wars Ewok Are You? quiz/etc without seeing your consistent and persistent "ignore" response as a hint

Mini-Melt

Uh, -down. Have you seen my shit? Cause I lost it this morning.

Anyone who tells you that after 12 weeks you can relax is an ignoramus, a liar, or a lying ignoramus (or, my favorite contraction: ignoramus + asshole = ignoranus; well, it's my favorite next to jackass + asshole = jackhole. Do you sense a theme emerging?). By all common sense and sensibility I should be walking on air by now, at 16+ weeks. But I am not. Case in point: this morning. I had a full-on panic attack (or as near as I've ever experienced) in the shower. Well, let's back up. First, I ran to the bathroom after waking up and puked. That has not happened before. Through all the nausea, I never made an offering to the porcelain god, and yet this morning, a sacrifice was finally flushed. Then I got in the shower and just starting...panicking. About my OB appointment today. About not feeling any fetal kung fu kicks yet. About finding a heartbeat this morning. About the unlikely but devastating possibility of incompetent cervix. And at that juncture of crazy and anxious I bawled my eyes out in the shower. Like a really sane person. Oy.

I was fully prepared to request -- ne, demand -- a pelvic exam to reconfirm my cervix is hermetically sealed and to ask for an ad hoc ultrasound to actually see the heart beating and see Baby B do the Hammer dance in real-life fetal person. And then I realized: I am a crazy person. I mean, I was crazy to begin with, so there's really no change from baseline. And so I didn't ask. Today we just took a turn into Southside Crazytown and it was not pretty. I would like to throw out today's data point and just use the last observation carried forward from the 14-week visit. It went much better.

The morning up-chucking was a surprise. But I have two theories. First, the leftover soup I ate for lunch yesterday may have been past its prime. Second, and more in line with the way the universe bitch-slaps us around, it is punitive for my crime of starting an online baby registry this past weekend. In essence, I am allowing myself the voodoo belief that registering for a bouncer may snuff out my baby. Or at least make me vomit. Irrational, you say? Oh, the scientific part of my brain concurs and is happy to co-author that paper with you. But the batshit-crazy insane part of my brain clearly articulates, "You eeeeediot! You cannot buy a cribsheet or a blanket or you will keeeel your baybeeeee!" Guess which part wins? I'm not left-brained or right-brained, I'm insane in the membrane (you won't get that song out of your head for hours now; you're welcome).

I had this radical idea to come home after my appointment and take a refreshing nap, to hit the mental reset button, but I got sidetracked on my quest for lunch and snacks. I cruised the grocery store aisles, passing up every unhealthy food (go me!) until....the ranch dip. She called like a siren. A delicious, creamy siren. Oh, end-of-aisle impulse-buy displays, you are so fucking effective. So in addition to granola bars and organic peanut butter, I have a vat of ranch dip and krinkle-cut kettle chips in the kitchen. Yum. And now that I'm home, a shit-ton of work teleconferences were added to my calender, so I am tied up in meetings until 5PM. Ugh. This work bullshit is really cutting into my laziness efforts. Maybe I'll take the cordless phone into the bedroom and lay down for those meetings. (I am typing this post during the first one, as I eat my lunch from Qdoba, chowing away on mute. Mothereffing multitasking!).

P.S. the OB appointment went fine. The kid is still alive with a heartbeat in the mid-140's, and my ute is movin' on up. And the OB gently talked me down from my incompetent cervix ledge, assuring me she's never seen a case of spontaneous incompetence with no prior history of cone or other gyn procedures. As she said this, I sized her up and momentarily concluded that she looks pretty young, so her never having seen a case in her brief career thus far isn't all that reassuring....and then I let my sanity take over. Because, you know, giving birth on the funny farm is not a goal.

P.P.S. Our anatomy scan is in 3 weeks, but we are still planning to NOT find out the gender. But I will be watching the ultrasound tech like a hawk for any careless clues or giveaways....and will be staring a hole into the pictures for any sign of turtles...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine

I survived a week with the in-laws! We spent the week with KB's mom, who is a snowbird with a condo near Palm Beach, Florida. Her friends and relatives have condos in the same complex, so it's a de facto retirement community. We were invited to play any number of card games, bingo, poker, and slots at the casino. I opted to take naps and read a book by the pool. I think I chose wisely -- the elderly are surprisingly competitive with their games. Those ladies would cut a bitch who beat them at shuffleboard.

And the food...most of these friends and relatives are Italian, so there was an embarrassment of edible riches. Mangia, mangia, mangia! I had to fend them off at every meal. But, sweetly, the first night we were there a family friend made a special dish of homemade gnocchi just for me; well, "for the baby." So I enjoyed it for two. Thankfully, this past week represented the End of The Nausea. Although I wasn't altogether forthright with this fact, since it conflicted with my defense against an excess of food. It's seriously like a geriatric professional eating circuit down there. Every meal requires three kinds of meat and a minimum of four desserts.

My favorite family friend is a 93-year-old Italian woman named Josephine. She was born in the "old country" and still has a lovely accent and talks animatedly with her hands. And...she LOVES professional wrestling. I mean, she leaves bingo early to go home and watch Monday Night Raw. I am in love with her. She is fabulous. She told me stories about coming to the US during the depression, how she saw a picture of an American girl wearing a fur coat and thought that you had to wear furs in America; so when she emigrated she wore fur every day for her first year here. And her father wanted her to marry a cousin, so she came to the US to find a husband because she A) suspected that marrying your cousin might be bad news for the babies (this conclusion was drawn pre-Watson and Crick, so good on her) and B) thought her cousin was a douchenozzle. So she found a man in depression-era Detroit and that was that. I recommend you all find yourself a 93-year-old woman and just listen to her stories. Fantastic.

And then there's Uncle Rudy. He is amusing, if cantankerous. He is very, very, VERY old-fashioned and gleefully listed for us over every shared meal the Things That Are Ruining Our Society. And also, Things That Are Destroying America. These things generally overlap, and include such specific items and most all people, places, and things. Television? Ruining everything. Animals? He's against them, because wives "hug their pets more than they hug their husbands." Women? Don't teach their children anything anymore and don't take care of their husbands. Men? Soft, don't own guns anymore and are too emotional. Lawyers? Root of all evil (he says this in front of a cousin who is a personal injury lawyer -- awkward). I believe no rock with a literal or proverbial noun or verb underneath remained unturned. Uncle Rudy's sociopolitical tirades were borderline annoying, but mostly entertaining.

Everyone -- friends, family, strangers -- told me I am definitively having a boy. They have a million ways of "knowing" this, but mostly they just want me to. Who says gender preference is dead in American society? I may just have a girl to spite them. So there.

On the last day, my mother-in-law treated me to a pedicure that turned out to be...brutal. Of course, she goes to one of those strip mall walk-in joints, whereas I shell out the bucks for a spa, but I wasn't going to say no to a very nice gesture. But...first, the massage chair was out of order, so boo to that. Then, the woman who man-handled my feet was rather rough with her instruments of torture, and was unsympathetic to my ticklish feet syndrome. I kept glancing down to see if she had drawn blood and am currently monitoring myself for signs of peripheral infection. But I did get a nice leg massage and pretty purple toes after all the foot torture was said and done, so I suppose that all's well that ends well.

So now it's back to work. Meh. I am trying to keep my lower-anxiety, lower-stress mindset going; since most of my nasty baby-induced symptoms seem to be subsiding, there's hope. Although I have noticed a new one recently: I am on fire. Heat radiating from everywhere. If my legs are crossed too long, it's firecrotch. And by the end of the day, when I ditch the bra and let the girls roam free, it's boobs a'flame. You could fry a strip of bacon under each heaving teat (perhaps a variation of the pencil test?). (And they keep growing. Sweet baby Jesus. I am only up to an overflowing C cup now, so we're not in pornstar territory yet, but I started as a small B. Where it stops, nobody knows.) I guess the summer weather is going to present some interesting temperature control issues. I suppose I'll have to eat a lot of ice cream. If I must.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Secret to My Success

Oh, Zofran. You were so good to me in the honeymoon phase of our nauseous relationship. And then things went screwy...the headaches, the dizziness, the mighty, mighty constipation. Zofran, our love soured. You made me feel murdery and stabby. And only recently did I learn that Zofran causes constipation. No shit (literally)! It's ironic that I didn't know this sooner, considering I draft pharmaceutical product labeling for a fucking living. Rope-a-dope. (It's like rai-ee-ain on your wedding day....)

So I am now Zofran-free, and living with mild nausea that just. won't. quit. But it sure beats the low-level nausea PLUS headaches PLUS dizziness PLUS severe constipation. Getting waterboarded while having your fingernails ripped out with pliers while getting nipple-shocked with jumper cables would beat that, though.

I also conducted my own open-label, 1-arm, 1-week clinical trial (N=1) to test the hypothesis that the prenatal vitamin with its 4.6 gigazillion units of iron was causing much of my gastrointestinal horror. And lo! the trial was a success. I stopped taking the horsey pill for a few days and miraculously was able to stop the, um, logjam. Combined with the discontinuation of Zofran, I am pleased to report that I feel 76% human now. What a marked improvement. (I showered four days in a row last week. In a row!)

Since I had a biweekly ad hoc OB appointment to check on my nausea (hello! hi! still hanging around like that last annoying party-goer who can't take a hint when you stand in the doorway holding their coat out to them!), I got to hear the little heartbeat again. Pumping away at 144 bpm. Clearly alive. Probably kicking. I learned from the week-by-week development website I've bookmarked that Baby B now has fingerprints (you're on the grid, kiddo! Better behave!) and can pee. So my baby is peeing into my uterus. Hmmm. But, s/he is also swallowing amniotic fluid to practice breathing, which means s/he is also swallowing fetal pee. So there.

KB and I are off to Florida to visit his mom for a week, leaving tomorrow morning. Bright-ass and bushy-fucking-tailed early. Meh. I have my borrowed summer maternity clothes packed (the silver lining of everyone having babies before me, is that they have much to loan and gift to me) and a purse stuffed with granola bars and emergency-use-only Zofran, so off to the Sunshine State we go!

I don't know if I can post from my iPhone, but I have my blog bookmarked to check on everyone in my blog list. So I'll be stalking you, uninterrupted! Do post, and often!

Peace and love,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

This Little Piggy...

I heart bacon as much as the next girl, but the limits of my imagination have officially been exceeded.

From the makers of this fine porcine product:

(I'm showing you the "lite" version for full ironic effect -- and note that it's the ultimate bacon flavored spread: accept no substitutions!) you can now purchase bacon-balm:



Because you shouldn't spend even a moment without the taste of bacon on your lips. And if that doesn't make you squeal like a piggy, prepare yourself for the coup de grace of product development:


Note that it's intended for babies from birth to 12 months. And it has four nutritious servings of bacon in every scoop! (Revolutionize that, Jamie Oliver.) Bear all of this in mind, new moms. Don't deprive your newborn for a single feeding of the delicious taste of bacon.