Saturday, January 31, 2009

There Was a Californian Who Lived in a Shoe

So when I saw the story a few days ago about the woman giving birth to octuplets I was shocked and horrified. What kind of a doctor transfers that many embryos into a woman? Didn't someone explain to her the risk of packing that many fetuses into one uterus? How the hell is she going to support 8 babies? Children of such low birth weight face so many development challenges. Can you imagine the continuing cost of early childhood intervention therapy, etc?

As more details trickle out, the more angry and disgusted I've grown. She already had 6 kids--all from IVF and FET cycles--and lives with her parents. What. The. Fuck. This woman, Nadya Suleman, reminds me of those crazy ass people who hoard pets. She put her bizarre and selfish desire for more children ahead of their well-being and welfare. When you start adding special needs kids into the mix, things get extremely difficult. She has no spouse or partner to rely on and apparently no income since she is, by all accounts, a professional student.

How is she going to support these kids? Can you imagine the cost of feeding and clothing 14 people? How about 14 doctor's visits and 14 trips to the dentist? What about the love and attention children so desperately crave? How can one woman provide all the love and support and guidance for 14 kids?

More importantly, who was the quack that continued to get this woman knocked up? People who aren't familiar with ART (assisted reproductive technologies) might not know this, but there are guidelines for embryo transfer in IVF and FET cycles. The goal of fertility treatment is to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible. This is why women on injection cycles and IUI/IVF protocol are so closely monitored.

In an IUI, the patient injects hormones to stimulate follicle (egg) growth. When a sufficient number of follicles develop, the patient injects a trigger shot to encourage the ovary to release the eggs (which bodies like mine don't do since we make cysts instead.) Twenty-four hours or so later, the woman's uterus is flooded with washed sperm via a catheter. By placing the sperm within the uterus, it gives the little spermies a better chance of reaching that egg. The odds of multiples is higher in an IUI cylce because if, say, you had four follicles on the day you triggered, you might drop all four eggs. Maybe two of those will fertilize. Depending on your luck, you might get a set of twins and a singleton (triplets) or two sets of twins (quadruplets.) Some patients would likely choose not continue with the cycle. They'd let the cycle end naturally and make use of barrier methods when having sex.

IVF (which this woman used) is much more controlled. All the magic happens in the lab so the doctor controls how many embryos are placed into the uterus. For a woman under 35, the number is usually one, maybe two. For a woman over 35, the number might go as high as four in some cases but I've never heard of anything higher than three among friends who have undergone the procedure. There are exceptions of course. Someone like me, for instance, might get three embryos since I'm racing against the clock here. Since my uterus is so hostile (it's like Russia and Ukraine in there, appparently,) the likelihood of even one embryo squatting would be a friggin' miracle.

I really worry about this woman's mental health. Struggling to care for 14 kids, eight of them infants likely to suffer developmental delays and physical debilities, could very well break her. Also what about the effect of all those hormones on her body? She went through at least six IVF/FET cycles (4 singleton pregnancies, 1 set of twins, 1 set of 8.) That's assuming she got pregnant on the first cycle of each attempted pregnancy.

If you're not familiar with IVF, you might not realize just how many injections a woman will take in one cycle. It goes something like this:

Day 1-8: Lupron Injections
Day 9-15: Lupron and Follistim injections
Day 16: Lupron, Follistim, and HCG trigger
Day 19-Day 31: Progestrone injections until negative pregnancy test, positive means you keep up the shots until your progesterone levels are high enough to sustain pregnancy (could be weeks)

Let's say her first IVF was gangbusters and they were able to retrieve all the eggs she needed for all of her subsequent pregnancies. All those embryos sat on ice between pregnancies. When she was ready to get pregnant again, she'd go through FET (frozen embryo transfer) protocol. It's basically the same thing as IVF with the Lupron and progesterone injections but with estrogen injections or oral meds instead of the follicle stimulating hormone. Still, though, it's a ton of hormones.

Another thing that bothers me about this case is how easily she became pregnant through IVF. Seriously, of all the hundreds of women I've met through my support group very few have been able to conceive twice through IVF/FET. Her infertility issue seemed to be fallopian tube blockage but that's usually an easy fix with surgery. I know loads of ladies who had an HSG and cleared up that problem right there on the table. They never had a problem again. So I'm sort of curious about this woman's infertility.

And the cost of IVF! How the hell did she afford (at the very least) six cycles of IVF/FET? We've looked into IVF and it's ungodly expensive. For one cycle of meds and monitoring and lab fees and procedures, we're looking at $15,000 at the low end of the spectrum because our insurance won't cover any of it. For $15,000 (or a little more,) we can adopt a baby through an ABC program or hop over to China, Ethiopia or a handful of Southeast Asian countries for a baby. Gee, let's see. Take a gamble that an IVF cycle would work or go with a sure thing?

I think that's what annoys me the most about this story. This woman professes to love children so much but she apparently never considered adoption. Then again, she's sounds like a complete nutjob so I can't imagine any social worker approving her homestudy. I don't know. It's just a sad, sick mess.

3 Things

1) Like romance novels? Check out 16 FREE ebooks from Harlequin! They're available in various formats so whether you read ebooks on your Sony Reader, Kindle, iPhone, laptop, etc., you're covered. They're offering a wide selection of their titles so you'll likely find something you'll love!

2) Have 30 seconds and want to laugh so hard you'll fall out of your chair? Check out the video here. Oh, and this isn't safe for work. No drinks either. Believe me. Diet Dr. Pepper plus widescreen and keyboard equals huge-o mess.

3) Want to see two pictures that will probably blow your mind and piss you off? Clicky clicky. Seriously, though, the first pic illustrates exactly why women's rights are so fucked in this country. Here's a little shoutout to all the men out there who think they know what's best for me. Hey, dudes, keep your hands away from my uterus! I'm quite capable of making decisions for myself, thanks.

Friday, January 30, 2009


So most people probably don't know this but I have a bizarre fascination with zombies and zombie defense preparations. Seriously. I know it's whacked and paranoid but I often stare up at the ceiling late at night and work out different scenarios. I'm not sure where this paranoia comes from but I have some theories. Namely, the petrifying La Llorona, cucuy and chamuco tales Ama used to tell us before putting us down for bed at night in the old ranchouse. In the cucuy room!*

I've learned to run long distance so if they're slow zombies I've got their asses whipped. If they're fast zombies ala 28 Days Later, then my home is my fortress. I've already scoped out our attic and configured the area for maximum efficiency of shotgun ammunition, baseball bat collection, shelves of machetes** and sharpening stones. I'm seriously considering building a radio and becoming a HAM operator. Ooh, and Morse code too. Gotta be able to map out those zombie movement reports. Our pantry is always fully stocked with at least 4 weeks of provisions. No, not because Homeland Security and FEMA suggest it but because I've read The Zombie Survival Guide. Ain't no living dead gonna gnaw on my neck.

All that said, you'll understand why this story made me laugh my ass off. Someone hacked into those flashing road signs along an Austin highway and changed the message to one that read: RUN! ZOMBIES AHEAD!

Watch the hilarity here.

*See George Lopez: America's Mexican here (Part 4/7 0-1:20) or here (Part 5/7 2:00-2:30).
**Machetes are widely accepted as the best weapon for zombie defense. Why? You don't have to reload a machete.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


So Dave often comes home rather irritated and frustrated by some of the comments uttered by his colleagues. You'd think in the 21st century folks would have moved beyond racial epithets and sexist remarks, but yeah, not so much. Shockingly, the bullshit Dave has to listen to seems to be increasing in frequency and jaw-dropping what-the-fuckness. What kind of remarks, you might ask?

Well, how about this gem. One of Dave's coworkers was ranting about the N-word who worked for him or his family.

Dave: What is wrong with you? Man, you shouldn't say that.
Coworker: What's wrong? You married to a colored woman?
Dave: No, but my wife is Hispanic.
Coworker: Ah, that's all right. Nothing wrong with a little jalapeno in your diet.

What. The. Fuck. How is that acceptable? When Dave relayed that tidbit to me, I laughed at the utter dickishness of the remark but, seriously, it's upsetting. In my lifetime, I've heard more than my fair share of that sort of crap. It's just disgusting and so stupid.

Lately, a lot of the conversations at Dave's workplace have centered around Barack Obama and his race. If the asshats Dave works with aren't tossing around the N-word, they're calling Obama a terrorist or an Arab. I'm astounded by how fucking ignorant so many of these people are. I mean, seriously, do I need to go down there and show these bastards a map? These assholes think Obama's Kenyan father makes Obama a terrorist and an Arab. Uh, what? Last time I checked, Kenya is in Africa and Obama ain't a terrorist. Even if he were a Muslim that wouldn't make him a terrorist. Hell, I know more vile Christian extremists than Muslim extremists. It's always so amusing to me how many Christian folks spew such hateful rhetoric about Muslims without realizing *they* are just as horrible and spreading just as much fear and propaganda and terrorism.

But, really, the thing that upsets me the most about all this racist bullshit is how Dave and I will never be able to bring our child or children to the firestation to see all the nifty fire trucks and ambulances that kids love so much. Why, you ask? Because when Dave and I adopt later this year or early next spring, we'll be adopting an African American or biracial child. I refuse to have our kid exposed to that kind of disgusting ignorance. I just won't fucking have it. I always wonder if those dickheads ever stop to think about how their comments affect Dave or their other colleagues who feel outnumbered and are afraid to speak up. Will they understand how painful it will be for Dave to hear a black person referred to as a jigaboo or jungle bunny or N-word when our child is (or will be) African American?

Look, I'm not naive. I know that people say hurtful things. One of Dave's family members sent a a horrible text message to us the other night that was supposed to be a joke. We didn't find it funny. Do I think this person is a racist? No, but obviously, they didn't show very good judgment. Will I keep my kid away from them? No, but I'll probably always sort of wonder if they're really as accepting as they say they are.

My dad says things sometimes that make me cringe. I know a lot of it comes from growing up during super turbulent times but he's trying really hard to change. My cousin and her husband are also in the process of adopting a likely biracial or fully black child so Dad got the talk from Mom months ago when they started the paperwork. A few weeks ago, Dad referred to MLK day in a derogatory way but immediately apologized to me. I can't imagine that it's easy to change ingrained habits but he's trying. And that's enough for me. I don't doubt for one second that my dad will love our child just as much as if he or she were biological.

I guess I'm just frustrated with people who display such ignorance and hatred without ever considering the consequences. And I feel sad for them. They'll live their pathetic lives cloistered in their homogenous circles, never fully participating in the diverse wonders of their communities. They'll sit around eating the same old shit, reading the same old shit, watching the same old shit and never realize they're missing out on some of the most awesome and extraordinary foods, holidays, books, music, and films. And friendships that could change their lives.

Sad. Just so fucking sad.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Miss Marple meets Tony Montana

So I've been watching a lot of Miss Marple BBC productions (Geraldine McEwan rocks!) and reading a cozy mystery series with a knitting them written by Maggie Sefton. I've never wanted to learn to knit until, oh, five or six days ago. I figured that if I can teach myself to run a 5K, I can figure out this knitting business. I persuaded Dave-O into taking me to Michael's (yarn sale!) and spent about $15 bucks on bamboo knitting needles and a sack full of yarn. I went home and watched about 2 hours worth of knitting demonstration videos online. Then I started crapping kittens because, holy shit, this knitting stuff is complicated.

Yesterday, I decided I needed to face my fear so I turned on Scarface, grabbed a ball of yarn and my needles and taught myself to knit. Yep, that's right. I learned to knit while watching Scarface. I'm big on balance, you know? Knitting fits in the sweet old lady with a bajillion cats and curious sherry sipping habit. What's the exact opposite? Bingo. Tony Montana.

Right about the time Tony takes his trip to Cochabamba and meets Alex Sosa I finally figured out the purl stitch. By the time Alex called Tony back to Bolivia to discuss his tax evasion charges and their, uh, problem, I'd managed a few nice looking stockinette and garter stitch rows! When Tony shouted his iconic line (Say hello to my little friend!), I'd knitted a third of one wonky-ass dishcloth.

The only real problem I've encountered is Bosley. He seems convinced that knitting is the devil's work. You should try knitting with a Great Dane hovering over your lap, salivating, barking and snapping at your needles. Not cool. I sort of wonder if he saw me looking at those Great Dane sweater patterns...

As much as it pains me to admit, I'm really loving this new knitting hobby. It's oddly relaxing. It's sort of like meditation, you know? Focus the front of the mind on a mundane task and all that. Still, it's sort of depressing. I mean, Dave and I spent Friday night reading and knitting side by side on the couch. Ohmigod! We're so LAME!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

So it's no secret at Casa O that I am addicted to Harlequin novels. My favorite part of every month is choosing the next five or so books I'm going to buy. I devour these delicious little slices of romance the same way a fat kid attacks a box of Swiss Cake rolls. They are my weakness.

I'm quite fond of the old school Presents line with its fabulously wealthy alpha males and feisty but not so wealthy heroines entangled in marriages of convenience or secret baby plot lines. With titles like The Ruthless Magnate's Virgin Mistress and At the Sheihk's Bidding, how can you not gobble them up like literary crack? Oh, and I read both of those last week and loved 'em.

The Silhouette Desires line is sort of the American version of the Presents with equally as wealthy and arrogant heros. I love the Silhouette Nocturne line with its super sexy and intriguing paranormal romances. Ooh, and Spice books, their erotica line, is FABULOUS. Seriously. If you haven't read any of Megan Hart's erotic novels, you are missing out on some amazing books.

Anywho. The point of this post isn't to shill for Harlequin. The point is that I've finally realized that after all these years of supporting Harlequin and their lovely authors it's time I threw my hat in the ring and tried to join their ranks. I've got a few erotica projects I've got to get finished first (contracts and deadlines and all) but then I'm going to focus on a paranormal romance targeted to the Nocturne line. No guarantees or anything but it'll be damn fun to pen.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year, New Goals

So 2009 is here and with it a new chance for accomplishing a new set of goals. Here are mine.

1) Finish losing the rest of this weight.
2) Run at least two 5K races.
3) Achieve a 5K pace of 45 minutes.
4) Increase my endurance to a 10K.
5) Increase my writing income.
6) Sell a book or books to Harlequin. (More on this tomorrow.)
7) Return to school and complete my BS or BA. Work on my PhD plans.
8) Save half of our adoption fund.

These are all extremely doable. I'm actually looking forward to crossing them all off my list!