2011


Hit Me Baby One More Time

I had lunch with a friend the other day who is enduring the same baby-making road that I am. In the email exchange where we were setting up our plan to meet and eat, she said something to the effect of how it’s nice to just talk to someone who doesn’t say the wrong things.

Oh, the wrong thing. There are so many things on the list of “wrong” when you are enduring something as difficult as the struggle to have a baby. I’m not even sure why I say things like this out loud anymore because it will surely prompt some allegedly well-meaning person to email or call me after having read this, to make some idiotic statement that will make me seriously consider ripping off their nipples. With. My. Teeth.

After I posted something along these lines the last time, someone actually emailed me to say, “Oh, I know someone who did IVF and she miscarried twins at 5 months.” FIVE MONTHS! So you mean, getting pregnant isn’t even the real hurdle? Apparently I have to STAY pregnant? And walk on eggshells the whole time? Yeesh. Thanks for your kind words.

Someone tried to say, “She didn’t mean it maliciously.”

Um, okay, how did she mean it? Why would she say this? Why would anyone say this?

What about when a friend knows you are going through pretty intense fertility treatments and knows it didn’t work responds by saying, “You’ll try again.” You know, I can see how you may think that’s helpful, but I’m not sure that you realize that your simple solution of “trying again” isn’t as easy as supersizing my meal. “Trying again” means 2 more months of downtime and ramping up, of 40 more shots in the stomach, of countless appointments for blood, sonograms, of veins collapsing, of another $15,000,  of my vagina developing acid reflux because there are so many meds in me that they are rebelling. Suddenly “You’ll try again” doesn’t seem so quick of a fix, does it?

What about the old “just relax.” People love to tell you that if you “just relax” that you’ll end up pregnant. That their friends, and friends of their friends, and their babysitter’s next door neighbor’s kid’s teacher’s cousin all just quit trying and bim bam boom. Pregnant. Because that will work for you. That diagnosis, which was free! Yes, Free! It will work for you, even though the speaker has absolutely no idea of your personal situation.

A variation of “just relax” is the “why don’t you just adopt.” Well, shit. If you were at the store and you were looking for a watermelon for something specific you were making and someone said to you, “why not get the sausage instead?” Would that make sense? No? Well then why would you tell me to adopt when the goal is to have a child with my husband? (Yes, I get that the comparison of sausage and watermelon to adopting kids is weird and possibly insensitive, but I’m trying to illustrate a point to people who seem to have no fucking concept of what they are saying. I had to dumb it down with food.)

It’s a tough road that those on the Infertility Roller Coaster have to ride. There’s nothing you can say that’s right to us other than to just smile,  nod, and say that you are sorry. Or not. Act totally uninterested and we’ll get it that you don’t want to hear it. But we don’t want quick fixes, we don’t want to hear what your friend did, we don’t want to hear that we should relax, or adopt, or get a surrogate, sperm donor, do acupuncture. We also don’t want to hear what your kid did that was so stinking cute you just had to tell the whole damn world. It’s not cute to us. It’s tear-inducing.

But people don’t get it. So we suffer in silence because it somehow seems wrong to say that what is being said to us is not helpful or downright hurtful. Does it make me a bitch? Most likely. But no one else is riding in my shoes right now, so they don’t get to judge.

Hilarity on the Job Front

I’m sorry to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming of infertility bitching, but something hilarious just came to my attention.

Hilarious.

Apparently, because I don’t really try to hide it really anyway, this blog is making its way around my former employer of 7 days. So one by one everyone is reading it, which I guess makes my decision to jet out even more validated and it brings me back to my original question:

Does anyone do any fucking work at that company??? Or do they just wait for new people to arrive so they can dump all the work on them? Client service people, that’s where it’s at. Returning phone calls and answering emails, that’s how it’s done. Not by sitting there passing this url around the company and not doing your jobs.

Smooches!!

Fertility Clinics Are Big Business - Part Two

4 IVF Cycles
105 Shots
$65,000
2.5 years
Zero babies

X and I spent all night debating all the finer points of IVF and everything we’ve learned. While I love Shady Grove, and will continue to recommend them to anyone who asks, I have found their downside. It’s not just theirs, but that of many other clinics, and why all this really is just a big business. No matter what a doctor says about how he/she wants to help you “get your baby,” they won’t do so at a cost. I’ll get to that in a minute.

X had the foresight to pay for a multi-cycle discount which gave us the 2nd IVF at half price. His theory was that if we paid for the 2nd one, they had more incentive to make the first one work. He said it was sort of like insurance. (Remember, X gets hot down there for insurance products.) The first IVF didn’t work. No surprise there, I just expect the bad news now. When we started up the next round it was almost surreal. I literally could not believe I was getting the shots again.

Shady Grove changed the meds because I didn’t respond well the prior time. This time, as I went in for daily blood tests and sonograms, it sounded like we were hitting home runs all over the place.  But, this is the lottery where you win, then they start taking money away from you and leave you with nothing.

1st IVF: 15 eggs retrieved, 13 fertilized, 7 started dividing and only 4 were barely alive at day 3.
2nd IVF: Natural, no meds. 1 egg retrieved. Reached 5 day blastocyst, i.e. “the best it gets.”
3rd IVF: 7 eggs retrieved, 2 fertilized and started dividing and were put back in at day 3.
4th IVF: 10 eggs retrieved, 6 fertilized and started dividing and all 6 continued through to day 4. By day 5, 2 died and we were down to 4 eggs, a few of which were slowing in growth.

See how those numbers sound so good at first, but then every day after the egg retrieval, you keep losing?

They choose the strongest 2 embryos to put back in, and will freeze what is left as long it is a blastocyst. This means that if you have 6 embryos that are growing and 2 become blastocysts, they will put those two in. And guess what happens to the other 4? They aren’t good enough for their Kenmore’s apparently, so they throw them out.

This is exactly what happened to us. We asked if I could have just one of those other embryos put in with the two good quality ones, and they said no - two is their max. Their position is if it is not a blastocyst at day 5, then it would “most likely” not survive a freeze/thaw. Well, how does that explain my friend who has a 6 year old right now who was one of these “bad quality undesirable” embryos? How does it explain all the other women on message boards who had frozen, low quality, highly fragmented embryos put back in that resulted in a child?

You may be asking, why won’t the clinics just let you have your embryos and give them a chance? Because every failed embryo transfer, whether fresh or frozen, goes against a clinic’s stats. So they rely on statistics while we leverage our assets preparing for the next step and wonder if our child just got flushed into the Potomac.

So all this bodes the question that we’ve been debating all night. Most women get few, if any blastocysts. Is it worth it to spend all this money and go through the financial, physical and emotional drain to get the 2 embryos they’ll allow you on transfer day, knowing that the other ones will be thrown away?

I never expected this reaction but I cried as I told X tonight, I feel like someone actually took a baby away from us.

No more IVF for me. It’s one thing if the embryos are put inside you and don’t result in a pregnancy, but it’s a whole other ballgame if they never even allow them the chance to try.

People Really Suck - The Conclusion: Take This Job and Shove It

Well, after my last drama where I was on deck for a job, then the potential boss was told of my fertility quest, they still hired me. They never said a peep about the baby stuff, and just called me to confirm that they resolved the issue(s) with my friend and would I want to start relatively quickly. I agreed and got all my other issues up to date so that I could start a job.

My first day I went into software training as they were completing this long-discussed software conversion for the entire company. I was introduced to everyone, all of whom seemed to do a lot of standing around and not a lot of working. From what I had heard about the company, I was told that this was sort of the norm - the support staff really didn’t do a lot of work. They didn’t answer emails, they didn’t do their job, and in October, they were 3 months behind on producing financial statements for the clients. In fact, one such Einstein was at her desk surfing facebook when they brought me to meet her. She had her ear plugs in, so she didn’t even hear us standing next to her, and just continued to chat with her facebook friends.

My second day, still without email or a phone, my personal inbox was filling up with all sorts of emails. People had somehow nabbed my yahoo email and were sending me every single outstanding issue for which they needed help. I was begging the people at the company to stop using my personal email and for some reason, no one listened. Late in the day, I received a forwarded email asking me to go to court at 8 a.m. the next morning to be a witness for a lien that was to be filed on a homeowner in one of our communities. Really? I’ve been here less than 2 days and you want me to go to court? No.

My third and fourth day I continued to amass emails and phone calls from pissed off people who had been ignored for, in some cases, months. Everything was a priority. The fourth day they finally issued me a cell phone. That fucking thing never stopped buzzing. I’d put it down and come back 20 minutes later and have 15 emails and voicemail. Is this a joke?

My fifth day I was issued a computer. The screen looked like someone threw a baseball bat at it. I emailed the computer guy and said, “Didn’t you notice before you left my desk that this monitor was cracked and I can only see the top left inch of what’s on the screen?” He replied and said, “You need to file a work ticket for that.” I do? Really? You fucking moron, you set up my computer when I wasn’t here, left me with broken equipment and I NEED TO SEND IN A GOD DAMNED TICKET??? At lunch that day the people in the office began discussing golden showers. Then they grilled me about my personal life and why I went to work there. I was starting to wonder.

The fifth day was also when I received an email from some beast in our office who told me that I would need to be “on call” next week and the week of Christmas. I said, “Are you serious? I just started, cannot grasp my own job and you want me to do everyone else’s job too?” She said, “Every manager has to do it.” I said, “I started almost at year end - didn’t you all have this figured out before I got here?” She said it was “company policy.” You can stick your company policy up your ass you fat bitch, I’m not doing it. I forwarded this whole exchange to my boss and said, “I am NOT doing this. It is totally disrespectful for her to even ask me.”

My sixth day I was told I would have meetings that night, and every single night the following week with clients. Every. Single. Night. And because we are salary - you guessed it. There is no such thing as comp time. Shit, even if there were, at this point, 6 days in, I have over 150 emails that need attention. That night I went to a meeting and practically got a standing ovation at my announcement as the new manager. After the meeting I was accosted by all the clients saying that they never received calls back, that they were in the middle of elections and ballots needed to be mailed, that their annual meeting was soon and their budgets were late. It was totally obvious I was 6 days in and 6 months behind.

And on the seventh day, God rested.

I went to the office, got bombarded with several dozen more email stating that I needed to do this “right away” and a few dozen more emails that started out with “Velvet is the new point of contact” which I could add to my collection of 100’s of emails that all needed attention and I just flipped out. I emailed my boss with a “where are you / we need to talk.” No answer. I went to my car, got all my keys, fobs, and access cards, brought them to my desk, put them next to my cell phone, laptop and chargers, and sent an email that said, in a nutshell, the following:

I’m leaving. It’s one thing to start a job and be a few weeks behind, but this is insane. Every single thing I touch hasn’t been touched or worked on in weeks, sometimes months. Everything is a priority, and now I find out that I have to get budgets mailed out, ballots sent, annual meeting notices, the accounting department has been blaming on a software change for their incompetence for 3 months, everyone is angry and they all bombarded me by email or in person with lists of not a few, but dozens upon dozens of things that need to be done. I need to just learn the job, and I can’t do that when I’m flooded with emails and work that hasn’t been done in months, as well as things going forward I don’t even know how to do. I can’t dig out of this. I left my keys, etc on the desk. Sorry.

And with that, I left.

They called and asked me to come back, promised to help, and I said absolutely not.

People Really Suck

It just doesn’t pay to be a nice person.

An old co-worker, Steve, called me earlier this year and asked if I would be interested in a 3 month contract job working for him at a property. I agreed and was able to fit it into my life as a Realtor. It ended up being a decent stint and I met some interesting people I’m still in touch with. At the end of my time doing the work, the company who employs Steve expressed an interest in hiring me full time.

We had been discussing various positions for the past few months, but it quieted down in late August. A week and a half ago, I heard from the company again, and met with Charlie for an informal interview. He told me that part of my responsibility would include lifting some work off Steve who was overloaded.  Nothing seemed amiss.

The next day Charlie asked me via email if I was available immediately. I said if they could be flexible with my existing clients and time demands, I could start in the near term.

The day after that, X and I were at his mother’s house and when I went to check my phone and saw that both Charlie and Steve had called within a few minutes of each other. I called Steve back first. He said that they gave him “the talk” and that they were either demoting him or getting rid of him, but that they were giving me his job. I thought this was mega-uncool.  Then I called Charlie back and got essentially the same story - there had been “a talk” and they were unhappy with Steve and planned to have me replace him. They wanted to tell me since he was my friend who basically introduced us and to see if it would be uncomfortable for me.

In this conversation I really went to bat for Steve. I set forth two points: First, I worked with Steve at another company and knew him to be diligent and attentive. If he wasn’t able to do a satisfactory job, I wasn’t sure what I would be able to do differently. Second, it just didn’t feel right for me to be the catalyst for them letting someone go, much less someone who had brought me into the company and they needed to resolve this first before bringing me on. X was sitting there listening and he said he was so proud of how I handled them and myself, and that Steve really was lucky to have me be so loyal that I’d forego a job for him.

Charlie recommended I talk to Steve and get his side. I had already done this, but we did talk again the next day. He confirmed that he was told to “get his resume together” and because he was one of the few who I was honest with about the IVF process, he said that the condition the company was in was so bad, that if I wanted to get pregnant I should really reconsider taking the job regardless. I did tell him that we felt like time was running out for us, and while no one knew of the IVF, I didn’t want to get pregnant and then lose a baby because of a stressful working environment or something else like that. In all, he was appreciative of the things I had said about him to his boss.

A couple days went by and Charlie emailed me to ask me if I had made a decision. I told him that I would rather that they resolve the issue with Steve, that if I took the job and they let him go that I would feel like the catalyst for it. I ended by saying we could talk at some point down the road. I didn’t hear back from him. I didn’t hear back from Steve either, for 5 days.

Steve finally called me to tell me that “nothing had happened.” He wasn’t fired last Friday as he had been led to believe, he wasn’t sure what was going on, and said that Charlie had told him to convey to me that the situation was resolved with Steve. Steve then said to Charlie, “Well, with them trying to have a baby and going through IVF, I seriously doubt she would want to get involved in this company.”

Um. Okay…I had said several times that Steve was the only one who knew about this, and that I certainly did NOT tell the company where I’m interviewing that I’m trying to get pregnant. First of all, I’m not actually pregnant so what does it matter, and second, it’s none of a company’s business and was totally inappropriate to say and now probably removed me from all consideration for getting a job there.

I’m just so pissed off because from what the company had told me, they were really unhappy with Steve and even went through specific performance related shortcomings about him. The fact that I didn’t take the job enabled Steve to keep his, and he sold me out. For no reason.

People really suck.

I Had to Put Her Six Feet Under and I Can Still Hear Her Complain

I’ve been very remiss in posting. Sorry.

A friend of mine asked me the other night about how I went from daily writing to basically a once a month deal. It’s not that life is dull, it’s that. Wait. Shit. Life is dull. Damn it. We’re just plugging away over here trying to figure out how to have the life we want,  the life we always thought we would have and now aren’t sure it’s a reality. We’re mired in all sorts of various endeavors to determine if we can have this life or not, and truthfully, I watch it slip further away as the days pass. At least that’s how it feels. Which brings me to my next point.

The last IVF didn’t work. So that’s #3. I’m starting to realize this is more of an art than a science. I find myself resenting every swelled stomach I pass on the street and frankly it’s not a great place to be. But what can you do?

I guess you can find little ways to make yourself feel better, right? Which brings me to my next point. (Yeah, I know, I used that on the last transition, I told you I was getting dull.)

For some reason that no one can explain to me, Mr. X’s ex, the witch we can’t stand, is somehow receiving mail. At. My. House. Mr. X just moved in with me this past year, and she most definitely has never lived here. We can’t seem to find the source of the mailing list which has connected her name with MY ADDRESS. I swear, there is nothing like opening your mailbox to find that she has infiltrated yet another part of our lives. It really is a slap in the face.

When yet another junk mail company couldn’t tell us where they got her name for our address, I hopped online. There is nothing google can’t tell you. After a few searches and clicks, I got to the junk mail website and found several ways that you can get someone to stop receiving mail at your house, but they all involve forwarding, going to post offices, filing complaints, waiting, etc. Until I scrolled to the FAQ and found out that you can actually report someone as “dead” and they get removed from all mailing lists. Just report them dead, give a date of death and bam - they get removed from all junk mail lists.

I guess I don’t have to tell you what I did next, do I?

Washington Fertility Center vs. Shady Grove Fertility

Warning: This post is incredibly detailed with medical jargon you may find coma-inducing.You don’t have to read it all…I bolded the important parts. Mostly I want to solidify its place in the event I can help some poor woman in the future.

In most cases, I love it when something I didn’t understand finally makes itself clear to me. I also love it when I’m right. Not this time.

We just finished the IVF with Shady Grove. We don’t know much yet but I’ll report in when we do. I’m not hopeful since I’ve endured this before, only to have it fail.  Having gone through the whole process at Shady Grove and finding it 1000 times better, more professional and easier than the other stimulated IVF we did, I have learned a ton.

My Ob/Gyn, who I love, recommended two years ago we see Dr. Asmar at Washington Fertility.  We liked him and felt like he could help us, so we began the IVF process. From the 2nd or 3rd day of the shots I was sick. I could not understand how friends of mine did this 5 and 6 times. When I reached the point where I was homicidal and knew my body could take no more, Dr. Asmar said I needed to do one more day of shots. I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it. I knew something was wrong with my body, we had already lost faith in them when they lost X’s sperm, when they overcharged us, when they routinely made us wait an hour even though the office was empty, when their two receptionists treated us like crap, but I just knew something was wrong. From what I know now, it appears that I was overstimulated.

When your follicles are overstimulated, you will get tons of eggs, but few of them are viable. There were 15 eggs retrieved from me on Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:30 a.m. I went home to bed. X came in around mid-afternoon and said, “Good news, 13 of the 15 eggs fertilized!” We were so happy. What we know now from our experience with Shady Grove is that the eggs take about 24 hours to “fertilize.” So a phone call 6 hours later from Washington Fertility stating 13 fertilized eggs was clearly a lie.

That evening, as it started snowing the Great Snowstorm that gave the DC area 3 feet of snow, X and I discussed how wonderful it would be to have enough embryos frozen that we could have a few kids off this one IVF cycle. We lost power that evening, as did most of the metro area. X said to me at 11:00 Friday night, “I hope they didn’t lose power at the lab.” Suddenly our minds went to our 13 little embryos, the little Velvet/X combos and my heart sank. They had told us at Washington Fertility that they planned to stay at the lab all weekend in anticipation of the storm, but as the snow pounded the city, we didn’t hear anything all weekend long. What we know now from our experience with Shady Grove is that you should get a daily phone call after egg retrieval. The day after retrieval they call with a fertilization report. The second day they call to tell you when to expect the embryos will be transferred. For a variety of reasons they determine at this point whether you should transfer the embryos on day 3 or 5 post retrieval. We received no such call from Dr. Asmar’s office at Washington Fertility.

Monday morning, February 8, 2010, the medicine cocktail I was still taking had burned through my esophagus so badly I hadn’t been able to eat all weekend without throwing it back up. Dr. Asmar’s office called to say that “only 7 eggs survived the weekend and only 3 were dividing normally.” Because they weren’t even decent quality, they recommended an immediate transfer. We asked for a delay because of my vomiting issue (I seriously just wanted my fucking body to be normal again) and he said no, this was important to do today as the embryos typically do better inside the mother. What we know now from our experience with Shady Grove is that this transfer should be scheduled the day prior, and you shouldn’t receive a panicky phone call from your allegedly competent doctor telling you to come right away.

When we got to Washington Fertility they showed us a picture of 6 embryos and said that a 4th had “started to divide.” We never did find out why they said 7 embryos on the phone but only showed us 6. What we know now from our experience with Shady Grove is that an egg doesn’t just suddenly start dividing 3 days later. If they are going to arrest development it’s early in the process, and then they don’t keep going. Because we got no phone calls from Friday afternoon with our “fake” fertilization report, until Monday morning’s panicked “you have to come right away,” it’s obvious that these people lied. They were NOT in the lab at all, because if they were, we would have received calls, and not all of those eggs would have died. The lab needs to wash, change fluids, etc, and this probably wasn’t done. It appears they left the embryos to fend for themselves and went home to shovel their driveways.

When you reach the end of your hormone shots, the clinic calls you and tells you to take a “trigger” shot that tells your follicles to release the eggs. Exactly 36 hours later, they have you go in for an egg retrieval. I had 12 follicles this time but some were sluggish. Based on the sizes, I had thought they would have me go another day on shots, and X and I were prepared for a last minute trip to the pharmacy to pick up more. When Shady Grove called with my directive to take the trigger shot I was sort of stunned. Last IVF I was begging for that shot, but this time, I could have easily gone another day. I asked the nurse why. What we know now from our experience with Shady Grove can be summed up by her response: “Well, we watch for the estrogen jump, and as long as it jumps as much the following day, we keep going. When it levels off, your body is going to stop maturing the eggs and you could risk losing the bigger follicles as they will be too old now.”  I went back to look at my records from good old Dr. Asmar.

Before I compare estrogen levels, here’s a tidbit of useful information on Estrogen and proper numbers during IVF:

Exact figures are not possible. As a rough guide, however, a level in the range of 150 to 500 pg/ml is generally considered reasonable for the eighth day of a stimulated cycle. An approximate doubling of this level every 48 hours is considered promising, as a sign of continued good follicle development.

Let’s compare Estrogen Levels for both cycles.

Washington Fertility
Day 5    149
Day 7    489
Day 10  1323
Day 11  3312
Day 12  3458

I didn’t have an appointment on Day 8, but let’s assume I was around 500 just for fun since I was at 489 on Day 7.  Following with the guide above, day 10 I should have been 1000; I was 1323. Day 12, had I been 1000, I should have been 2000; I was 3458. That’s 73% higher than I should have been. Those eggs weren’t over-easy, they were scorched.  While they don’t provide targets of estrogen because every woman is different, it appears from that example above that if you stimulate for 12 days with shots, the max your estrogen should reach is 2000.

Shady Grove
Day 6     189
Day 7     302
Day 9     481
Day 11   1106
Day 12   1380
Day 13   1599

My day 8 estrogen was clearly in the range of 150 - 500 since days 7 and 9 are in that range. It’s safe to assume though that they did it right. I was responding to the meds more slowly, but when the jump from day 9 to 11 was 625 points, then from 11 to 13 it went 493 points, it was time to trigger.

See what happened at Washington Fertility with Dr. Asmar? I was right. I was totally overstimulated, could go no further physically and they should have given me the trigger shot when I asked for it. The jump in estrogen from 1323 to 3312 was the big one, but then the fact it went only another 140 points? Dr. Asmar totally missed the entire window of opportunity and all that pain, torture and money was for nothing because my eggs weren’t viable. Couple that with the fact they weren’t at that lab that weekend, and those embryos didn’t stand a chance. I love being right, but this time it’s heartbreaking.

After my experience at Washington Fertility, I left some reviews on various doctor review sites. Like clockwork, their stupid nurses would come in right after me and leave positive reviews. Except they are soooo stupid because you can tell it’s them writing the reviews based on what they say. On one of the sites they even wrote “Velvet we know who you are and we’ll call your job and tell them you’re crazy.”  Um….nice. Except that their English isn’t that proper.  Washington Fertility has been on a massive PR parade. They also since redesigned their website and put up testimonials that are clearly fake…just as fake as their fertility reports.

Here Comes the Sun

Uggh. I can’t believe I’ve neglected the poor Velvet blog for this long. Actually, I’ve neglected all my writing endeavors, save a few cryptic notes on my feelings about a long standing family drama that’s come to a head.

X and I have had a very busy summer. There have been work and vacations. We wrote an offer (that wasn’t accepted) on a house in the Keys. We’re still planning on buying our next home there though. Sammy and Thora had a summertime brush with fame when they endeared themselves to one of my favorite actors - Sean Hayes. Actually, it was less a “brush” and more of an intended bump-into. Let’s see…my ex, Sammy and Thora’s original daddy, had texted this spring that he’d like to try to see the dogs. They are almost 12 now, and he said he would rather see them now than when there’s an eleventh hour phone call. Shudder. I don’t like to think about that day. Anyway, he is in the movie business, and we went to see him on our way home from Florida. By “we” I mean, Mr. X and I.

I know what you are thinking, but it wasn’t awkward at all. In fact, to me, it was like just getting two of my closest friends in one place. See, when you have long term relationships with people who aren’t psychos, they can manage to function in the presence of each other without wanting to kick each other’s asses. And so there I sat at some high school cafeteria in Cartersville, Georgia, eating lunch with my husband and the man who was almost my husband, with Sammy and Thora and with Sean Hayes behind us. It was mega-cool. My ex brought us to meet Sean and he got down and started playing with Sammy and Thora. Sammy gave him his resume, but Sean wasn’t interested in employing a bacon-eating, bark-a-tron corgi from Washington, DC.

Our 1 year anniversary was July 23rd - yay! We came home from our vacation of bliss and started IVF again. Happy Anniversary to us!  Actually, it isn’t that bad at all. We’re with Shady Grove - where we probably should have stayed from the beginning. I’m in the middle of the shots and other than being sleepy all the time, I feel pretty good. We have a couple days to go, then egg retrieval and the rest of the fun stuff.  The only other time we did the fully stimulated IVF was the mega-disaster with the worst of the worst - Washington Fertility. That was 18 months ago. That round was during the big February snowstorms. When the area lost power, and all my eggs died, we had to wonder if the lab lost power as well. It was somewhat calculated that this time we would do this in the summer so there were no weather complications. Except I miscalculated for the time that X had to go get his vials of frozen sperm and have to run them from storage in Virginia to the lab in Maryland when it was 110 degrees. It’s actually comical.

I’m not going to get into boring scientific specifics, but comparing that cycle to this one where my ovaries are responding a bit slower, I will say that time means everything after 35. And this is coming from a woman with zero reproductive issues. Zero. So if you are on the fence and you’re mid-thirties, get cracking. Don’t wait because now instead of just facing Mr. X’s snippy snippy issue, we have my apparent Indy-500 race into menopause.

It was just yesterday I was doing keg stands. Now I’m looking for retirement homes in Florida and counting my eggs and hoping they hatch. But it’s been a great summer thus far. Hopefully it will get better.

You Can Call Me Call Me Anytime Call Me

Nothing makes me cackle like a good prank call. Well, unless it’s someone falling.

Okay, so prank calls rank a close second. In college we had a shared phone between 2 dorm rooms and we would all sit on the extensions and prank various places. Sometimes we would go through the classifieds and just call people which never proved very fruitful. In Miami, 110% of the people selling crap in the Penny Saver don’t speak English. We decided to bring it a little closer to home and prank the Fraternity Houses on campus.

There was one such house with a rather large population of frat boys from Long Island and New Jersey who really hit the jackpot in the “body hair” department. Normally I would order 10 pizzas for them with pepperoni but asked that they “not slice the pepperoni” but to “just lay the stick across the pizza.” Then I would call to the frat house and let them know in my signature psycho voice. Every time I would call with the voice you could hear them all saying, “oh no…this again?”

Pepperoni aside, my best call, according to my roommates, was this one:

Poor Schlub: ZBT House!
Me: Hi, it’s Jill.
Poor Schlub: Yeah???
Me: Someone called me from there.
Poor Schlub, to room: Did anyone call a “Jill?”
Room: No JILL NO ONE CALLED YOU!!!
Me: Are you sure? This number came up on my caller id.
Poor Schlub: We said NO ONE called you from here, okay?
Me, cueing psycho voice: Are you sure? No one called Jill? The big Gillette Razor? I’m coming over to shave your back!!!

The advent of caller id and popularity of cell phones really put a damper on my prank calling career. It’s all well and good anyway since I’ve managed to do a massive amount of growing up since 1992. However, there is occasionally an opportunity that makes me giddy with glee.

It’s no secret that X’s ex, the Beast, is usually unleashing some sort of drama on all our lives. Her most recent stunt involved moving away, taking the kids, not telling anyone, and then threatening to take X to court when he didn’t fork over her money so she could sign up for Yoga 10 states away. She wasn’t bothered by that minor detail of kidnapping, but such is life.  When she couldn’t squeeze money out of X (he was waiting for her comments on the aforementioned kidnapping and certainly was not going to pay her to continue to commit a crime against him and their children,) she called X’s mother. (The Beast has a British accent.)

Poor X’s mother, she’s 83 years old and she really hates The Beast.  X’s mother called X in a fury and said that The Beast called her and said, “Is this a werkin numbah? I need it ta file papuhs ageenst X.” X said his mom was so upset. So I decided to have a little fun.

I called X’s mom. When she picked up, I put on my fanciest British accent and chirped, “oh helllllowh! D’ya want ta have tea and biskits with me??”

Click.

She hung up on me.

X and I were laughing so hard. Never mind that The Beast has a working class accent and the only British accent I can pull off be the fancy kind, X’s mom missed that detail. But I thought she would have known there is NO WAY The Beast would call and offer to break bread with her. I tried to call right back but she didn’t answer. I had to beg and plead into the answering machine that it was me. When she picked up she said, “You’re never going to believe who just called me!”

Oh, I’ll believe it all right. It actually took a while to convince her that it was me. I had to do the voice again to prove it. X’s mom has a great sense of humor, and anything at the expense of The Beast is hilarious to her. And me, apparently.

The Hopeful Beginning of Sweet Sweet Justice

X and I had a fight of epic proportions with Dominion Fertility and Dr. Dimattina as a result of Catheter-gate. It seems that they take no responsibility or show no remorse for forcing a catheter in me against my will for something that was not a life or death matter. As a patient in America, I believe we still have the right to refuse certain treatments if it isn’t life or death or if our refusal of treatment doesn’t impact the health of others around us.

Dr. Dimattina’s response to X was “We find that when the bladder is punctured that women are more comfortable to pee pee with a catheter in.” (yes, he said “pee pee.”) X said, “But she didn’t want a catheter, she told you she didn’t want one, and if you thought she was too drugged up, I was in the next room and no one came and asked me either.”

No response from Dr. Dimattina. Now I know why the message boards I’ve found are filled with notes calling him Dr. Dimadouchebag. It goes without saying that we have parted ways with the fucking losers at Dominion Fertility because, well, the last time I checked, my body belongs to me.  I wasn’t making demands about the science part, about what to do in the lab or how to retrieve the egg. I am happy to leave that stuff to the experts. I was merely saying that I didn’t want a catheter, would rather take my chances without one, or that I would rather see a urologist than have an ob/gyn do this to me. Shit, do you ask your dentist to check an ingrown toenail? No. That’s because it’s not his area of expertise. Same here, Dr. Dimattina. You are not a urologist. You were over your head on this. In fact, when I went to see a urologist to ensure there was no damage, he said that it’s not really customary to catheter someone for a puncture, you can check with a sonogram to see what happened.

There was also no response for why he employs a nurse who is so stupid that she doesn’t know that a catheter has an inflated ball inside the bladder, so when she was pulling and pulling, she was causing me excrutiating pain. I hope anyone who plans to go to Dominion knows that not only do they NOT CARE about what your wishes are, they don’t have trained nurses there either.

Many many many of you recommended we contact a lawyer. But here’s the tricky part with lawyers: They want damages. They want you to have permanent disabling damage so they can sue for millions and so that they get their 30% or 40% cut. Thank the heavens I don’t have bladder damage because honestly, that’s about the one thing I probably wouldn’t be able to live with. I prefer peeing and pooping without pain, and I prefer doing those things into toilets (occasionally the side of the road when I have too many Big Gulps) and I definitely don’t want to do those things in bags.

When X and I were in the car the other day, we were talking about how ridiculous Dimattina’s reaction was, X said, “It’s like he’s running scared from something. He was wrong. Why doesn’t he just admit it and we could all move on?”

Ding ding ding. No more calls, I think we have a winner. Headed off to Google.

Here it is ladies and gents. The lawsuit that was keeping Dr. Dimattina busy at the time I was enduring IVF at his practice, and at his hands. I had to dig into Google, but I found the court records, and he was out of the practice for the two weeks after my procedure so he could participate in his jury trial.

I’m not sure what he did to that patient, but I can only surmise that it was a direct result of his approach to care, which is, “I’ll do what I want and you have to take it.”

We have switched doctors (again) since it seems finding competency is nearly impossible. In an interesting twist of fate, after we had the consultation with the doctor he put us in a conference room and told us to wait for the coordinator to come explain everything to us. He shut the door and called her on the phone from his office, but for some reason, we could hear everything through the wall. I mean, everything, down to what she was saying on the other end of the phone. When our new doctor got to the part about “Then they went to Dominion and did a Natural Cycle IVF” you could hear the nurse laughing LOUDLY. Maybe we dodged a bullet?

When the nurse/coordinator came in to meet with us, we couldn’t resist asking her. She apologized that we heard her laugh but we said that we actually wanted to hear more. From what I can surmise from message boards, Dominion sells people on the Natural Cycle IVF through price and not using meds, and it doesn’t work. Woman after woman was posting to various fertility message boards saying they did 3 or 4 cycles and it didn’t work and they went back to fully stimulated IVF. The nurse basically said that is their exact position. It works for some people, but the odds aren’t good enough to be selling it as a solution. And they said that is what Dominon does, they play on the fears of people have of meds and costs and steer them to something that may or may not work.

Maybe we just saved ourselves another $10,000. Though I would much rather it wasn’t at the cost of the trauma I endured.

Fertility Clinics are Big Business

Dominion called me on Friday. I saw the number on my phone and wondered wtf could they want. Insurance info. I don’t know why as most insurance has no coverage for IVF, mine included. She said she wanted to check as they may cover the pregnancy test next week and blah blah. I’m on an HMO so I told her I doubted it because of the whole referral nonsense. So 2 minutes later calls back to say I was right, and there’s no coverage, and did we want to “self-pay” for the remaining visits. I was like, “What remaining visits?” She goes on to explain that if I get a positive pregnancy test, they will have me come in for “monitoring” every few days for 8 FUCKING WEEKS. I was like, “Are you joking???” I mean, come the fuck on, I cannot get up and drive in the opposite direction from work every other day at 7 a.m. for you to add me to your statistics pile.

I said “I don’t understand. If I were to get pregnant by normal customs, I’d pee on a stick and show up at my ob/gyn within a few weeks. Why do I need 8 weeks of monitoring if it isn’t included and doesn’t have any ob/gyn care? I can go to my ob/gyn and get it covered by insurance.”  Ah ha. Caught you. She said if I wanted to go to my ob I could (yeah? thanks, but I didn’t need your permission) and that I didn’t have to do the monitoring. I said, “That’s good because after what you guys did to me the other day I’m not committing to anything until we get resolution from the doctors.” That shut her up.

X said, “this is like when you get a cruise for cheap and they make you buy the excursions because that’s where they make all their money, or when you buy a house and then get all the upgrades, which they mark up like 100%.” Yup. How the hell they can charge $5000 for a natural cycle and then have the nerve to call and try to trick you into this added 8 weeks of bullshit is beyond me.

I was texting with my friend this morning about stupid things people say when you’re in a crisis. The roots of this conversation of course were based on our mutual fertility struggles. I’m making the disclaimer that if anyone commented with any of these, I’m sorry, but this is my list of shit NOT to say to someone with fertility issues until you know exactly what the problems are. (And even then, they probably considered all these choices and opted not to do them for one reason or another.)

* Why don’t you adopt? (It’s not about “a kid,” it’s about “our kid.”)
* How about donor sperm? (X’s sperm work. There’s just a roadblock.)
* How about donor eggs? (My eggs are perfectly fine. In fact, I am “reproductively younger” than my chronological age, whatever the fuck that means.)
* How about a surrogate? (Okay, this is by far the stupidest thing to say to someone. It is not carrying the child that is the problem. It’s getting X’s stuff to my stuff to make el bebe. Hiring a surrogate would help our problem as much as taking a vitamin when you have a headache.)
* I’m sure there’s more but I can’t think of it right now.

I had a friend who was slowly experiencing the loss of her husband. She told me that people would say the stupidest things to her, and I always believed her but I felt like giving people the benefit of the doubt was necessary. They meant well, and I know people in this case mean well, but still, it’s not helpful and then it forces me into explaining that all the parts work, the roads are just closed. And then I get so discouraged that I start trolling the fertility message boards and let me tell you - those are scary places. They all talk in code and I don’t get what the hell they are saying. I have to google almost everything they write. Then I realized that these women all live for and are defined by their ability to conceive. It consumes them.

I’ve peed on my fair share of sticks (all negative,) but thankfully, it’s not the only thing propping up my whole world.

Having a Baby is Impossible - Part 2

I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts, comments and well wishes. Because the blog reposts to my Facebook, I had the chance to catch up with people who I haven’t chatted with in years, when the post was plastered on my wall.

What is amazing is how many people I know have been touched by fertility issues. It makes me wonder what is so different now from 40, 100, 1000 years ago when there were no assisted reproductive techniques. What did people do? Because damn if that waiting room at Dominion wasn’t filled every time we went there. It makes me wonder if the stresses of life are just too much for people to provide the right environment for conception, or if this is just a medical scam.

This is clearly big business. In hindsight, perhaps we should have stuck with Shady Grove. One of my friends commented as much, and I wanted to actually address this with a proper answer. Shady Grove was our first stop. My brain could not get around the idea that we would have to do IVF when there was only a vasectomy in the way. It’s like driving down the road, seeing a pothole, and instead of driving around it you stop the car and get in an airplane to fly over it. It just seemed extreme, and that there were a bunch of stops along the way to full blown IVF.

What I also hated about Shady Grove was before X and I got our asses to touch the visitor’s chairs in their office, they were pulling out this laminated card with their 60% success rate statistics. It felt like an infomercial.  What I also don’t like about them is that they don’t do Natural Cycle IVF, but if you google natural cycle, Shady Grove is most often first, with a link to the page where they discuss why they don’t think Natural Cycle IVF is worth shit. Yeah, well, obviously that article was written by someone with a penis because any woman who takes all those hormones in the stomach for 3 weeks would never write something so ridiculous.

Washington Fertility was no different. They also reported about a 60% success rate, but I don’t believe them. If he retrieved 15 eggs from me and got a big fat zero, then he’s not doing so well. Especially considering another clinic proved I have healthy, viable eggs with no issues. But back to hindsight being 20/20, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that if I went through the cycle with Shady Grove and they got 15 eggs, there would have been a baby by now.

I saw three separate doctors after the latest IVF. This wasn’t my choice, but what happened in the procedure necessitated it. I truly do not wish this misery on my worst enemy. I cannot find any evidence online of people having their bladder punctured during an IVF cycle, but of course, if you told me that there would be a million procedures this year and during retrieval one patient would get struck by lightening through the window - that person would be me.

Someone pointed out either here or on Facebook something which X and I have already beaten ourselves up over. We wasted 2 years with these doctors. Two years. Doctors are not Gods. They don’t know it all. Some of them don’t know shit. You have to take hold of your own healthcare and make your own decisions, and you have to question everything. It seems like they recently lowered the bar for graduating from med school because I never remember doctors being this inept when I was growing up. Or maybe I was just seeing the world through different eyes.

Having a Baby Is Impossible

X made me promise not to talk about this, but unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the line and I need to get it out.

Those of you who can get pregnant the normal way should thank your lucky stars. X had a vasectomy when he was married to the beast and two years ago we decided we might like to have a baby. My ob/gyn said that all they would do is have a urologist extract sperm from X and put it into a turkey baster into me, and voila. Since the only thing standing in our way was the snip, we researched the best urologists for this, found one was in DC and met with him. We also discussed reversing the vasectomy. He said, “No problem, but just go to Shady Grove and get the tests to make sure Velvet doesn’t have any issues on her side. You don’t want to reverse a vasectomy only to find out she has a blockage or something.” Fair enough.

Here’s my Review of Shady Grove Fertility:
April, 2009. We met with some doc there and began the battery of tests. Everything came back better than normal, and we went back to Shady Grove and said, “Okay, when can we do the artificial insemination?” They said, “you won’t get enough sperm so you have to do full IVF.” I’m really cutting to the chase on this, but this was over about a month of time because these tests are all on certain days of your cycle. I felt cheated, like, why did I bother going through these tests if they were just going to send me to the last stop of IVF anyway? I felt like they were just giving us the hard-sell into their most profitable procedure and we never went back.

My ob/gyn recommended we go to Washington Fertility. I love my ob/gyn and I thought that her recommendation would be the right one.

Here’s my Review of Washington Fertility:
June, 2009: X and I instantly liked the one doctor at Washington Fertility. He seemed like a nice guy and very interested in helping us. He said, “If you only want one child, why reverse a vasectomy? Just do IVF. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this, but finally in the Fall of 2009 we agreed we would go this route. It seemed so unbelievable that something as simple as a vasectomy was causing all this trouble. When we agreed to start the process in January, 2010, the trouble started. Despite the nurse’s orders that I needed to absolutely call on Day 1 of my period, the witches at the front desk treated me like crap and said to “call back next week,” making me miss an entire month. When they started charging X’s credit card, they double charged a bunch of things and we couldn’t even decipher what they had done. When we questioned what they charged, they got nasty and belligerent and for the rest of the weeks we went there, they wouldn’t even look at us or speak to us. We addressed this with the doctor and he assured us he would review our charges.

During the process, I got very sick. It’s not easy to take 3 hormone shots a night in the stomach and get progressively sicker each day. I gained 20 lbs and was completely miserable. Just the idea of clothes touching my body was painful. I was sick to my stomach, couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink and couldn’t go to the bathroom. Despite the fact that I developed 18 follicles - totally unheard of for a 36 year old - they kept wanting to do “one more day” of meds. I had to put my foot down and say that I couldn’t take anymore. X tried to call their emergency line and paged the doctor several times. He never called back. When they looked at X’s sperm, they said it was all dead, and we would need to arrange for another extraction. X called his doc who was totally shocked and said, “I just left there and there were 3 vials of live sperm.” For 2 hours we were on the phone between docs and labs trying to figure out the truth and whose sperm they were speaking about. We still don’t know.

They retrieved 15 eggs from me (not all follicles have an egg inside) and 13 fertilized. Again, these are insane numbers for a 36, almost 37 year old. That weekend we had a big old snowstorm and the entire metro area lost power. They claim to have generators but I’m not sure. All the eggs died except 4 very weak ones. They recommended we get all 4 implanted. Needless to say, I didn’t get pregnant. During the transfer of the 4 embryos Dr. Asmar literally kept asking the lab assistant, “Here? How about here?” If you believe the gods of google, the transfer is the most important part of the process, for one wrong move and the embryos won’t stick. And Dr. Asmar had no clue where to put them. The lab tech had to tell him.

The way Dr. Asmar and his staff treated us was a disaster, but it got worse. I put reviews online attesting to my experience and the staff put reviews right behind me saying “We know who you are and we’re going to tell your office how crazy you are so you lose all your clients.” I screen capped it all. One may wonder how I know it was them. Because the time stamp was pretty close to the time stamp on my site stats and on our company site stats and on this blog, with a big old “WASHINGTON FERTILITY” in the referrer line. When you’re a stupid receptionist at an incompetent doctor’s office, I wouldn’t expect you to understand how stats work, but you get a big FAIL for that you dumb bitch.

We were told to go to Dominion Fertility and so we requested our records from Washington Fertility. It took 4 very painful attempts to get ALL the records. They kept playing games and we ended up filing complaints on Washington Fertility for HIPAA violations and with the medical board for the doctor’s lack of care.

Then the reality sunk in. It’s not the money. It’s not the incompetence. It’s not the lack of a baby. It’s that nagging feeling about the “lost” sperm, the 15 eggs and the question of their status, and the fear that my egg or X’s sperm went into someone else’s body. When you conceive a child through sex, these are things that never cross your mind.

A year later, we continue to get bills from the for “sperm storage” despite the fact that they have said several times there was none left. We continue to send letters asking Dr. Asmar why he still charges us for sperm and he refuses to answer. This, along with withholding records, is also a HIPAA violation. We filed another complaint this week.

We decided to go to Dominion Fertility and do the Natural Cycle IVF. (No meds, they just wait on your one egg to pop, then grab it.) I’m not sure I can do a review of this facility at this point as I just had my one lone egg retrieved this morning. However, I can tell you this much. I will never do IVF again.

While retrieving the egg, they poked a hole through my bladder and blood came out where pee should be, and they had to give me a catheter for 2 hours while the urine cleared. If it didn’t clear, I would have had to wear a pee bag for 2 days. They agreed to remove the bag and I have never felt such pain in my life. The nurse ran out of the room and came back in with another nurse who said, “Didn’t you deflate the balloon in her bladder first?” It was like trying to get a golf ball out my pee hole.  At this point I was in tears, and completely hysterical. I’m squeamish with medical procedures but nothing grosses me out more than the urinary tract. I had kidney stones once and it was a pretty miserable experience getting a catheter but this was 100 times worse.

I practically ran out of there in tears and it’s hard to believe that anyone in this fertility game really knows what they are doing. There’s just a fucking vasectomy standing in our way (that has since been reversed and it didn’t work) and no one can help us without putting me through physical and emotional pain I just never thought I would know in my life.

So for all of you women who can have a baby the normal way, please, thank God, Gucci, or whoever you thank, and be so happy you don’t have to endure this.

And there you have it. The reason that for the last year I’ve been basically MIA. This has occupied a lot of my time and I’ve been pretty depressed from it.

Help I’m Stepping Into the Twilight Zone

Has something ever happened to you that is just so weird that you can’t believe it happened even though you were there for the whole thing?

Yeah. That.

In 1998, I was working at this company in Connecticut that designed labels for private label foods. So if you bought “Safeway brand canned Green Beans” then we would have made that label. I was in the Procurement Department, so people would fax or call in their orders (shut. up. it was 1998) and I would place the order and ship the labels. It was a snooze-festival, but one thing stands out from all those years ago. One of the distributors (a vegetable cannery) was cited for unsanitary conditions and we were under orders to not send them any labels. The girl from the cannery, Michelle, kept calling and I kept saying “We can’t ship you any labels.” It turned into a rather large problem as she took to faxing everyone in our company and made it look like I wasn’t doing my job. Bitch neglected to tell people she was 2 inches from being shut down.

Now here we are in 2011. In 2008 I bought that little house in Delaware near the beach. We have all this drama with our Developer, and that sort of had me doing a tag team of google searches. I actually talked to the Mayor of our town on the phone the other day, and it got me wondering what his deal was. I mean, who gets to talk to a Mayor? His cell phone number is on the damn town website which is so funny to me. So google took me on a tour of places, until I landed on minutes for a meeting held in 2000, about the very piece of land on which my house sits. Well, my house sits there with 150 other houses, but, still. And the report is filled with information about how the land was formerly a cannery that was shut down, blah blah blah, and I’m sure you see where this is going. I literally almost shit myself when they named the cannery. I now own a house on the very land where poor Michelle kept calling from, begging for labels and trying to get me in trouble with my boss.

Man that shit freaks me out. It’s like “The Celestine Prophecy” where they say there are no coincidences.

Now That I’m Starting to Learn I Feel I’m Growing Old

Damn It’s busy. The nature of my work seems to come in waves and I’m in the middle of one now. Then of course all the other crap that comes with life slaps me around and I have to delegate half of my “to-do” list to X, which doesn’t exactly thrill him. I don’t believe this will let up until mid-June, at which point, X and I are going on an early 1 year anniversary trip. More on that in a second.

Let’s see. Other updates. About a month ago I had a fight with Gloom, she hung up on me, and that was that. We haven’t talked since. I didn’t deserve that treatment and until someone can grow up and act like an adult, I have nothing to say.

I flew down to Florida for a couple days to see my dad and drive with him back up the coast to the gates of hell to my parent’s house and I saw the infamous White House crashing Salahi’s in the airport. Yeah, I know. Boring. Worse was that I called my gay friend and he was like, “OH MY GOD I LOVE HER GO GET A PICTURE” so I stalked them through the terminal. Yeah, I know. Loser. I finally found them sitting in an empty gate waiting to board a flight going to New York. The weird thing was they were sitting in a row of seats, with 2 empties between them. My gay friend dared me to go sit between them. And of course my Real Housewives message board friends reported that the Salahi’s were doing Celebrity Rehab and something with TMZ which maybe explained their trip. Yeah. I know. I need a life.

I started a contract job for a friend of mine, managing a community in Maryland. It’s good to be back on a schedule because working for myself and trying to stick to a clock, well, I am the sucks. I don’t hold myself to any sort of goal structure and I’m really easy on myself. It’s better for me to actually have to report to someone else. X says I can report to him but those days are over. He’s my bitch now!

Speaking of not being on a schedule, in my other life as the Real Estate Agent, I had a transaction with unbelievable dreams for clients - just the sweetest, funniest, smart-about-real estate people you would want. The problem would be the agent on the other side of the transaction. I used to take the comments about Real Estate Agents personally, but this person made me realize why people HATE Real Estate Agents. I’m embarrassed to share a profession with this person, much less walk the same earth.

The plan to move to NY is on hold, I’m not sure for how long. See aforementioned phone call hang up and somehow my idea to move back there doesn’t seem as good. Maybe I’ll change my mind again but for right now, the money is here, the jobs are here, and so it makes the most sense to stay put. I can’t believe it either. It’s certainly not my first choice, but that’s where we are.

Okay, so the anniversary trip. I believe I have hatched my most brilliant idea since, well, ever. We all know real estate in Florida has taken one of the worst dives in the country…so…I was thinking. Wouldn’t now be a good time to snap up a condo in Florida, plan to pay it off, then retire there in 20 years? The benefit of marrying someone older is they’ll have to retire when you’re still young and spry and you’ll be the hottest trophy wife in Del Boca Vista. Hopefully.

Retirement homes. These are the things that make me happy now. I know. It’s totally different than the old days of Velvet where I used to start out with “So this guy pulled out his cock at a bar.”

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made

It’s been a busy few weeks.

Anyone who knows a Greek family knows they are incapable of living more than 11 feet from their parent’s front door. Greeks just don’t like it when they can’t throw Baklava at you. And as Gloom proved to me today, she doesn’t like it when she can’t slam the phone down on me. I didn’t even do anything this time.

Never mind that fact, I have wanted to move back to NY/CT since about 4 minutes after I left, in November, 1998.  Not to say that living in Atlanta for 3 years, Baltimore for 2 and DC for 7 hasn’t been eye-opening, but I’d like to get back to the place where the pizza is good, the F word runs rampant and the Yankees are a baseball team instead of the Civil War “losers.” I’ll also tell you a secret. People are nicer in NY. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know either. I find the people in DC to be the rudest I’ve ever encountered. I love playing Sidewalk Chicken - who will move out of whose way first. I always lose. People see fit to push you into a tree box here, yet in NY, the sidewalk traffic somehow moves harmoniously in all directions. New Yorkers are just smarter I guess.

Operation “Claw My Way Back to the Big Apple” has been in full force and after months years of job hunting, I received a job offer. X was painting the ceiling (he’s my Agador Spartacus now) when I walked into the living room holding my phone, reading from the email. He got down off the ladder and sat on the couch. I felt my legs give out and sat on the chair.

X: Why are you crying?
Velvet: Because I can’t believe it’s finally over.
X: The job search?
Velvet: No, living here. I can’t believe that it’s finally over.

I never thought I would have such an emotional reaction to the idea of moving back home.

That night I had a dream as vivid as I have ever had. It involved me going to work at the company, and bringing Sammy and Thora with me, then trying to sneak them around so no one would see them. I went out for lunch and got locked out of the office and had to climb through the window but I was unable to get Sammy and Thora back inside and I had to leave them in the yard outside the office building. I had to go back to work, and I wasn’t able to watch them to make sure they didn’t run off somewhere.

When I woke up, X was at a meeting. I was alone. Within an hour, I was almost hyperventilating. Stupid dream. Something was going on in my brain about this job and Sammy and Thora and I just couldn’t figure it out.  X and I went up to NY and looked for places to live. We spent a day buzzing around and figured out we’re actually better off buying than renting. Yes. Even now.

Then I don’t really know what to say, but something wasn’t right. The job wasn’t right, the feel of moving back home didn’t feel right, it just felt like I either missed the bus, or the next one was coming, but this isn’t the bus I’m supposed to board. It pained me tremendously, but I turned the job down. Life resumed in D.C. as though this little blip never occurred.

In Real Estate, every time the phone rings your world gets shuffled all over again. It only took a few days before things that were “on hold” materialized, stuff changed, and suddenly I’m busy. I’m very much a believer in fate and that there really are no coincidences - things happen the way they are supposed to. Why is one career in one city working out so well when another in the city where I want to be doesn’t feel right?

The other night, just as I was falling asleep, I said out loud, “Ohhhh…..so that’s why…..”

X said, “What are you talking about? Are you sleeping?”

I said, “That’s why I wasn’t supposed to take that job. DC isn’t done with me yet. There’s something else here. That’s why I just got the client that I did.”

Kourtney and Kim Fake New York, Episode 2

“Kourtney and Kim Take New York” aired the next installment of scripted reality. Khloe comes to visit and just in time too, because we didn’t have enough black eyeliner or fake lashes on set. Kim and Kourt think they are so cute by hiding behind a wall when Khloe arrives. One of them says, “We’ll hear her walking!” I think they mean they’ll hear her talking - like a baby. And she didn’t disappoint. Goo goo ga ga, here she is! Then they all climb on her and go back to the hotel.

We learn that Kim has done a fashion shoot. She stripped, naturally, however, she says it’s supposed to be very artsy and tasteful. Naturally. While Kim is describing the photographic vision, you can’t help but feel you already know how this story is going to end. Spread eagle, she shows us how skyscrapers are going to cover her ass crack and vagina.

Khloe comes by with a life-sized blow up giraffe Lamar sent to her. Yeah. I don’t know either. Moving right along.

The proofs arrive and the magazine allegedly didn’t do what they promised. I have a hard time believing neither she nor her Momager considered this could be a possibility.

She cries to the other K sisters about how far she’s come, only to end up back at this place. Sigh. You know Kim…it’s not like you’ve been matriculating through med school since the sex tape scandal. You put this body on display and people just work with what you give them.

Scott looks at the pictures and I swear I saw a smirk on his face.

Khloe and Kourtney remained expressionless at her plight. I’m not sure if this is genetics or botox. Kim then does what all little girls do when their world caves in – she calls mommy. Before we visit what “no press is bad press” Momager said, let’s get a frame of reference by comparing this to what my own mother, Gloom, would say:

“I’m watching Chris, can this wait?”
Thinking she’s babysitting some kid named Chris, I say, “Chris who?”
“Chris Matthews.”
“So you’re on a first name basis now?” Oh. She already hung up.

Ok, so my mother wasn’t the best example.

Momager Kris says the pictures are gorgeous. In the name of the all mighty dollar, nothing fazes that woman. She would put Kim’s fallopian tubes on ebay if she were getting her Momager commission.

The K sisters take Kim out for some drinks to get her mind off this drama. Some guy at the bar asks Kim for a picture. She jumps on that faster than Suze Orman does someone with less than a million dollars in the “Can I Afford It” segment. The guy’s girlfriend starts yelling at Kim. Scott steps in to defend the family meal ticket and it turns into the much-hyped brawl you may have seen on the commercial. Kourtney returns from the bathroom to find Scott mid-punch. Despite his innocence, she goes into psycho meltdown, with the flat affect dialed up to 10. We needed this for drama, otherwise all we would have would be the boring storyline of Kim’s nudie pix that’s been on loop for four years already.

Everyone gets home, Kourtney goes to her panic room/safe place, refusing to talk to anyone. The next day, Kourtney dresses like a tulip which makes it even harder to take her fakety fake anger remotely seriously.

Momager calls Kim back and says they can’t stop the pictures from being published because they are already on newsstands. Uh, thanks mom? Kim says “I think I ate like Carl’s Junior on the way there.” Way to cross promote your brands Kim, but you’re a big fat liar. All of this is happening in NY, and guess where Carls Jr is? Nowhere near NY.

With only a couple minutes to go, solving the Kartrashian drama is like playing “Name That Tune.” I bet they solve this in 3 minutes. I think they can solve it in 2. I can solve that drama in 1 minute!” Kourtney forgives Scott. When Kim sees big glossy naked pictures of herself she gets misty-eyed, falls in love all over again and says to her moneymakers, “Please, let’s never fight again!

Kourtney and Kim Fake New York

I hate to go back to the Kartrashians so soon, but I continue to be amazed at the fact that these talentless bores have a television show. Several shows, in fact. There is yet another spinoff, “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” The Amtrak crashed into the station and I cannot look away. In fact, I had to watch it twice because X and I could have sworn we heard the following statement from giant douchebag Scott:

“Kim saw me at the lowest point of my life in Miami. But I’m going to do everything I can to prove to her that I’ve changed so we can rekindle our relationship.”

Needle. Off. The. Fucking. Record. What????? Kim? You know that’s not the sister you’re dating, right cardigan boy? Wow. Wonder if people are going to catch on to that. It’s hard to know because the slow boring style of speaking from both Kim and Kourtney may have lulled many of you into a trance. Without Khloe’s baby talk to distract us, we’re all in danger.

Then Kim’s friend arrived. Is it me or do all their friends look like them? Dripping in black hair dye, black eyeliner and black mascara. Oh. Wait. Not surprised that Kris Jenner is one of the Producers. Clearly she’s had some words with wardrobe and makeup. “Make them all look like us!”

Then they showed the store. I was just in New York last week and popped in to see what the girls had been up to. When they said on the show that they hired a designer, X and I laughed so hard milk came out of his nose. Last week the store looked just like the empty shell they showed tonight on TV - except it had racks of ugly clothes, guys walking around with headsets and zero customers.

Anyway, the designer hung some drapes and took a wrecking ball to the door because when Kanye West showed up, his ego couldn’t fit.

Kim and the gum. Kim please. Where is your stylist? Chewing gum like that reminds me of Jessica Simpson and we all saw what happened to her career. You should stop. Kthanks.

It’s not a Kartrashian show unless we have drama. That comes in with some guy Kim once knew, now she doesn’t, but she saw him, and her doppelganger friend got his number, so Kourtney dials his number from Kim’s phone and Kim hangs up and he calls back and she sends him to voicemail. But not before Scott tried to role play the conversation with Kim and she gives up in disgust. He reminds us how Klassy he is by saying, “I got into your sisters panties didn’t I?” Yes. Keep reminding everyone that the only way you could get into the family was to leave your seed behind the fence.  Then he makes some comment about his junk to Kourtney and we’re all supposed to find this very titillating I’m sure.

Kim learns from Kourtney that Scott is moving into their suite. Now Kim’s NYC experience has become Miami Part Deux. This is exactly the reason Khloe kept screaming, “I left my husband. You made me leave my husband. I want to be with my husband. I miss my husband.” (Did you get that she’s married now? Yes! She has a husband!) Kim has date with the guy, talks baby talk to him, and then chastely rebuffs his advance at a kiss. Come on Kim. We’ve seen you have sex, we know you can do better. She cries to Kourtney and Scott who console konsole her and then Kim slaps Kourtney’s ass, manhandles her like Khloe usually does (insert Khloe-man-joke here) and it’s over.

Coming attractions show us Kim is going to record a song and Scott is going to get into drunken brawls. It’s the same formula for all other reality shows with talentless wonders. Dear God please help us all.

Money Money Money, Must Be Funny, In a Rich Man’s World

The last few weeks have been an exercise in testing how much money we can save. I’m at the driver’s seat and X is (unwillingly at times) along for the ride. I usually make very constructive New Year’s Resolutions and I slacked off in 2009 and 2010. For our New Year’s resolutions this year, we I decided and forced X to agree that we have to cut our restaurant spending.  All the eating out (heh, I said eat out) is admittedly mostly my fault. The irony here is that I don’t even think DC has many good restaurants. I can count the places on one hand which we frequent.

Our weekly limit of out-of-house eating is now $20. We’re off to a good start. I made a spreadsheet with each week of the year and hung it on the refrigerator. The week starts over on Saturdays and we have to log everything we eat out of the house. This is painful, but an incredible solution for us as it has forced us to really think about things we want to buy. I would own stock in Big Gulps if I could, but knowing that buying one will take 10% of my budget, I’ve passed up many 7-11’s since January 1st.

Saving money has become more contagious for me than that stupid flu that’s going around. I have amassed the McDonald’s coupon books which have a free 32 ounce beverage coupon in them. I’m all over those Restaurant.com deals like a Kardashian on an endorsement deal.  The other night, I found this website and started clicking links and downloading coupons. I seriously cannot figure out how some women can go to the grocery store, get $600 of groceries and walk out paying $5. The coupon thing only really works if you have space to stockpile food because you have to buy it when it goes on sale and with a coupon. We of course, don’t have any storage space so we can’t do this. But I’m one home-out-in-the-suburbs away from being a full blown coupon addict with a garage that looks like Food Lion.

Yesterday I had my first major score with the Velvet Family Favorite:

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We are all obsessed with the Seasonal cookies Pillsbury puts out every holiday. Sammy especially loves these cookies. Since he was a puppy, he knew when I would pull the dough out of the refrigerator and would stalk the kitchen and demand he get his fair share dozen.

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There is a coupon online for $1.00 (page 3) off two of these packs of cookies, and Safeway just marked the Christmas cookies from $3.00 down to 75 cents. So you can get two for $1.50 and then use the $1.00 coupon and pay 25 cents each! That’s a 92% savings! Cha-ching!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know you are just squealing in delight at this secret revelation.

OhmygodIamsuchafuckingloser.

Keeping Up With the Kar-Trashians

Today’s Post Brought to You by the Letter K

So. Now that the Kardashian sisters have a lawsuit on their head for $75 million for their association with that ridiculous Kardashian Kard, they are currently looking into new business ventures. Options abound for girls who never met a product they wouldn’t endorse. Here are some of the new ideas the girls are slapping their fame name on and a couple of the ones that miserably failed.

Kardashian Kollege - Curriculum Kurriculum includes Public Speaking (not to be confused with Pubic Speaking offered at the lower kampus) where you learn to talk reallllllly realllllly slowwwwwwwly and overuse the words “amazing” and “like” while finger combing your hair.

Kardashian Kar - Think “Kitt” on Knight Rider, but the voice is slow-talking like the sisters. Developers are currently working on voice automation speed. A driver died when the Kar voice fell asleep during a very important warning. “There……like……. appears……..to…like…… be………….. a………. cliff………. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

Kardashian Kamera - First customers to buy were a couple kouple who put them on the tables at their wedding. Despite the non-stop photo snapping, all the pictures that developed were images of Kim having sex. Kamera has obvious flaws and went back for redesign and software upgrade for further analysis.

Kardashian Kards - Images of the sisters on one side and the 52 card deck on the other, unveiled at Vegas Table games. Kards were big loss for the casinos because the numbers didn’t go higher than 4. That was as high as the sisters could count kould kount. Kards are back in product development until the girls learn what comes after 7. Everyone is very worried about the face cards. “Waaaaaaait…you….. mean like……the next…..number….like …..afffffterrrrr……tennnnn……. is jaaaaaack? That’s amaaaaaazing…..”

Kardashian Kondoms - Currently undergoing third round of testing as rounds 1 and 2 were colossal failures. Several thousand teenage girls got pregnant by guys who wear cardigan sweaters tied around their neck. The Kardashian sisters said, “Ohhhh…we didn’t knowwwww they would like get hollllllles in them after we like walked over them in our Louboutinnnnnnnns.”

Kardashian Koffin - Sexy images of the sisters branded all over the koffin. Makes funerals fun for all ages.

Kardashian Kremation - After the girls bore you to death with their “antics” and monotone voices, they promise to light you on fire with their smoking hot asses.

Kardashian Kandy Korn - Mom-a-ger Kris sent the Kandy Korns throughout Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana with a note, “May KKK bring you into the spirit of the Halloween season.”

Kardashian Kocaine - speeds talking to at least 5 words a minute.

Kardashian Kamp - Millions of little girls on an elementary school field near you, learning how to manufacture talent where there is none. Graduates move on to Kardashian Kareers.

Kardashian Kareers - Employment service training women to make money without any talent or education. I think I know some women who can be advisors for the agency.

Kardashian Kalculator - Because 2 plus 2 really is 5.

Kardashian Kalculus - Are you fucking kidding me? You really expected a business venture here? You saw what the Kalculator and deck of kards was like! Kome on!

Diskontinued:

Kardashian Kolonoscopy Klinic - Currently under investigation as several patients reported colon cancer after their screening. Upon visits to other reputable Colonoscopy Clinics (differentiated by the use of the letter “C”) it was discovered the Kardashian Kolonoscopy Klinic really just inserted butt plugs and never actually performed the testing. Klinic is now Klosed.

Kardashian Kabernet - Wine pulled off the market after each sister reported doing something stupid they didn’t remember after imbibing. Kim ended up with a sex tape with the world’s most disgusting sleazebag Ray J, Kourtney practiced the rhythm method with world’s most disgusting douchebag Scott Disick and Khloe tried and failed to wax the world’s hairiest vagina.

Chelsea Handler: Style Fail

Chelsea Handler’s entire wardrobe is an exercise in malfunction.

Oh please let 2011 be the year Chelsea Handler hires a stylist. Wait. She probably has one. Okay, let 2011 be the year she hires a better stylist.

I should probably make a disclaimer here in that I like Chelsea. Her cutting, sarcastic humor is much needed on the comedic front, and she surely passes my celebrity litmus test question: “I’ll take famous people I would be friends with for $800 please Alex.”

Chelsea dresses like that drunk friend you inevitably had to scrape off the club’s dance floor because she spent the night doing body shots off a barback with more hair product than the entire cast of Jerseylicious. Chelsea dresses like she just fell out of a Camaro with neon lights underneath it when it stopped at the Jersey City tollbooth at 14B. Chelsea dresses like that girl you see, the morning after, trying to hail a cab with mascara streaked down her face and her underwear in her purse.

The first time Chelsea’s choice in attire assaulted my eyes was when her nightly show was in its infancy. She wore white jeans and a camisole style top which was a little too short. You could see everything through those jeans. Everything. I was sure once the powers that be saw her panty lines on camera, her wardrobe would surely endure a more rigorous editing process. Sadly, no.

Her standard lingerie top/skinny jean uniform screams trashy 19 year old who shops the clearance pages of the Victoria’s Secret Catalog.

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Another disclaimer: I never got on board the skinny jean bandwagon. They don’t look good on a lot of women who wear them, and frankly, tight skinny jeans are a conduit to a nasty yeast infection. Billy Ocean may have liked his Caribbean Queen dashing by him in painted on jeans, but I’ll take my jeans boot cut please.

Maybe one in 10 times I turn on Chelsea Lately to find her wearing something decent and tasteful. The other nine times? It’s 1984 again and a Simplicity Pattern threw up inside a Units Clothing Store.

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Someone call the police, she hijacked the wardrobe trailer for Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam’s “Lost in Emotion” video.

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Here’s Chelsea at a live show in Vegas last summer.

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(Photo: © Erik Kabik/ RETNA/ www.erikkabik.com)

The shirt makes me sing a little tune in my head. A “Thank you for being a friend, traveled down the road and back again” sort of tune. Shirts aren’t supposed to talk, but I’m pretty sure this one is asking “Am I in time for the early bird special?”As my eyes scrolled down, I crossed my fingers, toes and tits and thought “Please don’t let there be camel toe please don’t let there be camel toe.”

Worse. Sausages. With whiskers. Damn it Chelsea. What the fuck are you thinking?

And this. What exactly is this? I wish I had the full shot but this was enough. Was this the audition outfit for Schneider’s stand-in on “One Day at a Time?”

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The other night, she wore this and it really made me weep.

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It looks like she just came from the pool and that’s her bikini top underneath a towel. Or a tent. Or a tablecloth one of the moms brought to our childhood birthday parties at the Ground Round so they could dress the place up a little.

She is capable of tasteful, age appropriate dressing. I know she is. There is rare evidence of it. Come Chelsea. In 2011, let’s have a little more of this:

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And a lot less of this:

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