Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good Chili

Last winter, I started making this chili recipe from Cook's Illustrated and it's great. It's also super easy and fast, so I made some tonight.

Quick Beef and Bean Chili

2 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Process half of beans and half of tomatoes in food processor to coarse paste; set aside. Cook beef and onion in dutch oven over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in pureed bean-tomato mixture and remaining beans and tomatoes.

Bring chili to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro (if desired) and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now what?

Our IVF cycle was a bust. There are no embryos to transfer, so we're done. Finally knowing is better than the chronic stress we've both felt from wondering after we received the last lab report on Tuesday. I already have a consultation set up with a clinic in Denver, which is where we should have started out in the beginning. Meanwhile, I came up with a Top 10 list of things to do after a failed IVF cycle:

  1. Drink a lot of wine. And tequila.
  2. Figure out how we’re going to pay off the $50K in medical bills that we’ve amassed so far in 2009.
  3. Forget about #2 and take a tropical vacation that involves lots of alcohol and a temporary escape from reality.
  4. Do hard-core cardio, lift weights, and do hot yoga.
  5. Paint the living room without worrying about inhaling paint fumes. Maybe paint the whole interior, even the furniture.
  6. Find a job since I can’t re-enter my graduate program until fall 2010.
  7. Work on a creative project I’ve been contemplating for years.
  8. Plan an elaborate Halloween costume because it looks like I’ll be partying this year.
  9. Drink more wine.
  10. Pick another clinic and start this physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting process all over again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Intolerance for the intolerant

I've struggled for awhile with my growing intolerance for the Christian right. I am well aware that my feeling of disgust for them may make me almost as bad as they are. I recently finished Frank Schaeffer's book Crazy for God. I laughed my ass off at the parts I could relate to, as well as the parts where he so candidly refers to the stupidity of evangelical leaders and followers. Schaeffer's examples resulting from his direct work with Jerry Fallwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson do well to illustrate the authentic hypocritical nature of these people. Learning about the seething hate and intolerance that motivated them, I feel truly sick that the word Christian has ever been used to describe them.

Being raised in a pretty conservative Christian environment, I often rubbed elbows with evangelical Christians. My mother regularly watched the 700 Club and listened to irrational preachers when they made claims: If you give your daughter dancing lessons, she will grow up to be a stripper. Consequently, I never got to take ballet or tap. My mom was determined to spare me God's wrath by avoiding the evils that could so easily result from a 5-year-old girl taking ballet.

I know my mom meant well, she loved me dearly, but I think it came down to her desire for someone else to think for her. She didn't want to make decisions in her own life, so she deferred that task to others. Perhaps that is what attracts followers to the religious right? There is no gray area, no perceived uncertainty. When things are black and white, and right and wrong, your ability to reason proves to be unnecessary.

I wonder if these little girls will grow up to be strippers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good Eggs

My egg retrieval is at 4:30pm today. I must be the clinic's last person of the day. (Sorry, Steve, going to the Cardinals game is out tonight.) Since I have to fast from water and food for 10 hours, I got up at 5AM to eat and drink (food purchased at 2pm isn't always appealing at 5am!), now my plan is to sleep as long as I can until this afternoon. When I later wake up from my anesthesia, I will know how many eggs they were able to retrieve: One question answered! The next few days will address the quality of the eggs, as we receive daily reports on the progress and quality of the embryos.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Unless you’ve been through IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or known someone who has, you may not realize how involved it is. Everyone’s protocol is different, some more complicated than others. I do 3 to 5 injections a day to prepare my body. I spent 5 hours today receiving intravenous immunoglobulin therapy from a nurse who came to my house. I will remain on two injections and the immunoglobulin therapy if pregnancy occurs.

I now live by a calendar that micromanages my life with medications, blood draws, doctor appointments, and ultrasounds. I’m not complaining; I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love knowing I'll be able to look back in 5 years and believe we did everything possible.

It’s hard for me to understand not understanding fertility issues. It's my nature to become well informed and my tenacity put us in the hands of some exceptional physicians. For those who want to offer support to a friend or loved one going through something similar, my advice is to realize how important and consuming it is. Validate that, even if you can’t relate. A huge amount of resources is devoted to an IVF cycle (emotions, health, finances, time), all indicators of its importance. Perhaps it's uncomfortable talking about something so “personal” but remember it’s a medical issue. Treat the person as you would someone going through any type of surgery or treatment.

Next week is our egg retrieval in St Louis! I plan to take care of myself with activities that foster relaxation, and join with those who are sending prayers and good thoughts our way. Other than that, I have done all I can. The rest is out of our hands….

The view from my bed for 5 hours today.

This is an evil Lovenox needle. I think the marketing team deliberately made the syringe clunky to reinforce that these injections hurt like hell.

Follistim did a much better job at packaging their dial-a-dose injection pen. The needles are tiny and sharp and slide right in.

Morning injection is also a tiny little needle.