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Dec 8, 2016

A Tough Week

Crash is sick.
And I feel like I'm right at the breaking point most days with my emotions and my sanity.

Don't get me wrong, life isn't all gloom and doom, although I think Mark and I both agree 2016 has tested us in ways we had not anticipated.

I am still finding joy among the pain, and still laugh and smile each day, even if brief.

For weeks, I watched Crash throw up frothy-vomit after most meals and after big gulps of water.
I observed when he started showing less interest in his food.
Odd, I thought, since he was still full of a TON of energy, often running from room to room, playing his version of "fetch" (which really meant he would scoop up a tennis ball with his snaggle tooth, and bolt out of my reach, never really giving up the ball again).

So I switched his food, thinking maybe he just simply grew tired of what he was being fed for years.

Then I got the best news that our transfer worked and I was pregnant!

Crash started lapping up water at an alarming rate, and not being able to hold his pee through the night anymore.

He continued to throw up as well.
Our new morning normal turned into whoever got up first would clean up a pile of pee and a pile of puke.

I prepped my morning progesterone shot and would shuffle into work with messy hair and a lot of concealer, trying to fake that I didn't have worry or sadness.

It always seems like there isn't enough time in the morning, no matter how early I get up.

So we took him to the vet.
He had a UTI, which was sort of odd because he is male, but we were given two weeks of antibiotics and sent on our way.

And the dramatic need for water and overnight peeing stopped.


Pregnancy symptoms started to rear their ugly head, and my nausea and intense, immediate hunger creeped in, but sometimes it was pushed to the wayside so I could re-focus on Crash.

But then he stopped eating.
And grew weary and weak.
And the constant drooling started.

A side effect of the pills?

He was tense and angry and it made me nervous.
Nervous for our future. I have always been nervous about him and his biting, especially around kids.
We have always had to watch our step around him; move too fast and you could easily become a victim of those teeth.

But I love him to death, so no worries, I'll just make sure I accommodate his failing eye sight and tense nature.

I went to pull him to me one evening, and must have squeezed his side a tad too hard, because he launched at me like I was trying to fight him.
Luckily I knocked him away and had enough time to hop over the baby gate, narrowly escaping his immediate attack. Something I'm all too familiar with, but you don't give up on loved ones.

A quick blip in the evening, and it was business as usual mere minutes after the incident.
He tends to forget as quickly as it takes to get him angry.

That night I held my stomach, fearing I may have moved too quickly and would cause a miscarriage.
That was the first time I worried about the babe, but all was well.

I tire more quickly these early days of my first trimester. It has taken me much longer to do simple things like decorate for Christmas.
All the while Crash slept next to the boxes of decorations.

Still in an eating lull; Monday morning we scheduled a vet visit.
They re-tested his urine and blood.
And the results came back completely normal.

Crash puked again Monday night while we slept.
The first time we saw blood.

I panicked and made another appointment Tuesday afternoon for an x-ray.

Through it all I was able to smile while we waited, watching Mark squirm because we had to sit longer than 10 minutes. He kept asking me to go grab him candy from the front desk.

The results were worrying. They showed an extremely bloated stomach and enlarged heart.

We were shipped off to the ER for an ultrasound, and after several grueling hours, an attempt at a biopsy, and many tears later, we were given a "sort of" result:

Crash likely has lymphoma in his lower stomach and intestines.

There is an intense thickening in the walls of the affected area, likely causing the gas build-up and nauseous feeling.

They couldn't be sure without more invasive testing; including a scope and more internal biopsies.

But the writing was already on the wall.
The doctor gave it to us in black and white, and we stared at him blankly while he spelled out our options.

We were sent home with a bunch of meds and an impossible schedule to keep.
Much less intense than the cat's recovery schedule, but more impossible since Crash is so stubborn.
It is difficult enough to get Crash to take one cheese-wrapped pill a day, much less 4+ and one that requires a syringe.

I laughed far too loud and hysterically when they told us it would be over $500 for an ultrasound and four antibiotics.
Thinking....I have literally had seven dozen ultrasounds this year, all costing less than this.
They had us by the balls.
I surrendered my credit card.

Merry Christmas, I said, looking at Mark.

And if the medication didn't take down the inflammation?

Game over.

It's cancer 100% and we need to deal.
Once diagnosed, survival with lymphoma ranges from one week to six months.

The next day I had my weekly baby scan and lab-work.
And I ugly-cried all morning and all the way to the appointment thinking about Crash's fate.

Our baby is growing right on track at 7 weeks, 5 days, measuring .6" long with a heart rate of 168.
One more week and I graduate from the fertility clinic.
I smiled looking at the photo of our lil' man. He looks like a tadpole right now.

And then cried again knowing the likelihood of Crash and this baby ever meeting were slim.

I stopped by the grocery on my way home, and bought everything I could think of that Crash may eat. Doctor's orders to feed him anything he will stomach.

At my front door were two deliveries: our Christmas cards and a bag from the maternity jeggings. Two things that brought another moment of joy in the day.

I rushed inside to check out our cards, laughing at how ridiculous they are.

Back to Crash. I shoved two pills into his mouth, narrowly missing those teeth, and started furiously opening cans and containers of food.

Vienna sausages....tempting to smell, but not eat. Next.
Apple sauce....nope. Next.
Cheerios...hell to the no. Next.
Baby food mac n' cheese.....maybe...maybe....he ate a little.

I'll take it!
I scooped the rest of the container into a bowl and he took one sniff and walked away.


Burn is whining because Crash is getting all the fun food and he's not.
The cat comes sauntering in and starts eating the open containers.
I shoo him away but not before Burn barks ferociously at the cat.

I slide the non-eaten food to Burn and he gobbles it up without chewing.

Carrying Crash under my arm, and laptop in the other, we settle in for the afternoon to finish working.
He snores loudly the entire time.
I can barely focus.
In between work, I am frantically googling everything possible, from cancer symptoms and recovery, to side effects of the pills he was just on, etc.

That evening, I made dinner for Mark and myself, and Crash got one whiff of the food and perked up.
Oh! Maybe he'll eat!
I gave him a plate and he laid down next to it and fell asleep.

After putting everyone to bed and cleaning up, I walked out of the laundry room to the sound of him gulping down his bowl of food.

I stopped, dead in my tracks, holding my breathe, for fear I may startle him and he'd stop eating.
Mark was at the sink, doing the exact same thing.

We waited for 20 minutes.
And he cleaned his plate.

I scooped out seconds, and he gobbled it down too.
I left thirds, hoping he might come back at some point in the night.

Mark and I looked at each with blood-shot eyes, smiled so big, and high-fived so hard I thought my hand was bleeding.

We went to bed satisfied for the night.

The next morning was a complete 180.
He fought me on his pill.
He wouldn't eat.
I left him seven different food options, put down his pee pad, squeezed him and told him I loved him, and finally left for work with bags under my eyes from crying, and messy, half-wet hair.

I am so, so friggin' tired, but am trudging on.

Mark and I had a very serious conversation about where we stand with everything.
There is no denying Crash has cancer.
Dogs that won't eat are at the end of their lifeline and cancer is to blame most of the time.

It seems silly to even bother with additional testing. I don't feel it's right for him to be hooked up to machines and put under and cut and poked and prodded, just so the doctor's can hopefully confirm he does have cancer.
I don't get the logic between knowing a bit more, and knowing what we already know.

We both agree he will be kept comfortable, in our home, in our shelter, in our protection.

A french bulldog's life expectancy is 10 years, and in one month, Crash will be 11.
He has had the best possible life a dog could have. We have given him the best shelter, the best food, the most love, and the best care possible. I have bent over backwards for his happiness in the past, and will continue to do so until his last breathe.

And he has walked away from many, many hurdles in his life.

Surviving his first car accident, the day we brought him home.
A mis-diagnosed kidney failure.
Facial paralysis.
Double staph ear infection.
Lock jaw (3 times)
Multiple dog fights with outside dogs (usually provoked by him, one was not, and the other dog didn't fair well)
Being hit by a car
Falling into a pool....twice.
Two hematomas in his ear.

And the list goes on. He has always bounced back, always been our little fighter.

But I know.
I can see it in his eyes.....he is tired.
He doesn't want to fight anymore.

I'm hoping when Mark gets home, he'll tell me Crash ate all his food (with the hidden pill) and he is perky. I want comfort for him. I want no pain.

I want my normal back.

The worst part of all of this is the waiting....knowing the end is sooner than later.
I wake up every morning and tip-toe towards Crash's bed, listening for snoring, hoping I hear it.

Crash has been in my life for as long as Mark has, and it breaks my heart to think that I won't be able to hear his insanely loud snoring, or smell those rancid farts, or have my little shadow following me all over the house, especially to the bathroom, or those silly repetitive sneezes that make his whole face twist up, or those wide smiles that make him look like a little clown, or those funny bunny hops as he chases after a toy, or the sound of him licking his paws, or how he sniffs the cat too closely and then sneezes in his face, or how he would rather sit in the sunlight, preferably with his head just over the edge of the pool, or sleep on the driveway while we play croquet, or sit on the edge of my toes when he wants to be pet, or bite any and all tires that move, or tuck his face into Mark's thigh when he sleeps on the couch......for very much longer.

Alright, this post has been sad enough.
The end isn't here yet, and I am trying my best to keep his interests at the forefront, give him the attention, and still focus on myself and cooking this babe.

Mark and I have been through a lot of shit this year, and I thank my lucky stars every day that IVF worked and we have something to grateful for this year, otherwise, I may not be so positive about it.

2016 has been a mother-fucker.
Thank you for your continued love and support.
I'm hopeful to update with good news in the future.

Dec 7, 2016

Our Final Transfer. Lucky Embryo #3

Can I just preface this by saying how DIFFICULT it was not wanting to spill all of the beans last month!?

I mean, you guys know I am basically an open book, but at the same time, Mark and I were almost giddy with excitement knowing that just the two of us had this tiny little secret.

It set the table for far less pressure to announce.
I could take my time with different ideas, instead of a quick text or phone call.
I was hoping for something a bit more personal.

However, it sort of did nothing about the whole stalling thing.
After going through one round with a transfer, people sort of knew when to start asking questions...when is your transfer date?, etc.

So, I dodged every bullet I could....oh, I'm not responding as well as they had hoped....or.....oh, the Holidays are extending our timeline a bit because there aren't normal hours....or....I'm on a different protocol this time, so it's longer.

Secrets and lies, folks. Secrets and lies.

I DID have a different protocol the second round, but mainly due to time constraints.
When our first transfer results came in at the end of September, it was too late to jump on the mid-October transfer cycle, so the next available opening was early November.

Exactly 37 days after our failure, we transferred our last babe.

I will never forget this day, because HELLO, it actually worked, but more significantly for every other Chicagoan....the Cubs won the World Series that evening.

And here I was thinking all those fireworks were for lil' ole' me. :)

November 2nd wasn't without it's share of crazy, though.
If you Midwestern-ers don't really remember, it rained that day.
Really, really hard, in fact. (that's what she said)

And because I was in my super zen mode that morning, I failed to plan accordingly to accommodate
a slower commute due to the weather.

Because guys, I really really needed to eat my biscuits and jelly before I hopped in the shower.

We were scheduled to arrive at the Highland Park center at 10:45am.

And instead of leaving with 45 minutes to arrive at the facility, for a normal, perfect-weather commute.....we left at roughly the pouring rain.

I made sure to pack my jug of water and valium, and left wearing a hoodie, yoga pants, and didn't give a second thought to make-up or hair.

Mark came downstairs looking like some freakin' baller from a rap video.
Why do you have all that jewelry on?

It's all my lucky stuff.
We need luck.

Good thinking...I said, and ran upstairs to put on a few lucky items of my own.
I also tucked into my purse, a flying pig figurine given by my mom as a gift a few years back.
And haven't taken it out since.

The entire ride I kept getting more and more nervous.
I told Mark I should email our nurse, so they don't worry, but he kept telling me we would look irresponsible if I did, and that we'd only be 5 minutes late anyways.


At 10:50am I got a call from the hi Tia...just want to make sure you are still planning to arrive for transfer?

I went into complete freak out mode...semi-lamaze-breathing through my spiel.


She said ok and hung up.


At this point I'm basically telling Mark he needs to start going around people and blowing red lights.....only to end up behind the BIGGEST semi-truck in the entire world, that couldn't easily take right-hand turns.


We finally get the the center at 10:57...Mark doesn't even come to a complete stop as I literally roll out of the car and waddle into the building.

I am frantically punching the elevator buttons... downdowndowndown...openopenopenopen....closeclosecloseclose.

Finally busted through the doors of the center.
No one else is in the waiting room.

Shit...we were last.

I sign in, still apologizing like a mad-woman.
They slap on my wrist band, immediately call me back, dump me in the room and tell me start getting dressed in my paper gown.

I stop, pop my Valium, and finish getting assembled when Mark walks in, leaving the door WIDE OPEN with my BARE ASS exposed to these poor victims.

Who knew we were on such a tight timeline?
Within minutes, we had finished our paperwork, signed over the disposal of our abnormal embryos, and were being escorted back to the transfer room.

The transfer, again, went perfectly.
I shed zero tears this time, and instead, just tried to calm my fucking breathing and focus on the moment.

Our little embryo, in my eyes, resembled a tiny that's what I called him for the remaining of the two week wait, as I would often talk to my stomach.

He was lucky #3. In our second egg retrieval, of the seven eggs retrieved, he was the third one counted. That's how our facility gave him that number.

Side note: After getting the second retrieval results that one had made it biopsy, (this embryo was the first one we collected), I distinctly remember coming home from work and kind of jokingly telling Mark...."wouldn't it be hilarious if this is the one that worked!? If only we had a crystal ball to tell us we didn't need to do anymore rounds of IVF."

Hilarious indeed.

We were literally in and out of the center in 12 minutes.
I was high as a kite at this point, and we headed complete sunshine.

I spent the rest of the day sleeping and being a total couch potato...all the way through the Cubs win!

All this to's okay if your transfer doesn't go as smooth as silk. Sometimes a bit of chaos can bring good luck!

Stay tuned for my symptoms tracking during the two weeks between transfer and beta!
Thanks for reading and all your well wishes! We are still so beyond excited!