The Guest House.

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This poem really gets me. Both as a writer, and as a Dana. Enjoy.

acrowdofsorrowsThis being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi


Estrogen is a helluva drug.

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The “Babysicles” Saga – Update #1:
(yeah, I just referred to my future children as babysicles. what about it? They’re gonna be in a freezer for the next howeverlong, and it sounds better than “frozen babies”, or “embryfroze”. Although fro-yo would work, I’m not really a fan of mixed metaphors y’know? bro?)

On October 18th, it was day 3 of my cycle, so we went in to get my FSH levels tested and get a follicle count to get ready for my IVF. They spotted about 8-9 follicles that day, and I nearly cried with joy when I heard that my Follicle Stimulating Hormone level had dropped from a 9 in April to a 5 now. When I told my acupuncturist, who specializes in fertility treatment, her response was: “See? This shit really works!” Damn straight, son. I’ve been seeing her twice a week since April and the numbers don’t lie! It’s great news because, the lower your FSH level, the less work your body is doing to produce healthy eggs, which is a good thing. At this point in the cycle, my doctor would normally would prescribe birth control pills, to give them more control over the timing, but BCPs tend to aggravate my depression, so we decided to skip it and told me to come back 20 days later instead.

On November 5th, I saw the doctor again. He counted my follicles, and thought he saw 9 or 10, which kicks ass because, hey, it’s more than 8 or 9. He also not-so-subtley hinted that my ovaries are camera-shy. Compared to other women, apparently my follicles like to play hide and seek with the ultrasound wand. I told him I prefer to think of them as stealthy, but he didn’t seem very impressed.

While I was being probed, Paul was in another room, making a “deposit” for his semen culture and analysis. I had wanted to help him out in there, but he was totally weirded out by the whole situation, and opted to just take care of it solo-style. The masturbation station at our clinic is fitted with a la-z-boy recliner, thoughtfully covered in what appears to be a puppy pee-pad, a flat-screen TV displaying the homepage for redtube.com, and an assortment of porn magazines that covered the four basic kinks: boobs, butts, young-looking girls, and dom/sub action. Their pump-and-dump philosophy appears to read thusly: Men = predictable.

We later received the happy news that Paul’s swimmers are a strong and plentiful army. So hearty, in fact, that we’ll be able to bypass the need for ICSI, (or intracytoplasmic sperm injection) which is basically a fancy way of saying “inject sperm into egg.” Instead, they’ll just introduce his men to my ladies, and let them get hot and bothered and hook up in a dark corner of the petri dish of their own accord. Hooray for Paul’s healthy balls!

The next step for us was to begin “Estrogen Priming Protocol” by wearing two Minivelle Estradiol patches on my lower abdomen for 3 days each. The patches are each the size of a quarter, and deliver estradiol transdermally, which down-regulates FSH receptors. By providing external estrogen, we’ll trick my pituitary gland into thinking a follicle is developing (because follicles produce estrogen) and will thereby reduce the amount of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) it pumps out. This process give my ovaries a little time off at the spa, and allows the doctor to take control of my cycle. In addition, it will promote estrogen dominance in the follicular fluid, which is believed will help protect the developing eggs.

Why am I doing estrogen priming, you ask?
EPP is an aggressive form of an IVF Antagonist Protocol, used most often in women with high FSH and/or over 35 years of age. It’s a sort of “slow burn” methodology — the hope being that they slow me way down and protect egg quality while allowing me to stim longer. In addition, the slower stimming may help all the active follicles to stay in sync, allowing the doctors to retrieve as many mature eggs as possible.

estrogen patches
I have found that covering the patches with a strip of Tegaderm really helps keep them safe from pant-waist friction, bathing, puppy pawnails, et cetera. Stop staring at the pant-waist imprint on my belly, please. Thank you.

The estrogen has made me rather crampy, and a bit on the weepy side, for the past two weeks. I’m like Eeyore, kind of. But no one is stealing my tail. I just feel a little deflated. But not the skinny kind of deflated. Rather the opposite. But that’s not the estrogen’s fault. It’s the cheese’s fault. Also, my nipples are like, WAY sensitive, and prefer standing at attention, at all times, under the influence of estrogen, it seems. And, my bewbs are noticeably more bodacious! I never had any of those fun “bigger boob” benefits from hormonal shit before. As a card carrying member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, I count this side effect as a super win!

But the real side effect worth noting takes place behind my tightly locked bedroom door. Sans pants. Yes, folks, it’s like that. I’m pretty sure that after all is said and done, I’ll be hustling for estradiol patches on the streets, chasing the white dragon of horizontal mambos past. Let’s just leave it there, shall we? 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ll go in again, to begin Stimming. This involves multiple needles on a daily basis for the next 2-3 weeks. IVF drugs
This is my hypodermic loot. It cost… wait for it…. a little over $5,700. These boxes. Cost that much.

I repeat: THESE BOXES. COST THAT MUCH.

Tune in next time, for the next installment of The Babysicles Saga. In which I stab myself repeatedly with needles. Cuz, science.

(PS: wondering why I’m doing this? Click here.)


My Pits Don’t Stink: Homemade Natural Deodorant

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“Oooh, that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?” Listen closely, chickens. I’m about to let you in on what has been a life-changing recipe for me. See, my quest for the perfect deodorant ain’t because I’m scared of my own smell, or even, that someone else might find themselves in the wake of it. Oh no no no, friends, it is that “deodorant” smell that is just as sure a giveaway of a sweaty lady as her own B.O. might be. That awful, damnable powdery smell… or that floral whiff that is forever in contest with your chosen eau de toilette. Whenever I smell it on myself, or another girl, I cringe. Almost all the scents available in commercial deodorant fall into the “I would never choose that” category, the same way 90% of the perfumes at a department store counter do. There was one exception, when Secret briefly offered a “vanilla chai” scented stick, but it was discontinued, and I cursed the heavens for a long time to follow.

And on the other hand, in recent years, there’s been more and more noise about the potential dangers of aluminum, which is present in all antiperspirants, and their rumored cancer-causing properties. There’s the problem of other additives that may not be doing our skin or our health a service, but are convenient, inexpensive fillers for “big B.O.” to use in their products. And the older I get, the more I realize that knowing what I’m putting in or on my body matters to me. I’ve got far too many mysterious, incurable maladies – and the more I learn, the more it would appear that “cleaner living” can benefit our health at all levels.

So, when I learned that it was exquisitely simple to DIY my own deo with only 3 all-natural ingredients that I probably already had in my kitchen, and control the scent, I jumped at the chance to try. After all, I already exclusively use whipped coconut oil as a body lotion, and love it, so why not add 2 ingredients and call it deodorant?

DIY Natural deodorant

It’s that simple, folks. Mix together the ccoconut oil, baking soda, and your choice of cornstarch or arrowroot. Hit it with a hand blender, if you want to ensure a lumpless, fluffy cream, and slap it in a mason jar. If you have an old jelly jar, or spaghetti sauce jar, use that. By all means, recycle. Note: I definitely prefer the texture of the cream made with arrowroot, as opposed to the cornstarch. I find it is a softer touch, and emulsifies better into the oil. But, I recommend you experiment with both, and figure out which suits your taste better.

In this state, it has, and will impart to your pits, a very light coconutty smell. One which will not interfere with your perfume of choice. Nay, in my opinion, it will only enrich any scent it comes into contact with, like umami does for savory foods. But, if coconut just ain’t your jam, you can experiment with whatever essential oil(s) floats your particular boat.

To use it, just dip your finger in the salve, grab a dollop about the size of a dime, and slather it on your skin. But, in my opinion, there are a couple key tips that can improve your experience getting used to this switch, and they are thus:

1. If you can, do a 3-day “detox” before starting on your natural deodorant regimen. Simply trade out your deo for a few drops of Tea Tree Oil for 3 full days. If you can’t, don’t sweat it (ha!), but if you can, it’s a nice way to sort of “cleanse your palate” from commercial, inorganic ingredients it’s been force-fed for who knows how many years.

2. If you’re of a more sensitive nature, you may wish to start slow. For some, putting this on immediately after shaving can cause a little irritation, due to the somewhat abrasive texture from the powders in the cream. I’ve also heard rumors of break-outs from applying it to skin just after shaving. So, wait a bit before putting it on. Maybe shave the night before. As time goes on, you’ll acclimate, and it will cease to be a problem. And the bonus is, if you ever suffered from over-pigmentation in your pits, this can actually help fade that, over time!

3. If you can, reapply once, mid-day, for maximum potency. As this isn’t an antiperspirant, you’ll still be sweating, and you’ll want adequate coverage. BUT, the good news is that, once you’re allowed to perspire freely, no longer confined by the chemicals of commercial products, and your body acclimates to this freedom, you’ll find that – over time – you actually sweat LESS. And when you do sweat, it’s much less likely to have as much of a funk as it used to. And that, my friends, is like an alchemical miracle. It’s like how they say your lips can become addicted to balm, because they “forget” how to moisturize themselves. The same appears to be true of armpits, kind of. So by lacquering ourselves in chemically-derived antiperspirants, we’re actually teaching our bodies to fight harder to produce sweat. How crazy is that?

So, sure, it might take a bit of dedication to acclimate your body to a new means of odor control, but not only is it safer, more natural, and infinitely cheaper (at pennies per jar versus several dollars per stick), but it’s absolutely worth it for all the same reasons. I can safely say that I’ll never go back. And if you’re a friend of mine, don’t be surprised when I gift you a small jar for yourself, and try to convert you. ‘Cuz I’m preaching the gospel of DIY deodorant to anyone and everyone who will listen!

What do you think… would you give it a shot? If you do, come back and let me know how it works for ya!