Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Christmas letter I wanted to write

[Note: I would obviously never REALLY send this out as my Christmas letter. In years past, I have really enjoyed writing and sending a Christmas letter, but it was always with a positive spin. I didn't write one this year. Perhaps when you read what I've written here--in jest--you'll understand why.]

As usual, 2009 has been an eventful year.

In January, to kick off the new year, we embarked on a series of invasive testing at a well-respected local fertility clinic. After multiple canceled and rescheduled appointments with our very popular doctor, having been told that he could find nothing wrong with either of us except that my eggs are "old," I started using traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture in an attempt to achieve pregnancy without medical intervention. Three months later, after spending thousands of dollars and enduring weekly sessions with acupuncture needles and three-times-a-day teas with the foulest tastes and smells imaginable, we resigned ourselves to having to use the fertility clinic's services.

As you can see only MM, the dogs, and I here in our family photo, you have probably already guessed that, despite the months of fertility drugs and frustration and thousands of dollars spent, we are still childless. (And no, I am not pregnant in the photo, just fat.) In early August, just a couple of weeks after the dogs' overdose (more on that later), I got my first-ever positive pregnancy test, only to find out within the same day that I was having an early miscarriage. We hope it is not the only positive pregnancy test we will ever see, but who knows?

On a related note, I'd like to extend my congratulations to the twelve people who announced their pregnancies this year--one the day after my miscarriage was diagnosed--and the fifteen people we know who welcomed their first child into the world in 2009. And especial kudos to the two friends who managed to accomplish both the birth of a child AND another pregnancy this year! You know who you are. . . .

In February, in an attempt to preserve my sanity, I started a hobby I had long wanted to pursue: learning to play the piano. I took lessons for a few months until I had to quit them in July due to incurring over $5500 in vet bills in a short period of time (more about how that happened later).

In early March, my dog Sebastian went for his yearly check-up and was diagnosed with mitral valve insufficiency. His vet could not say how quickly his disease will progress to congestive heart failure, but it is incurable; only its symptoms can be treated when necessary.

Later in March, MM and I traveled to New York City where we spent a long weekend with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in a beautiful luxury guest condo in Hoboken, just a short ferry ride across the river from Manhattan. MM enjoyed his first visit to the city, and it was great to spend some time with my little nephew Rowan again.

In April, I was honored to be asked to serve as a godmother for my friend C's son, W. MM was kind enough to attend the baptism, and it was the first time we had ever been in a church together.

We took a trip to San Antonio in May, where we visited with friends R and N and their toddler son, and spent a relaxing weekend at a local resort the first weekend in June.

In early May, we adopted a second golden retriever from Sebastian's rescue group. Hunter (pictured on the right in our photo) had been used as a stud in someone's backyard breeding operation and had never lived in a house prior to coming into the rescue group's care. After a period of bad health which included a bout of kennel cough and surgery for an ear flap hematoma, recovery from which was complicated by right-sided facial paralysis and skin excoriation from the bandages, by late June, Hunter was doing well.

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks after having the stitches taken out of his ear, Hunter broke a bone at the base of his tail in a collision with another dog. We did not realize the extent of his injury until he became aggressive with Sebastian. Once his fracture was diagnosed, he was put on two strong painkillers and was doing well, until one evening when I arrived home from work to discover that the dogs had overdosed on his NSAID painkiller. Both dogs required a trip to the emergency vet hospital and a 48-hour hospitalization on IVs with periodic lab work to prevent kidney and liver failure. Sebastian had to return to the vet less than 24 hours after discharge due to a suspected perforated ulcer, which was ruled out by a barium swallow study.

We were fortunate that Hunter's rescue group paid for his ear flap surgery and kennel cough treatment. Unlucky for us, we had to pay for his tail fracture and both dogs' overdose-related vet bills ourselves. As a result, I had to cut back on all unnecessary spending, and we had to table the idea of traveling anywhere fun for the holidays.

We also learned that Hunter is afraid of fireworks when he tried to claw his way through our front door and the surrounding drywall on July 4th while we were out at a friend's. We now know that he is also afraid of thunder and will react similarly to that type of noise. Bob the Handyman became our friend during his two trips to our home to repair the damage Hunter caused. What a nice guy!

Hunter and Sebastian are friends now and doing fine, thanks to some help from dog trainer Brad, who came to our home to work with them during a period in July when they were fighting and we thought they might kill one another. After getting bitten on the arm while breaking up their first middle-of-the-night tussle, I developed a huge hematoma on my right arm that led to multiple doctors' visits and even an MRI when pain in my arm persisted and a small lump in my forearm never went away. (My arm is much better now, though I still have some deep scarring.)

September saw us traveling to the DC area for vacation and to attend Rowan's baptism. We got to visit with my law school friends W and his wife, and K and her husband and two toddlers, while we were there. We did a lot of sightseeing and had a great trip. It may be our last trip to DC for a while because my sister is relocating.

In the current state of the economy, we are glad to report that MM and I are both still employed at the same jobs as last year. We managed to make it to our first wedding anniversary in November without infidelity, divorce, death or other catastrophe. I continue to volunteer as a CASA and now also manning the information line for the goldens' rescue group. MM continues to say that if/when we win the lottery, he will donate 90% of the money to charity.

Our parents are all still around, despite my father-in-law's bouts of diverticulitis and shingles, my mother-in-law's back and hip pain, my dad's many chronic health problems, and my mom's quirkiness and frequent cross-country travel. We see the M's regularly, we just visited my father and stepmother in Las Cruces for Thanksgiving, and my mom spent nearly three months at our house last winter and will be returning in February 2010.

We will be spending Christmas at home, licking our wounds. (Just kidding.)

All our best for a joyful holiday season.

M & S


Valerie said...

LOL I think you should send that out. ;)

Lisa said...

We need more letters like that! Do it!!!

Land family said...

When my Mom and I have particuarly shitty years, we have always made a "mock" Christmas letter in the past. I wish we'd held onto them, they are fairly therapeutic, but could probably get a lof of people pissed off at us! Hope 2010 is good to you.

FWIW, my letter isn't all full of rainbows and sunshine either.

TUWABVB said...

I think it's great therapy to get that all off your chest! It's okay to be pissed at this year - I know I am. Let's just hope for more in 2010 (and by the way, if I had received that letter I would have laughed at the honesty and called you immediately). You remind me of the scene in "Something to Talk About" where Julia Roberts is at a Junior League meeting and she starts talking about everyone elses affairs - the honesty was refreshing!