Two Years and Counting

After Christmas
December 28, 2007, 9:24 am
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I’m officially enjoying my “12 days of Christmas”–my 12-day vacation from work.  I met a friend this morning for bible study, and now I’m sitting here with my kitty on my lap, listening to the rain outside–the makings of a great day!

M and I spent 4 fun days visiting my family for the holidays, then came back home to spend Christmas Eve and day with his family.  In essence, we celebrated Christmas 3 times!  It was wonderful! 

I’ve taken a little break from blogging about the IF stuff, mainly because there hasn’t been much to write about.  We’re still waiting to hear results from M’s SPA test.  I found out yesterday all my bloodwork came back fine, which I expected since my regular ob/gyn did my bloodwork several months ago and everything was fine.  We just want to hear about M’s stuff now.

I started my period yesterday–more specifically, I started it on an overnight camping trip M and I took on the spur of the moment.  That wasn’t the greatest thing, but it was manageable–there was a real bathroom just up the road, so that was helpful.  As usual, I felt a little bit of relief when it came–just to know something concrete, since the rest of the month is pretty much all unknown. 

I’m starting to have less hope that we’ll be able to conceive on our own.  I’m not totally giving up hope, because I know it can definitely still happen, it just feels that since we’ve tried for 12 full cycles now with no luck, we’re going to need some help.  However, I do keep thinking about this three month turnover rate for sperm.  That’s what I keep hearing, and if that’s true, then we’re about three months past the end of M’s triathlon training, so maybe this will help.  [If any of you don’t know what I’m talking about, doctors say men constantly produce new supplies of sperm, and it takes three months to have a fresh supply.  M trains for traithlons all summer, meaning hours on the bike.  Some people say time on the bike can affect sperm, some say that’s not always the case.  At any rate, M was off the bike at the end of September, so he’s now had three full months to produce that fresh supply.  Maybe they’ll be up and running for this cycle–if the bike even had an effect on them in the first place.]

I also received my copy of The Infertility Companion in the mail last week.  I haven’t gotten into it much, but I’m really excited to delve into it soon.

Hope you’re all doing well, and I’ll be back more regularly soon.


Deep Thoughts by Lauren
December 17, 2007, 3:30 pm
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I’m trying to keep myself from thinking too far ahead into situations we’ve yet to reach, but frequently my mind ventures into uncharted territories. I never thought we’d find ourselves not being able to get pregnant pretty easily, so I haven’t really thought through the reality of IF procedures. What do I even think of IVF? And I’m really only going there because Dr. H actually mentioned that one as a possibility for us, depending on the results of the test M had this morning. (We won’t know results for at least another week.)

Once we had been trying for six months or so, I started to do research into fertility, ovulation, and procedures for infertility. My mom and part of my own brain told me to not read too much about procedures and things that might or might not happen. But the other part of me says it’s better to know what the future might hold so I can prepare for it, rather than to be tra-la-la-ing along, thinking everything is ok, then bam, I need IVF. So over the past several months, I’ve read many blogs and articles written by and about people who’ve undergone IUI, ICSI, IVF, and various other confusingly-named fertility procedures. Obviously, IVF is the scariest. (My apologies to those of you who’ve already done all this—I don’t want to offend anyone, I just need to figure out how I personally feel about it all.)

Speaking of those of you who’ve already gone down these roads, I’d love to hear how you decided that these procedures are ok ethically and/or spiritually. I guess I’m thinking about all this because of M’s test this morning, and the ensuing results that could potentially point us directly to IVF, according to Dr. H. I don’t want to find myself on a roller coaster that’s already started and not be able to slow it down to figure out my thoughts about it all.

Prior to the appt last week, I’d pretty much gotten to where the idea of IUI was fairly easy to swallow. I told myself, “It’s still my egg and M’s sperm and all the action is still happening inside me, not in a Petri dish on a lab table—all that’s really happening is that we’d be giving the sperm a little push at the beginning.” I kept thinking, please let us need that and not IVF. When I think of IVF, I think of artificial-ness, man-made, not God-made, taking the origin of a human life out of God’s hands and putting it into a doctor’s hands. That’s why it’s so scary to me. I have yet to work through it enough to be ok with it. Right now, I don’t know if God’s ok with it. Just because science has advanced enough to bring these procedures into existence, that doesn’t necessarily mean He’s ok with it all, does it? I can think of many things that science and technology has allowed us to conquer that He’s most likely not ok with. Is the realm of fertility procedures in that same boat? (And again, these are the thoughts rolling around in my head. If I were to give myself some more time to think through it all, I’m sure I’d come to a good conclusion, so please don’t be offended if you’ve done or are doing these procedures—I’m not judging at ALL.)

On the other hand, when we get sick, we go to the doctor for medicine to make us feel better. God has given humans brains and intelligence and over the years, all these brains have come up with myriad ways to make people feel better. When we get sick, should we just sit at home and forsake all the medical help available to us at the doctor’s office, thinking it must be God’s plan for us to be sick? Or in an even more related example, say you get cancer. The remedy for cancer is to have poison pumped into your veins and months of treatment. Do you say, “It must be God’s will for me to have cancer,” and not go through with the treatment? Or do you say, “God has allowed science to advance to such a degree that even though I have this potentially fatal disease, there is a cure available for me and I’m going to take it”?

Given those examples, however, is it a totally different ballgame when you’re talking about creating life? My life is already created, so me taking medicine or treatment if I had cancer is about preserving life, not creating it. Is there a difference?

I know that if a baby is created through IVF, it’s still God who decides if a baby is created. He’s still the master and originator and sustainer of all life, IVF or no. But if we go through with IVF or another fertility treatment, does that mean we’ve abandoned the hope that God will bless us with a child in his own time, and that we’re taking things into our own hands? That we’re saying, “God, you haven’t given us a baby and we really want one, so we’re going to make it happen on our own?”

I don’t have an answer for any of this right now, but I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s grappled with this issue and has come up with an answer or a way to think about it.

Those Unavoidable Awkward Questions
December 14, 2007, 11:55 am
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Last night was M’s office Christmas party. It’s typically a fun, low-key affair with food and drinks and a Dirty Santa gift exchange at the end. Last night was no different, except that I felt like eyes were on me, with everyone (or at least everyone who knows us well) wondering if I was pregnant. Now granted, I’m sure it was mostly in my head, but that’s just what I felt like. I’ve felt that way on more than one occasion—that people are looking at me to see what I’m wearing (if it’s hiding a bump), what I’m drinking (water or wine?), or how I’m acting.

This vague paranoia began with the first conversation of the evening. M and I started talking to the wife of one of M’s co-workers. She was bubbly and talkative, and the three of us were talking about all sorts of things, including her children. I couldn’t help notice she seemed to be talking fairly negatively about her four year old daughter who is just “crazy.” I’ve become more sensitive lately to parents to complain about their children. Not that she was truly complaining, but she did mention several times in the course of the conversation how crazy this child is, how she’s driving her up the wall, and how she’d slit her wrists (sarcasm noted) if she found out she was pregnant again.

I then noticed her eyeballing my empty hands. Great, I knew someone would point out the fact that I wasn’t drinking anything. “I see you’re not drinking—are you pregnant?” she asks with a twinkle in her eye. Under most circumstances (even with our particular IF issues), this wouldn’t have really bothered me. Yes it’s a little pushy and insensitive, but still, don’t get your feathers ruffled over every little thing. It’s just that I could tell that, although very nice and great in all other areas I’m sure, I could tell she was one of those girls who just asks blatant questions, even if they’re too personal to be asking of someone you’ve only met once, and that was two and a half years ago. That, and after I said I wasn’t pregnant, she said, “Are you suuuuurrre?” And when I said no again, she said, “I’m going to ask you again later in the night.” I mean, are you kidding me? Let it lie, woman!

But instead of making me sad or upset, I found myself feeling kind of ticked off. I know it’s natural curiosity to want to know if someone is pregnant. It’s just that it’s a very personal thing, and there are so many factors to consider when you’re dealing with a possible pregnancy. If you don’t know the person’s background, tread lightly into the waters of potential motherhood.

Maybe you only get this if you’ve dealt with not being able to get pregnant when you want to, but it seems fairly common sense to me. Even before I started trying to conceive, I know for a fact that I never pointed someone out and asked, “So, are you pregnant?” That’s just so invasive and brash. If I’ve learned anything through this past year, it’s to never utter the words, “So, when are you going to have kids?” to someone whose background I don’t know. If it’s a very close friend who’s gotten married and who I know is comfortable with me, then that’s one thing. But if it’s someone I don’t know well, or someone who has been married for two whole years and conspicuously hasn’t gotten pregnant yet, I will not ask because chances are, there may be issues and a question like that will make them feel uncomfortable. (The caveat would be if I have a strong feeling they might be dealing with IF and I’m divulging my own struggles in an effort to make a connection or to offer encouragement. And even that needs to be done carefully.)

Sorry for the rant. I just wish more people were sensitive to issues surrounding trying to get pregnant. Maybe it’s the people who can blink and get pregnant who don’t understand that it can be awkward for certain people to be asked questions like that. Most of the time, I can cut them some slack for being in the dark because it’s gone so smoothly for them. But last night, instead of cutting her some slack and letting those words roll off my back, I silently died a death or two of embarrassment and got a little mad (but a healthy mad, I think—because it’s better than getting upset and ruining a perfectly good Christmas party!)

Super Long Recap
December 12, 2007, 10:00 am
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So far, I feel pretty calm about the appointment we had this yesterday with the specialist. I’m happy to say I did like her a lot. I made the comment a couple of weeks ago that I may not want to stick with a doctor who I didn’t feel like I clicked with. Matt said he didn’t really need to click with the doctor, but I guess since I’m the one who will be having a majority of stuff done to me, I want to like the doctors and staff. One of my main desires was that the doctor and nurses wouldn’t make me feel like just another infertility case who needs a standard shot of Clomid and a box of OPKs, and that our consultation wouldn’t be a quick, five minute run through our history and that’s it. Thankfully, that’s not what we got.

Our morning started in the waiting area of the doctor’s office. When we arrived 30 minutes prior to our appointment time, there were only two other women in the waiting room. After 15 minutes or so, the place was hopping with couples coming in and going out. It was a little strange knowing we were all there for the same reason (most likely) yet still feeling kind of embarrassed to be there. When I had to get up to give my urine sample, I felt like all eyes were on me as I left the room, then as I walked back in three minutes later.

When we were called back, the nurse directed Matt to Dr. H’s office, and me to another area to be weighed and to have my blood pressure taken. After that, I joined him in the office. Dr. H came in a few minutes later, and started talking to us about the area of town we live in, and told us she used to live just up the street from us. She started telling us this story of the house she lived in and its history. As she was talking, I was thinking that it was kind of strange that we’re here for our first RE appt and we’re talking about houses, but I guess that was a way for her to break the ice and/or make us relax a bit. I didn’t think I’d be nervous, but due to how cold and fidgety I was, I think I was nervous.

Then she got in to our history. This is where the 20 pages of paperwork come in! She went through it all, asking us questions here and there, pointing out things that she thought might be problem-causing. She was very thorough and friendly, not at all intimidating. The first thing she suggested is a Sperm Penetration Assay for M. That’s where they see if the sperm have the ability to actually penetrate an egg. He’s having this test done on Monday. The results from that will tell us a lot. If the results aren’t great, she said we’d be candidates for IVF (yikes, jump right in, shall we?) If the results are fine, we’ll be looking at things like sperm antibodies in me, and a few other things on my end, with possible IUI.

A couple of other things she mentioned for me. First, she said I need to cut down my exercising! That was a shocker. I’d estimated in my history that I exercise 4-5 hours a week. She immediately said, “Cut that down to three hours.” She said anything more than that can interfere with fertility. Everything I’ve read says exercise is great when you’re having fertility issues—both for the health benefits and for the de-stressing. I guess this may be specific to me because of my low weight. And that’s another thing she honed in on. I’ve always been naturally thin. I’m actually well under the “healthy weight range” for people of my height (I’m 5’3” and weigh about 103—the healthy range is something like 115-140). But I eat well, exercise, and don’t obsess, and my period has always been regular (although she said weight can still sometimes affect ovulation, even if your periods are regular.) My weight has hardly fluctuated in about 10 years, so I’ve just accepted that this is the weight my body wants to be. Dr. H. said it’s ok if you’re within 10% below your “healthy” range. 10% below 115 is right at about 103, so technically I’m ok, but she said not to go down any. I’m going to actually going to try yet again to put on few pounds. It can’t hurt—plus the idea of all the ice cream sounds great!

So, our plan is for the S.P.A. test for M on Monday, then natural cycle monitoring for my next cycle, since I’m already half way through this one. That means that on CD9 (cycle day 9), I’ll start with the OPKs. As soon as I see any color at all on the test line (doesn’t have to be as dark as the control line like the directions say), I’m to call the office and tell them I’ve had a surge. Then I’ll come in the next morning and they’ll see what my follicles look like. At that point, if we’ve timed it right, we can either wait and see if I get pregnant naturally, or they can do the insemination (IUI). This all depends on the results of that S.P.A. test. They’ll also do a post coital test—if we can BD (Oh, I detest that abbreviation for sex, but I guess I’ll use it to be PC in the infertility world) that morning before the early appointment (I have to be in the office by 8:30.)

Then (nope, not over yet), I had an exam. Now, I know I originally said this was going to be a consult only with no lab work or anything, but once I got in there, I figured we were already there, why waste sick time and almost a whole morning just to talk? I was due for my annual check up this month anyway, so they did that. I also said I was ok with some blood work to test for HIV and a host of STD’s. After the exam, I met with a nurse who went over our plan of action with me.

Then came the financial person who went over my insurance coverage. Turns out, I have just about the best insurance in the world. The nurse kept saying, “Wow, they cover this too?” This is interesting to me, because I don’t really like my job, and I haven’t for a long time. I’ve tried many times to get another job, but nothing has worked out for me. Basically, it’s a great company, but a bad department. I’ve had to tell myself MANY times over the years, Lauren, if the doors to other jobs aren’t opening, then you’re here for a reason. Now, years later, I think I’m seeing the reason why I’ve been stuck here. If we have to go the IVF route, or even if we don’t and do other procedures instead, we’ll hardly be paying out of pocket at all. And believe me, I understand what a blessing this is. I’ve heard many stories of expenses racked up while trying to get pregnant. So, this blessing is not going unnoticed.

After all that, it had been about 2 hours and it was time for me to have blood taken and get out of there. It had been about 3 hours since I’d eaten anything, and I was already getting twinges of that “I need to eat” feeling. When I sat down, I saw the nurse pull out 5 vials. Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with needles, but I’ve always been a little nervous about having my blood taken, mainly because I know I’m under the weight requirement for donating blood, and I knew that requirement was there for a reason. Anyway, as she was filling the little vials, it was like I could immediately feel all the blood rushing out of my head and body! Such a strange sensation. I told the nurse I was feeling a little woozy, but that I’d be ok and just needed to sit a minute. She watched me like a hawk, and after just a couple of minutes I said I was ok to leave. I paid my copay and left.

Now, 24 hours after the appt, I’m still sort of digesting everything. Last night, M and I were both exhausted—both from the hectic-ness of the day, from having to be “on” from 9am until 9pm, and I think from the mental and emotional strain of facing these issues with Dr. H. We were pretty excited about the appt prior to yesterday, looking forward to figuring some things out, but now that the appt is over, we still don’t know much more than we did when we went in. I know we have to be patient, and we both knew just going to the doctor wouldn’t magically make the problems go away, but I think we both were sort of disappointed that we don’t have a complete game plan: Step 1, do this, Step 2, get pregnant—even though we knew it wouldn’t work like that.

I think we’re both anticipating M’s test on Monday to see what the results are (which will come a week or so later.) Those results will help us know the next step. The good thing is that Christmas falls at a time when we’ll just be waiting for either a period or no period—we won’t be in the middle of having to time things just right in my cycle while we’re at my parents house for several days before Christmas. I may be getting my period on Christmas day, but honestly, I’d rather have that than the frustration of feeling like we’re “missing our chance” if we don’t have sex TONIGHT! when we’re in a bed 15 feet from my parents’ bed! (We’ve tried that once before and it’s not fun!) Plus, it’s never a huge surprise when my period comes because the week before, I start getting cramps and other period signals. It’s definitely disappointing when it comes, but also sort of a relief to just be out of the waiting time and to just know one way or another.

I have a long vacation coming up soon, time with my parents and brother and other family at home, Christmas morning with Matt in our own house eating Christmas Breakfast Casserole, and did I mention TWELVE days off work!? Things are good, regardless of what the tests show and what happens down the road. I know Matt and I will have babies one day, and when that time comes, it’ll be even sweeter because we’re having to work a little harder to get them.

Getting Ready
December 10, 2007, 2:27 pm
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Today I’m gearing up for our first appointment with a fertility specialist. The appt is at 9:00 tomorrow morning. We’re supposed to get there 30 minutes early, which I’m presuming is so we can fill out even more paperwork. (We’ve already had to fill out and fax about 20 pages of paperwork.) I’m feeling good about the appointment, actually. I’m looking forward to getting some feedback on our situation, which is basically that we have no known medical issues that would be contributing to infertility, yet it’s been a year with no luck. And we’re young and healthy. I hope this doctor can shed some new light, or point us in the right direction. I also hope she doesn’t immediately want to put me on the track to have an invasive procedure, even though I know that’s a possibility. At this point, I just have to trust that God will lead this woman to direct us in the right way. I don’t know what’s best for us to do—if we need to just keep trying on our own for a while, or if we’ll need some “tweaking” in order to get pregnant, so it’s sort of out of my hands as far as what the next step will be. (Even though I’m aware that we can choose not to go through with everything she suggests.)

As far as I know, this will be an initial consult only–no labwork. They wanted M to have another SA done, but we’ve opted to not do that this time. They wanted us to abstain for 2-3 days prior to the appointment, and it’s just not a good time in the month for us to do that. He’ll probably have to make another appt for the end of the week or early next week for the SA. As for me, they gave me the option to go ahead and have a full exam, but we’ve opted to just talk at our first meeting, rather than jump in with two feet. I feel good about that decision. I’d like to meet with the doctor and make sure I like her before we really get into the nitty gritty.

On another note, I’ve found a link to the Infertility: Mastery or Mystery article that mysteriously disappeared from the website. Please let me know if this link doesn’t work for you.

December 5, 2007, 3:26 pm
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As one who tends to worry a bit too much about things over which I have no control, I’ve discovered that I need to be careful how much I read about infertility. Sometimes it seems that the more I read about various causes, treatments, troubles, etc, associated with infertility, the more I worry about what our journey might look like. It’s helpful to hear about other people’s personal accounts of trying to get pregnant, but some of the more clinical stats and information can just cause me to think way too much.

I remember listening to a sermon several years ago by Tim Keller (the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC) about marriage. He and his wife were giving this sermon together. His wife made this one little comment that has stayed close with me ever since. I’ve been able to apply it to many different situations, and these days, I’m finding that I can apply it to our present situation. She said that God doesn’t play along with our imaginations, our fantasies, if you will. When we imagine (or worry about) what our future will look like, God doesn’t inject his grace into that mental picture—the grace that he will in fact give us if our lives work out in this particular way. Here’s the example she gave: You worry about still being single at 30 (or 35, or 40). You look at what you think your life will be like if you’re still unmarried by then. (Remember, this sermon was on marriage and singleness.) Mrs. Keller says God won’t inject his grace into that picture, so you’re essentially picturing a future without a husband and without the grace that God WILL give you if in fact you find yourself single and “that” age. I’m not sure if I’m making any sense. Basically, she’s saying don’t worry about what things will be like if “thing” happens or doesn’t happen. If it does happen, or doesn’t happen, God will be there, walking through it with you, pouring out his grace on you to enable you to get through it. When you’re imagining the future, you can’t imagine the grace that will be there for you when you actually get there.

This morning I was thinking about that in light of us trying to get pregnant. I can’t worry about what will be going on 3 months from now, or 6 months from now. What if in 6 months, we’ve already had 3 or 4 failed IUI cycles? What if we’re in the middle of IVF? What if they can’t find a reason why we’re not getting pregnant? Those questions are too big to think about, because it’s a completely unknown territory. If any of those situations happen, or something worse or better, God will be there with us, giving us grace to withstand whatever happens.

I’m a list-maker and a planner. I like to be organized, to know what’s going on, to feel in control of what I can. God has proved to me many times that he’s the one in control and that he knows what he’s doing—even more than I do. (One example would be that he didn’t allow any previous relationships to work out, even though they left me kicking and screaming and befuddled, because he had Matt, who’s 100 times more perfect for me than anyone I even thought about dating, waiting for me around the bend.) Even still, I like to think I’m in control of many things in my life. Infertility may be the thing that blows a hole in this idea that I still have a certain amount of control over what happens. I can still make decisions and learn and grow and be wise, but ultimately, God is the one who knows the end from the beginning and knows how each puzzle piece needs to fall in order to make way for the next piece.

Come Monday
December 3, 2007, 11:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A few housekeeping issues first.
*I’ve discovered that Blogger doesn’t make it very easy for WordPress users (or probably any other blog user) to leave comments on a Blogger site. This is an issue other WordPress users have discovered as well. When I go to many of your Blogger websites to comment, it doesn’t give an option for me to enter my own wordpress URL. So, I will probably just type in my blog address at the end of my comments so people will know where I’m coming from. (FYI for you Blogger users, I think it has something to do with how you set up your blog—if you’ve set it up so no one can leave “anonymous” comments, it doesn’t allow anyone other than Blogger users to comment. It may have something to do with Blogger trying to rule the blogging world! I’m not poking fun–my other blog is at Blogger.)

*I’ve changed my publicly displayed name to Lauren rather than Lola. I was trying to be super private when I first set this up, but it’s just too hard to remember another name! So, when I comment, you’ll see Lauren rather than Lola or Lola 51. (Actually, it may sometimes still show up as Lola. I’ve really messed this up. Just know Lola and Lauren are one in the same!)

*Someone commented that the link to the Mystery or Mastery article doesn’t work anymore. I have no idea what happened. It’s like the article disappeared from the By Faith website. I’ve emailed them to see if there’s any way I can get access to the site. I’ll let you know if I find anything out.

Now on to other things. I went to New Orleans for a bachelorette party this weekend for a friend getting married in January. All I kept thinking all weekend was how glad I was that I wasn’t pregnant! Isn’t that strange? In the weeks leading up to this weekend, I knew that I’d either get my period the week before or I wouldn’t, so either way, I’d know if I was pregnant. I knew there would be some alcohol involved with this weekend, so I wanted to be absolutely sure before I allowed myself to have a few drinks. (By the way, I’ve almost entirely given up drinking in my quest to get pregnant. Not that I was much of a drinker before. I just enjoyed having an occasional glass of wine or beer. These days, I only allow that while I’m actually on my period, and even then, I pretty much avoid it.) Of course, I was hoping I was pregnant, in which case I would have gladly eschewed all alcohol and careless frivolity this weekend, and wouldn’t have cared about the strange looks from the other girls. But, this wasn’t our month. M and I admitted last week that we both thought this time had worked. We thought we timed things pretty well, and I just had this feeling that I was pregnant (even though I don’t even know what that would feel like). But alas.

So, the reason for my gladness over not being pregnant was because there was so much drinking involved, so much hanging out in dark smoky places, so little sleep, etc—definitely not the atmosphere you want to be in during the first couple of weeks of pregnancy. The thought crossed my mind that if I had been pregnant, I would have been really worried all weekend (and rightly so). Obviously I wouldn’t have had anything to drink, but I couldn’t have done anything about the smoke. You can still smoke anywhere in New Orleans, unlike some cities that have passed no smoking bans. I woke up both mornings with an ache deep in my chest from all the smoke the night before. (Come to think of it, things still feel a bit tight in my chest today.) I didn’t have much to drink, but the few drinks I did have caused me to have a headache Saturday morning. It was just a lifestyle I’m not used to, and I’m glad I’m not used to it. And I’m glad I didn’t submit a week-old fetus to that lifestyle!

**Two great things about the weekend though (other than my friend thoroughly enjoying her bachelorette weekend)—I had the finest meal I’ve ever eaten on Saturday night at C.ommander’s P.alace. Totally worth the $95 bill. Then that night we paid $5 to get into a random bar in the French quarter and hear a random band play their music, only to witness J.immy B.uffett strolling into the bar at about 2am and jumping on stage to play for an hour.