Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rumors of Robitussin dance in our heads

Today is my day off, so I browsed the Cryobank's Facebook page to see if anything new was going on.  Not really-- except that somebody said they had heard using Mucinex would thin out cervical mucus to make it easier for sperm to travel.  Someone countered that Robitussin had worked for her pregnant friends and that was probably the same thing.


Heather has been prenatal vitamins all this time and I guess we should have been pouring cough syrup down her throat instead.  I e-mailed Nurse Nina, but I suspect she'll say it's a crackpot theory.  Probably that's true, but each time I e-mail her or ask a question, I feel as though she disapproves and thinks we're foolish.

It isn't that she's not right-- there are plenty of things we don't know and don't understand, and I suppose it's hard not to say "Shut up and follow my advice"-- but I wish sometimes she'd do more hand-holding and let us know we're doing some things right.  We already feel foolish, so a "Hey, that's a good idea.  I'd never heard that" would go a long way.

Heather goes in for her next blood test tomorrow afternoon and we hope to inseminate in January.  In the meanwhile, I suppose we'll hold each other's hands.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Donor selection, part 9845304

#11900: Liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, unilateral breast cancer
#12338: Physics major, loves polar bears and turtles; striking green eyes
#11097: Resembles Ken Jeong
How do we feel about Malaysian donors?  I think Heather will give this guy-- pure as his medical history is-- a thumbs-down.  Is an Asian baby for gay parents just too obvious?

When the crazy wheel slows down...

Miss Heather went to the clinic again over the weekend-- the 3rd day of her cycle-- for her second blood test, and today I was happy to get an e-mail from Nurse Nina saying that the lab results "looked good" and for Heather to schedule an appointment for her next test on the 21st day of this cycle.  Heather, bless her fighting spirit, said, "Why do I have to go back in?  I could have told that broad there was nothing wrong with me."

Her fighting spirit has been struggling lately, though.  Life and work, and whatever balance we're supposed to preserve between them, have been rough on her.  We're going today to sign up at a gym, and I think Heather's tense enough to consider doing holiday crafts with me; anything to distract her.  Things are getting dire when she agrees to use a hot-glue gun.  She told me the other night that she was ready for a change: "I'm ready to be pregnant," she said, and ready to move on to a new phase.  I think we're both ready for it, and the weeks between each insemination are exhaustingly empty of progress or hope, no matter what we say to ourselves.

Heather is on day 6 of her cycle, maybe only a week from the home insemination we've planned.  We haven't settled on a new donor yet, but imagining the tank in the kitchen... the thawed vials in my cheerily-colored mixing bowls...  It's something.  It's something. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Patty-cake, patty-cake

Nurse Nina says Heather's test results should be available in a few days.  I still assume they'll show her body to be pure and exceptionally ready to support pregnancy, but I can't help but be curious to see if something unusual pops up.  When I heard a fizzing in my neck (you know how sometimes you hear things in your own head, like a different chewing sound from what other people hear?), I brought it up to my psychiatrist, who was concerned I thought I had a snake in my brain-- surprising me as I considered what her other patients were like.  I said that, no, I thought I might have a tumor and that removing it would completely solve any chemical issues in my head.  I thought that when I had migraines, too.  Nada.  Anyway, I would like them to say, "Oh, Heather needs to take three vitamin C pills and the baby will manifest itself without insemination."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All I want for Christmas is you

Wednesday we went for Thanksgiving Eve dinner at my parents' house.  It was a nice meal with even nicer cornbread, the remains of which my mom helpfully sent home with us.

Before dinner, we'd gone to the clinic to get Heather's blood taken for hormone tests.  I don't even know what the tests were, only that we had no option but to hope the results held a ringing endorsement of Heather's fertility.  In the waiting rooms were unhappy-looking people, probably not there to get pregnant but more likely to get un-pregnant, and I imagined they were staring at the white ladies getting special attention with resentment.  Still, they were there in hopes of a better life, just as we were.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Irregular ovulation, pt. II

I dreamed that Nurse Nina was standing at my desk as I admitted to her that Heather was on day 15 of her cycle and still hadn't ovulated.

After all my jubilation at our decision to tramp our own path, I can't help feeling a bit embarrassed when I think of telling Nina that we're going to keep working on getting pregnant at home, despite her misgivings.  Last night, Heather and I discussed whether we should skip a concert because a friend was in town: it would be a waste of $50 tickets, but we didn't want to blow off our friend.  Buying sperm is a waste if Nina discovers hormone issues in Heather's blood tests, but we want a baby so badly, we'll blow off Nina and the money on the chance we could get pregnant sooner.

Where are the easy choices?  When do we get to argue about giraffe-versus-turtle nursery themes instead of whether we should gamble $1,000 next month if we don't know if Heather's hormones are right?  And what if we find out that they aren't?  How much more money and hope is the process going to drain from us?

It's 3:00A.M. and I'm being awfully melodramatic.  I can't wait till all our family's melodrama is coming from an angry pregnant woman.  She's going to be gorgeous.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Just as we're re-evaluating our relationship with Nurse Nina, I'm re-evaluating the relationship between this baby and my mom.  Nina wasn't always the cheerleader we needed, and it's increasingly clear that my mom isn't going to be, either.

Two Saturdays ago, as the realization that Heather wasn't pregnant settled in, Heather took the day off to sleep and be sad.  My mom e-mailed me at work to say hi and ask if I'd be at dinner Sunday night.  I wrote back, chattily, and said that Heather was at home for the day because the insemination hadn't worked out and she was feeling glum and sick.  I've been reluctant to mention anything baby-related, but then again I felt like taking a chance.

Mom wrote back, helpfully, "Tell Heather I'm sorry for the loss of the desired pregnancy."  Why did she specify "desired"?  As opposed, perhaps, to "the pregnancy that we think would be a big mistake"?  I thought we were done with this shit.  She told me that she was fantasizing about re-decorating and knitting, for fuck's sake.

It's a reckoning.  There's Nina, who seemed to be as much a part of the lesbian/baby package as the Cryobank was, and there's my mom, who has always been part of the Rachel-supporting package, and now I wonder how important they truly are in those equations.

I wrote back to my mom and told her that I felt her response to our disappointment was a little odd and that my feelings were hurt to think that, contrary to her previous statement, it wasn't enough for her and my dad to have "expressed their reservations."  I said I hoped she would be able to accept the situation.  Then I left for the weekend.

Sunday, I checked my home e-mail to see if she might have written to that address.  She had, but only to share an article about a dead Prussian relative.  And then she sent four more e-mails about our Mennonite ancestor.  No, I don't think it's symbolic of her acceptance of our "desired pregnancy" into the great family saga.  I think she just likes Ancestry.com that much.
Monday, there wasn't any reply in my work e-mail either.

What I try to focus on, and what all my friends say to reassure me, is that my parents will forget all this when we have a baby.  I don't know if I will.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


So, what would happen we stopped working with Nurse Nina?

I sat down to lunch with Heather and our friend Lamont, feeling despondent about a work conversation I'd just had.  They were joking about my plans to babysit our friends' baby tonight; Heather said she didn't feel like going and that it would be good for me to do it alone to "see if I really wanted one."  Feeling even more sorry for myself, I said, "Well, it doesn't matter if I do.  It feels like we're never going to have one anyway."

It was pathetic to say and both my lunch companions promptly called me on it, but lately it's felt true.  We've just come off the painful disappointment of our failed second insemination, only to hear a few days later that we can't try again for months.  The prospect of a baby, floating before our eyes since last January, feels so distant right now.
Heather, having just rescued me (almost) from self-recrimination over my talk with the boss, bravely entered to the fray again.

"Why don't we just do it anyway?  We can go buy another donor's sperm and do it at home.  Why do we need Nurse Nina?"

Why indeed?  Just because one couple who had a baby worked with her doesn't mean she's the end-all and be-all of baby-making.  Other people can do hormone tests-- on a time-frame of our choosing-- and we did our own ICI at home in August.  It didn't work, but neither did the IUI at her office.  That doesn't mean it's Heather's hormone levels; some of this is just about playing the odds.  Heather won $200 at the casino over the weekend and I think she can beat this game, too.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Heather got her period exactly two weeks after we inseminated.  We spent the day trying to believe it was just spotting, until "light spotting" turned into, well, bleeding.  Unwilling to acknowledge what Heather already had, I insisted on extra tests, including one we picked up at Walgreens and used at our friends' house.  The third test from the other pack turned out to be a dud, doing very little to soothe our anxiety, and I don't think Heather felt soothed by testing in someone else's bathroom with a three-person audience when she revealed the results. Still, it was a friendly crowd, and we all squinted mightily at the test stick, just in case there was an extra line.

Friday, November 5, 2010

From how many years away does a baby come?

It is the fate of a woman
Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless,
Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence
. -- Longfellow

I keep hearing that waiting and patience are beautiful virtues-- "good things come" and so forth-- but I've had enough of that bullshit.  Neither Heather nor I can avoid watching for the pot to boil.  If I'm around when she comes out of the bathroom, I look for a thumbs-up to let me know that there's no bleeding and Heather, bless her heart, changed from pink to white undies before bed so she'd see for sure if she bled in the night.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Heather cheated again and tested at 1am.  Our friends Robert and Kelly, parents of 4-month-old Noah, conceived on the same date that we inseminated and Heather, ever a gun-jumper, was delighted to hear from Kelly that she tested a day short of the full two weeks and had a faint plus sign.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The only cheap and universal cure

There are days when I fantasize about winning the lottery so I can move to a hipster neighborhood in Portland and go to M. Ward shows all the time.
There are also days when I fantasize about the tip of my pinky finger getting cut off in the paper-cutter so that I can stay home on worker's comp, watching Castle.
I don't believe in any of that, though.  To be honest, I've always been pretty conservative in my hopes, tempering each fantasy with the immediate follow-up of "Probably not."  This is why I followed my college graduation with a low-paying job in data entry, following it up with a lower-paid job as a receptionist: I didn't trust that I could get anything better, so I aimed low and got it.
Mamie told us when we met, so many months ago, to keep reminding ourselves throughout the process that it will happen, but, man, I don't think I'm built for that positivity.  When Heather was sure she was pregnant on our first round, I felt like my expectations had been oddly betrayed; when she was sure, a week later, that she was not pregnant, I was miserable, but it seemed about right.  Friday we tried again, repeating to ourselves that there would be no early tests or internet searches for symptoms of pregnancy this time.
"This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers…. There is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nite Time

It's day 17 of Heather's current cycle, and the fertility monitor still gives her marks for high fertility, but still no egg.  Yesterday, when Heather tested and got a no, she told me how glad she was that we'd sent the sperm back, so we're grateful for Nurse Nina's advice, but thrown for a loop.  After all this time worrying about whether Heather should be eating oysters, dosing her with DHA, and trying (somewhat in vain) to get her to drink that fertility tea, we've found that one element we cannot control is a change in the weather.

Heather was over her cold, for the most part, in a couple of days.  Now I have it and am home from work, marinating in phlegm with dashes of Walgreens-brand Nyquil (compare to the active ingredients in...) and water thrown in.  Accordingly, I'm feeling very, very sorry for myself and having the realization that of course a person's body, juggling phlegm and poor sleep and the attendant medications, doesn't have room to devote its energies to ovulation.  If your immune system is in overdrive, how is it going to react to sperm?

That last part is total speculation.  I don't know exactly what it is that's turned up or turned down in Heather's body that lost interest in her fertility.  What I do know is that I've never seen her go through a month without ovulating, and, while I find it absurd that coughing and a sore throat have put off insemination for a month, I'm completely glad we didn't waste $1,200 of BioDad. 

I'm fading out now, and so is my immediate hope for a baby.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Irregular ovulation

Never happened before.  Ever.  We've used that monitor for about six months with nary an egg-less cycle.  Nina thinks it might be because Heather has a cold.  I can't believe that her sniffles are fucking us up so much.
Last night we snuggled up and told ourselves how we were only a day away from getting pregnant.  Heather reminded me to be positive, and I told her I was sorry that last month had affected me so much.  She said that she'd stop obsessing over signs, and we agreed we would distract ourselves for two weeks and only check after our anniversary trip.  Now we have a month to distract ourselves from disappointment and pretend that the only thing on our minds is how we're totally going to be pregnant in October.

20 more days of hard liquor!

(From September 29th...)
Today we've had what might be our worst disappointment yet.  We are at day 15 and Heather hasn't ovulated yet; Nurse Nina has advised us to send the sperm back and wait another month.
Monday I butted heads with my boss just about as much as we have ever done so; the last time, actually, was our previous insemination, when I told him I needed to be out for more than an hour at lunch.  We had the same drama this time as he implied that perhaps my presence at the clinic was optional.  Fortunately, it wasn't time, and we were back within an hour.  Our disagreement was a moot point, but now that we've given up for the month, I'd rather he be mad at me than watch Heather's face as she gets the news.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Counting our chickens

Because Heather and I, virtuous as we are, are disastrous budgeters, our life, individually and as a team, is divided into two-week increments, with about four days of relief and comfort followed by ten of anxiety and self-recrimination.

Thursday is payday.  It begins a new chapter in our financial life, and, within this chapter, we have the usual allocations for rent, utilities, credit card bills, and groceries, but my post-it note this time is $150 rent, $100 credit card, and $300 insemination.  Seven days into Heather's cycle, we're less than a week away from round two.

In this cycle, instead of focusing on mucus-interpretation and types of syringes, we have the luxury of handing those decisions to Nurse Nina.  She'll make the final call about whether Heather's cervix looks right, the syringe will be medical-grade, and we don't even have to pick up the cryo-tank from the clinic.  All we do is show up, show her Heather's lady parts, and either stick around or wait till later.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to the action plan

Heather is not pregnant.  We've already not-seen pink lines twice, and today we saw a minus sign instead of a plus.  Heather asked if I'd really believe it now.

The last two weeks have been emotionally chaotic and full of minute-to-minute violations of the sole post-insemination law: avoid obsessing over it.  First, Heather believed within just a few days that she was definitely pregnant.  I took the paternal position for the first time, dismissing her convictions as hysterical and hormonally-driven.  But I wanted it to be true, so I was fighting my own hysterical side as we evaluated the relative weight and veininess of her breasts.  Did they seem heavier?  Were the aureoles bigger or darker?  Could we see any blue on her cervix?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fucking inaction plan

I don't know if you're aware, but it is hella difficult to forget your girlfriend might be pregnant.  And it turns out that it's way more difficult to forget that you might be pregnant.  So our household is a little high on drama lately.
Both Heather and I, in our turns and on our respective Apple products (MacBook Pro in the house, beyotch!), have done some shameful Googling of "early signs of pregnancy," with the conclusion on my end that the safest thing to do is put my fingers in my ears and go "la la la la la" for another ten days and, at Heather's end, to wonder whether she's crying because she's having a mood swing because she's pregnant, or if she's crying because there's a lot of motherfucking anticipation in the air.

Our fucking action plan, having reached its action-taking climax last Monday and Wednesday (it was an awesome action plan, so there were two climaxes), has reached the stage of fucking sitting around as we wait for the time we can justify buying six pregnancy tests.  The fertility monitor made Heather's cup of pee a normal feature of our bathroom counter-top; its significance in pregnancy testing makes it a golden shower indeed.  As comfortable as we are with her urine, it ain't gonna do us any good for at least a week, so we're in what, for us, is the unusual position of discarding her pee altogether.

It'd be easier to collect teardrops right now.  As exciting a prospect as the baby is, I guess neither of us really expected to get pregnant, preoccupied as we were with the process, and now we're both alarmed at the notion of success.
Fingers crossed, knocking wood... and the anxious watch for darkened, enlarged aureoles.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Raccoons in the walls

This morning around 5:30, Heather and I woke up because of some loud banging next door.  We have watched too many TV specials about serial killers and both suspected that our neighbor had been subdued, bound, and left in a back room while his tormentor found pointy tools or stopped to pee.  The banging was our neighbor's desperate attempt to get our attention so we could save him, and I was afraid that, hours later, we would have to explain to cops and the man's grief-stricken family that we had heard his cries for help but ignored them because we were so sleepy.
Turns out that the guy actually was just banging on his walls because raccoons were nesting there and he wanted them out. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hardcore syringes for hardcore mixed-breed sperm

After our disastrous first insemination adventure, we sped over to the clinic to claim new syringes.  Internet: the oral child-medicating syringes are not okay.  Not okay.
The new ones, which I've been carrying around with me since then, like Chapstick, are bad-ass.  They make me think of one-eyed Daryl Hannah preparing to kill Uma Thurman.  Seriously, I could pierce an IV with these suckers.  I'm not gonna, but I could.
 That these have such fabulous points is very reassuring, because lord knows the oral syringe did not.  It didn't fit all the way into the vial, and that is one wee tiny vial.
That's all the sperm we get.  I've read that crap about how each ejaculation has a lot less volume than you think, blah blah blah, "Oh, it's really just a teaspoon..."
Well, I have seen some porn in my time, and I think that's bullshit.  Just like the ad for "artisanal salads" that have such delicious lettuce varieties that they don't even require dressing.


It's more than that.  I'm not buying in.  The sperm we bought is not a whole donation.  One donation probably produces ten vials.  15 minutes of Jenna Jameson and the Cryobank is $5,000 richer.  Point is, you need a narrow, pointy needle to get any meaningful percentage of that vial's contents.

The other syringe was built for dosing children with Benadryl, but not so much for the phase before that when you're trying to conceive a child that someday you can dose with Benadryl.

And, should you choose to inseminate(ish) with an oral syringe, you may find that there are several, wildly expensive drops of sperm left in the bottom of that vial, and when you struggle to get to those last few drops, you're probably going to fuck up.

We managed to tip the vial over, spilling some.  When we caught it, we decided another approach was to pour the semen we couldn't get through the vial into a shallow tablespoon.  (Cuisinart.  Red.)  That actually worked okay, but then again it was just one more surface to waste sperm on.

Before we raced back to the bedroom with the oral syringe (which makes me wonder why it is we assume that this has to be done in the bedroom; we could lay her out on the kitchen table just as easily), Heather capped it (with that white thing next to the syringe in the picture).  As she sat on the bed, Heather uncapped it, about to hand it to me, and more semen fell from the cap.  That's what got our carpet pregnant
However, we are approaching the second insemination better-equipped.  Not only could we totally murder Uma Thurman/Beatrice Kiddo, we can also squirt semen with shocking precision. 

Talked to Nurse Nina.  Based on the monitor and H's cervix, she said do it in the morning.  Eight hours from now.

I believe in babies!

That tank is starting to fit comfortably into the kitchen, like the wine rack we don't use and the shot glasses on the windowsill, which we used to use about once every six months and which we hope not to use for another 9.  Even after that, we'll probably be so drunk with baby-love that we'll forget the Grey Goose that's hidden in our closet so our roommate doesn't drink it.
Today the tank is moved slightly more into the center of the kitchen.  On the one hand, it's a sign of our failure yesterday, but it's also a sign of hope because we know we still have another vial in it.  And that vial might be The One.

I must, I must, I must increase my ... insemination skills

Yesterday was rough.  I've spent many, many months feeling guilty about the regularity and quality of our charting, and in the past couple months have finally begun to feel confident about Heather's patterns of ovulation.  I've spent many, many days feeling guilty about my ability to confidently identify her cervical phases.  And we've spent many, many days together documenting her cervix from moment to moment, checking whether the mucus seems lotiony or watery or sticky, whether the cervix seems hard like a nose or soft like lips.

We had finally gotten to a rah-rah state of confidence, reminding ourselves of the work we'd done to prepare, from the iPhone pictures to the prenatal DHA pills and the dinner-time calls to Mamie and Whitney to review thawing procedures.

But yesterday was all broke apart.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

High hopes

Baby, we were born to run

It's Sunday night.  Emmys.  Heather is grating cheddar onto her spinach salad because we Googled "fertility boosting foods" before I went to Schnuck's last night: allegedly, full-fat dairy like cheese is a bonus, along with the folic acid in spinach.  Is fertility supposed to be gassy?

We weren't sure if today was the day.  We checked last night, we checked this morning, we checked at 4pm, and we're probably an hour away from our mid-evening cervical exam.  Last night I also called Mamie and Whitney because I wasn't sure about this whole "water bath" thawing situation.  If I knew Nurse Nina could get pictures on her cell phone-- and not be charged $20 apiece, or turn me in for sexting-- she would be bombarded with more twats than Tiger Woods.

But Whitney and Mamie, whether I wanted to hear it or not, said that we needed to stop obsessing and accept that it's a little bit of a crapshoot.  Lord, I'm sick of hearing that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tank of good hope

I'm at work, and the tank has been in our kitchen, 10 miles away, for the last five hours.  Heather picked it up, under firm instructions to take pictures of it and e-mail them.  Only one came through, but I felt like I was looking at a keg; I guess that's how straight folks get pregnant and they want to make us feel more mainstream. 
Our dog and cat sniffed it with great interest, in my imagination, until they realized it hadn't been touched by any other animals and was accordingly of no value whatsoever.
That's not how we feel about it.
When I called Thursday to order the sperm, I called Heather immediately afterwards, surprised at how serious things had suddenly gotten.  Heather didn't react quite the same way.  She was at dinner with friends and couldn't hear me all that well.  Also the $220 shipping (which, in fairness, does include return shipping of the keg, minus the semen) was being charged to her credit card, so I suppose it was reasonable she'd have a slightly more subdued relationship to the order.  Yet, today, my unflappable roommate stood at my shoulder when I picked up my phone and found a voicemail from 9am from Nurse Nina, saying that the tank had already arrived.  Heather listened breathlessly.  Twenty minutes later, she called me to say she was on her way to pick our odd package up and her heart was racing.  Whether it's the tank or Heather that startled my own, I got tears in my eyes.
My best friend Sarah tells me that the tank looks "space-age-y," which undermines my hetero/keg theory.  I think it's because she's not a drinker.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Negativity: rescinded

I just ordered our sperm.  For real.  In less than five minutes, I scheduled 2 vials of ICI semen to be delivered to our doctor's office Saturday.  We've spent eight months planning it, and it's just a few days before we go forward with the insemination-- and maybe just a few weeks before we find out we're having a baby.

My boss, one of two guys at work who recently had his own baby by heterosexual, legally-married means, responded to my warning that I might need a couple hours Monday to inseminate Heather by asking whether I thought we could be done by 3:00 P.M.  It's a busy time of year, he said.  And I guess if you can get semen for free, as many times as you want, during your ovulation, it sounds like something that can be done on your own time.  My affection and esteem for my boss notwithstanding, what I wanted to say was Are you motherfucking kidding with me!  We're having a cold-storage tank mailed to us from California for $200, with two tiny $500 vials of sperm in it, and you want us to make sure our efforts to have a baby don't get in the way of phones getting answered?

I'm a dutiful employee, but Heather and I are going to move on that cervix when it's most open, and the phone can ring.  We're going to have a special ritual, per Nina's instructions, with a play list of Heather's creation, and candles.  Ring.  Ring.  Then it's important for Heather to have an orgasm so her uterus contracts, drawing the semen up through the cervix.  Ring.  Ring.  And-- at my insistence-- we'll follow the procedure with a video of sperm fertilizing an egg so we can visualize our child's creation.  Ring.  Ring

As an addendum, I want to say that Shawnbay, mysteriously named as he might be, is a lovely person.  He answered the phone at the Cryobank and even joked with me about how the Grizzlies suck.  I'm reminded of a wonderful, funny speech David Foster Wallace gave at a college graduation ceremony where I was not, in which he says that, even if we're furious with the jackasses who drive SUVs, we should try to imagine that they're people who might have been in horrible car wrecks in the past and now drive huge cars because they're so afraid to get on the road.  Likewise, I want to remember that not everybody loves commas the way I do.  They should, but maybe they're just into basketball or Jesus instead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wherein things get a little more complicated

Monday I visited the Cryobank website to check out the relative prices of our vials.  I found the information I wanted, but I also found some I definitely didn't want: our donor's supply of ICI samples is running out.

Two weeks ago, we found out from Nurse Nina that she thought we should do a couple rounds of home insemination with ICI samples before getting her help.  We were pissed because we only had enough ICI for one cycle and would have to buy more.  It was a financial burden, but we'd just hang onto the IUI samples while buying extra ICI and hope the IUI's wouldn't even be necessary.

When we were in our final stages of the exhausting, painful, laborious process of choosing a donor, one handy thing about Mr. 11961 was that, in Cryobank parlance, he had over 25 vials of each type-- ICI and IUI.  We bought two of each, feeling confident that there'd be more if we needed it.  Motherfucking hubris is biting us in the ass.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blowing our wad

In about a week, two vials of sperm will arrive, and we will have to figure out what to do with them.  If, in about three weeks, there's no pink plus sign, that's on us, and we'll have blown our wad-- literally, financially, emotionally.
When we saw Nurse Nina two weeks ago, she gave us terrific and very welcome advice about using Heather's phone to take pictures of her cervix, just as god and Steve Jobs intended it.  She also told us that we should do the first round of insemination at home.

The logic, as I understand it, is that we have pretty much no chance of conceiving this time, so we might as well just goof off with candles, a soothing play-list (again: thanks, Steve Jobs), and the cheap sperm.  The cheap sperm is $425 a vial, so we're looking at $850 of goofing off.
Alternatively, Nina's controversial $150 fee will be coupled with a $525 vial of even-less-cheap sperm, so let's hold off on that, she said, till we've failed two or three times on our own.

I was aghast when Nina said this.  We were under the impression that, each cycle, we would do one insemination at home (ICI) and go to her for the other (IUI), making sure we'd be covered if Heather's body rejected one of those methods. 

Ironically, because we've already bought two vials of each type-- fancy and un-fancy, jam and jelly, Steinway and Yamaha--it will cost more money if Heather doesn't get pregnant on this go and we have to buy two more ICI samples while our more prestigious samples stay in storage.  Until, I guess, Nikole decides that we're tragic and inept enough to visit the clinic.

Meanwhile, motherfucking Kate Gosselin is on TV, taking her eight doomed children to New York, during which trip she will be paid to appear with her kids on a ferry before handing them back to the nannies whilst she pursues another haircut even more unfortunate than her offspring.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Really, guys?

We talk a lot about how we need to be optimistic-- I err on the side of negativity, so Heather talks a lot about how I need to be optimistic.  And Mamie was emphatic about that, too.  Like how you're supposed to have a picture of an island next to your desk to remind you to save money for your vacation and not spend it on books about fertility diets that prohibit you from wheat consumption.

However, in visiting the California Cryobank's Facebook page, I learned that there are some optimistic women who express their good wishes with the term "baby dust."  Like, "Sending you lots of baby dust!"

A) That's tragically sappy and
B) also creepy.  Dust made out of babies?

Apparently we are clapping our hands so that Tink will get well.  Everyone!  Clap!  Clap!  Say "I believe in babies!"

When is the early bird too early?

Heather got her period yesterday.  The conception thing puts a very new spin on the whole bleeding/cramps/misery situation; my pity for her discomfort is completely replaced with anxiety about shipping estimates for our cryo-tank o'semen.

And this time it's for real.  We keep saying it's for real-- time to put in place our motherfucking action plan-- but we have the fertility monitor print-out, and Nurse Nina has confirmed that the pictures of day 13 of Heather's last cycle (which, out of respect for her and for my readers' delicate sensibilities, I will not post here, although you can find some handy reference photos through the Beautiful Cervix Project) are full-on ovulating perfection. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Livin' on a prayer

Tuesday we got up much earlier than is acceptable on a day off and trekked across town to see Nurse Nina.

The appointment brings with it a lot of drama because we had some trouble reaching Nina recently, and, when she got back and I was able to talk to her, she told me that Heather has to go to the office and have a physical.  What she actually told me was that we both needed physicals, at $250 a pop, and that each insemination will be $150.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Standing Offer

Hey, guess what?  You need sperm?  I can help you out!  Haha!

Apparently men get off, so to speak, on talking about their sperm.  It's not enough to talk about sex all the time, or about lesbian sex, given the opportunity.  Guys have to reinforce that they are not only into sex, but into fertilization, too.

What the fuck?  Men have an inordinate number of lesbian fantasies, and I have seen the porn.  (Not all of it-- although there are a couple guys I know who might have.)  I've always assumed they got turned on at the idea of women so sex-crazed they would even do it with each other, or that it was a power-trip to get a woman who didn't want men to have sex with one anyway.  I've never asked, though, because I know that would delight the man even more. 

What definitely delights men is reminding us that they have sperm.  Yep, they've got it.  Don't bother buying it, ladies: they've got your semen right here. 
Is this about masturbating?  They want to talk about jerking off?  Um, hot, dude.  Tell me more about how you're so ready to fill a cup for me. 

Undoubtedly there are evolutionary imperatives manifesting themselves.  Friends, co-workers, other friends and co-workers... they all want to alert us to their fertility.  Not to take advantage of an easy cliche, but the New York Times says monkeys do, too: they tote their fresh-birthed offspring around, not 'cause they like them, but to let other male monkeys know that they've reproduced.

But that's fucked up, guys.  Put the porn aside and go inseminate a woman you've met-- in person!-- and persuade her to carry your child.  Don't rely on us dykes to get you off and spread your seed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"My kind": A traditional non-traditional parent?

Heather and I had an emotional discussion about the book of essays I'm reading, Confessions of the Other Mother.  I said it reassured me that there were other women in my situation, struggling to find a role.  Heather said that my role is "mother," just like hers, and that I'm wrong to get caught up in distinctions between the two of us.

The lady whose essay I just read is all about being butch.  She describes her haircut as akin to that of George Clooney.  (Who else had a fine Caesar-style haircut?  The butchiest writer of them all: Gertrude Stein.)  The writer reports being delighted to find a multicultural term-- Baba-- to describe her lesbian fatherhood, and, once the language barrier has been conquered, all is well.
My hairstyle points of reference run more towards Winona Ryder and Rihanna.  Short, but emphatically not mannish.  And my lingual points of reference start at "mommy" and end at "mama."

That's where the faux-George and I are different: I am not different.

Biodad, on tape

Heather couldn't sleep last night.  I was not to be swayed and held tight to my pillow, no matter how much she squirmed.  What happened sometime around 5am is that she decided that we ought to have the audio interview of our donor-- from now on referred to as Biodad, thanks to the wordsmithing of my friend Sarah-- and downloaded it to her iPad.  I was vaguely aware of her asking me where her headphones were, but not much else.

Around 5:03, Heather's disregard for my beauty sleep came full force.  She had listened to the interview, and it was not good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Defined by what I am not

Heather, if you weren't aware, is a stellar lady.  And clearly I am, too.  We're making kissy faces at each other right now.

Still, there is that gulf between us as the baby-making journey moves forward.  I nag, and she puts up with it.  I read fertility cookbooks and she grimaces as I announce the growing list of restrictions.  She's the body that grows the baby, and I'm the voice that makes things harder on her.

That's not supposed to be how it works.  She's supposed to be euphoric, I'm supposed to be euphoric, and we're supposed to feed off one another's euphoria-- instead, we feed off one another's stress.  I want to be nothing but supportive and comforting.  I want her to be at peace knowing that I'm here with her.  What I am, though, is here with the books and the phone calls and the vast library of ignorance.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It's knittin' time, boys and girls.

After a week-long cruise with my extended family, Heather and I got home and down to brass tacks.  As we started our detox from the surfeit of desserts and red meat the folks at Norwegian Cruise Lines provided for us, we had to let go of some other baggage, too, and I surprised both of us by telling my parents about our baby plans.

For those of you playing along at home, you'll remember that I've avoided mentioning the bun we hope will soon be in Heather's oven.  I thought they'd say I was too young and too poor and it was too early in my relationship.  And, wow, I f-ing called it.

Top ten sperm-donor drawbacks

The Cryobank sent me an e-mail to say that donor medical histories were offered free now, along with the essays, profiles, and staff impressions (my favorite.)  I don't know if that's like Target letting me know that they're offering affordable Alexander McQueen designs, or if there's any elasticity to the sperm market at all.

Suffice to say, though, that I'm easily suckered in by Target e-mails and promptly logged back into the Cryobank site to see if our saved donors were full of defective genes.

The answer is that they have about the same problems as anyone else: high blood pressure, depression after a spouse's death...  And they have acne listed.  If there's anyone out there rejecting a donor because he had pimples during puberty, that is a picky goddamn lesbian.

We're back where we were, and where, I suspect, we'll stay.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A good-enough mother

The last few months have seen an explosion of sperm-buying coverage from the New York Times.  A few weeks ago, I read about three women who had passed around sperm: each, soon after receiving the vials, had met the perfect man and had a perfect (natural) child, then passed it to another single friend who wanted a kid but didn't have a man.  They wrote a book, summarized by the Times thusly: "Three would-be mothers, some “lucky” sperm and — voilĂ ! — three happy families, with all of the pregnancies happening the old-fashioned way."

Next, there's an op-ed piece about how the children born of donated sperm grow to be conflicted and depressed about the circumstances of their conception.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What comes is better than what came before

This weekend finds me in Minnesota for my grandfather's funeral.  It's an awkward occasion because it's family, and family occasions are awkward.  It's also awkward because this is an extremely polite Midwestern family and in the pauses between structured elements like burial, visitation, etc., we make pained smalltalk about my second cousin's one-night layover in Memphis ten years ago.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Working the odds

There's a gas station just up the street from us, where one of the clerks is a Jamaican guy who bugs Heather about how she needs to smile more and another clerk is a homely blond lady who flirts with Heather, too.  I just hear the homely lady talk about spanking her young son, and when I see the Jamaican guy I'm pretty smiley anyhow.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Echinacea

Super.  Super echinacea.  "Echinacea" is not even a word my SpellCheck acknowledges, but from the substance's humble beginnings as one of my mom's health cause celebres, it has apparently sped past standard Walgreens supplement status all the way to a pre-conception necessity.
That's what Maia Midwifery says, anyway, and they wrote the bible; I am not going to take it upon myself to argue.  If they sell super echinacea, then Heather will be taking it, along with tea and something called Vitex.  I think there was a a primary... petite?  Something else that she'll be taking.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Endorsements: memory foam and LEDs

Heather is finishing up the DVR'd America's Next Top Model while I get ready for bed and then begin to set up our cervical-monitoring station.

At the juncture between this chair and its ottoman are two Costco memory-foam pillows, draped with a large blue towel.  On the dresser top, next to my Valentine's gift, a beautiful silver jewelry stand, is an assemblage of tools-- a speculum, two washcloths, a bottle of lube, and a head lamp.  Completely different and universally embarrassing.

Like the Zoloft egg

I cannot see sweet little egg shapes without thinking of the old Zoloft ad where the little one hops around with a cloud over his head until the pharmaceutical industry takes it away.  Fortunately, sweet little egg shapes don't present themselves very often, but for the next few months, I guess they will.

We totally f-ed up the fertility monitor. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"No, I don't want anything in there!"

Sundays I go to my parents' house for dinner.  Dad's a great cook and Mom loves my leftover beauty/gossip magazines.  Heather stays home because there's only so much time a woman wants to spend with her... parents-in-law.  Also I think she just likes having the house to herself.
It puts a strain on our Sundays, though, because I like to sleep in, and later in the day I like to have a nap, and then I leave around 6:30, so we have to find a way to have together time, and to get some stuff done.  This is why we never have clean clothes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Literally, just looking

It has been 11 days since I last posted and that is absurd.  It's not like this is work.  It's that I go to work, then I go home with Heather and we talk about work, and I can only direct my laptop energies toward browsing Etsy or, to a limited degree, Facebook.  (I am not going to link Facebook because I know if you're reading a blog-- especially my blog-- you already know about and probably are trying to wean yourself off of it.  Posting a link is like handing out Percocet.)  I'm even terrible at e-mailing my best friend Sarah-- a woman whose recent Tweet that she would share her tax refund with John Cusack to save him from bad movies will remain saved in my phone until, fingers crossed, I have a child who throws it into the toilet-- and there is not much I like better than getting e-mail from her.  Writing just seems like too much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My sperm boyfriend, Christopher Atkins?

The Celebrity-Look-a-Likes business is awful.  You feel good about someone, and it turns out they look like Tom Sizemore.  I don't care that Tom Sizemore might once have been good looking: now he is the worn-out meth-head who yells at other meth-heads on TV.  Christopher Atkins-- whom I had to look up on IMDb-- was probably in Tiger Beat, but he's a has-been now and, really, I don't want Brooke Shield's leftovers, even if he built his own vacuum-bagged skateboards.  What the fuck is a vacuum-bagged skateboard?  Is that what I want for my kid?  Is that something I can tell my kid?

"Gabriel, did you know your dad built his own vacuum-bagged skateboard?"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reservations: How "nice smile" might be the sperm-donor "nice personality"

I'm new to this lesbian business.  I met my previous partner, David, online, after some whimsical exploration of eHarmony.  (Seriously, if you ever want to kill some time and either be or pretend to be straight, filling out the profile is solid entertainment.  If you have even more time, browsing your "matches" is even more fun.  Some of those dudes work in the lumber industry, and how else are you going to read about lumberjacks?)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Donor fantasia

  • "I have an advanced degree in poetry writing."
  • Someone that I really like answered the question "What are you most proud of and why?" with "I stopped valuing comfort at a young age and I use this to guide most decisions I make."
What is your favorite color?
  • "I'm not sure I have a favorite color.  Deep purple maybe."
What are your favorite foods?
  • "Pears." 
Describe your relationship with your family.
  • "I have an optimal relationship with my family."
What makes you unique?
  • "I would not say with any honesty that I was a unique person."
Do you like animals?  If so, what is your favorite?
  • "Yes, I love all creatures."
  • "Squirrel."

Why do you want to be a donor? 
  • "I feel that my characteristics and traits should be passed on to future generations."
  • "Because I feel any parents willing to go through such an extensive and SEEMINGLY UNNATURAL process will love their children whole-heartedly."
  • "Being a donor has been a great opportunity to both supplement my income and take part in something unusual and possibly historically relevant."
If you could pass on a message to the recipients or their children, what would that message be?
  • "If I've been selected, then I'm flattered.  As mentioned before, I see myself as possessing numerous positive qualities that I think should be passed on to others."
  • "Learn a musical instrument.  Don't waste time with football.  You will probably have to get braces."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Accidental action-plan hilarity

Tonight is the deadline for the sperm-donor selection phase of our motherfucking action plan, and we're swimming-- Get it?  Swimming?  Like sperm?-- through donor profiles and Celebrity Look-Alikes.
We learned from Mamie and Whitney in our dinner meeting a week ago that they used a vial of ICI (intracervical insemination) sperm at home when the fertility monitor first hinted at ovulation.  After a day or two, as the ovulation period was coming to an end, they met with Nurse Nina and used a vial of IUI (intrauterine insemination) sperm, which she inserted through the cervix.

Despite Heather's disinclination towards research, their advice in that area was a huge surprise and a huge help.  They explained that some women had struggles with insemination, only to find that the particular method they used wasn't working for them.  Using both methods skated around the problem, and it also followed the baby bible's suggestion that we inseminate twice a cycle so we don't chronically inseminate too early in ovulation or too late.  It makes each month doubly expensive, but the authors suggest, if it's too much, you can inseminate twice every other month.  It took Mamie and Whitney three cycles, which is terrifying if each month is more than $1,000.

The long and short of it: we need to pick a donor who has both IUI and ICI samples available.  And, you know what?  That shrinks the pool a lot.  Some options:

Donor 3581, from the Staff Impression: "He is average looking."

Donor 11461, from the Short Profile, reports both that he "tend[s] to have exceptional bocce skills;" and that he loves dogs and "fat and lazy cats."
I want to be charmed, as my friend Sarah was when she brought Mr. 11461 to my attention.  She admired his bocce skills, but admitted that his propensity to name-drop authors was pretentious, and I'm going to say right now that I bring enough pretension and literary name-dropping to the table that we don't need any more genes that'll prompt our child to be universally despised.  If you have to tell strangers that you love Philip Roth and Milan Kundera, you are an asshole.

Donor 3581: "I like traveling in Europe.  The food is good and you don't have to travel by donkey."  Love.  Watch, just watch: he's going to have a family history of herpes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Time for a fucking action plan!

So yesterday, my beloved turned to me and said: "It's time for a fucking action plan."  Apparently, we have to take some fucking action and make some motherfucking decisions, the implication, I guess, being that we've spent enough time on this reading and learning bullshit-- yes, she said bullshit-- so we've got to set it aside and get crackin'.

I cried, because I always do, and got angry, which I don't always do.  I felt like I was being told that the researching part that has changed everything about what kind of fucking action plan we make-- that it was over, and boring, and things could only get better once the object of my devoted efforts was put aside.  That's the part I'm good at, and that's the part Heather has no patience with.
I'm realizing that this kind of argument is going to be ever-present in the baby-making process.  My abilities and interests are nothing like Heather's.  That makes us fabulous partners and, I hope, fabulous parents, but not on the same page when it comes to projects.

But this project is, as she would put it, a big fucking deal, and we have to be fucking teammates because we can't fucking do it without each other, so I'm ready to put the baby bible down and follow the fucking action plan.
Guess what the action plan is?  We have one day to pick our sperm donor.  Fuck, yeah!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Here we go again on our own

Last Thursday we met with Whitney and Mamie.  Neither Heather nor I are drinkers, but the prospect of meeting two brave women who had done what we hope fervently to do, and asking them our ignorant, wide-eyed questions, inspired three and a half beers on my end and one and a half on Heather's.  We prayed they would be late so we could calm our nerves before they arrived.

We were wrong to be scared.  Whitney and Mamie were so gracious and warm that we looked at them 50% of the time even in little William's presence.  Or I did, anyhow.  Heather is magnetized by babies and I don't know how much of the conversation she paid attention to.  I worry that her sole memory of the evening was chubby baby cheeks.  (They were, in fairness, about the best baby cheeks I have seen.)

And it's amazing, honestly, that I can spend one post bitching about how trying for a baby drags us into a community we're not familiar with, where other people make claims on us, only to realize one dinner later that we're lucky to have access to a generous, warm community where we can get advice and support.  Nobody is making claims on us, but they allow us to make claims on their time and knowledge.

More on that later.  I'll save it for after I do some sperm-shopping.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Up in my business

One of the things I forget from time to time is that the lesbian community here is small.  The girl at work knew the ex-girlfriend of Heather's ex-girlfriend, and that lady delivers food to where we work.  Mamie is part of the lesbian couple who had a baby, and her partner Whitney knows the girl at work.

Some of that is charming, but some of that is overwhelming.  Both Heather and I are homebodies-- we eat sushi, we watch a lot of trashy reality TV, and we talk a lot more about work than we should-- and we don't network or see that many people outside work, her small group of friends, and my parents (the ones who don't know about Baby).  The gay community is not our community.  We don't really have one.

Except now we're in the gay community without asking for it.  It's like we've spoken the magic words, but instead of the Goblin King arriving to steal the baby away from us, the lesbians have arrived to bring one.  What have we gotten ourselves into?  "We want a baby" fell from our lips, and then "We need some advice" followed, with a stream of nosy people right behind it.
Did I mention that we have one friend who works at the women's clinic here?  And that when we went there to meet with Nina, another friend turned out to work in the offices, too?

But it isn't just the lesbians.  We're in an early stage, and there's going to be more interference with every step.  Opinions about sperm donors and ICU versus ICI.  Advice about names and birthing, strangers rubbing Heather's swollen belly, and people in grocery stores smiling at the toddler in the cart.  Babies are public, aren't they?  We've sold ourselves into community slavery with those words of yearning and hope, and we cannot walk away.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Advice from a new source. And some new equipment, too.

There is a woman named Mamie who worked with Heather's friend, Gina (or she did, or something like that).  Mamie and her partner Whitney had themselves a wee baby and, via Gina, we heard about their baby journey, which included the nurse Nina, who's now a part of our own baby journey.  We're proud, I-can-do-it-better-by-myself folks, but after our encounter yesterday with Nina and Heather's fundus, I felt disoriented enough to bite the bullet and turn to someone who has been at Heather's end of the speculum.

Accordingly, I hit Mamie up on Facebook.  Turns out, she's swell.  She wrote back and told me what an exciting prospect we had before us-- easy to say "exciting" and not "terrifying" when you've already got your baby.  She recommended the same book Nina did, and I was a little sad that I couldn't run to Amazon for the solution if we already had it.  The nice thing about ordering a book or tool online is that you have a few days to fantasize about how it's going to make everything easy and perfect, until it comes and you realize to still have to read it or use it and it's not going to pop out like a Jack-in-the-box and make you pregnant.
But we got lucky: Mamie also recommended a nifty tool, the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, which is something I can order from Amazon.  Now, I'm not endorsing it, but Mamie is, and I'll happily click "purchase" on Amazon if it gives me a few days to cross my fingers that, with a click of my heels and Heather's pee on a stick, we can pop out a baby after all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some tips on finding a cervix

Today we learned the word "fundus."  I consider it a sign of my full immersion into the baby-making vocabulary (no, not the dirty kind) that a word sounding like "fungus" flies right past my ears, filled as they have been with terms like "mucus" and "vagina" and "mucus" and ...  I don't think I'll notice anything after "mucus."

The fundus came up (this is a pun, but you might not get it till later in the paragraph and I don't think you should feel bad about that) during our visit today with Nurse Nina.  As Heather grimaced first in pain and next in horror when Nina prodded her gentlest parts and used a word that sounded like "fungus," I sympathized but inside I relished how difficult it was because it meant I hadn't been the problem.
To be fair, I didn't relish how hard it was for Heather, but how hard it was for Nina.  She'd said it would be quick work to find a cervix, yet there she was searching out a third speculum because the first two didn't pop Heather open enough.  I was right!  I was right!  I was right!  Or not wrong, anyhow.

The show-and-tell with Nina lasted 35 minutes-- about 30 more than what she'd expected.  Those 30 minutes included: Heather on a table as an intern, Nina, and I floated around her crotch; Nina's kind disapproval of the plastic speculum we've been using; a comparison of speculum length, width, and material; pink gloves; Nina's wondering whether upward pressure was so painful to Heather because her bladder was full; Heather hopefully but minimally peeing; my feeling Nina's arm to gauge how much downward pressure she had to use to find the cervix; and somewhere in there the word "fundus."

The fundus is the part of the uterus past the cervix.  The oven for the bun.  The fundus can be tilted forward or back, and it takes the cervix with it, so, because Heather's fundus is tilted forward quite a ways, her cervix is directed down.  Nina said it pointed nearly straight down, not face-forward to the vaginal entrance like mine.
Then again, Heather has always been a challenge and it's been worth it so far, so I guess it's time to get a new metal speculum and dig back in.  Down.

(I hippity-hopped into the bedroom while writing to escape the wild-animal drama that Heather is watching in the living room-- no, I do not want to be educated about hippos getting trapped in the mud and subsequently devoured by lions-- and found a roll of masking tape at the foot of the bed.  I realized that it was there because Ms. Heather had been using it to tape up the torn hems of her pants, and I fell in love with her anew.  Then I wondered if I could use tape to keep her legs apart during cervical explorations.)

How to dress for a cervix-finding mission

Nina is meeting with us around noon today.  She e-mailed me this morning to ask me to bring the speculum we've been using, and I had this sudden flash of anxiety that she would tell us it was crummy and that no one could find a cervix with it.  She would be wrong since we can find mine with it and because we couldn't find Heather's with the big metal one, either, but I'm obviously in a delicate state when it comes to implied criticism of my research/shopping/organizing work, and I am sore afraid that the suggestion of speculum failure will bring me to tears in the same building where braver women are getting abortions.

Yes, incidentally, this building does sometimes have protesters.  "Hey, guys, it's okay!  We're trying to have a baby!" might distract them for a second, but of course I would feel compelled to clarify, "Now, we are big dykes who are going to raise one of God's children in our damned house of sin..."

Now I need to get Heather up.  Then I need to stand in my closet and wonder what is an appropriate outfit for this occasion.  I'm leanings towards a sweater dress.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Administrative assistance

Heather and I rarely fight.  What we do is have these tense discussions wherein an issue comes up, we both get defensive and get our feelings hurt, Heather raises her voice, and I cry.  That is what we just did.

The source of the discussion was my mixed-up scheduling of our appointment with Nurse Nina to find the godforsaken, mythical cervix which now is an object of resentment instead of the life force that provides perfect clues and perfect babies that I'm supposed to think it is.  Anyhow, I've been e-mailing Nina back and forth for a week or so now, first in hopes of advice that would change the cervix-finding game, then to schedule an appointment for her to show me where that whore of an orifice is.
We tried to set up something on Tuesday, our off day, but that wasn't good for Nina.  She suggested Thursday, but Heather can't get out then.  We switched to Friday, then Heather started her period and that was a no-go.  This whole time, Nina and I are e-mailing and I'm embarrassed at making things so difficult when she's doing us such a huge favor.  Heather is pissed because I keep making these suggestions to her that don't work at all and she keeps reminding me why I should have objected to start with.
Saturday we went to lunch, and I reported that I thought we'd see Nina Tuesday.  But what really happened was that Nina said Monday or Tuesday, and I said that Monday would be great but Tuesday we could go any time so it was really great.  This is because I have a terribly non-confrontational personality and feel so guilty to ask so much of Nina, and I will do just about anything to avoid causing people not to like me.  In my mind, though, we had settled on Tuesday, and I said so to Heather.  Then Nina said Monday at 12:30 and Heather said ...

The long and short of this is that I cried, as I am wont to do, because I've been trying to take care of my end, doing the research and organizing that I'm usually good at.  I'm trying to make this appointment, then one with a lawyer, and find sperm, and have a blog that I secretly wish would make me millions of dollars so I can support my child without going to work outside the house.  But it turns out that I'm not very good at that, and Heather saying she loves me and is sorry that I have all this on my shoulders does not make me feel any more that I'm contributing to a future with a child or that I have what it takes to organize one.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And we don't care about the old folks

My parents don't know we're planning on a baby.

I see my mom and dad every Sunday for dinner and e-mail them all through the week.  I know every time my mom buys a pair of shoes and whether she paid full price, and I know about my dad's new clarinet accessory, and they know what my planned guest-room decor concept is.  They do not know that I want the guest room complete so that we can have family and friends visit after the baby is born; Mom doesn't know that I expect her to be sleeping in there a lot when I become convinced Baby has an earache.

It's strange not to tell them, but it's one of the few situations where I feel they'll doubt my judgment.  Mom felt I moved in with Heather too soon, and the biggest stumbling block was the foot I put in my mouth by saying that Heather had been planning for a few years to get pregnant after her 35th birthday, less than six months after I moved in.  When I settled on moving, I assured Mom that Heather and I had agreed to wait on the baby, but I'm not sure she felt better.  A year after that conversation, I'm afraid that she'll still think it's too soon, and I don't know how long to keep my midwife and speculum adventures away from her.

My sister knows.  My friends know.  Heather's friends and family know, and now there's a blog.  But telling my mom that I think I'm ready to be a mom risks her saying she thinks I'm not.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy

We've spent the evening on home improvement: Heather has been hammering zip-its, measuring, centering, evaluating paint finish.  I've handed her the hammer, the pencil, the screwdriver-- always three seconds later than she needed them and always in the wrong order.

This is a lot like trying to get her pregnant.  Nina suggested we chart together so that Heather wouldn't feel all the pressure was on her, and I've bought in for sure, but there's no real pretending.  I can check my temperature (which I have not) but it's just a number on the chart that we'll throw away.  It doesn't have a damn thing to do with our baby.
Heather's chart is not going to get thrown away.  Once we stop being jackasses and find the cervix so we can find the cervical opening (the "os," if you're playing along at home) so we can find how much and what kind of mucus is coming out, we'll shift into the stage where putting her chart down on the wrong dresser will destroy the peace of our home.  I will hand her the thermometer, the pencil, the cup to pee in-- and that's as essential as I get.

I realize that she'll need a support person, and I do the reading and research and e-mail Nina about where the f-ing cervix is today, but I'm supporting the effort and she is the effort.  Will her whole pregnancy feel this way for me?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Medication: always the answer

Trying to distract myself from a day shortened by Daylight Savings, I hit up my Amazon Recommendations-- a terrific time-killer, if you're looking for one.  After six months of an attitude of "If I buy more, it will happen," I've encouraged Amazon's recommendations of fertility books, breast-feeding advice, specula both metal and plastic, fertility pee-sticks, and legal advice for gay folk.  Today: fertile-mucus vitamins.
Right.  So now fertile mucus isn't alarming and icky anymore, but an object of open, saleable ambition.  Heather still doesn't like to talk about it-- I, in contrast, will reassure myself during speculum disasters by declaring, "Wow, but your mucus looks great!"-- and now we're supposed to be so deeply passionate about it that we're buying supplements to ensure its quality.

But I realize, with each absurd recommended item, that there could be a time when we're that stretched.  Heather is confident of her natural fertility and I'm suckered in, so right now we're in a position of dismissing as extreme the supplements and fertility beads, but there's a reason those things are out there.  They could look a lot less extreme after three inseminations without baby. 
Would it make the blog more interesting?

How to keep failing

Okay!  So Saturday I had a tough day at work, got in the bath, and left Heather to TV.  Pink-faced and clean, I hopped out of the tub, got dressed, and declared to Heather it was time to get to it.  We had new advice and new reason to think we weren't entirely hopeless.  Who wouldn't be excited at the prospect of not sucking?
And then I sucked.  Or maybe I didn't.  It's hard to know whether it's lack of effort, or lack of skill, or god's sneaky clue that he really does hate gays, but when you can't find the bodily orifice that is responsible for your future offspring, failure just feels like failure.

The first time we tried, I was excited.  I laid out the towel and washed the speculum, opened the tube of generic KY, and was proud of how perfect my flashlight was for the task (although in later efforts I began to wish it came with a special bar to hold between my teeth).  But when you put the new, carefully-researched speculum-- I spent days tracking the package, yearning for my pre-baby toy-- inside someone's flesh, the shine wears off.  Things don't just slide smoothly, and the duck bills aren't as harmless and fun as they look.  And the cervix is not right in front of you like they say it'll be.

Understandably, this is an unpleasant experience for Heather every time.  She's lying prone on towels with her ankles in the air, and her undextrous girlfriend is squinting at a clanky little item that's going to be up her twat.  And Heather does have some problems relinquishing control-- sometimes.  When the person to whom she has relinquished control is not doing things just right, her instinctual reaction is great impatience.  Vocal impatience.

One thing you should know about us is that Heather has a bit of a temper, and I am a cryer.  Better that we're not both angry, or both cryers, but it means we have plenty of raised voice/weeping occasions.  That's what we have when the cervix remains hidden.  It only gets worse the more we struggle, so yesterday we had raised voices about the number of pillows-- I picked one thick one and Heather insisted on adding another.  We had raised voices over whether to try this on the floor or on the bed.  We had raised voices about the speculum pinching Heather's butt.  And then we had tears because of the raised voices.
An hour later?  "E-mail that lady and tell her we need to come in."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Advice from a nurse on finding the cursed gateway to fertility

So I e-mailed Nurse Nina.  I didn't really want to, mainly because I didn't want to admit we'd done such a crummy job of charting so far, and also because, no matter how medically relevant, it's uncomfortable to ask someone whether one's partner has an unusually large vagina.
Nina, however, was a lot more comfortable than I was.  She wrote:

"I think it was very smart of you both to try to compare things by looking for your cervix.  That is a great tip I may share with other couples.
It is possible for someone to have a long vaginal canal.  It is also possible that Heather's uterus tilts at an angle which results in her cervix being difficult to find.  Sometimes putting 1-2 pillows under her hips and having her head lower than her hips helps to get the right angle." 
(I don't know how to copyright that, but don't plagiarize, guys.  The sweet nurse wrote it and it's hers.)

I will admit that, due to some late-evening grocery shopping and a fine dinner, we did not make use of Nurse Nina's advice.  
I'm not proud of it, but it's surprisingly hard to find motivation to get half-undressed and lube up a speculum, spreading out towels and washcloths for follow-up, in preparation for a highly-invasive procedure with entirely undependable results.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to fail at fertility charting

We met with Nina in the first week of January.  Now we're into the second week of March, and nary a week of that time has been fully charted.

It's not that I didn't do the reading, or that I didn't spend days debating which chart was the best (that's a whole other post), or order the supplies.  I did great at all the research and shopping (as usual).  However, waking up Heather, not a morning person, to take her temperature at the same time every day, then asking her to lie on her back with ankles in the air while I search for her cervix every night, is harder than giving Amazon yet another portion of my income.

But here's where even my most-beloved Amazon can't help: I started by ordering a small, metal speculum.  Tried once, twice... and couldn't find the f-ing cervix.  Washed it (I at least did that much), put it aside, and, after a few days to recover from the effort, realized we'd lost it.  So after payday rolled around, I ordered a 10-pack of medium plastic speculums, thinking that Heather's lady parts just needed a firmer hand, so to speak.  (The opening parts on the speculum, reader, are called "bills."  Like you were putting the head of a duck in there.  There is just no pleasant vocabulary to be had here-- "mucus" and "speculum" and the ever-appealing "vagina."  That's why I spend so much time fantasizing about baby names.  And, ladies, I am not going to get into a conversation about "vagina."  I listened to The Vagina Monologues on CD and that didn't make the word any prettier.  Let's talk when you've read Cunt.)

New material, new size: still can't find the cervix.  I just can not find it.  Heather claims that she must have one, and she didn't hear otherwise when she got her PAP smear a month ago, so it's gotta be in there.  And it's not like we can't use the equipment-- she found my cervix in one go.
It looks like it's my fault, but who do you look to for a second opinion?  We can't pull in our roommate like we did when Heather got new clothes and I didn't like them.  And, again, I excel at research, so Heather and I were all up on the illustrations in our baby-making bible and hitting Google harder than I did that time I needed to see the video of the exploding whale carcass.  (Yes, I needed to.)
And it's not like I don't understand the pictures and text-- I had an 800 on my verbal SATs, man-- but the cervix is just not where it's supposed to be.  It's like her lady-canal is longer than nature and the charting system intended.  I knew about penises and clits, but are there different sizes of vaginas, too?  Is one better than the others?  I will tell you this: I wish Heather's was wee and tiny right now, because I look like a dumbass.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Charting? What?

In January, realizing we were ready to set things in motion, Heather and I met with a local nurse/midwife.  A friend of Heather's knew another lesbian couple who had worked with the nurse-- let's call her Nina-- when they inseminated.  They got pregnant on their first try, so we got to calling.

"Hi, my name is Rachel and I got your number from X.  I want to knock my girlfriend up and we need some advice."

Heather, overhearing, was horrified at my wording, but Nina was not, and I felt that boded well for our relationship with her.  If this lady was going to squirt semen into my girlfriend's vagina, we'd better go ahead and get down to brass tacks.

We met with Nina at the library.  I was overflowing with passionate opinions about home birth after reading the excellent Baby Catcher and watching The Business of Being Born... but I'd skipped right past the getting-pregnant part, and apparently that's a big deal.  We never even got to birthing pools.

We told Nina we wanted to get pregnant around September, having agreed to wait till our two-year anniversary.  She said we were at a great point to get prepared because this gave us a lot of time to chart and research.  Charting?  Shit.  I don't know how I thought we'd find out when to inseminate, but tracking Heather's fertile mucus was not what I anticipated.

Nina suggested we get ourselves over to Amazon and buy The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth.  I'm a big fan of online shopping so I was all kinds of ready for that.  I was not ready for what I'd be reading.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

On becoming a person who refers to "fertile mucus" daily

I'm 26. I've been with a 35-year-old for a year and a half and I'm wild about her. She's sporty, bold, brave, loyal, and a technician; I'm nerdy, perpetually anxious, sappy, and I answer phones 8 hours a day. What does that spell? Parents!
And in truth we make a great team as partners, and we want to be a great team as parents. She can teach the baby to swim while I cry and I can teach the baby holiday crafts while she takes pictures.
Sounds like a great plan, except we happen to both be women and we happen to need a man's sperm to get that baby. And that sperm costs about $700 a pop.
So here we are talking about fertile mucus and having passionate arguments about the use of a speculum, while two men at work have babies on the way with their wives and nary a word of mucus, speculums, or 24-hour windows. In another world, you can have a lot of sex for three months and pee on a stick-- not wonder whether a potential sperm donor is genetically inclined to write pretentious essays.

It hurts and it's fun and it's a struggle with every mucus-texture call, so this is my document, and let's hope I get to change the title of it to "The Lesbian Mom" in a year.