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.