Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm rubber, you're glue

In the baby-making process, there are people you can't escape.

I feel that way all the time at work-- there's the co-worker who belches, the one who makes personal calls all day-- and also on the road, when that asshole in the SUV tailgates me.  Then there's family, of course, but let's set that aside.

I felt that way about Nurse Nina.  If I had a flow chart like this one, there would be no "Do you trust [Nina's] knowledge?"  It would just be: Nina.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grand Slam

"I like things to happen; and if they don't happen, I like to make them happen." - Churchill

"Human life begins on the other side of despair." - Sartre

I do not believe I have eaten anything that wasn't 50% or more sugar in the past week.  My meal Tuesday at Denny's was a giant, syrupped waffle with a bit of scrambled egg on the side, and it followed a ten-minute crying spell, which followed a four-hour appointment at the Nashville clinic.

We'd filled out pages and pages of paperwork online, so when I rushed Heather out of the hotel room in the morning, she insisted that we couldn't possibly have any more left.  You know I wouldn't mention it if there wasn't, and we each had about five pages, reiterating our innocent family histories and promising to pay for any and all probing.  IDs and insurance cards were copied; I read Entertainment Weekly.  We each had wrist-bands, without which we weren't allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the fancy-ass clinic.

After a combo of questions from a nurse and a twenty-minute wait in the exam room (Us Weekly this time), we went to a consultation room to see the doctor.  She was, Heather noted, "a sharp lady."  We talked about tests and prescriptions and lifestyle changes, and I felt like things were at least forming into an action plan: Heather would quit smoking, she'd take some kind of Clomid challenge (?) to test her FSH levels, and there'd be some kind of process with birth control later on.  Then we both got ultrasounds (Heather had a generous supply of microfollicles; huzzah) and were sent to the financial lady.

The story there is that the IVF package is $8,800.  That sounded okay.  But, oh, the medication isn't covered, so that, she estimated, we'd be shelling out between four and seven thousand for those.  Thousand.  We also have to come to Nashville for a four-hour orientation, which begins at 9am.  And, oh, it's a three hour drive, so we'll be spending another $80 for a hotel room, along with gas for the car and fast food for us.  (This time we ordered room service and it was both gastronomically and financially disappointing.)

Heather tried to reassure me that this-- IVF, childbearing, et al.-- was really going to happen, although what we'd been talking about moments earlier was whether it was worth spending another four grand to get our embryos tested for genetic abnormalities before implantation. 

How?  When?  What if Priceline gives us a hotel without free WiFi?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just back from Nashville

We got back to Memphis around 5:30 this afternoon, having started the day with a wake-up call at 8:15 this morning. 

The details are more than I'm willing to explore right now.  It's been a long day of talking and driving, and I want to lose myself in wrapping paper.  What I will say is that I'm not going to play surrogate; it's too expensive and complicated.  I will also say that the IVF package runs about $8,800... and the medications start at about $4,000 but some can be found on Craigslist.

Heather and I have both been anxious, sad, or angry-- or some combination thereof-- for the past ten hours, and I can't imagine what this will feel like later in the process.  We had lunch at Denny's.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ho ho ho

It's just before Christmas, so I'm checking my list, revising it, and saving it as a draft in my Gmail account.  I think I'm nearly done, so I'm gonna track my packages and watch the hell out of some syndicated Big Bang Theory.

Tomorrow, we're leaving work a little early to drive to Nashville.  We've got a hotel room (thanks, Priceline-- I got a room and a strange sense of consumer triumph within five minutes) downtown, so we'll crash for the night, then get up and drive only three minutes (again, consumer triumph) to the fertility clinic's offices-- and we don't know for sure what happens then. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If we just follow the light

Well, for one thing, we're going back to the California Cryobank.  They were always the best to work with and I missed them.  ART vials are cheaper across the board and CCB has more of them than most places do, and, goddamn, when you're contemplating IVF, you're already committing enough money and enough sincere hope to the process that you're not distracted by frugality.

For another, we've had a few more conversations about me playing surrogate to Heather's egg.  Inconclusive.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby, please come home

Yesterday, a co-worker told me about internet controversy concerning a sperm bank that may or may not have continued selling the sperm of a donor whose offspring had terrible birth defects.  I told her to stop fucking up my day and that I'd have to Google it, but at least the blog post would write itself.  She understood. 

Thanks, Linda.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super Troopers

And we are.  At least, I feel today like I am.

Heather had a phone call last week from the fertility clinic in Nashville, which she did not answer.  I was assigned to call them back, presumably to set up an appointment now that all our forms were completed.  Yesterday at lunch, I took her phone to do it, and she suggested I listen to the message they left.

"Okay, you didn't listen to the voicemail?"

What the hell

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank god it's Christmas

My sister texted me this afternoon to ask why I hadn't posted recently, and I figured that, if it's come to a text from her, I should dig up something.

This morning, I saw my psychiatrist, who wrote me a prescription and asked how the baby thing was going.  She's a birther, so I didn't know how she'd react to my run-in with the Baptists, but she was appropriately indignant (while writing notes in my file, presumably about whether I was delusional in my quest to reproduce unnaturally).  Then she made a weird comment about Hilary Clinton, putting our relationship back on its traditionally ambiguous footing.

A couple hours later, I went to get a haircut with my very sweet stylist, Katie.  (When I got home, Heather said, "Oh.  You got rid of your pretty bangs.")  Katie and I were chatting about strange jobs and giggled about gynecologists.  "You know, I have a friend whose sister is a gynecologist.  She's supposed to be just amazing, but I don't know if it would be weird."  And, because life is like that, the gynecologist/sister is Dr. King.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social media pitfalls: learning more than you intend

Cruising the California Cryobank discussion board on Facebook, and some lady posted a link to this nifty article about free sperm:

... But sperm banks, though regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, carry risk. In recent years sperm with a host of serious diseases and disorders has been sold to hundreds of women, according to medical journals and other published reports. Earlier this year ABC News identified at least 24 donor-children whose father had a rare aorta defect that could potentially kill his offspring at any minute. And in September, The New York Times reported on sperm banks’ creating 100-kid clusters around a single donor, raising questions about not only disease, but accidental incest.

Further on, in discussing the Free Sperm Donor Registry, a craigslist for hopeful baby-mamas which handily allows folks to choose whether to go AI or conceive via the traditional park-the-car-in-her-garage method:

One donor, whom Carissa, a 38-year-old divorcĂ©e in Fargo, N.D., was about to invite over for a “natural insemination” session, spooked her. “He wanted me to yell, ‘Make me pregnant!’?” during sex, she says.

Blog comments, browbeating, and Giuliana Rancic's breasts

Last night I was trying to complete Practice #2 from The Self-Compassion Diet (we'll talk about that some other time) and, no matter how hard I tried to imagine a conversation with my erstwhile and beloved therapist, I found myself distracted.

First, I couldn't get the Avett Brothers' songs out of my head.  That album is so fucking good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inaction Plan

Dr. King's office called today, just as we were returning from our third-anniversary trip to the lake.  Heather was watching Sister Wives, wherein the fourth wife is now pregnant with the husband's seventeenth child.  Her belly is big and they've named the boy Solomon.

The nurse, who struck me as ethereally beautiful when we met her last week, said she'd called the fertility office to set up an appointment and learned, as we did, the Dr. Duddy was no longer in practice, and that we should talk to the office to set up a consultation.  I said, well, we heard they wouldn't work with us.  She confirmed: "No, they're affiliated with the Baptist hospital, so they can't do anything to get you pregnant.  However, they can talk to you about your options."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shot my arm full of love: of drugs, follicles, and friendly homophobia

In brief, what has been happening is that Heather and I argued about whether it was important for her to see the miraculous Dr. King; I made approximately 397 phone calls to check whether her insurance was accepted by Dr. King's office, then filled out 398 forms; we went to see Dr. King Tuesday; Dr. King told us to see a specialist; and that specialist's office won't treat lesbians.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


On the way to lunch today, Heather's phone rang.  She handed it to me and instructed, "Pretend to be me." 

Dr. C.

Dr. C's assistant, Ashley, said that they'd gotten the results back from Monday's blood test.  She said something about how ovulation levels weren't quite where they should be, and that maybe they'd tested too late...?  I hesitated, because I wanted to explain that, according to the fertility monitor, Heather hadn't ovulated this month, but Nurse Nina said that it's not unusual for a woman to skip ovulation once or twice a year.  It happened to us twice last fall, yet Heather has regular cycles with regular ovulation every other month, so we didn't take it as an indictment of Heather's fertility this month.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Insurance and Target Returns

I've had two major bureaucratic run-ins this week, and one netted me $60.

I super-love Target (although I'm getting a lot of mixed messages about their attitude towards the LGBT community, which I chose to resolve for myself when my mom said she met a lesbian who worked at Target HQ and who said that it was a tolerant and welcoming place to work), and there are few things I enjoy more than a meditative stroll through their handbag and jewelry departments.  Cadbury eggs, for one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Awesome: Don't trust sperm banks, sperm donors, or your child's future sex partners

Or, so this New York Times article suggests.  From the publication that has brought us inspirational articles on how the Israeli government supports artificial fertility in a way American culture emphatically does not, and how all these ladies lucked out and didn't have to use lame-o donor sperm at all:

“They think their daughter may have a few siblings,” Ms. Kramer said, “but then they go on our site and find out their daughter actually has 18 brothers and sisters. They’re freaked out. I’m amazed that these groups keep growing and growing.”

The article explains that some donors have been found to have as many at 150 children.  I say that, having been in the midst of a new round of donor-shopping before stopping by the Confessions of a Cryokid blog for a broader perspective.

FUCK perspective.  I don't want to hear about this shit.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"They don't just do it when's something wrong, goofball!"

I started my period this morning and had a flash of anxiety till I realized that it was just me, and that Heather's allowed to get hers, too.  No tears!

The last time I posted, I was waiting to hear from Heather's doctor's assistant, Ashley.  (Right, because we've got another doctor, and there are new receptionists and assistants, radiologists and techs, all of whom have names that we probably don't need to remember since we'll probably be on to the next doctor, with her assistants and receptionists and specialists, in a few weeks.)  Ashley'd called Heather, I'd called her, then...  I'm not totally sure, but I know I ended up finally talking to her, asking what kind of follow-up we needed to do after Heather's preliminary HSG results.

Ashley, to be honest, seemed a little startled by my question (which is pretty ridiculous since I'd left her two voicemail messages which asked exactly that).  She said that the test results looked good.

Goddamn it, Ashley!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I know you hear me calling you

I thought this morning about our last insemination.  Or, rather, I thought about it failing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just saw this on PostSecret

Twiddling thumbs

HSG completed.  Heather went in, solo, on Thursday, got 'er done.  The results looked good, but need to be thoroughly examined before Dr. C can give us an official thumbs-up.  We're used to waiting, so it feels about right.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fail Blog

Sometimes, I feel like we're treading water.  I don't know what we're doing anymore.  It's just survival.

I remember in college talking about "liminal states"-- existing, unrooted, between two fixed states.  Heather and I exist in the twilight zone between pregnant and not-pregnant.  We're childless but saddled with ever-present responsibility for the child we want. 

Heather's much-anticipated HSG dye test was delayed from Tuesday till Thursday because, although I told the lady last Thursday that Heather was on her first day of her period, we learned through a phone call on Monday afternoon that they can't do the test while you're even spotting.  Which totally makes sense; I get it, now that I think of it.  But I don't think I'm alone in going along with a doctor or nurse's suggestion thoughtlessly.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two more things

Nobody in this house is pregnant yet, and I'm already miserable at both ends of the spectrum.

First, I found another blog entry on the Cryogenic Labs site breaking down the chances of conception.  It's not like we all haven't read this 9374534093 times, but, after the standard chart, she concludes:

What I commonly tell clients I’m working with is the more expensive the treatment the more success there commonly is. However, it rarely hurts to start on the lower level of technology because maybe all you need is a little bit of help to get everything working properly. Work with a reproductive processional to help guide you to make the best decisions for you for your situation. If you have limited time or fewer limitations on monetary resources you may want to start at IVF to obtain the best odds bringing home a baby sooner.

Oh, my god, what have we been doing?  Was this all a waste of time?  Are the next five tries going to be a waste?  When will Heather want to transition to IVF?  Will Dr. C pressure her?  Does it fucking matter?  Yes, yes, we do want to bring home a baby sooner.

Cryogenic Labs: Sperm-Washing and Comma-Splicing

Thanks to Facebook-- another example of the undeniable virtues of this cursed technological universe in which we live and watch summertime-makeup videos-- I read an entry on the Cryogenic Labs about "Donor Motivation."

Now, you'll remember my misgivings about both Cryogenic Labs' and Fairfax's social-media ventures, so I was both frustrated and borderline appeased by their effort here.  Not only did they get a blog entry up, but they also had a decent justification for a Facebook post.  If you're going to get in the way of Funny or Die and NPR, you'd better have something worthwhile, and I begrudgingly acknowledge that an exploration of why donors donate is that.

Of course, it's also not, because what the eff kind of question is that?  Money.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Does an HSG hurt?

OMFG.  Browsing the Facebook, considering reading an Ebert review, worrying about the Girl Scouts, and I stumbled upon a little post by the California Cryobank folk (as always, the gold standard for social media efforts):
From K & C: Wondering if anyone has an experience to share regarding HSG testing. Ours is coming up next week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I can't help myself from looking for you

I've felt no need to blog because I've felt no need to think about having a baby.

Heather has left to see her family, and, to eliminate some pre-trip stress, we skipped insemination; her ovulation passed last week with little fanfare.

"You're ovulating today, baby."


It's really nice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Drugs Don't Work

My friend Sarah asked me today if Heather and I were considering fertility drugs.  I started to say what I usually do, which is that I'm concerned about side effects and would like to delay drugs as much as possible, but then it turned into something else.

What I said next was that I didn't want to put chemicals into Heather's body just because we're impatient with what it's doing on its own.  I realized what an absurd reaction I was having, since I have never hesitated to accept chemical intervention.  I'm on three prescriptions right now and take Excedrin more days than not.  I think skipping childhood vaccines is ridiculous.

"I'm glad you made me do that, baby."

"Thank you for being so anal."

Oh, fuck, yeah.  My obsessive pursuit of doctor's appointments and testing has been rewarded not only with renewed optimism, hope, etc., etc., but also the acknowledgement that I was right.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fighting boredom and each other

Heather is on day 9 today, and we'd normally be revving up to inseminate, but she's about to go on a trip to see her family in the Northwest and is stressed enough, so we're going to skip this round.  Fair enough.

After the seventh negative, we decided it might be time to look for some more medical feedback.  It's probably too soon to freak out-- seven tries is perfectly normal-- but Heather took this one very hard, and I, for the first time in a long time, was surprised and hurt.  I thought this one was it. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Last night Heather went to the bathroom coughing and I nearly dropped my toothbrush.

She did look like she was throwing up, and when I checked on her and she shut the door, I imagined she was going to secretly test on her own, so the little electric toothbrush was buzzing along and I thought I was mere minutes from learning I was a parent.

No, she said, she was coughing, but thought she had to throw up for a second, so she went to the bathroom.

But guess what did happen?  Her overall pitiful behavior continued-- lying on the couch, lower lip protruding, asking why I would offer her water instead of Coke Zero ("You act like I'm already pregnant.  Why would you think I'd want water?")-- but, when I completed her dinner order by picking up Popeye's, she said it just wasn't good and she didn't want it.  My chicken was fine.  She scanned the desserts I selected from the convenience store ("Zero?  What the hell is that?"), frowning mightily at the baseball-themed cupcakes, then made it through only half a cupcake before rejecting it.

Fine, yes, the cupcakes were on the dry side, and, of course, nothing is as delicious as the classic orange Hostess, but, seriously, she rejected everything.  Then, after volunteering to go to bed before 11, she went to the bathroom, leaned over the toilet, and coughed.

Listen, if I ran around finding food and rubbing her feet and she isn't pregnant, I'm gonna be pissed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"It was your heart on the line."

I catch myself rounding up again today, just as I did yesterday and the day before.  I relate to the baby quest’s two-weeks-wait the same way I do to my payday two-weeks-wait: 

“Okay, today is Friday, which is pretty much the same as Saturday, which is just before Sunday, so we’re pretty much there.”   

And, like the payday wait, there’s no advantage to being close except to imagine the other side.  “Soon I can fill my gas tank!” doesn’t dim the blinking light on my dash, nor does a finger-crossing “Soon we’ll be pregnant” allow me the relief that plus sign could bring.

The balancing act, though, continues to be between optimistic impatience and fearful reluctance.  I can’t wait till we test because I can so easily imagine the plus sign and the tears and the subsequent hugging and texting, but I also want to drag these few last days out, lest the tears and hugging come after a minus sign.  Things are so upbeat and hopeful in our household right now that I dread giving it up; I want to cling to the few moments of happiness this process affords us.  There’s not a lot.

My Facebook friend’s first negative was, I’m ashamed to say, easy to set aside in some ways: “Aww, that’s the first.  Hardly anyone gets it the first time, so don’t take it to heart.”  But, truly, every negative is heartbreaking.  The first one tore us up, and so did the second.  As much as we’ve gotten numb and detached as the process goes on, those first moments after the period starts are wrenching.  It feels like you can’t come back from it.

Heather and I talk about our early optimism and misguided relationship to statistics—how we thought we might be one of those rare couples who gets pregnant the first time, or that we’d certainly earned it after three painful negatives—and say that we should have accepted that it was going to take a long time and be hurtful.  But, fuck, nothing about insemination is casual. 

You’ve got to chart beforehand (or, anyhow, you should) and buy all sorts of equipment, learn the difference between lotiony and egg-white texture in cervical mucus, pick a donor, find and deal with a doctor (and pay her), order the sperm at just the right time, deal with dry ice and thawing, practice with syringes, keep from hurting or being hurt by your partner…  There’s no way to do it with a shrug of the shoulders.  “Pick the cheapest sperm and we’ll use a turkey baster on day 14.”  It just isn’t an option.  Every time you inseminate, you’re bringing all that preparation and longing with you, and every time you get a negative, it’s all swept away.

I have this uncharacteristic confidence about #7, so I feel a distance between myself and that grief, but the little m is flashing on our fertility monitor; Heather could start bleeding at any time.  I might get a phone call in ten minutes to say she’s spotting, and we’ll fake ourselves out, but I know what that means, and I know that I’ll want to hide under the covers for days.  Every second of pleasure and presumption could be gone. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blood, sweat, and tears

Today has been a strange one. 

My mom came by my office to drop off cookies, and I told her that we were testing Sunday or Monday.  I don't know if I'd officially told her we inseminated last week, but then, after a certain point, you're always in one of two places: waiting to inseminate or waiting to find out if you have to inseminate again.  Tanks come and go, doctors piss you off and charge you more than you expect, breasts swell and ache...  Our lives are punctuated with ovulation and menstruation, fertile mucus and blood; everything else just blends together.  Right now we're waiting to test, but in a week we'll probably be waiting to inseminate. 

My mom was surprisingly pleased, saying that, after seeing her friend's baby granddaughter recently, she was "primed" for a baby.  I'll happily provide one, assuming Heather's uterus accommodates.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"A collision of culture and nature"

Thanks to Planned Parenthood on Facebook, I'm reading an article by Jocelyn Elders about how Americans suck, so to speak, at acknowledging teen sexuality.  Biological imperative, etc.

Heather is in the midst of an episode of House Hunters International about a couple looking for a house in Botswana ("Guests can share a bathroom!") and I felt my own imperative to interrupt her and ask how on earth we would address our own teen's sexuality in the future.  I didn't say anything, though, because a) we do not interrupt House Hunters International for anything other than food, and b) I realized that we're barely a week into the two-week wait, so this wasn't quite an emergency.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pros and cons of the waiting game

I think this one is it. 

Do I think that every time?  Maybe last time I did.  One time before that I remember us being pretty certain Heather wasn’t pregnant, almost from the first.  One other time I got religion in the form of thinking positive from The Essential Guide, forcing Heather to participate in visualizations: “Imagine the embryo snuggling into your uterine lining, making a comfortable home there, attaching firmly.”  It didn’t pay off.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Here we go again on our own... Again.

Last night, Heather was watching The Real L Word, as is her wont, and I had to leave the room.  Normally I half-watch while playing Tetris or whatnot, but there is a couple trying to have a baby, and I'm sick to death of hearing about it.  It's enough to go through it ourselves that experiencing it vicariously seems like a lot to ask.

Heather seemed surprised that it bothered me so much, saying that it was nice to see someone going through the same thing we are, but acknowledged that she'd be pissed if they, TV-style, dealt with one dramatic failure, only to come back a month later with a triumphant plus sign.

We inseminated Sunday, twice, without aid of Nurse Nina or her catheter, and it was both low-key and a source of total frustration.  The upside was that we weren't spending the day furious with Nina for her unexpected fees and excruciating insertion, but the downside was that we were furious with each other.  Say what you will about bonding experiences: stress like failure with $800 of sperm and our future doesn't bring anyone together.  Maybe it does later, but it didn't for us.  Heather and I are cursed with more or less equal degrees of controlling-ness, so it's painful for her to let me warm the vial, just like it's painful for me to watch her fill the syringe.  We snarked at each other--

"It says just to leave the vial out to thaw for 15 or 20 minutes." 

"But Whitney said we should definitely use the water bath."

"Whitney said to follow the directions that came with the tank.  The instructions say to let it thaw on its own."

"That was the Cryobank, not Fairfax."

"Well, maybe they prepare their sperm differently, so we should do it the way Fairfax says."

So, that time, we left the vials on the counter.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Chances rule men, and not men chances.

Chance is perhaps God’s pseudonym when he does not want to sign.

There’s no such thing as chances; and what to us seems merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.

We flipped a coin for our new donor.  There were two solid candidates and we got caught in the politics of the blond kid vs. the brown one, so we took our unconscious prejudices out of the game and let George Washington and the U.S. Mint decide.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When people get too touchy-feely about baby-making

Yes, I ask about Heather's tampon, give her a second opinion on any variance in the perceived weight of her breasts, and I grimace when her cervical mucus seems to lotion-y, but that is the kind of a-little-too-close-ness that I accept and endorse.  This, found in the comments of a Cryobank Facebook post about home IUI, is not:
"I did mine at home with 5 girlfriends...we had candles going, we meditated together, after the IUI while I laid there they all made me a fertility necklace and told stories as they put the beads on. When it was being done I was lying on my bed and they all sat with me holding my hands was awesome!!!!"

The whole universe was in a hot, dense state

Skipping this cycle has put us in a twilight zone wherein there is no need for anxious observation of breasts and diet.  Nobody's watching the clock.  I kind of hate it.

I can't remember what's next: Are we waiting for Heather's period?  Ovulation?  Where are we?  And I can't get my bearings when it comes to what I should be doing in the meanwhile.  Is it still quiet time or are we supposed to be looking for a new donor?  I'm disoriented by the lack of structure.  I've never struggled for occupation during days off-- when it doubt, take a nap-- but I feel the way workaholics say they do.  As Mary Stuart Masterson says in the unrelentingly hokey Bed of Roses, "I haven't contributed to the GDP today."  Well, I haven't contributed to our baby-making in weeks, and I feel like something's missing.

Heather has indeed decided to change donors, saying that our current, madly-attractive guy hasn't come through (Come?  Get it?) in the past two cycles and we've got to find someone else with previous pregnancies on record.  My suspicion is that it's not sperm that's causing problems, but more likely insemination timing or Heather's indifference to tapping the obscene statue's crotch.  Sperm banks are ridiculous with their tests and it seems unlikely that these guys are shooting blanks.  Of course, I found via the Cryolab's shameful Twitter feed that they're looking for healthy men between 18 and 39, and I can't help thinking requirements should be a wee bit more stringent.  But I said a while back that I didn't care who the donor was, right?

Heather and I gave our first, much-beloved donor four tries, and she's granted the sexy one two tries.  We've never been as invested in a donor as we were in the Persian guy, so I suppose changing up isn't traumatic, but if we're not going to feel connected, I'd rather feel ambivalent about somebody really good-looking than smart.  Still, bribing someone to take the SAT for your kid is probably more dangerous than ponying up for plastic surgery.  Hard to choose.  Mostly I think Heather is being ridiculous.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The American Family

The New York Times offers a headline today: "Baby Makes Four, and Complications."  The article is blurbed as "A woman, her son, her sperm donor and his lover are bridging two households in Brooklyn and redefining the definition of the American family."

I don't want to read it.  I'm just not ready to look at it.  I know it's all relevant and whatnot, but honestly I'm sick of reading about what kind of family we are or should be and what that means.  I'm sick of the politics and what petitions to sign, sick of seeing "LGBT."  I want to have a baby and make a family, and I don't need it to fit into a demographic, socially significant or not.  The articles become repetitive and have always been condescending in some form or another, like we're lucky the Times or whomever else is acknowledging us almost as though we were real families.  It's exhausting to be a subset.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sperm bank social media: how Fairfax Cryobank and the Cryolab need to step their motherf-ing game up

I'm failing to subdue my latent hostility for the sperm banks that are not the California Cryobank, and I have little other than contempt for their social media efforts.

For instance, both Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories are on Twitter.  Both of them totally suck on Twitter.  They're on Facebook, and they totally suck on Facebook.  They're already all but impossible to distinguish from one another-- not that they'll let you share information between them, wenches-- and I certainly can't distinguish between their respective levels of social-media suckiness.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Is it weird to ask if I can see your tampon?"

I don't have my period.  I wasn't paying attention to my last cycle, but I think I'm late.

Heather isn't.  She started spotting Wednesday night, two days before our planned pregnancy test, and we waffled through Thursday, trying to interpret her uterine auspices.  When she didn't bleed enough to require a tampon-- yes, I did look at it-- I asked how the pad looked.  Was her underwear staining?  Was she cramping?  I don't have any shame in asking anymore.

But the cramps came, and the tampons came necessary, and we tried to sort ourselves out.  I think we had both bought in this time, delighting in Heather's few physical symptoms, congratulating ourselves on a very tidy insemination.  Secretly, we liked the poetry of getting pregnant right on deadline-- going Over the Top like Stallone, making that crucial, final surge.  Sweeter than a positive test on Mother's Day.

The deadline is unclear now.  After a couple days of moderate grief, Heather's disappointment peaked, and she started talking not about drugs but IVF.  "I'd rather spend $10,00 once for a 50% shot than spend $1,000 a month, ten times."  My instinct was to go slow on fertility treatments, but it's her money and her body.  She knows what her grief feels like and whether she can handle it.  I said as much, hoping she'd rethink it in a few days, and this weekend we agreed to do at least one more cycle of ICI while researching ART.  Heather says 7 is her other lucky number, anyhow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One more...

Heather just called on her way to Phat Girls from work.  She was in a terrible mood-- which is not unusual after a day at work, nor, especially today, unmerited-- and said that her legs ached.  "All the way to my calves!"

Again, I'm sorry for her, but also super-excited that it could mean something.

It ain't over till the fat lady bleeds

I called Heather just before the end of the work day to ask what her plans were for Girls' Night Out.  (Phat Girls, if we're going to take the whole honest/accurate approach.)  She said she didn't know anything yet, but "Don't you want to know how I'm feeling?"

No.  No, I sure don't.

In the past few cycles-- or, rather, in every single one of the five previous goddamn cycles-- Heather has gotten caught up in how she feels and what it could possibly mean.  The first time, when Heather was totally certain she was pregnant, she thought her cervix was turning blue within five days of insemination and that the veins in her breasts were more prominent.  (Nurse Nina told us to play cards and stop obsessing.)  The rest of the cycles bleed together, so to speak, in a mix of breast aches, breast heaviness, cramps, grumpiness, sleepiness...  And each time we got a negative, Heather would swear that, next time, she was going to ignore everything her body told her because it was so untrustworthy.  Later, she decided that it would mean something when she didn't feel anything at all.

Magically, Heather's been very low-key this cycle.  Her breasts got achy, but she didn't get caught up in it.  She was surprised, especially after that flashing m, that she wasn't cramping yet if her period was so close.  I let myself believe.

But I told Heather this afternoon that, while I didn't want to know, I could guess and she might as well tell me.

"My stomach hurts, in kind of a crampy way, and I have a terrible headache."

I didn't-- I don't-- have the spirit to argue.  Maybe it's gas and caffeine withdrawal, but there's no reason to drag this out.  She feels what she feels, and we'll just wait to see how it plays out.  There's nothing else to do right now.

M is for Maybe

We got a flashing m on the fertility monitor Tuesday.  It means that Heather's period is due in the next few days, based on her cycle history, and our countdown might not make it till Friday.

Unless it does make it till Friday, which might mean Heather's pregnant.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: Zero impact on baby-making

I've been incredibly remiss in my blogging, but I have what I believe to be a solid excuse in that my best friend was visiting from out of town.  It's not a great excuse, because Sarah wouldn't be my best friend if she didn't appreciate the need for frequent internet breaks; she probably would have understood if I had to stop and blog.  So I'm just a terrible person.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It all started with a big bang

It's normal for me to be awake past 11, but tonight I feel like it's 3am and I'm gonna get caught.

Heather and I are inseminating tomorrow-- allegedly-- and decided to take a Christmas-morning approach, going to bed early so we'll be refreshed but also because we're going to be checking to see if Santa's come every few hours.  The difference is that, on this particular holiday, "Santa" is abundant fertile mucus surrounding a gaping cervical opening, and Santa is not influenced by cookies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Motherfucking Action Plan

Time to resurrect the motherfucking action plan.

We were ready for a different kind of action plan-- Tums, foot rubs, surreptitious browsing of the Amazon baby department-- but we've got to hold tight for a little while yet.  Heather and I shared our grief Sunday with the usual exchange of tears and anger, and, when Monday morning rolled around and she had wretched cramps, we accepted that there was nothing negotiable about the spotting.  I nagged to be sure she was truly bleeding-- this, again, is the kind of warped reality in which we're living-- and then started pulling out the books.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Heather took Midol last night

She has cramps, she says.  I say, what if your uterus is acting up because there's a little wee creature in it?  But Heather is certain that she's not pregnant and that she's about to start her period, and I'm not in any position to insist otherwise.

Today is Mother's Day-- blah blah blah-- and Heather told me as she got up this morning that she wasn't one.  Yesterday, someone left a Mother's Day note on my desk in error, intending it for a co-worker with a five-year-old son; I thanked the co-worker, thinking her name was a signature rather than part of the message, and she said, oh, well, you have a cat, right?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day & the Two Weeks Wait

Sunday night, we’re going out to dinner with my parents to celebrate my mother’s contribution of two whimsically bitchy girls to the world.  She has asked that we not get presents or flowers for her, so I’ll be abiding by her previously-expressed request for an ergonomic litter scoop.*  I think I’ll give it to her outside the restaurant.

Heather’s body has taken a whimsically bitchy attitude itself, having timed her ovulation such that we’ll be testing the day after Mother’s Day.  I almost admire her body for the fertility fuck-you; I can’t think of any more appropriate way for two contrary women to reproduce. Still, I can’t think of any more appropriate way for us to be disappointed Monday morning.

It would be cute, I know, if this time it worked and everyone could say, “See?  We told you it would happen!”  (To which I—I can’t speak for Heather—would be mentally responding, “Um, fuck you, you’ve said that for months now and you weren’t the one staring at that negative pee stick.”)  I might find Heather a discount Mother’s Day card and we’d keep it forever.

The alternative, though, is an ugly one.  Heather has been telling me for over a week about how her breasts ache, but she says that every time we inseminate and it’s never paid off, so I almost hate to hear it.  I want something different to happen.  I want her to feel nothing, or for her breasts to burn with the fire of Hades.  That doesn’t sound nice, but I told her the other day that, if it helped her get pregnant, I would punch her in the breast and not feel sorry for it.  She could punch me in the breast, too, and I would not care.  After months of harsh reminders that we have no control, nothing seems unreasonable.

Heather told me at lunch that she didn't want to be a downer, but that she didn't think she was pregnant.  I said I didn't think so either.

*Dude, seriously, they’re really nice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dreadful support

So here's some shit: I wrote Mamie and Nina, hoping they'd tell us we were crackpots for thinking Heather could sense a pregnancy only eight days after insemination.  They did not say that, and I find myself staring at the ceiling, wanting to cry and to shout.  I feel what I hope is truly premature grief about what we might find on Monday, and this powerful, irrational anger at both Mamie and Nina for giving me the wrong answer.

The bitch of it is, they were both really, really nice and warm and enthusiastic.  I should feel comforted and secure, grateful that there are people who support and care for us.  Instead, I'm irritated at myself for asking them, and I'm pissed that I'm letting it affect me the way it is.

"Sore boobage" and other possible signs of pregnancy?

Heather's breasts hurt.

Is this a big deal?  Is it fantasy?  Who fantasizes about breast pain?  The answer to the last question is: crazy-ass, pregnancy-obsessed lesbians. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Halfway there: the one-week-wait

We've made it a week.  I'm proud and delighted we made it this far, although we haven't had a choice in the matter.  There's nothing we can do about the situation other than try to ignore it.  It's doing something that would be a failure. 
Here are some things that we did not do in our first week's wait.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Waitin' for a Superman

Monday, the 25th, we inseminated.  Two ICIs at home, just me and Heather.  It was a peaceful, low-key experience, and we had a lovely long nap afterwards while it stormed outside.  In a way, it was so calm that I’ve half-forgotten it; it was my day off and the procedure was just a blip in my marathon of sleep.  When I went to the bathroom this morning, it all came back.

It didn’t come back because I gave birth on the toilet, as in a classic episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, but because I was cramping and wondered if my period was due.  It used to be that I could track my cycle based on where Heather was in hers (don’t ever let anyone tell you lesbian relationships aren’t glamorous), and I thought about it for a second before realizing that maybe she wouldn’t get her next period.  What if the time came and there was nothing?  What if we had the strength to wait all the way till the 9th before testing and she hadn’t bled yet?  What would those days feel like?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A comparison of sperm banks: Fairfax, Cryolab, and California Cryobank

We were bold and economical in changing sperm banks for this insemination, feeling that a new donor was in order and that a lower-cost option might be in order now, too.
After a little research, we found that there were only a few legit sperm banks out there, each claiming to be the best.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Of Cryobanks, donors, and "family solutions"

"Family solutions" is what Fairfax Cryobank labels its discount donors-- I'm still waiting on the Groupon-- and, given our financial considerations, I've scanned through the options a few times.  On each occasion, I begin by saying to myself that this could be a great way of discovering someone we missed, while also discovering sperm on the low-low.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

2 Legit 2 Quit

Despite Heather's contention that our fourth try would work because four is one of her lucky numbers (if seven, her other lucky number, is the fulfillment of the prophecy, I will be a lot less charmed), we saw no plus sign in March, and, the way the California Cryobank's prices were escalating, we had to stop and reassess our approach.

I have always been embarrassingly structured about doing things the same way, the familiar way.  I've never dated much or changed jobs without reason: I find something and I stick with it, sometimes even when it's not right.  It comes from a family where each purchase was researched with Consumer Reports: find the best brand, the best model, and cleave to it.  I may never be able to drive an American-made car.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is it a comedy or a tragedy?

The question is posed by Dustin Hoffman in Stranger Than Fiction, and it’s posed every day that Heather and I spend trying to have a baby.

I guess every day in every life we face the same question, both about our circumstances and how we react to them.  Some days, grumpy-ass customers are funny to me, and sometimes I wish they’d disappear or at least get herpes.  Some days my boss is a delight, and some days he’s avoiding a problem he ought to address—this determines, in large part, whether my job feels like a comedy or a tragedy, and also what kind of privacy-blocked shit I write about him on Facebook.

Tuesday and Wednesday were giddy days.  Wednesday was fully two weeks since we inseminated, and every moment that Heather didn’t bleed was a triumph.  Despite her pledges to ignore her body’s signals—each round, she’s become consumed with breast pains, premature spotting and headaches, and, with each negative, declared that she clearly doesn’t understand what her body is telling her or what it feels like to be pregnant—Heather Googled the burning pains in her breasts and the strange pains in her ribs.  She called me to tell me she’d thrown up, and it was a moment of delight for both of us.  “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I’m so excited!”

Friday, March 4, 2011

The rising costs of swimmers

$685.  That is what a wee vial of Persian sperm cost us this week.  And by “we” I mean Heather, because receptionists do not roll that way.

In December, I ponied up (thanks, Christmas) and a vial of that same Persian’s sperm cost me $535.  I’d like to get revved up and indignant about how the Cryobank is exploiting us with their monopoly on good sperm, but they’ve always been nice and they do have some fancy-ass sperm, so I can’t be mad.  Like when my cat eats the Chihuahua’s food: it’s not right, but he’s so damn cute—which our chosen donor’s baby pictures are, too.
After January’s disappointment, we took February off to distract ourselves with a fancy vacation.  We weren’t back in time to inseminate, and oddly enough I think I forgot about it.  It’s been a while since I looked at Heather’s cervix, or even gave it much thought.  Again, that’s not right, but it sure is a relief.  Then when March’s ovulation rolled around, we’d barely stopped to obsess over it.  We ordered the sperm at the last minute and just waited for the egg and the dot to appear on the fertility monitor.   
A couple days later, I texted Nina and told her it was time, so we met up at the clinic in the morning: I heated the vial, Heather had awful cramps and some bleeding as the tilted uterus effed things up again, and Nikole told us that Heather’s cervix looked just beautiful.  (We pretended that we’d totally looked at it, even though the reality was that we’d let the machine do the work and hadn’t pulled out our own speculum in over a month.)

The kitchen renovation does its magic still: Heather stays up late painting and using the electric screwdriver to re-mount the cabinet doors, and we don’t talk, or even really think, about whether she’s pregnant.  Maybe she’s thinking about it and not telling me, but, if so, it’s on purpose.

What we also aren’t thinking about is that this is our last try with the Persian donor: this is our fourth go-round, and we can’t afford to buy $685 vials of IUI each month then pay Nina $150 each time she inseminates Heather.  If Heather doesn’t get pregnant this time, we’ll have to find a new donor who has the cheaper ICI samples, which we can insert at home. 

Nina also asked if we had given thought to starting Heather on Clomid, which we’d like to avoid.  I guess what it comes down to is that, even though this is only our fourth try and the average is three to six, it feels like the clouds are speeding towards us and we have to scramble to get pregnant before they converge.  We don’t want drugs and we don’t want a different donor, but soon we might not have the luxury of rejecting them.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waste not thy gifts in profitless waiting for the gods' descent

Just after my last post, Heather told me she had gotten her period.

A few hours later, she called me and said the bleeding was very light and maybe ...

Waiting at the station

Sunday was two weeks from our first insemination.  We've spent all of the intervening time either distracting ourselves or willfully ignoring any signs or symptoms.  When Heather's stomach acted up, we talked about fiber and protein and too much pizza-- but both with "Baby baby baby baby" buzzing through our heads.  I want to believe... but I'm scared to.

We tested Sunday morning.  Pathetically, I got an error from the digital test first, then tried to use it again before it was ready.  Because you can't try again for an hour.  Listen, yo, we've done our paranoid over-testing; if we want to re-test, the machine needs to fuck off and let us take care of it.  However, breaking the machine would do nothing for our apprehension, so off to Walgreens I went.  (Breaking the machine would not have been a problem unto itself, though, since you can't buy refills: you get two sticks with the digital thing and, after those sticks: whomp whomp, drive down the street to get another.)  I was delighted that Heather wasn't more stressed, and I have surely mastered the art of going to the store in PJs with jacked-up hair, so I got a couple more boxes of tests and a Java Monster for later.  Home again, home again: negative.  What?  Test again.  Negative.

We were both remarkably, admirably philosophical about it.  We repeated that this was just the first test and that nothing counted till she bled.  (This is a super-grim kind of mantra, but it's either that or hoping for a waterfall of mucus.)  We snuggled up and dozed.  Eventually Heather propelled herself out of the bed and I pretended that I was just about to get up, too!  Gym.  Starbucks.  Controversy about lack of Starbucks breakfast sandwiches.
Miz Rachel pulls out the computer, gets to blogging... and bursts into tears. 

I am an admitted crier-- later in the day Heather had to turn off Marley & Me early because I was so overwhelmed-- but I realized that, as much as I've gotten angry and sad, I've never cried about the baby-making.  I cried when Heather and I fought about it, sure, but this was new.  And we fought about it, too.  It's hard working together when it means we come home, angry about the same people, ranting about the same people, and furiously collaborating in our irritation.  We're working together on the baby project now, too, and you just can't get upset by yourself. 

Revealed: Heather had tested secretly Saturday night, before we went to the movies (No Strings Attached: I recommend it), and had spent the evening trying to prepare me with our new "not till there's blood" mantra.  The bitch of it is that I was prepared.  I know every argument about average number of attempts and testing errors, but I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach by some phantom, and what came pouring out was grief. 

It's Monday morning.  Heather said she felt that, if she was going to get her period, it would be today. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"She's two, and she weighs, like, twenty babies."

This afternoon, I betook myself and the latest Bust magazine to the tub in an attempt to counteract both the trash-ass Us Weekly I'd just read and the disappointingly low household temperature.  Not surprisingly, I was overwhelmed by the CD reviews that both evaluated and casually alluded to bands I've never heard of, so Bust was set aside till I had better lighting and perhaps a stout Mountain Dew to sustain me.  Lying back without the magazine to protect me, all I could see in the tub were roundnesses: thighs, belly, breasts (making their second, rapid-fire blog appearance), and all I could do was wonder why we didn't have a deep enough goddamn tub that everything would be fully submerged.

We get caught up in is-she-or-isn't-she (yes, we know she's gay; I'm not talking about that), but this morning Heather said, "What if I am pregnant?  Do you realize we're going to be parents?"

I said, "Oh, I know!  It's going to be awesome.  We're going to be great."  But probably most people think they're going to be great parents
till it happens.  Everyone sucks as parents, says Louis C.K.-- my role model, and yours, no doubt, in all things familial-- and those mistakes stick.  (C.K., Louis, "Daddy, I don't like chicken," Chewed Up, 2009.)  I don't want those mistakes to leave my own daughter yearning to hide her body under bubbles, preferring not to acknowledge its reality.  For that matter, I don't want her to think of her body as "a reality."  

How much control do we have?  I'm not sure.  I remember some ridiculous book coming into our house when I was eight about diet, exercise and health, prompting one of the short-lived but passionate enthusiasms my older sister and I shared (generally according to her instruction).   We made plain popcorn like it said, and tried to follow all of its other mandates.  Kristin was delighted, for example, when I had a minor injury playing in the backyard and she was able to put into practice the book's RICE system: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  At bedtime, I prattled to Mom about it, and, one night, she said, hesitatingly, that she didn't want me to become critical of my body or expect it to look a certain way.  I was eight and thought she was crazy.

Still, twenty years later, she has one daughter who hasn't publicly worn shorts since ninth grade, and another who's reached the too-skinny mark-- which should be offensive to say, but, I think if Kristin read it, she'd be perversely pleased.

Right now, our greatest fantasy is that there's an embryo snuggled into the lining of Heather's uterus.  In twenty years, I hope our baby's greatest fantasy won't be to hear that she's too skinny.  She will never be allowed to read Us Weekly.

Let it go on

My best friend Sarah told me she was on pins and needles about our two-week wait.  I was honestly startled, because I've forgotten to be and I'll be the one mopping spit-up from my shirt.  (She also told me she thinks my blog should be turned into a book, so, if you're a publisher with exquisite taste, let me know.)

By this point in our last round-- October, for god's sake-- Heather had already cheated with a test and cried in the dark on a cemetery tour when she felt cramps.  It was painful in every respect, even as we were introduced to Elvis' beloved and charismatic cook.  A man in a Hover Round nearly ran us over and I wanted to kick it over, much as I understood his desire to exploit his apparent disability for ill.  Road rage, I guess, doesn't atrophy with one's legs.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ocho days a week

We have booked a trip to Puerto Rico at the beginning of February.  Handily enough, it happens to follow right behind the end of our two-weeks wait, and we're relieved that we have something to look
forward to, no matter how it turns out.

Last Sunday, we rejoiced at that precious egg and dot's appearance.  We expected to go to the clinic early Saturday, Heather's 13th day, but didn't get the sign.  Immediately the spectre of last fall's failed ovulation presented itself, and we worried if we would be able to send the tank back in time.  Sunday morning, Heather got up early, peed, and fell asleep while the monitor processed the results.  When the egg and dot appeared, I couldn't believe our luck.  I giddily texted Nurse Nina, then we zipped over to the clinic.  I warmed the vial between my breasts (feeling that it was less disturbing than my armpit and also more apropos to our baby-making circumstances) while we went over Heather's charts with Nina.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tend upon the hours and days

Friday night, and our biggest excitements are laundry, moving appliances, and texting Nina.  There might be a frozen pizza in the mix, if we really believe.

If everything plays out as it should, tomorrow morning we'll see an egg with a dot in it on the fertility monitor, text Nina, and meet at the clinic at 8.  And then, of course, we'll see a pink line on a stick two weeks later and a few months later have a wee, sweet baby.  That's how things should play out.

The electronic age

Tomorrow we'll do our first insemination of the cycle.  Or anyway we should.  Heather is on Day 12, has copious white mucus, and there are two vials of wildly expensive sperm waiting at the clinic, so if there's no egg-with-dot sign tomorrow, we're still doing it.