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.