Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fins

Christmas is my very favorite holiday for any number of reasons, and this year it got a bump.  Not merely mine, which is finally appearing, but also an emotional bump from the baby gifts starting to rack up.  Just because we won't jinx ourselves by buying anything till January doesn't mean we can't soak up the generosity of others in Evie's life.

Evie's not-even-first Christmas went as follows: Christmas Eve, Auntie Sarah send a little pink bathrobe made to look like a shark.  My main heartbreak is that she (Evie, not Sarah) might not fit into it for months, and it's so cute that I'm tempted to use it as a receiving blanket from day 1.  Christmas morning, Evie's brand-new stocking contained the infamous and Amazon-celebrated Nosefrida Snot Sucker, a selection of wee itty-bitty t-shirts (with snaps across the front to accommodate wee itty-bitty umbilical cords), and Piyo Piyo nail scissors with duckies on them.  Duckies!

Grandma & Grandpa upped Santa's ante, though, with a car-seat.  Suddenly, things got real.  I mean, you can casually buy a baby t-shirt and put it away somewhere, but nobody has a car-seat who's not facing the imminent arrival of a child.  You don't get one for your hope chest, is all I'm saying.  Now we have one, and it means that we're really going to have a baby.  I'm almost at the end of the second trimester, so it's not like that should be news.  Heather is nearly done painting the nursery, we've been able to feel Evie's movements from the outside, and next week we start birthing classes-- two and a half hours a session, every Monday.

Still, I can't get out of the early-pregnancy mindset.  I don't feel qualified to buy maternity clothes, no matter what my pants say to the contrary, and I almost feel like the other people in the birthing class will sneer at us.  I want to sign up for prenatal yoga, but what if all the other ladies are further along?  This is like venturing into the Juniors section in a department store as a sixth-grader: do I count yet?  Only I'm realizing that I'm an eighth-grader after all, and someone about to start her third trimester is totally justified in joining prenatal classes.  It used to be that we were blushingly admitting that our much-vaunted pregnancy only amounted to a sesame seed, but now she's a she instead of an it, and big enough that they use real measurements, in units I can recognize.


The whole thing strikes me as kind of absurd, honestly.  Who are we to have a baby?  We're just kids.  We're great at having pets and we take pretty good care of the house, yeah, but you're supposed to be a real grown-up to have a kid.  Only there Heather is, caulking the trim of the nursery, and there's a car-seat in the guest room.  I had to put my only jeans away because Evie is too big for them. 

Yesterday, while Heather caulked, she guilted her oh-so-delicate wife into taping around the trim, and I looked at her and said, "Dude, listen.  I'm sitting in the exact spot where Evie's crib is going to be."  I lay down in the crib's footprint, imagining our sweet baby lying there in just a few months, and all I could think was, That fan is so ugly.  Evie is too good for that fan.  We have to replace it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

O Christmas Tree: Pre-Baby Holiday Decor


"Waiting for Evie: 24 Weeks & 4 Days"
"Married!  Heather & Rachel 11-8-2013"
So I know these are totally geeky, but it's the kind of sh*t I'm into, and also you can't shop Etsy during the holidays without personalized temptation.

I was not alone, however, because my mom made and hung a stocking for Evie, four months before she enters the world and at least a year before she can understand what one is.


Stockings all hung by the fire


Not in the holiday season, I gave into temptation by ordering a personalized wedding-cake topper.

(Note that there are two brides, one with a gold ring--me-- and one with silver-- Heather-- and then a little baby lobster.)

Because I'm not really good at the whole wedding-planning thing, I forgot to bring the topper to dinner after the wedding, meaning it's never topped an actual cake, but it's sweet anyway, and maybe we'll get an anniversary cake next year, just as an excuse to use it.  And, let's not kid, as an excuse for cake.

A few weeks ago, I noted that we'd experienced a holiday miracle when Heather and I could both sense Baby's movement.  Inevitably, it took only a little while longer before I got into a holiday panic when I couldn't feel her.  I'd felt a little iffy after our company's Christmas party (who doesn't, right, ladies?), gone to bed early, then woke up feeling iffier.  I stayed home, buried in the covers, trying to figure out what felt bad.  Once I emerged, I decided food was in order and went to pick it up.  (Don't tell Midwife Amy, but it was McDonald's.  In my defense, McDonald's is my stand-by for nausea when no crackers nor toast nor Tums have ever kept my stomach in line.)  Whilst waiting on my food, I realized I couldn't remember having felt Evie move since the night before.  I texted my friend (a mom) for reassurance.

The real trick to this anxiety is that a co-worker of ours recently lost a baby at around 24 weeks, the first clue being that it had been a long time since the baby had moved.  It didn't make me more paranoid, per se, but it did put a different spin on when we could feel "safe" with the pregnancy.  I feel like I've been pregnant forever, and we've certainly made it public.  Baby has a name and a gender and, now, a stocking.  Even so, I was barely at 24 weeks.  Things can go wrong.  I've had that in the back of my mind, but still felt fundamentally confident.  My hormones are getting a little more expressive emotionally, though, and the tendency to get negative and dramatic is more pronounced, so I guess I was ripe for anxiety.

Comforting words from my friend notwithstanding, I was certain that we were going to have the most awkward Christmas ever-- that somehow the awfulness of losing a baby at the most wonderful time of the year was a temptation that the universe could not refuse.  I poked my tummy a little, nothing happened, and I texted Midwife Amy.

(Just as a side note, having a caregiver available by text and e-mail when you're pregnant and antsy is the best thing ever.  Sure, the ob/gyn had a fancier office, but there's no waiting room at Amy's, and there's no nurses' voicemail, either.)

"So I haven't felt the baby move in hours and I'm not sure when to start freaking out.  Is there something I can do to jar her awake if she's just sleeping?"

And, listen, folks, Amy is worth every goddamn out-of-network penny we've paid, because she-- well, first she told me that movement isn't an indicator of fetal health till 28 weeks-- but then, because she's totally the best, she told me to put a bag of frozen vegetables on my tummy.  Babies don't like cold, she said.  She was spot-on, too, because, dude, Evie got to squirming after about ten seconds cuddled against broccoli medley.

Just a tip from me to you, guys.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Belly crawl at 22 weeks

Last night I went to my parents’ house for dinner and to help put up their Christmas tree.  We finished up by placing the tree skirt, with Mom on her belly at the back of the tree and my on mine at the front.  I guess I don’t spend much time crawling around on wooden floors anyhow, but it was the first time I felt genuine discomfort, like there was something tough in my abdomen that wasn’t going to squish in any deeper.  Evie is spreading out.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Miracles, junk food, and non-toxic paint

Holiday miracle: I thought my new space heater was broken, and now it’s working again.  Thank you, baby Jesus. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Backaches and poke-y tummies

The burgeoning belly
Heather told me my stomach has started poking out.  I feel that things are so ambiguous in that area that mainly it means I look fat.  I want the tummy, but I also want it to be clear that there’s a baby in there instead of just Cheetos.  Still, the fantasy of little Evie filling out a Santa coat has sustained me for quite some time, and poking out now could mean a bowlful of jelly next month.  I’ll just have to be vaguely tubby for the time being.

Midwife Amy told us on our last visit that my placenta is sitting up at the front of my uterus, providing a padding that has quieted my perception of Evie’s squirms.  It’s not dangerous—the placenta, she said, moves around throughout pregnancy and only creates a problem if it blocks Baby from the cervix during delivery—but it takes away some of the whimsy of this current stage.  Without the beach-ball belly I crave, the feeling of our banana-sized daughter moving is much-wanted proof that such a creature actually exists.  We have ultrasound pictures, blah blah blah, and I was reminded with dry heaves yesterday that Evie still resents Mommy’s perfume, so I guess I know she’s there, but I’d like something more tangible. 

The burgeoning nursery
At Heather’s end, tangible means nursery d├ęcor.  She’s plenty invested in feeling the baby move, but she’s been itching for months now to get patching and painting, and the moment approaches.  Thanksgiving is over and done, Christmas is all up to Amazon, Evie’s gender has been confirmed by ultrasound…  There is nothing to hold Heather back.  She can decorate for our baby while I decorate for the baby Jesus.  Irreligiously, of course, and somewhat more gaudily than what’s gonna fly in the nursery, but nonetheless. 

I am totally getting a banner for Evie: “Unto us a child is born!”


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gay parenting at 20 weeks

Little Evangeline is doing her thing, swimming around and showing “good variability” in her heart rate.  Our bun is baking away.

In an attempt to be good parents, Heather and I went to a seminar this week at the area gay & lesbian community center.  They do good work and I’m happy to donate, but we’re no more interested in socializing with gays than straights—small-talk is small-talk, yo—so this was a stretch.  Still, the speaker is pretty much the only game in town as far as gay-family law is concerned, and Heather figured it was cheaper to withstand an evening of social exposure than to make an appointment. 

What I can say is that the crowd at this particular event did not do much to dispel stereotypes of lesbian haircuts or fashion.  There was a surprisingly disheveled pair of gay men—don’t even bears have to groom?—but mostly it was the kind of audience that would send a bigot running at first glance.  I nearly ran, myself, once overbearing couples began interrupting the lawyer.  Heather and I grimaced at each other, silently swearing never to return.  After a stint in the back of the overheated room, we’ll happily pay lawyers and CPAs for their time if it means comfortable chairs and quiet conversation.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Doubling

16 weeks, baby!

The apps say that Evie will double her weight in the next few weeks.  OMG, what if she moved around during the ceremony?  That would be the sweetest.  Meanwhile, I’m drinking a Coke, which is verboten but at the same time has been an object of unusual craving for me.

Did I mention that?  We’re getting married.  I’ll be nearly 18 weeks at the time, so we’re curious to see what kind of baby bump has emerged at that point.  On the one hand, it’s harder to choose a wedding ensemble that will accommodate it, but, on the other hand, what’s a better prop for the pictures?  When we’ve exhausted our quota of photos looking lovingly at one another, we can just look lovingly at the bump.  I’m really ready for the bump to be big enough that it can’t be confused with my non-pregnant belly; at the same time, I’m lucky in that I have a lot of empire-waist clothes to start with.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meditations on morning sickness

I have passed the 15 week mark and had very much expected to be in the golden age of my pregnancy.  I was promised that the second trimester meant heightened energy, heightened sex drive, and the petering-out of morning sickness, but no dice. 

 

I know, I know—every woman’s pregnancy experience is different, and some women have morning sickness throughout, but I figured that, since mine had been so spotty during the first trimester, surely it wasn’t assuming too much to think that I’d be a perfect candidate for a magical, nausea-free second trimester.  Yet my 14-and-a-half mark was spent curled up in bed, emerging from the blankets only to vomit when I was foolish enough to roll over.  The dry heaves are a regular occurrence, at any hour of the day, and oddly enough the most dangerous moments of the day are getting into and out of the shower.  I had to stop halfway through this paragraph to reconsider my oatmeal.  I mean, goddamn it, I got up early to make a healthy breakfast, and now I’m not even getting my whole grains.  I could have been asleep for another half hour.  What a fucking scam.

 

Midwife Jamie was sympathetic, even to my confession of turning to McDonald’s in desperate times.  It’s kind of bullshit that, when I’m nourishing new life, I’m barely able to eat grown-person food that might actually benefit the little one.  Heather thinks I’m poisoning our fetus with McDonald’s, but I think our fetus needs to calm her ass down if she wants vegetables.  My understanding is that nausea is a side effect of the hormones that support a healthy placenta, which is why I thought it was such a great sign during the first trimester, but by what logic is the healthy placenta’s formation preventing me from keeping down healthy food? 

 

What I will say is that morning sickness has made for some interesting grocery hauls.  Back when I was trying to get knocked up, it was fresh fruit all the time; yesterday, I got two packs of bagels, a package of bagel thins, wheat bread, frozen waffles, Club crackers, and Cheerios.  I got some fruit, too, but right now it’s in my little pink lunch bag, waiting for me to care.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meditations on mommery

My sister came to town this week, much as the circus does, with a full complement of side acts, including a boyfriend, lederhosen, and her best friend, the best friend’s boyfriend, and their 8-month-old baby boy.  The whole crew were represented at a family dinner last night, giving us a not-accidental vision of our future—lederhosen excepted, I hope—and it was disheartening.

Kristin’s friend Tabitha gave me a lot of guidance when I was in the throes of homebirth indecision.  She and her boyfriend, Tim, are free-thinkers of long standing, so they were a little more qualified to take a free-thinking approach to childbirth than Heather and I are.  I actually wasn’t sure what Tabitha had done, but I e-mailed her assuming that someone who makes her own cheese and kimchee probably gave some thought to how she brought her child into the world.  Assuming did not (itself) make an ass of me in this case, as I hit the nail precisely on the head and was rewarded with a wealth of information on doulas and reading materials.  Heather, not knowing Tabitha, was not especially swayed, but I contended that she was a sensible person who, despite the kimchee, was still pretty trustworthy.  For naught.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Meditations on midwifery

After watching The Business of Being Born, I felt like it was almost inarguable that homebirth with a midwife was the best option.  I recognize that a single movie isn’t justification for a controversial (in the US, anyway) change of course; still, it struck a chord My friend Sarah sent me a book, Baby Catcher, by a midwife, and I knew my mom used one (in the hospital) for my birth.  Certainly there’s a wealth of statistics that confirm that, in healthy pregnancies, homebirths with midwife assistance show fewer complications and involve fewer interventions than hospital births. 

Still, feedback from friends and family has been ambivalent at best and hostile at worst.  There was the faction who thought it was absurd to consider delivering a baby without pain medication, one comment that I was doing it for attention, and another friend who felt it was insulting to doctors in that it implied that they weren’t competent to deliver babies in hospitals.  I get the pain thing, for sure, and I get it when people worry about something going wrong, but, whatever my faults, I rarely crave or demand attention.  Sweets, yes, and McNuggets, but not so much attention.  That one caught me off-guard. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Moodiness... or righteous fury?

People can fuck off.  A lot of people.

Curiously, the two people who can most fuck off at this moment are both short black lesbians.  I only know the two, but they both need to shut their mouths.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A pregnant pause

Yep, it’s for realsies: Heather knocked me up.

As of today, I am 10 weeks, 6 days, along and everything looks good.  The wee one is about the size of a lime, is starting to develop hair, and has a full set of internal organs.  He/she has made his/her mama sick and dizzy, and has made both moms very happy. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dream Bleeder

All weekend, my breast pain continued, leaving me achy and smug.  The more my boobs hurt, the more cocky I got about being pregnant.  A big fan of Greek mythology, I have no doubt that hubris is real: if you get cocky, the gods will punish you.  Fly too close to the sun and your wax wings will melt and you will crash down into the sea like a dumbass.  And, listen, guys, I’m a poor swimmer.

When the breast pain mellowed early this week, I saw the sea up close.  We spent Monday night at the casinos, losing money and watching TV from a giant bathtub.  I woke up Tuesday in the aftermath of a nightmare.  In the dream, I looked down and saw blood all across my legs, coming from under my skirt.  It was bright red and vivid and devastating.

I’m no better with disappointment than with deep water.  If I get my period for real, I will crash down into a sea of tears—like a dumbass—and wish I’d never paid attention to my boobs.  Heather and I keep talking about “the universe,” debating whether it will consider this attempt a first time, since it’s my first insemination, and therefore find it ridiculous to allow me to get pregnant, or if it will take us as a couple (unlike the IRS) and consider this the 9th or 10th time, therefore meriting a boon from the gods. 

We’ve gone back and forth on testing.  I’m sick of the minute-by-minute anxiety—Did my left breast throb?  Was that an early PMS cramp?—but yesterday’s dream and diminished pain left me with such a nauseating sense of failure that I can’t imagine looking at a negative test a second sooner than I have to.  Heather, ever impatient when her own body was the vessel of all our hopes and fears, is now advocating that we wait to see if my period starts.  If it doesn’t by Saturday, then I should test, she says. 

Saturday is very busy in retail, and, since I know I’ll be miserable all day, I’ve decided, instead, to test on Friday morning.  Per an arrangement with my work bestie, I will call her if it’s a no, then take the day to marinate in my grief.  Lots and lots of junk food—cake with heavy frosting, French fries, more cake, cheese danishes, Oreos, McNuggets, hot dogs—and a massage and mindless TV.  Heather and I will snuggle.  She’ll tell me that it’s okay, that it’ll happen next time, and then I’ll sob myself to sleep.  Then I’ll wake up and eat more cake.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My boobs hurt: eleven days post-insemination


Watch Animal Odd Couples on PBS. See more from Nature.
I am trying mightily not to psych myself out with pregnancy paranoia, but my bosom is trying mightily to remind me of what's possible.  It's adorable, but I'm wearing a sports bra while watching a PBS documentary about Animal Odd Couples (dog & deer friends, et al), and I don't much care for sports bras.  This should not be strenuous for anything but my tear glands.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pedicures, ice skating, and secondhand smoke: fears and fantasies of imagined pregnancy

Heather keeps checking in: “Do you feel pregnant?”  And I’ve got nothing.  Some puzzling cramps from time to time, but not the overwhelming breast pain that I’m told is a hallmark of early pregnancy.  I do poke the girls from time to time, just to see, and I’m trying not to do it in public.

What’s ridiculous is that it’s only been about a week.  It feels like it’s been forever, and certainly the lifestyle thing seems like it’s taken over my existence.  I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t worried about the whole grain content in any baked good.  Just ten days’ worth of “maybe” leaves me with little room for reality of any kind, whether it’s getting a much-needed pedicure (What about the fumes?) or going ice-skating (What if I stumble and land directly on my uterus?).  What if Grayson is right about the profound danger of herbs and I’m slowly poisoning myself or the stuff that might be inside me. 

I’ve been trying to take a gentle approach to encouraging that stuff, not wanting to get too elaborate in case there’s nothing there.  Yesterday I laid my hands on my abdomen and closed my eyes, making up a song in my head to the tune of “Merrily We Roll Along”:

Exponentially divide and grow
Divide and grow
Divide and grow
Exponentially multiply
till you’re a full-grown fetus.

I’m tempted to test early, just so I’m not making up songs for nothing. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cramps, cravings, and grumpiness

I’d like to say that I’m never grumpy and that my current attitude is a reflection of hormonal imbalance.  Alas, people are just annoying and I don’t have much patience with them. 

I can’t say that my cravings for Starburst are unusual, either, or that my desire to eat them isn’t regularly heightened by hostility towards my co-workers.  (I said I had plenty I liked yesterday, and I do, but there’s certainly a surfeit of irksome people around, too.)  I ate a few, even though they (Starburst, not co-workers) have no apparent relationship to the earth or nutrients or chi.  If anything, the Starburst probably absorbed and destroyed any chi that was available.  I think my body is probably a legacy of sugar and sugar substitutes, with a recent sprinkling of herbs and fruit on top. 

However, there’s no excuse for the crampy twinges taking place around my lady parts.  Heather high-fived me when I told her, although the cramps have become less and less charming for me.  Ouch.  Still, there’s a lot of romance in imagining that my body is aching as it supports a small new life.  That’s exactly what I signed up for, and I’m cool with it.  I just wish I was cooler with the candy part.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Meanies at work, twinges, and processed food

Two of my favorite work people—although there are a lot—have informed me that Eastern medicine is hokum.  One has cast aspersions on acupuncture and the other was aghast over the herbs.  “You’re not going to take them, are you??”  Um, yeah, I am.

 

Wednesday nights used to be high points for me: Heather would go out to dinner with friends, and I would eat junk food and watch junk TV without her watchful eye upon me.  It was terrific.  Now, even though I get the TV and couch to myself—I totally sit in Heather’s spot—I don’t get to indulge in McNuggets or cookies.  Tonight will be scrambled eggs with (organic) spinach, and maybe a dessert of (organic) cherries.  For breakfast this morning, on my boss’ dime, I had scrambled eggs with dry wheat toast.  Reader, I gave away my bacon.

 

Candace, the acupuncturist, told me to eat dark purple and red foods for now.  I envisioned grapes, but for some reason she also said eggs.  Maybe “red” is different in China.  Maybe eggs are different in China.  Maybe anti-acupuncture/sweet-potato-doubting Adam and herb-alarmist Grayson, in their everlasting nutritional wisdom, don’t even know about Chinese eggs. 

 

I’m pretty confident, though, that Candace’s instructions are not so open to interpretation that “keep avoiding processed foods” actually means “eat heavily-frosted cake.”  I’m also pretty confident that I’m pregnant.  Not because I have any reason to believe that I am, but because I’ve not been given any reason (other than, say, statistics) to believe I’m not.  Sunday, whilst eating some healthy (organic) cantaloupe, I paused for a moment, turned to the kitchen sink, and vomited up all the organicness.  This was a clear reminder that it is a legitimately bad idea to take prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach, but also a sweet moment of fantasy.  I plan to keep hold of that fantasy until the (adorably plump) lady bleeds.

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

East meets west: acupuncture, part II

This morning I had my second round of acupuncture, this time with the fertility lady, Candace.  She burned my tummy and gave me pills.

Okay, what she did was burn herbs on my tummy.  The process is called moxibustion, a procedure in Eastern medicine wherein dried mugwort (she showed me a baggie and it looked just like weed) is rolled up thin, then laid across certain pressure points and lit to attract or generate energy in that area.  In this case, Candace laid several around my abdomen, with the intention of drawing energy to my uterus.  (According to Wikipedia and the acupuncture site I linked above, sometimes this is used to turn babies in the breech position.  Wow.) 

It was pretty low-key, to be honest.  Candace had started with some light acupuncture, explaining that my pulses weren't in balance (and she checked both my wrists a lot).  She placed needles in my feet and ankles, then some behind my knees, some in my wrists, and one at the top of my head.  After a few minutes, she came back, taking out some needles and replacing some others.  Then she swiped some ointment on my abdomen, then laid out the rolls of mugwort.  I couldn't see all that well, but she had one little incense stick (or, that's how it looked) that she used to light the mugwort, and what looked like a hollowed-out cigar to snuff it out.  I felt heat, but nothing direct.

I'm not even sure what happened, only that I find it entirely believable that I'm short on qi/energy.  Apparently it is not normal when you're comfortable sleeping 12 hours a day.  I don't, but I could.  So, you know, I'm cool if Candace wants to burn stuff on my stomach if that moves some energy around. 

Candace packed me off with some herbs.  Eight pills, three times a day.  That sounds super-crazy, but the pills look like miniature malt balls and aren't much trouble to take-- counting them out is as bad as it gets.

I go back to Candace in two weeks.  By then, we'll know what's up.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What now?

Honestly.  What do I do now?

My friend Emily asked me what I could do now the inseminations are done.  It's slow sometimes, she pointed out, even for straight, fertile couples to get pregnant; is there anything I do now to help it along?  To the best of my knowledge, the answer is no.

Last night, Heather and I lay in bed after work, visualizing the embryo (zygote?) burrowing into my warm, welcoming uterine lining.  I don't even know if it would be there yet.  Maybe the sperm are waiting in the fallopian tubes.  I don't know where they are, or if there's anything that might have formed, or where that is, so I'm just going with the uterine-lining theory.  Nuzzle, nuzzle, little embryo!  When I went to bed, I snuggled into the sheets, imagining the embryo snuggling into my womb the same way.

I've eaten the equivalent of two pineapples since the first insemination.  Tonight I guess I need to buy more.  Can the lady acupuncturist do anything?  It's worth hoping.  Meanwhile, I'm drinking water and organic green tea, and putting blankets over my midsection lest the embryo get chilly.  Now I just need to keep busy for two weeks.  Suggestions?

Friday, July 19, 2013

ICI #2: "It's like a pit of water!"

Yesterday was Day 13-- the first official day of ovulation and the second ICI.  (The theory goes that, since sperm can live in the body for quite some time, it's safe to inseminate before ovulation, especially since, at the latter end of ovulation, cervical mucus turns acidic and kills sperm.  Boo.)  Because ovulation had really kicked in, my os had widened, and suddenly the mucus went from a moderate accumulation to a flood.  Heather was caught between delight and horror: just because it's crucial to conception doesn't make it more glamorous.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Egg & dot & sperm

Last night was my first insemination.  It was amazing and bizarre.

Earlier in the week, I'd gone to the ob-gyn for a thumbs-up (granted) and to the acupuncturist for some puncturing (punctured), then spent $160 at Whole Foods in an organic haze.  The sperm tank was in our entryway (welcome, guests!), and I was surreptitiously checking my cervix on bathroom breaks.  I know that sounds dirty, but, jeez, there's never a great time for poking your own cervix.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Failures, forms, phone calls, and faxes

I don't care for telephones.  I answer them for a living, but my willingness to do so is predicated on the understanding that I will speak for ten seconds, listen for fifteen, then get the hell off the line.  Anything more than that is hurtful.

Last week, I called Dr. King's office, sat on hold for five minutes of "At XYZ Clinic, we believe every patient deserves a close, personal relationship with her doctor," etc.  When one of the scarce receptionists answered, I said, hey, is it okay if I have some sperm shipped to you?  And they said okay.  Meanwhile, I live-chatted with a rep at the sperm bank to check that the clinic was in their database; answer: nope.  So she faxed a form to the clinic.  I called the clinic, sat on hold for five minutes of "Make regular appointments with your doctor to maintain blah blah blah," and said to the time-shared receptionist, hey, can you see if this fax came through?  Then they sent me to Records.

Remember the Records lady in Dr. King's office?  I do.  I heard that kindly, creaky voice and I knew I was back in hell.  Fuck.  This is what happened afterwards, as I reported it to my work bestie:

1)  I spoke to the admin lady at my ob-gyn for the second time so she would send the form to the sperm bank, which for whatever reason needs a sign-off from a doctor even if the doctor isn't doing the procedure.  We clarified that I didn't expect the doctor to do the insemination.  Good.
2) Then I went to Heather's office to call the sperm bank and make the order.  Then the lady there said she needed a form from me, so I raced back to my desk to fill it out and electronically sign it.
3) Then I raced back to Heather's office to call them again... and the lady said they hadn't gotten the aforementioned form from the doctor's office.  I started crying and half hung up on the lady, who was trying to be nice.
4) I reported all this to Heather.  Heather reacted by cursing about how the doctor's office sucked and couldn't get it together and she didn't understand why we were using them.  I shut the door and raised my voice, telling her that it didn't matter how she felt about the doctor's office, since she wasn't the one calling them or even going there.  She told me she hated them, and I cut her off to repeat that every time she said it, I felt like she was reminding me that it was my fault that we were using that office and that, by extension, it was my fault that we were having these problems.  She said, no, she just hated the office.  I told her that it made things worse when she said that, and that all I wanted from her was to tell me she's sorry I'm stressed and that she hates it for me.  I cried a bunch more.
5) Since Heather had ordered from them before and I was losing my shit, she called the sperm bank and tried to order it under her own name... except that the doctor's office listed under her name is the clinic in fucking Nashville, and this particular sperm bank won't ship to our house-only to the doctor's office.  So that was a wash, and I was miserable.
6) I called the ob-gyn's office to talk to the admin lady about the form.  I got stuck in her voicemail and left a very tense message for her to check on the form shortly and to call me back.
7) She did not call me back.
8) I occupied myself with a Milky Way.

At lunch, I called the doctor's office again and got the lady on the phone.  She said, hey, no, I sent the form earlier and got a confirmation email from Spermy McSpermerson.  I felt bad for being so hostile, so I thanked her profusely.  Back to the store, called the sperm bank again.  The lady said, okay, I need xyz from you.  Got it.  Then she said, hey, we don't have your doctor's form.  I said, dude, no, I just spoke to my doctor's office and they got a confirmation e-mail from Spermy McSpermerson.  Oh.  So she put me back on hold and went to see Spermy McSpermerson to find out.  Okay, found it.  After all that shit, she offered me two shipping options, and I told her that we need the stuff Tuesday, so the economy option is fine.  Nope, she said: you'll have to pay extra for the overnight shipping because we stopped shipping half an hour ago.

Only bad things happen when phones are involved.  You have to hang up on nice people, you have to leave voicemail with your birthdate, and then you cry a lot.  Someday, I will live in a hole with only my laptop and Uncrustables.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 5 of THE cycle.. or just a cycle

When you're tracking, you have a lot of opportunity to anticipate your period.  Friday was easy: I got fussy when I cooked dinner (an undelicious dish of salmon, asparagus, and whole-wheat noodles) and reminded Heather that I was due to start any day now.  Lo, Saturday morning, I was greeted with red, just in time to update the fertility monitor and to inspire profound self-doubt.

If this "pre-mester" of preparing my body is really important, than is trying to get pregnant after only a month of following its tenets going to be enough?  How many flaxseeds, or acupuncture sessions, does it take to make a difference?  Should I wait another month?  Or should I just go for it?  Heather, impressed that I've maintained self-control for over a week, is ready to make the move.

And, to be honest, there's a part of me that's still pretty cocky: I'm barely thirty, my cycle runs like clockwork, and that one time at the IVF clinic they saw a bunch of follicles.  Golden, right?  Except that I'm not convinced that anyone is golden.  Our previous experience demonstrated how little you know in advance about someone's fertility: outward signs might be great, and even a huge number of tests might look great, but sometimes there are other, buried issues that catch you off-guard.

Nonetheless, I'm doing my visualizations.  I'm imagining the follicles growing.  My uterine lining is developing into a thick, warm home for embryos.  Heather and I have picked a donor, and this is happening in a week.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day who-knows of the pre-pregnancy diet, wherein optimism is re-examined

I've been hewing pretty closely to this Making Babies plan.  The other night, I ate two plain-- unbuttered, unsalted-- cobs of corn, then ate a full third of a baked sweet potato before I officially went, "Eh," and gave it up.  I put butter and sugar on it, but it's still a weird root vegetable, and there's only so much I can do about that.  The next night, I made sweet potato oven fries, which were likewise unspectacular (especially in comparison to the afternoon's Independence Day diet of hot dogs and Ruffles).  After a breakfast of Cheerios with banana and a half-cup of green tea, I decided I was the most virtuous creature ever to set foot to earth.

Virtuous and brave, too: I made an appointment to see an acupuncturist.  This is less brave than it is the fulfillment of my modest yearnings for adventure combined with a blessedly absent fear of needles.  Lying on a table with a guy tapping tiny needles into my body seems, to be honest, a lot easier than eating kale.

The only trick to all this is that we thought Heather was going to be real easy to knock up, and it took two years for us to feel sure she wasn't.  Now I eat half a plum and am overcome with certainty that I'm mere weeks away from nourishing life in my womb.  It has to happen the first time to somebody, right?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 1 Million of the Pre-Pregnancy Diet: Walnuts, Plums, and Parking

I've been reading a book about preparing your body for optimum fertility, and I kind of want to be a jerk about it-- "They demand so much!  It's absurd!  I have to give up gluten and dairy and all carbs!"-- but it's actually pretty reasonable.  There are guidelines for charting and eating and whatnot, but the authors say, "Well, listen, if it's too much or it stresses you out to track your temperature, skip it.  If you eat right 80% of the time, that's great; don't deprive yourself of everything."  And, really, eating watermelon and cantaloupe hardly sounds arduous.

Apparently there's an association between the brightness of a fruit or vegetable's color and its nutritional value, as well as an association between the item's color and its particular nutrient, so they recommend a mix of blue/purple items, like grapes and plums and blueberries, with reds, like peppers and tomatoes and watermelon.  Dude, I love watermelon.  Of course, the trick is that it's all supposed to be organic, lest various chemicals leach into your body, and that's an expensive pain in the ass.  I'm not really a farmers-market kind of girl.  Oh, and flaxseed: I'm supposed to put flaxseed in everything.  This is some hippie shit.

That said, buying $50 of organic produce is a pretty good investment if there's a possibility that it could save us $1,000 in sperm.  Even the cheaper stuff is $600 for a vial, before you calculate shipping, and I'd really prefer to keep speculum time to a minimum.  The less Heather has to look at my cervix, or squirt sperm towards it, the less wrenching, humiliating pain involved.  I mean, until childbirth.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Vagina Hurts: The Speculum Diaries

Because I am ovulating today (what what!), Heather agreed to take a gander at my cervix.  It fucking hurt.

The first time someone made a move on my vajay with a speculum (a nurse, you dirty-minded a-holes), muscles that had never before been put into action shrieked with anger, swiftly expelling those hellish duck-bills.  The nurse was surprised to see the speculum returned to her hand so soon, and I was proud.  I can barely lift a toddler, but my speculum-defense muscles are mighty.

When we initially sought out Heather's cervix, it was a disaster.  Heather and her vagina seemed straight-up stubborn (not to mention angry) when her cervix hid from examination.  Why wouldn't her knees fall open?  Why did she need so many pillows under her hips?  Are you seriously telling me that we have to flip this equipment upside down for her crazy-ass, tilted uterus to cooperate? 

She hated it, no matter what, and I enjoyed the sweet glow of condescension.  Once my first vagina-invading medical professional realized that a smaller speculum was in order, I never had much of a problem.  When Heather checked my vagina to see if it cooperated any better, my cervix popped right up like an over-eager restaurant hostess.  I made it look easy.

Reader, it is not.  It has been two full hours since Heather attempted an exam, and I'm wondering if they make vaginal painkillers.  The only reason I'm not trying to shove a handful of Aleve up there is that, if things went awry, the doctor would have to use a speculum to get them out.  Also because it would probably hurt to shove a handful of Aleve up my twat.

Heather told me that the small speculum was inadequate to the task of cervix-finding, insisting that the larger one was in order.  (Because, like everyone, we have a medley of specula.  Variety is the spice of life.)  I have not stopped disputing it yet.  Still, I was on my back trying to breathe deeply, so I gamely tried to manipulate my body and the tool, which I had snatched (Get it?  Snatched?) from Heather after her first attempt at insertion.  I felt certain the two were incompatible, while Heather told me it was totally possible.  Fuck her.

But it was possible.  I managed.  And then she couldn't find my cervix.  She was flipping the speculum all over the place, and then we'd have to re-insert at a different angle when my ferocious vaginal muscles drove out the invading technology.  In the end, it wasn't even certain if she saw my cervix.  Familiar.  We comforted ourselves with the approval of the fertility monitor and the quality of my cervical mucus, but nothing else is comfortable.  I need some ice.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 1: The Pregnancy Diet Begins

Today marks the official end of our vacation free-for-all, and I am drinking water.
Goddamn it.

There's never a good time to give up caffeine and junk food, so I put it off until after our trip.  After all, you can hardly concentrate on lean proteins and broccoli when surrounded by prosciutto, red wine, and pasta.  And you can order all the courses you want on a cruise ship, so why not get dessert at every meal?  The trick, of course, to making those deals with yourself--"The diet starts Monday"-- is that eventually Monday comes, or the trip ends, and you have to face the ugly part of the arrangement.  In this case, water.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

(Over-30) baby-mama drama

So First Response, a company which profits from the pee of emotional women, is conducting an awareness campaign in Britain to alert women that their fertility will nosedive after 35.  "Better get crackin'" is the unofficial slogan, I believe.

The article I read came from Bust magazine, one of the best things in the whole world, and the author writes

Get Britain Fertile has already begun courting controversy ahead of its June 3rd launch date. Most notably, it's irked Think Progress writer Aviva Shen.  Shen has a very strong stance against the campaign:
“First Response has decided the solution to the trend of women waiting longer to have children is to criticize them, prey on their fears of ageing, and exploit social disgust for even moderately sexual old women,” Shen writes. She argues the campaign does not tackle the “real fiscal issues young women explicitly say are keeping them from having children earlier.”

And that's totally fucking true.

Happy birthday to me: frosting, apps, and TTC at 30

Last Sunday, Heather and I celebrated my upcoming birthday with my parents.  Mom and I had pedicures, Dad made a special dinner, and I was granted my wish of a cheap grocery-store cake that sagged with frosting.  It was terrific.

Somewhere in the back of my mind-and sometimes in the front-was the idea that maybe by my next birthday, there'd be a baby in the mix.  Would I get to dab frosting on the little one's nose, or at least smear some on a fat, pregnant belly?  Birthdays seem like the kind of benchmarks that tell you if you're gettin' it done, and I'd like to complete my 30th year by gettin' conception done.  Heather has kindly accommodated this particular (and particularly tender) birthday by arranging a European extravaganza, landing me in Rome as the new decade dawns.  We just need my ovaries, some dude's sperm, and the skilled wielding of a syringe to accommodate my 31st.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Back in the stirrups again: ob-gyn appointments for ME!

Now that it's my turn 'round the reproductively-challenged carousel, I get to go to doctors' offices on my own.  I don't have to wake Heather up with lattes for bribes, or explain to nurses why the fuck there's a bystander to her pap smear.  I don't have to call these offices under her name, or keep tabs on her Social Security number.  I know my own information, I can fill out my own paperwork, and nurses will totally understand why I'm there.  It's my vagina this time, y'all!

I made an appointment at Dr. King's office, feeling less like I need an ob-gyn visit than that I need to get a foot in the door so she can monitor my pregnancy and deliver our baby and generally participate in the fantasy world I'm building.  Based on our experience with Heather's womb, I have very limited expectations of the day coming when we will need someone to deliver our baby, but hell if my low expectations are going to stick me with a back-alley ob-gyn when the time comes.  We're going at this full-tilt.

(Full tilt.  Hehe.  Like Heather's uterus, or my position while in stirrups.  Hehe.)

In fairness, we're not at full tilt yet.  Heather is just now taking an interest, having played it cool for the past several months- and sometimes actively discouraged discussion of our newest effort.  Once bitten, twice shy, I suppose, even though it's occasionally hurt my feelings when she's squashed the topic.  Her recent comment that she's getting excited had me giddy.  Still, I'm trying to keep my mouth shut (trying) so she can feel comfortable with it on her own, and that's kind of inhibiting any momentum from building.

Fuck that.  I'm going to put my own name on the paperwork.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Amazing. You're welcome.

Okay: amazing.  Heather and I went to a new guy to get our hair colored earlier this week, and he is not a fella who cuts corners when it comes to time or highlights.  Heather was in probably phase 948564 while I was on a break between phases 93495734 and 9934753497, so Barry and I sat together for a few minutes chatting.  (I'm using his real name, which is unusual in this blog, because he's so good that I can't bear to hide his light under a pseudonymous bushel.)

Barry knew that we were trying to make a baby and asked me when we were going to start that up.  I said it would be after we came back from our vacation in June.  That is a mere footnote to what came next.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Expectations: pregnancy post-miscarriage

Last week I had a full physical, more because my insurance paid for me to wander hallways in a light robe and FitFlops between spurts of blood-draws and chest x-rays than because I really care about my health.  Or, that would be the case under other circumstances.  Such as it is, I have to try to care about my health for the purposes of baby-making.  Just... under the radar.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Folksy

We live in the south-- in one of what I'd guess is the top four homo-hating states, just incidentally-- and people here tend to be folksy.  I know it's supposed to be charming, but a) it's easy to associate folksy values with the homo-haters and b) it's a bit of a struggle for those of us assiduously trained by Yankee parents to enunciate.  Moreover, folksiness usually translates into chattiness, and ain't nobody got time for that.  Or, anyway, I don't.  Tell me what you want without referring to your 15-year-old "baby" or your 70-year-old "daddy."

Yes, I appreciate the irony of saying I don't appreciate chattiness when I'm responsible for frequent and frequently lengthy blog posts.  I'm kind of an ass.  Sorry.

My psychiatrist is not folksy.  I don't know where she's from, but she's a purposeful lady who wants to find out whether I'm especially fucked-up, write notes, then transition into an unnatural chat about goings-on.  I both appreciate and fear those moments.  This past visit, we talked about what medications would need to be changed to accommodate a healthy pregnancy.  She said Xanax is out, so that's one less prescription I have to fill, and said we should cut back on either the Lamictal (a mood stabilizer) or Lexapro (a vanilla anti-depressant).  We halved my dose of the latter, with the understanding that I might experience "brain flashes" of some sort, wherein turning my head could cause an imagined, peripheral flash of light.  Cool!

My unfolksy, purposeful psychiatrist continued taking notes as she casually said, "And you're planning on losing some weight, right?"  Like, "And you'll breast-feed, right?"  Um, whore.  But it's true: I'm supposed to be all healthy and whatnot if we're going to do this.  I've been in the habit of shelving all the baby crap because of Heather's ambivalence, so I guess I wasn't taking any of that seriously.  We have all variety of baby-making supplies-- not just the speculum collection or the pregnancy tests, but fertility tea and wildly expensive prescription vitamins.  Our kitchen still bears signs of IVF, with dregs of Follistim rolling around in the crisper of the fridge and the last drops of Lupron in a bottle on the window ledge, mainly because we spent too much on them to casually toss them in the trash, whether or not they have any value to us currently.

Distractions, all.  None of the novelties will justify me eating Reese's Pieces.  I'll have to wait till I'm pregnant and I can blame it on the baby.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Everlasting bullshit

Another celebrity is pregnant.

This one just had a baby.

Oh, and here's a baby bump.

And here's another baby bump.

What is up with these b*tches?  I'm told by a very reputable source that it's not cool to use that word, but I find it hard not to be hostile to my fellow womyn when they're all fucking pregnant or showing off their babies or talking about how they co-sleep.  It just feels like a slap in the face.

And I say that as someone who isn't even trying yet.  It's the idea of it, though-- the reminder that our time and money over the past several years have paid no dividends, and the profound fear that it'll go badly on this next go-round.  What will it feel like when it's my body that fails?  What will it be like to get my period instead of a plus sign? 

I mean, no kidding, of course I'm anxious to get this going.  I know how long each month is-- the wait from period to ovulation, from insemination to period-- but I don't know how long it'll feel when it's me.  Also I'm super-fucking-impatient.

Who's at fault in the baby hunt?

There is a lovely, if somewhat disheartening, Aimee Mann song called "Momentum."

Even when it's approaching torture/ I've got my routine.

It's one that I find poignant, as I am an exceedingly risk-averse person who seeks out ruts and stays in them.  The baby thing kicked off with enthusiasm but took surprisingly little time to become a torturous routine, and this break we're taking hasn't done anything to take it off my radar.  There is no true back burner.  A baby is on the list and I am going to find a way to cross it off.

Earlier this week, Heather told me that the baby thing had always been my thing-- that she wasn't obsessed the way I was and hadn't been as traumatized by her miscarriage as I was.  As though she could take or leave the baby that we've been pursuing doggedly for years now.  Has she just been accommodating me?  Is that why she was hostile to all the appointments and tests?  Did she want a break because she didn't care that much?

It took a moment for me to process the idea, given that she was talking about having a baby on her own when we got together.  We put it off for the sake of building a relationship, setting a timeline that still traumatized my parents.  There seemed to be a shared enthusiasm for the project.

I wonder about straight couples, too.  If you believe Sex and the City or Friends, women are baby-crazed, immune to logic when reproduction is on the line.  Everything hangs in the balance.  Men, however, have a practical approach-much like the fellow in our IVF class who said he hoped his young wife's surgical procedures wouldn't get in the way of hunting season.  Is that a common attitude?  Are ladies just unreasonable?  Is it stupid and selfish to want a baby when biology is fighting it?  Should we all just accept that it isn't in the cards?  (Or would that defeat the purpose of marriage?)

Heather is adorable with kids.  Her reverence of our baby-replacing kitten is a sight to behold.  Maybe Cleo really did replace a baby for her.  I just can't help thinking what a terrific, funny mom she'll be when I see her coo and snuggle the cat, then lovingly reprimand her for being bratty.  "You turkey butt!"  She's the best, and I want to raise a child with her.  I don't want it because I'm in the habit of wanting it.  It's on my list for a reason.

Motherf*cker.

Thanks, Eonline: "Halle Berry Pregnant at 46: Here Are 5 More Stars Who Had a Baby After 40."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When should I start charting?

Back when we were trying to get Heather pregnant, it seemed like the answer to that question was "Immediately!"  No particular time frame; just "now."  It's like those sitcom episodes where the new parents are asked by condescending fellow parents in play group what preschools they've applied to and are met with scorn when they say they haven't applied at all.  That's how we felt, early on, when we wanted to get pregnant and hadn't taken morning temperatures or used fertility lenses.  What in holy hell is a fertility lens?