Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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CD 1 Eve

Hi, internets. You awake? I am, and I’m blaming my new, thrilling PMS symptom of intractable insomnia on the day prior to my period’s arrival. I could be wrong: I’ve been thinking my period imminent for several days, what with cramping and spotting and weeping on the floor at the end of our final (I promise, Starrhillgirl) attempt at toddler yoga, about which more another time. (WTF, spotting? Granted, the volume in question is probably <1% of the pre-hysteroscopy volume, but I thought I was supposed to be done with this, Oh, uterus, you old tease.) This could be just the prednisone, I suppose.

Yes, prednisone again. I returned to the ENT this Thursday, having finished a fourteen-day course of augmentin (which began with six days of prednisone), feeling very, very much improved, expecting to be declared well and sent on my way. 'twas not to be, alas. One aerosolized cocktail of novocaine and decongestant and a scope up the nose later, the doctor declared himself pleased but not pleased enough. So. Ten more days of augmentin, four more of prednisone, come back in a week. I'm beginning to feel I'm getting to know that office too well, rather as one does with the baby factory. And I definitely prefer a dildocam to a nostrilscope.

Still, I am much, much better — practically human now! Thank you for your sympathy on my last post.

The prednisone means no drinking or NSAIDs, still. Clean living! You can imagine, I'm sure, how pleased I was to hear that, given the cyclical date and all. Part of why I am hoping tomorrow is indeed CD 1 is that it's the weekend, which means Sugar can watch the Bean if I need to take Percocet in the daytime as well as at night.

CD 1, those of you following along at home may remember, also means Return to Dildocam Island, aka Baby Factory: The Musical: The Sequel. About this I feel…strangely cold-blooded. Every new stage of TTC the first time around, from deciding to begin, to making appointments with new doctors, even upping the treatment ante, felt exciting (among other things). Just starting the process, let alone having the actual baby, felt like the realization of close to a lifetime's worth of dreaming about having a baby, dreaming that, what with the endometriosis and the relative poverty and the lesbianism, often felt very unlikely to come true. Trying again just doesn't feel like that.

For one thing, those lifelong dreams always included at least one child, but the number was sometimes only one. I spent an enormous amount of time imagining what it would feel like to hold a child of mine on my chest (and feeling the terrible lightness of that child's absence), but I don't have a similarly visceral sense of what holding two children of mine might feel like.

More to the point, I think, is the fact that I am straight-up terrified of going through infancy again. I am just so very much better at this toddler gig, and I don't think it's only a case of being a more experienced mother now, in which case the second iteration of the larval need-bag stage could be reasonably expected to go better than the last. I think it's more to do with coping very poorly with serious sleep deprivation, not being particularly well-treated by breastfeeding hormones (Do I have a mild case of Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex? Maybe.), and, well, being the kind of person who would even think of calling a gurgling bundle of sour-milk-scented joy a larva.

You, of course, know the other thing I’m afraid of: birth, and that whole nightmare roller coaster again. See: everything tagged Dr. Russian. It is entirely possible that much of my feeling distant about the whole TTC business is just protecting myself from thinking seriously about the prospect of facing all that beyond the safe confines of this space. That I started weeping while looking at positive reviews from women who had delivered with my new doctor suggests there could be something to that notion. Throw in a soupçon’s fear of TTC not working, and you have a fine recipe for an aloof Bionic.

It isn’t, I am almost certain, that I don’t want to have another child. I keep asking myself if that’s it, of course, because we are still at a stage where backing out is possible. But no, it’s not that. I do want a sibling for the Bean — and another one of these critters for my own, selfish reasons. I wish I could capture in writing the wry smile the Bean had tonight when Sugar asked if he’d like a fish stick and, champion re-director that he is, he laced his fingers together, leaned across the table like a talkshow host, and said, “ooooor, maybe chocolate?” And did I tell you about the “turtle” he “drew” this week? What’s the turtle’s name, I asked. The Bean uses a kind of movie-Italian speech pattern sometimes now. “It’s-a called Penis,” he said, “It’s a big one.” I think Penis is a weird name for a turtle (maybe it was a skinny baby?), but the point is, this is a pretty great gig.

Last time around, every move we made to get to the Bean was driven by passion, and it’s just different this time. It’s less like I need to have a baby NOW, and more like, I know what I’d like our lives to look like in several years, and this is the time it makes sense to start building that future. I gather more rational people have experiences like this a lot, you know, and plan their lives in an orderly fashion and so on. But it’s a disorienting sensation for an impulsive creature like me. So. Off I go to the clinic, faking it ’til I make it.


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What I Really Want To Know

My mother has this idea that the sperm banks tell you all the wrong information about donors.  Forget what a friend calls their “alleged personalities;” my mother argues the questions ought to be more like:

Were you born with teeth?  And just how early DID you walk?

(We found the audio clips very useful for addressing the issue of “Nerdy or Spectral?” if you catch my meaning.)

Today, and every day, if you can even call these dark hours “day,” I am thinking they ought to be required by law to disclose if any first degree relatives habitually rise before dawn.  Surely this is a more significant discordance than CMV status.

What’s on your list?


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Blog Carnival: Donor Sperm

This post is part of the Love Makes A Family Blog Carnival.  Check out this week’s other  posts, including the next in line, from, um, Next In Line.  (I did not do that on purpose.  That was my brain, making a funny.)

As I write this, riding the train home after teaching a night class, breasts sore clear up to the collar bone (pumps work better when you bring all the parts), the Bean’s sperm donor feels like a very remote concept, hardly a person at all, and certainly not part of daily life in any real way.  When we started TTC, I thought about him a lot, and when we got the fertilization reports, I felt glad my eggs liked his sperm so much, but now that the Bean is here, well, I admit wondering when he got his first teeth and whether he was an early walker (because The Bean is clearly not taking after my own, politely restrained model of first steps at 18 months), but he doesn’t have much to do with our immediate realities.  Nothing in his profile tells me whether the Bean is crying out of hunger or tiredness or whether he’s just pining for the cats; his interview doesn’t cover what to do with my mixed feelings as my milk ceases to be enough to feed the Bean.  In a theoretical way, I recognize that the Bean wouldn’t be the Bean if we’d chosen Mr. NMEBSI, but that doesn’t make the donor we did choose seem to me like a father.  For me and for Sugar, the donor is only a set of characteristics loosely associated with a product we paid for and have found satisfactory.  If he materialized in our living room, he wouldn’t know our son the way Sugar and I do, no matter how many genes they might share.

I realize, though, that someday he may seem very important, indeed, because the odds are good that the Bean isn’t going to believe he is the product of parthenogenesis.  (My pesky father will probably tell him about Y chromosomes, for one thing.)  We will tell the Bean that his donor is his donor, but ultimately, we don’t know who he will decide his donor is to him.  The biggest reason we chose a willing-to-be-known donor is that we wanted to be able to say to the Bean that even before he was a bean, we were thinking of him as his own person, whose thoughts and desires might well be different from our own.  We can’t know whether his donor will want to meet him (or whether the Bean will be interested in contact), whether he’ll actually not be the thoughtful man he seemed in his interview, whether he’ll even be alive.  We just wanted to be able to say that we did the best we could.

This all sounded very good to me, very well-reasoned and mature and considerate, until I was actually pregnant, when donor concerns suddenly seemed a little more real.  And then the Bean was born.  “He has your nose,” Dr. Russian announced, while Sugar cradled him.  “Really?” I said, craning to see across the room.  Later, I looked up the donor’s baby picture.  The Bean looks a lot like me, but he does not have my nose.  Nor my ears.  I looked at the picture and I looked at the Bean: it’s not just my genes in there.

I feel that we did do the best we could — for a variety of reasons, a known donor was not a good choice for us — and it’s possible that some of my concern is a product of internalized homophobia, a lingering belief that my gayness makes me an unfit parent.  (I reject such ideas with my conscious mind, but you know how minds can be.)  And yet, I can’t help worrying that the Bean won’t feel the same.

Donor Unknown, a documentary about the experiences of a group of donor-concieved teenagers who find each other on the Donor Sibling Registry and subsequently meet their (originally anonymous, from before the days of willing-to-be-known donors) donor after he reads about them in the New York Times, both fanned and allayed my fears.  It’s a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it.

(Okay, I’m home now and it’s late, so this part has to be quick.)

The donor in the movie is a fascinating character.  He is what you call a free spirit.  I was pleased to see what a kindhearted man he was, not at all someone who was only into donating for the money.  He seemed to feel a real spiritual connection to the idea of sperm donation, which had a beauty to it.  On the other hand…he’s weird.  He lives in a camper in a parking lot by the ocean.  But he’s so nice!  He recognized himself in the Times article and voluntarily reached out to these kids!   My reactions to this aspect of the film were a classic Aww!/ACK! conflict.  He loves animals.  Aww….  He rescues pigeons!  Ack!

Then I realized something important: the kids aren’t weird at all.  They are, you might say, all right.  They seem smart, kind, and sane.  With the exception of the one whose parents lied to her about being donor conceived, they seem happy and well-adjusted.  (If you ever needed a reason not to lie, imagine finding out that your daughter had talked to a NYT reporter about her donor siblings only when your voicemail filled up with friends calling about the article.  Heh.  Guess she got her own back, surprise-wise.)  Many of them talked about traits they imagined they might have inherited from their donor, but none of them seemed, upon meeting him, to find that his eccentricities challenged their sense of themselves.

The most important idea I took away from the movie is that the donor belongs to the kids, not the parents.  One of the moms of a boy in the movie talks about how she wants to go with him, to see him meet his donor, who she’s been curious about since before he was born.  The boy ably deflects her; he goes on his own and meets up with other donor sibs (and the camera crew) for the meeting.  Watching from the outside, it was so obvious that was the right choice, but I think I would have the same desires his mother did.  Besides pure curiosity, it’s hard to imagine relinquishing control over that moment.

Yet at the same time, the thought of relinquishing some control over that relationship is a relief.  It’s nice to think that Sugar and I aren’t messing everything up by not already being on the DSR, seeking out donor sibs and planning playdates.  We may yet join, but having watched this movie, I feel easier with the idea of letting that be his decision, donor siblings his discovery.  As long as we are honest with our children, then as with many parenting decisions, I think there is more than one right way to do this.


15 Comments

Egg Retrieval Story

Hey there, folks. How are you? I’m much better than I was, happy to say. I have been all blown up like a water balloon from a touch of OHSS, which wasn’t particularly painful but was kind of tiring, but on Sunday night I peed like I have never peed before — I think someone told my kidneys there was a talent scout in the house — and suddenly I can wear pants again. If I do end up pregnant, I know this will be only the eye of the storm, but I am enjoying it nonetheless.

As far as other ailments, I know Sugar told you I‘ve been rather sick, but I want to make clear that pain and vomiting did at least happen on different days. The pain was very bad the day after retrieval — probably because of all the endometriosis — and then not. The nausea was bad around transfer (5 days post-ER), and I am convinced was a side effect of the progesterone. Now that my body’s used to it, I’m fine. (The doctor tried to sell me on nausea as being because of the bloating, but I haven’t felt sick when at my most bloated; when I felt nauseated was between the post-ER bloat and the real OHSS ballooning.)

I said before that your ER stories were all of so much help to me at my own retrieval, so I figured I’d better tell mine before it fades in the haze of the percocet-filled days that followed it. It’s looooonnnggggg. I hope it will help someone later.

On the morning of retrieval, I was hungry and scared. My clinic says no food or drink at all after midnight the night before, and my procedure wasn’t until midmorning. I have a touch of hypoglycemia, and that long without food leaves me a hot mess: shaky, frightened, easily confused, possessing the emotional self-control of a nap-less toddler. On the other hand, my ovaries felt so big and my back was so sore that if someone had handed me a grapefruit spoon, I might well have dug the eggs out myself. I was, shall we say, ready as I’d ever be.

We took a cab to the clinic, which was very empty because it was Saturday. After filling out payment contact forms for the anesthesiology department, we went up the the second floor of the clinic, where they have operating rooms. I really liked that I didn’t have to go to a separate hospital. Not only was it less nerve-wracking to be in a familiar place — a VERY familiar place, given how much monitoring I’d been having — but it was also calm and uncrowded. Most of the nurses I saw that day I had met in the blood draw room at one point or other, which was comforting.

When we got to the second waiting room, there was one man by himself and one male/female couple. After a few minutes, the woman was called back. About ten minutes later, the nurse called her (presumed) husband back through a different door.

Wow, I thought, if he’s already going to meet her in recovery, this really IS a quick procedure.

Very soon, a brusque nurse I hadn’t met before called me back. “Okay, she’ll come find you after she’s done,” she said to Sugar, prompting a freakout from me. The materials we’d been given all said that “depending on time and patient flow,” she could meet me in recovery. Not anymore, the nurse said, new policy. I felt angry and even more scared. I would have been okay if I’d been expecting it, but I was in no state for surprises. I began to suspect that the nurse thought Sugar and I were just friends, that we weren’t being treated like the het couple that had gone before us.

“What about that guy? How come he got to go, then?” I demanded. The nurse claimed no knowledge. I was rattled and pissed.

After that, I went to the locker room, where I exchanged my clothes for two nice, cloth gowns (one tied in back, one in front), little socks with rubber treads, and a shower cap that was extremely awkward for my long, heavy braid. The key was on a springy loop that I put on my left wrist. I then met the nurse in a tiny room with a table, where she took my pulse and BP (high for me — “maybe you’re a little nervous?” she said, rather kindly) and had me fill out more consent forms and so on. When we were done and the OR still wasn’t ready, she totally redeemed herself in my eyes by fetching Sugar and letting us sit there together until it was time for me to go.

When they were ready, I walked with the nurse to the OR. The way there was through recovery, and I suddenly understood why Sugar couldn’t meet me there — there were just too many patients. The recovery area at the clinic is a series of curtained nooks (like you see in ERs sometimes) arranged around a nurses’ station. Because some of the patients weren’t conscious yet, all of the curtains were open. No partners were there, and I did understand that the nurse was right when she said that having partners come in had been a problem, since everyone was talking and people who were just coming to got confused. The atmosphere was very quiet and calm, even if it was still pretty weird to walk by the woman from the waiting room, out cold with her mouth wide open. She looked like a child or a rag doll.

The OR itself looked, well, like an OR. There was a table with white sheets and “stirrups” that were really just long things to put your calves in. I was standing in the big, open part of the room on the right hand side of the bed. To the left was lots of equipment. There were what seemed like a ton of people but was probably only 4 or so doctors and nurses bustling around. Everything was moving really fast. I got scared again.

“Hop up,” they said, after having me take off one gown and “loosen” the other. (It turned out that by “loosen” they meant “completely untie.” It would have saved some time and frustration on my part if they’d just said that. I felt like I was already supposed to know all this stuff, like in a weird dream.)

Hop up HOW? I thought. The bed was too high for me to get onto easily. They pressed something and it lowered down, I got on it, and everything started happening really fast. A man in green scrubs grabbed my left hand and pulled it out to the side, where there was a little table at a right angle to the bed. He started telling me to make a fist and so on, so he could start the IV. At the same time, a nurse I knew from the blood draw room was telling me to scoot down the table farther, so that my butt was at the edge of a hole in the bed that I could see because it was covered with a pad. Then she told me to put my legs up, then scoot more. Also at the same time, the anesthesiologist was asking me lots of questions about my history with IV anesthesia, my drug allergies, and so on. Only the anesthesiologist, on whom I have developed a bit of a crush, introduced himself.

At this point, I came a bit untethered. The man in scrubs — who I recognized at some point as the surgeon, Dr. Saturday (and wouldn’t it have been nice if he’d introduced himself?) — put the IV in. It hurt like hell. In fact, it never stopped hurting for the rest of the day and I still have something of a bruise there, because it wasn’t in right. I wish I had known that it wasn’t supposed to be like that and that I should have asked him to do it again. (On the bright side, many people reported that the first stuff in the IV stings, and I barely felt that….) Everyone kept telling me to do things all at once. Someone put a BP cuff on my right arm, which inflated itself every minute or two. I started to cry, just a little.

“Oh, no! Don’t cry!” said the sweet anesthesiologist, an Italian man of roughly my father’s age. “Whenever I see a pretty lady cry, I start to cry too.” I pulled myself together and explained that I was worried about the IV sedation, because when I had that for my wisdom teeth, I woke up in the middle and threw up for several days afterwards. He listened to that and to my saying I was going to need real pain medicine after, because tylenol doesn’t do jack for me, and assured me that he would make sure everything was ok.

It was then that I really appreciated tbean’s story, which scared the hell out of me when I first read it, such that I required much buoying from friends who’d done IVF themselves. As upset as I was at the time, my experience wasn’t anything truly traumatic, but it helped during the worst part to remember what tbean had said about how this is surgery, no matter how much they act like it’s just a “procedure.” I looked up at the ceiling and told myself that everything that was happening was normal and how it was supposed to go, that these people were doing their jobs and that my job was to look at the ceiling, try not to think about how much my hand hurt, and trust that Dr. Italian would take care of me. The nurse tucked a white blanket around me so that my right hand was against my chest (nice touch), and the next thing I knew, I was in recovery.

My bed was facing the window, so I could see the green vacant lot next door and the bridge beyond. It was a sunny day, the view was pretty. I don’t remember feeling anything but awake — no groggy period or confusion. I knew where I was, why, and everything else. A nurse noticed I was awake and came over to check on me. She took care of me for the whole recovery period and was great in every way. She asked if I was in pain, and except for the &^$%ing IV, I mostly wasn’t.

After a few minutes, I started to be. My belly was sore in the gas/endometriosis kind of way it had been that morning, my back was a little bit achey, as it had been for a week or more. My vaginal pain was very slight and never got bad, ever. Less pain than I have after a pap smear. I told the nurse and she said she would have the anesthesiologist see me as soon as he was out of the OR. That took 10-15 minutes, by which point my belly had started to be more of a problem.

Dr. Italian came out and gave the nurse something to put in my IV, and I started to feel better right away. He later gave her a syringe of the same something to give as an IM injection, which would last for the ride home.

I was my typically chatty self under the influence of drugs. I asked Dr. Italian to repeat his name a few more times. I ended up remembering it almost right. I told him, somewhat in awe, “I didn’t wake up!”

“That’s my job,” he said.

The nurse brought me some apple juice and graham crackers, which were awesome. At some point, the nurse asked if anyone had told me how many eggs they got. She brought me a paper and pointed at the number 32. My eyes bugged out of my head.

I reminded her that I really needed a scrip for something that wasn’t tylenol, and she had the fellow write for what turned out to be very necessary percocet. “Tylenol doesn’t do anything,” I said, “I might as well take water; it tastes better.”

“That’s my kind of lady!” said Dr. Italian, passing by.

A while later, she said it was time for me to try going to the bathroom, and helped me very slowly get up, carried my IV bag to the hook in the bathroom, and left me sitting there, with firm instructions not to try to stand if I felt weird.

So I sat there.
For a long time.
Nothing.

I had had two bags of IV fluid by that point, but nothing was happening. The nurse called to me that I should come out if it wasn’t working. I was desperate not to stay longer than I had to, so I asked for an extra minute, turned on the sink, tried every mental trick I know, and peeds maybe 3 drops. When I wiped, I was shocked by how bloody the toilet paper was.

The nurse declared that even three drops counted, and I graduated to a recliner with the leg cushion out. Eventually I was allowed to sit up normally. Dr. Italian dropped by again and said “Good work, young lady,” which I loved. (Seeing a theme? Why can’t this man just be constantly passing through my life, praising me?) A while after that, she detached my IV from the cord (leaving it in my hand), and sent me to go put my real clothes back on. (I stopped to get a dreaded hospital pad from the bathroom, as I’d cleverly left the one I brought from home with Sugar.) Once in the locker room, I realized my fatal error: my key was attached to the wrist of my IV hand, which still hurt like hell. I had to gingerly stretch it over everything, which sucked. Nicole: put the dang thing on your right hand.

I returned to the chair, carrying my bra, because hell, no, it was not going back on. The nurse took out my IV, gave me my scrip, and sent me home with Sugar. As we left the 6th floor, I explained to Sugar my understanding why she couldn’t be in recovery, but said I was still confused about where that first husband had gone.

“Dude. He went to give a sperm sample.”

Oh. That’s probably why the nurse didn’t explain, huh? I hope the other waiting husband at least thought my outrage was funny.

We took a cab home, I retired to bed with my percocet, and everything was basically fine. I ate and drank normally. I peed. At some point, I stopped bleeding. The pain got bad the following day, probably as a combination of some OHSS and a lot of endo, but I don’t think that’s typical. In short (TOO LATE!), I was scared but nothing terrible happened. If I have to do this again, I don’t think I’ll be that upset.


9 Comments

Bullet-y Roundup

Hey gang. There’s been way too little about hoo-has on this blog lately, no? Sorry about that. We’re in a period of hoo-ha dormancy at the moment, ending soon. To whit:

  • We’ve been on TTC break, but IVF commences in round about 2 weeks. (This protocol begins on CD2, and all signs point to my ovulating about now.) I’m excited and totally freaked out. I am trying not to take my lunacy out on Sugar, but dreaming of needles every night is getting old (and tiring).
  • Speaking of needles, I have been going to acupuncture every week for some time now. I really like the practice, Brooklyn Acupuncture Project. It’s clean and nice and cheap. The practitioners are friendly and no one’s tried to talk me into changing my diet. (I have a history of disordered eating and know from experience that even small, reasonable changes lead me directly to the place of hypercontrol, which leads directly to the place of not eating. Which can’t be a good move, health-wise.) I’m not sure how much it’s helping with my chief complaint, anxiety (see dreams above). It does chill me out on the day of the appointment, and I suppose I am moderately less crazy than I was in April, so that’s something. What I don’t like about acupuncture is how it wears me out for the whole day. Do others of you have this?
  • Have any of you done IVF at NYU? Know any bloggers who have? Since it looks like Nicole will have to wait a few months, I’ve lost my cycle buddy — and I was selfishly hoping she’d go first and give me the lay of the land.
  • I’ve ordered the meds. Still need to sort out whether Dr. Baby Factory will stick to his statement that he’ll let me try the progesterone coochie bullets, since the shots freak me out.
  • We need to order more sperm. This week, yo.
  • We found a church hall to have our wedding party in! Now we just need to get some food and invite people….
  • A veritable bevy of my aunts is in town. My mother, too. This has led me to blurting out things about my vaginae, cervices, and so on many times in the past few days. Since living in New York means living in public, said blurting has occurred in inappropriate places: the check-out line at the food coop, a busy sidewalk on 35th street.
  • My mother and her sisters are all deaf to varying degrees, so said inappropriate blurting has also been very loud. And repeated. Continuing to do my bit to keep city life interesting.

I owe you a number of posts, internet. Posts about why I feel guilty moving on to IVF so soon, and about why it is a good idea anyway. Posts about why I’m not taking Dr. Baby Factory’s advice and letting him remove my vaginal septum, even though doing so is on balance the more logical decision. Posts about how I’ve become someone who screams about my vagina in midtown. I’m certain to feel more frantic in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

And I’ll get a new Come and Eat post up soon. Meanwhile, try playing this game. (Tip o’ the nib to Geek and Lawyer.)


3 Comments

Quickies

I hate blog posts apologizing for not posting, so this won’t be one.

Nor do I have a proper post in me now.

But there are a couple of things I think you should know:

1. It’s CD1. Yeah.

Not sure what the next course of action will be, but at the very least we will probably switch donors, since we need to order more anyway. More on that later.

Also, I need to do my taxes so that we can see if we can even afford to order more.

2. Mrs. Spock made me cry. Practically everything’s been making me cry lately, so that’s not much of an accomplishment per se, but she made my cry in a good way. She sent me the …I’m looking for a word, and all I’m coming up with is “bestest”… BESTEST! sock-gram package! It arrived when I was really at the very bottom of feeling crappy about everything, and it was just the very thing. Pictures to come.

3. A toddler I hang out with has been read somewhere — I think in a Moomintroll book, but hers are in Danish, and I can only read the third-rate, adulterated Danish we call “English” — about creatures cheering one another up by kissing sad creatures on the nose. She has become a dutiful practitioner of this technique, which is predictably sloppy and surprisingly effective.

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