The bottom of the front, specifically. The front bottom, if you will.
The appointment went well. Dr. Baby Factory did not, after all, yell at me, you will be relieved to hear, though as always, he had that sad look that Sugar reminds me is mostly just how his eyebrows are shaped. His hair’s gotten a bit shaggy, as if the four years since we’ve met (is that all?) have taken him from being the 11-year-old star of the piano recital (as I always thought of him after seeing the picture in his office of him sitting ramrod straight up on one of the Today Show’s couches) to a 15-year-old with a garage band and a penchant for eschaton.
Dr. BF is who first suggested I go to Dr. Russian’s practice for OB, although in fairness he specifically recommended Dr. Robot, who left the practice in my first trimester. Nevertheless, I decided I would tell him to rethink recommending them, if not for Dr. Russian’s appalling manner (which I know you all believe me about, but which could sound like the whining of a delicate flower) then for the way Dr. Skinny, the head of the practice, dismissed out of hand my was-that-an-abruption bleeding in the days before labor. It is with deep pleasure that I report to you that he already has a call into Dr. Skinny, because he keeps having her patients come to him, get pregnant, and then refuse to return to her practice. (Smart women!) So I guess it’s not just me.
While we’re on the subject of Dr. BF, can I just say what an absolute artist that man is at a pelvic exam? Seriously, he is the only person ever whose haven’t hurt; even his double pap smears don’t hurt. (Yes, I am a special snowflake and regularly cry over medical messing about in my lady business(es). My cervices are on the inside for a reason.) I have to say that here because, 1) it is worthy of praise, and 2) there is no non-creepy way to express this sentiment in the moment.
So, the various bottom lines:
- I will be making a lot more “bottom” jokes around here in the coming months. Enjoy.
- My CD 2 numbers are, I think without digging for my old notebook of data, the best they have ever been. (FSH 5.6, E2 a shockingly low-for-me 39.)
- My famous endometriomas (aka, “chocolate cycts,” if you are into ruining your ability to enjoy chocolate forever, which I am not) have apparently disappeared (?) (!). Is this even possible? I have noticed less back pain in the past few months, but I certainly felt plenty in cycles since being pregnant. I am befuddled. I’ll work on being glad, but right now I’m too confused. At any rate, the dildo-camming didn’t give me the usual sensation that a smoldering rat is trying to scramble out of my lower back, which was a nice change.
- We have lots of embryos, and Dr. BF seems optimistic about our chances, or as optimistic as his eyebrows will allow.
Scheduling is a bit of a annoyance, more so than I had anticipated. I have the good insurance for six months, March-August. I naively assumed this meant time for several cycles, but I had forgotten that the Baby Factory closes for IVF and like matters three months of the year, and two of those months are April and August. When the scheduler explained that an April cycle, which was what I had begun to imagine, wasn’t going to happen, I felt bathed in adrenaline. March? March?!? That’s so soon! But waiting doesn’t make a lot of sense, under the circumstances, so March it is. Then I drank the warm apple juice she’d brought when I got woozy missing the half-gallon of blood they’d siphoned off for still more tests. When a few molecules of sugar reached my brain, I remembered that I can’t do March, because Dr. BF wants me to come back early next cycle to see if a polyp is what’s making me spot so much before my period or if it’s just my good buddy endometriosis.
So May it is. I am not entirely sorry to wait, though I had gotten myself slightly excited about Just Doing It. I am worried that between the possible polyp and the closures, my six months of insurance just became three (and that’s assuming there’s no polyp or that it can come out quick-like in April). However, billing had a surprise for us: the less-good insurance (under whose begrudging, code-careful auspices we had this consult) actually covers quite a bit more than we had thought. Doing a cycle with them would still be more expensive than with the good insurance, but it sounds at the moment like it wouldn’t be impossible, especially if we planned ahead and got the drugs while I’m still on the good plan.
May gives me time for a few more visits to the favorite cocktail bar I am just now falling back in love with. It also gives me some time to get worked up about various parts of this whole gig I wasn’t expecting.
For instance: more shots. When I was first contemplating IVF, I decided I could deal with the little needles for stims but not the big ones for progesterone-in-oil, and Dr. BF agreed that I could use coochie bullets — excuse me, vaginal suppositories; excuse me, non-American readers, pessaries — instead. They were messy and sort of annoying, but I was never sorry to be missing the intra-muscular missile to the butt I’d read about on other blogs, still less the bruises and lumps and lingering scar tissue. But I guess now I get to learn for myself what all the fuss is about, because Dr. BF says (and, I regret to say, that the study I found on the topic agrees) that the delivery method really does make a difference in FET cycles. Dr. BF says that during my IVF cycle, I was making some progesterone on my own, but that during a medicated FET, I won’t, which means that small differences in efficacy can mean big differences in results.
So one thing I guess I could use about now is some PIO pep-talking, should you have any on hand. I’m not upset by needles per se, but I am no great fan of personal pain, especially deliberately inflicted, in my own home, every day for three months. Call me crazy. However, I also realize that a miscarriage I would always fear I could have prevented is worse. Great choices, these are.
Okay, I know there are worse choices, I KNOW. I know that, as subfertile lesbians go, I am sitting very pretty, what with the good clinic and the good insurance and the bewildering array of embryos. It’s just…I had forgotten what this part, when fear and uncertainty loom so very large, feels like. Frankly, I thought I got to skip it this time.
Mel asked the other day, after my first return to the Baby Factory for CD 2 blood work, whether I found that some of being back was much easier and some was ten times harder. Yes. That is exactly how I found it. At first, I was giddy, almost, being back in such a powerful place without the dread and exhaustion I remember from the last time around. This is a cinch, I thought, walking right up to the check-in computer to type my name. The first time I came in, I stood awkwardly in front of the receptionist’s desk for some time before a woman in a pompadour, whom I did not yet know was nosy as the day is long and none too quick on the uptake, informed me in one of those New York lady klaxon voices that still startle me that I was doing everything wrong, as though it weren’t understandable that a person might imagine their office worked like every other office on Earth. This time, the receptionists were new and muscle memory guided my hands through the menus as surely as if they were ticket machines at Grand Central. Bam! I thought, jabbing the CD2 bloodwork button, my doctor’s name, my insurance carrier. I got this. I even made a self-deprecating joke about sperm to the guy ahead of me in line. (Sorry, sir. I should probably not be allowed in public alone, at least not while giddy.)
As I waited for my name to be called, a strange nausea crept over me. I hadn’t, I realized, been comparing my present-day self with the me who had first come to the Baby Factory at all; I’d been comparing myself to my memory of that person, a memory colored by knowing that my first visit was only the beginning, that there were miles to go, disappointments and fears and more than a few crying jags. In fact, that very first me, the one the receptionist startled, was a lot like this me: happy, excited, hopeful. I had mainly wanted to go to an RE because of my mysterious lady-part arrangement and because my insurance covered it and the Gyn I’d gone to was a dick, so why not? I imagined we’d leave with a plan, buy some sperm for home use, and have a baby in less than a year. Although our story ended happily, that original me sure had another think coming.
The PIO surprise was like a bucket of cold water to the face in part because I thought this time was going to be so easy. Aren’t FETs supposed to be so simple compared to a fresh cycle? I suppose it is simpler, in that I don’t have to come to the office much and won’t get OHSS this time, but I had forgotten that simpler isn’t the same as easy. I know what to expect from an IVF cycle, but an FET is nevertheless new to me, bringing with it all the anxiety that attends medical novelty. That I know how to get to the clinic and where to buy a coke after they exsanguinate me for science does not mean I know anything about what’s going to happen, and worse, it doesn’t mean I have any control over the results. I know I’m a lucky subfertile lesbian, but dammit, why can’t I just be a fertile one? I thought skipping the rounds of IUI this time would make me feel fertile, but that fantasy is crumbling now that I remember that this “fertility” still involves doctors and needles and tenacula and fear. I never really believed this when we were trying to conceive the first time, but it turns out this secondary infertility jazz is, to paraphrase Smarshy’s memorable image, just a different bag of ass.