Bionic Mamas

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


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ET Phone Home

Okay, I know that post title makes no sense; I just felt like it.

The fact that I am aware that it’s meaningless should indicate to you that I am off the percocet. After a fairly wretched Sunday and a somewhat rough Monday morning, my belly stopped aching and I didn’t need it anymore. Acupuncture probably helped, too. I’m still somewhat bloated — only up 2 lbs. from retrieval day but it’s all in my suddenly barrel-shaped tummy — and my back/hips/thighs hurt the way they have been ever since my ovaries got big, but nothing really excruciating. Walking sucks a bit because of the legs, but it’s also 90+ degrees, humid, and smelly out, so staying in isn’t such a problem. (Although I also think being sedentary is part of how my back got so bad….)

Saw Dr. BF today, who wanded and specul-ized both vaginae and declared me fit to fly without anesthesia. Yay! He thinks a tenaculum will be involved — UNyay — but it almost always is when my cervix needs crossing, so at least I’m pretty used to it. He didn’t come right out and say it had been silly (lazy?) to suggest I needed to be knocked out, but he did say, again, that they really only use that for patients who can’t stand a speculum at all. Here’s an idea: maybe they could have left that decision to someone who’s met me when conscious, not just gone by the word of Dr. Saturday. (And folks who can’t stand a speculum and do IVF anyway? HATS OFF to you. You are at least eleventy-million times braver than I.)

It turns out Sugar can’t be there anyway, because they just don’t allow that. Poo. She’ll come with me to the office, and I know the important part isn’t whether she’s physically with me for that particular 20 minutes but that she’s with me in the ways that count throughout all this. I’m gonna stop before I make y’all yack on your keyboards, but the point is: my wife pretty much rocks.

So! We’re on for a valium-inflected ET tomorrow. I asked how the ol’ emby gang is doing, and while I didn’t get numbers and letters (and frankly don’t really want them at this stage in the game), Dr. BF says they’re doing great, better than typical. Genuises, all, playing suzuki violin and writing plays, I’m sure. I really hope we’ll have some to freeze, so that it doesn’t feel like everything is hanging on this cycle.

Thanks for all your ET stories. I’ll think of you in my valium haze, while trying to ignore the spikes in my cervix.


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Updates and Such

Hey there, internet. It’s been a rather rollercoaster-y day around these parts, so I’m not sure how peppy I can make this.

Let’s start with good things:

  • We now have two dozen fertilized eggs. Obviously 24 is too many to put back, but luckily vitrification and FET means we can have two, reasonable pregnancies of 12 each….
  • The red gatorade isn’t so bad if it’s really cold.
  • After no percocet overnight, I felt great this morning. Better than in a week, in fact.
…that’s all I can come up with.
Less good things:
  • Stopping the percocet was stupid, stupid, stupid. Midmorning, I was suddenly in so much abdominal pain that I freaked out. Luckily, I did the responsible thing and called the Baby Factory. The doc on call there said she wasn’t a bit surprised, given my age, battery-hen-style egg production, and extensive endometriosis. She told me to get back on the percocet and stay the heck in bed. Although it took several hours for the percocet to get back to its former level of effectiveness (because it always works better if you don’t let the pain get away from you), I am basically okay now. I am also still in pajamas, which now have gatorade stains. Classy.
  • Way too sick to go to acupuncture, even if I hadn’t been forbidden to leave the bed.
  • The nurse who called with the fert report announced that I would be having anesthesia for my ET, per the doctor who did the ER (Dr. Saturday, not Dr. Baby Factory), who never introduced himself in the OR and put my IV in badly so it hurt like hell the whole time.
Dr. Baby Factory and I had already talked about ET procedures, as he knows my ornery cervices better than anybody, and he did mention that anesthesia was a possibility. He mentioned it in a “in case you think *you’d* like this” kind of a way, just as information. We decided that valium was enough. Now some guy I don’t even know has just announced that my care is changing, because he feels like it. I feel out of control and angry.
I also feel really, really sad about the idea of not being conscious for the ET. So much of the IVF experience is so distant from what I want the conception of our child to be like. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to use IVF, grateful that it may save us from infertility. But the experience is not without loss, you know? I’ve read so many IVF blogs, and ET day seems for so many couples like the day it becomes personal again, as they watch the embryo on the screen, hold hands as it goes in. I want that.
Doctor On-Call wants me to come in tomorrow anyway, to get checked for OHSS and so on. Since Dr. Baby Factory is also Dr. Monday, I hope to talk to him about it. I just hope I can keep from crying. Because crying hurts my belly so much right now.
Oh, I forgot one other good thing: a big shout out to my wonderful acupuncturist, who wrote to check in on me and is just generally a blessing.


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You Know What’s Awesome?

Valium. Valium is awesome.

If I were in the market for a new addiction, I’d strongly consider this one. Although bear in mind that I am still pretty loopy.

You know what’s better than valium?

You all. Thanks for all the kind messages today. When I heard the word “tenaculum,” I unfolded them and read them again. (And tried to name every part of England that I could. I’m pretty good with geography, but not when high, apparently. Kept getting caught in a Devon-Dover-“They’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs” loop.)

More later, when I am sobered up. Typing like this is way too hard.

P.S. The socks, for the curious and the SITM faithful, are from Little Miss Mismatched (which means there’s a third one, too, in red and yellow). The nurse liked them, too.


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Greetings, ICLWeegers

Hiya.

Thanks for dropping by, despite the fact that I obviously missed the stay-classy memo in re: how to answer that “what do you usually blog about” question, such that while you all said things like “faith” and “hope” I said “peeing.”

Sugar is shaking her head right along with you.

Our story so far:

We’re just your typical lesbian couple trying to start a family. Totally ordinary. Only I have two vaginas. Vaginae, if you’re a big nerd like me. And also two cervices. See? Dull, almost.

After what feels a million ultrasounds, MRIs, specula, and nasty tenacula on my poor little cervices, the doctors, nurses, ultrasound techs, receptionists, and zebra fish embryologists I’ve dropped trou for since first googling “double vagina”* have come to the conclusion that I am a freak among freaks — despite the Doublemint twins that are my naughty bits, my good old ute is singular and otherwise normal. Plus, I found out I have a bonus ureter…

…and also endometriosis. So even though we’ve only tried one IUI, Dr. Baby Factory thinks we should be thinking seriously about IVF if I don’t have a bun in the ol’ oven after the next 2-5 tries. We’ve had our differences with Dr. Baby Factory, but he does strike me as a smart cookie.

We took a break in November (to get married! for real!) and December (to see our nutty families! for far too long!), but we’re back in the saddle this month, which means I’m bitching about pee sticks. OPK negative today, thanks for asking — but it’s only CD 1,000,000.

*make sure safe search is ON.


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Last Night

I dreamed last night I was in my garden, in back of a house I don’t own. I was quite covered in dirt when I noticed a long curve of something coming up from my left hip. I pulled it up and, as I was surprised to discover, out of my groin, which hurt but also felt satisfying. “Ah,” I thought, “an old vein. Must have gone bad. Forgot I’m supposed to be pulling those out.” But when I shook the dirt off and looked again, it was a tough runner of grass, which had evidently grown into me and rooted.

All of which is to say that I woke up with cramps.

I don’t mean to complain about that. For one thing, I wasn’t thinking I might be pregnant this time, since I ovulated on the weekend of our wedding, which was beautiful timing for poetry but lousy for a trip to the Baby Factory, with all the scheduling and defrosting and spiking of my cervix that entails. For another, the cramps aren’t that bad. In fact, the five periods since my horrible HSG have been the five least painful I can remember. I used to spend three days or so every month nearly incapacitated, popping Aleve until my stomach hurt, often swearing, sometimes writhing, rarely passing out. Now the pain almost goes away with Advil. My theory is that much of my pain was because my cervices — despite having, in principle, twice the potential to admit blood — were so circuitous and given to clenching that the blood couldn’t get out, leaving my uterus Very.Angry. Now one entrance has been, to quote the note on my chart that I read over a nurse’s shoulder, “perforated,” and it’s not so dramatic. (Unfortunately, even that side is still tough for the catheter to negotiate, which is why the new note in my chart says I’m to have Valium the next time we try to knock me up*.)

At the HSG, Dr. Baby Factory told me that my tubes were open, though the cysts on my ovaries still left him calling my endometriosis “significant.” I could have surgery for it, if it was bothering me, or just try to get knocked up and hope for the best, if it wasn’t so bad. I am, as previously noted, generally opposed to knives wielded at my person, so I politely declined. And then my cramps all but stopped!

Except. Now that I’m keeping better track of my cycles, I’m wondering if this insane GI awfulness I’ve been having occasionally for the past few years isn’t secretly some kind of endo. It doesn’t happen every month or usually during my period, but it has happened the past two months, both times a few days before my period started. Remember when I thought I might have super-early morning sickness but them decided it was the stomach flu? That. It happened again this month, on Thanksgiving (so I couldn’t eat anything)**. Basically, what seems to happen is that my colon stops advancing (uh, TMI, sorry, but you are reading this because of my hoo-has, so only kind of sorry), I fill up with gas, and I lie on the floor writhing and screaming for 12-24 hours until things move along again. I went to the GI doc some time ago, pooped in lots of cups, and got told that probably I had injured myself getting food poisoning, that things were out of whack, that I should take pro-biotics and hope it got better, which it sort of seemed to, but only sort of. Now I’m wondering if the real issue could be that I have endometrial nodules on or near my bowel that get inflamed and mess everything up. I have a call in to Dr. Baby Factory to see what he thinks of this theory, but I know that the answer is likely to be that there’s no way to tell without surgery.

Did I mention how I don’t like the cutting? Oh, and how I’d like to get one with this TTC business already and stop having to hurry up and wait?

Did I also mention that the weather has turned cold? How about that this is my last night of 30, and that when my mother was my age, she was about 3 days from going into labor with me, after two endo surgeries and several more years of TTC?


*Which — and believe me, baby-watchers, I am as impatient about this as you — won’t be until mid-January, at the earliest. Not only am I most likely to ovulate on the day we set off on our annual Middle-Western Odyssey, making timing a clinic visit stressful, but I would also, on balance, like to be drinking at New Years and also not weeping over getting my period while snowed-in at Sugar’s parents’.

**but still had a nice time, because my super-awesome cousin was visiting. She was the most compassionate 18-year-old EVER about how sick I was, sadly because she was been so very much sicker with endo herself for the past couple years.


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On The First Day of Waiting

…I’ll tell you a little bit about yesterday.

In the morning, we were still at the beach. I’d planned to be in the TWW while we were there, but my body had other ideas. We’ll talk about just how damn many sticks I’ve peed on this month another time. At any rate, there seems to be something to this whole “stress can delay ovulation” theory.

The good news about all that was: no limits on hot tubbing or drinking red wine. And indeed, no limits were observed. It was beautiful and peaceful and — here’s the key, I think — relaxing. …The next thing I know, I’ve got EWCM out the yingyang, and a true, indisputable positive on my OPK. Since we were planning to leave the next day anyway, we took the early-squirrelly ferry and headed to the ol’ Baby Factory.

Once there, I took off my pants and signed a lot of paperwork (including saying I am an unmarried woman — but that’s another post for another day). I had already talked to one of the IUI nurses about the peculiarities of my anatomy, why I thought the left side was the way to go, etc., but the other nurse was on duty. She sat down between my legs, syringe aloft, and I thought to say, “by the way, I know you’ve probably read my chart, but just in case….”

Her eyebrows rose just slightly. Here is a woman who knows better than to alarm a patient.

“Oh, just a minute, then. I’m going to get someone who will be very interested.”

Great, I thought, another med student. Or that poor Zebra Fish guy again.

Instead, she brought the big guns: a doctor. And then the fun began. It was not on the order of the “fun” we all had at my HSG, but it was more like that than I had hoped. A tenaculum was involved. Ultimately, so was an abdominal ultrasound. (Given how pricey that pink (!) goo was — and this was two vials-worth, as the clinic thought the counts were low — I was glad enough that the doctor wanted to be sure she was in before pulling the trigger, as it were.) I tried to think relaxing thoughts, as Stephanie Brill has put the fear of God in me about the contraceptive properties of prostaglandins, but my cervix evidently has both ridges and bends, and that damn tenaculum did hurt.

But! The doctor says that if this one doesn’t take, I should come early next time and they’ll slip me some valium. So there’s that.

Neither the doctor nor the nurse were overly excitable, which I think is good for us in re: not getting too worked up about any particular cycle. We’re trying to think of this one as “getting started”, which didn’t stop me from waking up in the middle of the night a little freaked at what we just did. (Man juice. In my hoo-ha. Yowzers.)


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I’m A Lesbian And I’m Okay

I should really put my insurance on speed dial. Not a day goes by, it seems, that I’m not talking to them.

This morning, I finally got resolution on the “will you pay for this genetic test” question I put to them in…June. That’s 2 months of their losing letters, requiring codes they hadn’t asked for in the first place, requiring still more codes, and so on. Every fax takes two days to process because they convert them to microfilm before reading them. This makes the bureaucratic aspects of my health care sound more like a James Bond movie, but also seems to negate the speediness of faxing.

Now I’m on hold to find with a different branch of the company. Rather than the Mozart the main line uses, the mental health section favors silence punctuated by a firm voice saying, “Please wait.” Repeatedly. I’m calling the mental health division because apparently, I’m cruising for a nervous breakdown by being gay. News to me, but hey, I’m no doctor.

The above is an oversimplification, but near enough to the truth. Sugar and I had been thinking we’d skip the Barry White and vanilla-scented candles portion of the TTC journey in favor of the favorable if florescent-lit odds of IUIs at the Kips Bay Baby Factory. Mr. NMEBSI* has more IUI than ICI vials available, and we have been starting to think that we should face the fact that we don’t have baby-making equipment in the house, rather than let sentiment stand in the way of a better chance of conception. In the aftermath of my HSG, I had been feeling reluctant to encourage any more catheter-on-cervix action, but now I’ve had two months of the least painful periods since high school. Some private investigation indicates that I’m bleeding almost exclusively out of the side that was — to quote my chart — “perforated” at the HSG, which makes me think that totally tubular experience left my cervix more open and that an IUI was therefore less likely to require overwhelming force. So today I called the clinic IUI nurse to find out the procedures. All fairly straight-forward, except, oh, had no one told me I’d have to meet with their psychologist first? Everyone using donor sperm does.

Let me be frank: I’d rather we didn’t have to use donor sperm. I’d rather bring home a bottle of cheap champagne, line a roasting pan for Ray’s lucky Beer Can Chicken, and end up with a kidlet who looks half like me and half like Sugar. I’d also like a magical flying pony who lives in the apartment and doesn’t poop. I suppose I can see recommending a sit-down with the counselor for het couples using donor sperm, who perhaps haven’t spent more than a decade considering the ramifications of having a child who isn’t genetically related to both of them, but come on. We’ve been over this, trust me.

I find this requirement annoying if not discriminatory, but I also remember my grandmother telling me not to cut off my nose to spite my face, so I called the office psychologist and made an appointment for next week. Sugar must have been able to tell over gChat how pissed I was, because she didn’t say boo about having to miss more work. At the end of the conversation, the receptionist says, “By the way, the fee for the consultation is $450 and we don’t work with any insurance companies.”

EXCUSE ME? $450 because you’re worried that I might not have thought about being gay? $450 so Sugar and I can put on our Happy, Well-Adjusted Couple Show for you? No matter what anyone who’s known us for more than an hour might think of our parenting ambitions; clearly what you think matters most.

Since I started writing this post, I talked to a very nice woman at my insurance company, who tells me that they’ll reimburse for 80% of the fee, less my deductible, which is $363. So it would only cost me $380.40 to be gay. Bargain prices! Everyone will want to be gay now!

I say “would” because this pisses me off way too much, even if we had $380.40 we couldn’t figure out how to use (answer: sperm). I have a call in to the doctor. If he won’t waive this, we’ll go elsewhere or just crank up the Barry White after all.

*I love this name, by the way. Mr. Nmebsi sounds like he would get his oil changed by Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and perhaps respectfully consult Mma Ramotswe about his suspicion that his neighbor was pilfering from his garden.


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Totally Tubular

What did that mean, exactly, anyway? I remember that the connotation was positive, so I can only assume it had nothing to do with yesterday’s “totally tubular” HSG adventure.

An HSG, for the blessedly uninitiated, is an X-ray of your more internal lady-parts, in particular your uterus and (if you’re lucky) your fallopian tubes. Only if you’re really lucky, you won’t have to do this at all because let me tell you, it pretty much sucks.

Listen, before I go into my story: If you’re reading this because you have to have one and you’re scared about it, do be aware that your experience will NOT be like mine. The part of my procedure that hurt was the part concerned with getting through my cervix, and that was because of the double-vag action. If you have the ordinary number of vaginas and cervices, then the speculum part might be ouchy and the dye might give you cramps, but that’s it. And if your set-up is irregular, take heart: I survived. The anxiety was way worse than the pain. DO take a bunch of Advil beforehand, DO BYO maxi pad, and DO get someone to come with you, if you can.

Now back to our whiny story, already in progress:

It goes like this, in principle: You take a whopping amount of Advil and maybe some antibiotics and then report to Radiology, where you strip down and hop up on a table, all pap-smear style, except there are no stirrups. I have it on authority from several other victims patients that there are never stirrups. You didn’t think the stirrups mattered, but you find yourself annoyed at holding your legs in place without them. Then the doctor gives you something to be annoyed about, and by “be annoyed” I mean “cry”.

The next step is a yawning speculum, followed by a catheter through your cervix. Dye through the catheter into your ute and hopefully your tubes — the idea is to see if the tubes are open — quick X-ray shot of all that business, everybody out of the pool vag, and you’re on your way, sorer but wiser, and leaking dye into the pad you brought with you or else one of those throw-pillow-sized hospital ones.


Aren’t bones pretty? This is not me, by the way, but the internet says it is normal.

The speculum is not a picnic — it has to be open more than for a pap — and some people get some cramping from the dye. I didn’t. Instead, I got endless horrible pinchingburning from the many attempts to get through cervix number one, followed by more stretchingaching from cranking open vag number two, followed by more digging around on that cervix. Holy crap, that sucked, not least because it was so damn demoralizing listening to the X-ray go off again and again and again and again, only to see no uterus onscreen, only the end of the speculum and a sad little pool of dye stuck outside.


Me, after watching nothing happen for the third time:
I promise you I have a uterus.

Dr. BF: I know you do. I’ve seen it on ultrasound.

Me: I’ve seen it on the MRI.

Dr. BF: Yes, I know you have a uterus.

More burrowing around in my nether regions. More nothing happening on the X-ray.

Me: I further swear that I do get my period, every month, and that it comes out of my cervix.


Dr. BF:
I like your logic.

My Cervices, after tries 1-5 (or 6? I lost count):
NOBODY HOME.
THERE IS. NOBODY. AT HOME.

Eventually, door number two yielded. Not without some burning pain, though, and I wish I hadn’t glanced at the instrument tray later, because there was rather more of me on it than a girl would hope. And the news is good: though Dr. Baby Factory describes my endometriosis as “significant” and brings up IVF every time we talk, he says the tubes are open enough to give it a go on our own first.

Thank you, Nice Nurse, for patting my shoulder while Dr. Baby Factory cranked the speculum in my bigger vag up to 11 or so. I know you were right to stop me massaging my poor tum when he went for door number two, so I hope I didn’t give you a very dirty look. Sorry I dissed your pad when it was all over, but seriously, by the time those things take two hands to carry, they are too big. Please tell the hospital to enter this century (or even the final decade of the last one).


When Hospital Pads Attack

Thank you Dr. Baby Factory for telling me when things would hurt, for apologizing repeatedly, for not sounding panicked or annoyed when nothing would get through cervix number one. It’s a real pity the catheter would never go through. Thank both of you for not calling the extra clamps, pinchers, pipe-wrenches, and jaws-of-life required to get a catheter syringe into cervix number two by their names, instead saying things like, “Could you get me…one of the green things? Do we have one of those?” I bet this whole thing took much longer than you had scheduled, so thank you for sticking around to talk with me. If I’d known going into this that my procedure would be “what makes it interesting to keep doing these, even after 20 years,” I would have run for the hills, but it was still nice of you to say something like that instead of acting like I was bad for having a difficult anatomy.

So sperm! We’re gonna buy some! …in August or September, finances permitting, because, frankly, I want to enjoy my week at the beach in July, not run around peeing on things and not getting to drink.

Right now, it’s hard to think about putting anything in my hoo-has, though, because everything is still pretty ouchy. I’m on Cipro for the weekend, on account of all the digging around, and my poor old left ovary, the one that aches for days after dildo-cam-ings, is talking about moving out and getting its own place.