Bionic Mamas

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


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Items, Glorious Items

Were you in Oliver! ever? I was. Eight grade. I do not love that show. Sorry if this song is now in your head for the rest of the day, too. I don’t know what gets into me. We were instructed to wear our fathers’ old shirts for that scene, so while the rest of the orphans (whose fathers were bigger than mine, I gather) looked waif-ish, I looked like a blue, permanent-press sausage. At least I got to sing the pretty rose seller bit later, in a peasant blouse.

Sorry, as ever, for the silence. I’d say it has been difficult to find time, but the real issue is energy. I am just so beat these days. I feel fine in the morning, but by evening, forget it. Makes me rather nervous about what’s coming next.

Meanwhile! Pease porridge and items:

  • Thank you for your many thoughtful, um, thoughts, about the doula situation. I/we have not decided what to do, but your comments have been very helpful. After meeting with friend-doula, I feel about the same as I did before: I think she is a good personality match for me, but I am worried about the experience issue. On the other hand, it is very, very valuable to me to know her personality well enough to trust that she won’t be crazy at me during labor. The doctors I have met at my new OB place all seem very nice and swear they aren’t insane, yet I find I am having enormous difficulty believing that. Just having that concern out of the way about a doula might be valuable enough to make up for a lot. As for the “morning-after” problem, I never saw my last doula after delivery, and I think that on balance that hasn’t been so great for my mental health. I do plan to have some pretty clear guidelines for anyone in this role, namely: pay more attention to me than the baby; tell me what a great job I did more times than anyone could possibly need to hear. Especially if this isn’t the kind of birth people carry on about the beauty of.
  • Speaking of mental health, I did go see that therapist last week, and I have an appointment for next week. She seems good, I think. She said several good things, things many of you have said, but it is different to hear them from someone who doesn’t like me, you know? (Wait, maybe you don’t like me, either? Someone who I’m not trying to have a friend-style relationship with, anyway.) I chose her because she has training in CBT and EMDR; a cognitive approach to this situation feels much more to the point than still more mucking about in my feeeeelings. Of course, what did I do? I talked about my feelings for a fifty-minute hour, that’s what. But I am a narrative gal, and I did need to tell her the story.
  • I only cried once! Rather suddenly, at the point where I said the thing about how, when I imagine things going well this time, I imagine myself surrounded by warriors. That was surprising timing, to me. The therapist — she might need a bovine name, not because she herself seems at all cow-like, but because the waiting room of her otherwise very midtown office (converted apartment, doorman, and so on) is entirely decorated in strangely urbane cow art. Let’s call her Caroline, as long as we’re on a musical kick, for the new, blue, true, moo cow in Gypsy, the one who is willing to moooove to the city with Baby June. Anyway, Caroline stopped me and asked me to dwell on the feeling that brought up, and woman, I wanted to shout, all I DO is dwell! But anyway, I think that went about as well as expected.

how bovine is thy dwelling place
How…bovine is thy dwelling place

  • I paid another visit to the high-risk place with the fancy u/s machines, for part two of the anatomy scan. It was…a bit of an ordeal, frankly. (With the obvious caveat that I mean “ordeal” in the limited way the word can apply to a situation with a good outcome.) Sugar had an important work meeting, so it was just me; God bless my friend the Dane for taking the Bean in addition to her own kids for the afternoon.
  • First, there was the Great Cervix Search, the longest stretch (as it were) of dildo-camming I have as yet experienced. My cervices, you may recall, are of particular interest because having the two of ’em means I am at increased risk of cervical incompetence, number two on my list of most-despised obstetric terms. (Number one is “habitual aborter.”) On the MRI I had prior to ever being pregnant, the two of them are smack next to each other; before the Bean removed my septum with his head, they were fairly easy to find on physical exam, since each had its own little vagina. How cute. Post-Bean, one — the one he used — has been easy to find by hand, as it were, one much more difficult. When I was in labor, they only found one, so my hunch is that the other made itself scarce in late pregnancy, and many thanks I send it.
  • So, back in the stirrups: the tech spent a while poking around with the ultrasound wand, pursing her lips and printing pictures and, as they all do in these moments, interrogating me about how I knew there were two, anyway. (MRI, plus I used to bleed out of the un-tamponned side, plus the other tech found it a month ago.) This is a slightly annoying conversation to have while being dildo-graphed. After a while, she stopped but told me to stay put while she found a doctor to decide if her pictures were satisfactory. Enter doctor. “I’ve never done this before,” she says, and off to the races we go, complete with the same interrogation. Eventually, she gives up, too, and in comes the senior doc on duty, who is very luckily the southern one I like so much. “How does it feel to be a medical marvel?” He has a firmer hand with the whole business (GOD, I do not like being able to compare technique in this way, but there’s only so long I can stare at the ceiling and think of England.) After quite a hunt, at least punctuated with jovial asides and no dubious eyebrow twitches, he declares himself defeated by my marvelous anatomy, too, but willing to assume things are okay in the absence of symptoms, given the fine state of the less shy cervix and the full-term status of the Bean.
  • Now is the part where I insert a little prayer that Jackalope doesn’t get any funny ideas about using the untested one. Do you hear me, young…person?
  • Jackalope, who has been kicking up a storm through all this, has fallen asleep, and in a position not conducive to measuring anything relevant. Now we see what fun toys the fancy place has at its disposal, like the tilt-a-whirl electric bed I am soon sliding off of, head first. (Seriously, I braced myself only by putting a hand on the wall behind me.) I am basted with more and more gel and rotated like a rotisserie chicken. The paper under me tears into little, goopy pieces. Just…yuck. Eventually the creature shifts enough to show off everything except what the tech keeps calling “the gender.” I resist the urge to parrot a women’s studies lecture at her. Jackalope has her feet between his legs, or the other way around. As I am instructed to roll over again, I mention that they did, after all, get a look last time, but apparently they have to look again. Lord knows why — is it all that likely to have changed? I guess that would be noteworthy.
  • Eventually, the tech’s rolling and prodding and jiggling pay off. She releases me to attempt to squeegie some gel off of myself, though it is clear this is more a job for a pressure washer than a paper towel. Dr. Southern returns to say everything is fine, Jackalope is a good size, the cord, which they couldn’t see well last time, is inserted in the expected manner, and while the placenta is still marginally previa, it’s only by 2 mm, which even I can’t manage to fret over. And no cervix searches again until the third trimester, though I’m back for another growth scan in a month. Phew.
  • Because she is an angel, the Dane has not only kept the Bean all this time but has also made enough quiche that I can inhale half a pie-plate’s worth upon my return to Brooklyn.
  • I did at least get lots of pictures to show to Sugar and the Bean, who respectively described the Jackalope as “a barracuda” and “scawy.” So now you have to look at them.

USWeek20001

I think all that dust is on the scanner and not in my uterus, but who knows?

USWeek20003

USWeek20004

Clearly, my mind is going, because I even thought the creepy 3-D ones were cute.
USWeek20005

…But maybe I also see where the “barracuda” idea comes from. Still not half as scary as the dragon-lizard the Bean appeared to be at a similar age.

 

  • Speaking of the Bean, he is charming, obsessed with street sweepers and the alphabet, awfully tall all of a sudden (36″), and still not much of a sleeper, very much to my consternation, though it is Sugar who gets the brunt of the night work, since he refuses to let me be the one to come in when he wakes. He mostly still naps (and is a holy terror if he doesn’t), but he rarely falls asleep before 10 pm. This would be annoying enough if he could be allowed to just stay up, but he really cannot function that way. So we start bedtime at 8 or 8:30, read books, brush teeth, all that, and then one of us sits in the dark for an hour or so. Every night. Thank God for iPads. (If he does not nap, he falls asleep much more quickly, but you will have to take my word for it that his mood and behavior for the last several hours of the day in that case are such that, NO. Artificially shortening his nap does not speed up bedtime.)
  • I did not answer the cat-torture question because I kept hoping I would find an answer or at least discover that his current delight in pestering the household felines was a short-lived phase. Ha. I don’t know what brought this on, but I know I want it to stop, pronto. Also a thing that could stop any time: “knocking” (read: hitting) his mothers.
  • He’s down to refusing all food except smoothies for dinner. (At lunch he will usually eat a peanut butter sandwich.) I don’t know anymore. He loves to cook and talk about food, just not so much to eat it.
  • He is very sweet about the baby, though, hugging and kissing my stomach and whispering, I love you, baby, in that not-very-whispery two-year-old way. This is very clever, as it is impossible to remain annoyed with whatever shenanigans he has been pulling when he does that.
  • Potty training is under way, in the most lazy way possible. His little butt is extremely cute in underpants. It is extremely hilarious when nude, as it often is, especially when he starts practicing being an acrobat.
  • This post is even more scattered than usual. Winning!
  • Sugar did come with me to today’s OB appointment, with the original doctor I know in the practice, the one who dealt with my Return To Stirrups last summer and also with Sugar’s menacing ovarian cysts, back in the day. She is very nice. She says no one at that practice is going to yell at me in labor. I have some trouble believing she can really know that about her colleagues, but I at least think she would not, so that’s a start. She did say, however, that she favors having women hold their breath while pushing, which I found ridiculous and panic-inducing. But we will work on that next visit, I guess. Time for another lit-review….
  • In the meantime, I am to acquire a blood sugar monitor in preparation for testing four times a day for two weeks, starting around week 26. This strikes me as overkill, but still better than having my brains scrambled the way they were by the glucola last time.
  • I asked whether it was really okay to be taking unisom every night, because if I don’t the first time I get up to pee is the end of sleep for me. “It’s not a great idea to take anything every night,” she started, but when I asked what I should do instead about being up for the day at 2am, it turns out she didn’t think half a tab was such a big deal, after all.

THE END.

  • (Don’t you always stick around, just to see if something comes after the credits?)
  • I’m going to DC for the weekend, for a baby shower. This is emphatically not the kind of thing I usually travel for, but the gravid friend in question organized my shower from DC, so it seems the least I can do. I will be there Saturday and Sunday, basking in the glory of the closed museums and terminally borked transit system, and while this was supposed to be sort of a treat, it isn’t feeling like much of one. So let me know if you are around or have great ideas for something nice to do that doesn’t involve alcohol or the federal government.


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17.5 Weeks/2.5 Years

Hi, again — I say again because the blasted device ate the version of this I started in the afternoon. For the record.

Thank you all for your kind, wise, compassionate comments on that bloody post of mine. I am sorry I have not responded to you; I need a moment more, it turns out. I said to Sugar around the time that I wrote that post that I did not know what to do with the apparent fact that my mind can’t begin to process this information, both the new information and the memories. She suggested that perhaps I should consider that I am processing it, and it just takes more time than I’ve given it. There is a bit of a deadline (see ticker) for some of that work, but still, I find her take on it more useful than mine. I hope she’s onto something.

Once and future birth/postpartum angst aside, the pregnancy business is going very well. I have my tired and sore days, true, and there is the slight inconvenience of a kind of emotional inertia such that if I do cry, I can’t stop for the rest of the day. But it is inertia, not depression, and objects in a good mood tend to remain in a good mood. So that’s nice. I sure wish I could get these particular hormones in pill form. They’d be nice all the time, but especially as an antidote to the breastfeeding ones, which are not so kind to my little brain.

Particularly surprising to me is the realization that I’m actually feeling quite happy about my body, to the point that I don’t find myself hating or otherwise disdaining even what it looks like. This is profoundly uncharacteristic; I can’t remember its ever happening before. I just feel so pleased with it for being pregnant, and whether I look as I “should” or not seems picayune. I’ve gained a moderate amount of weight, and so far, my determination to obsess less this round doesn’t even feel like determination. I’m sure it helps that, as is often the case with pregnancies after the first one, I have come to look far more pregnant far more quickly. (Awkward, decapitated belly-selfie here, for the curious.). Regardless, I hope this will help me keep my resolution to give a lot fewer fucks about losing weight on any particular schedule, postpartum.

We went last week for the first of two — times have changed already since the Bean’s gestation — anatomy scans. I’ll save you some skipping ahead: I did not peek during the Down There portion of the ultrasonic interview, and if Sugar did, she’s keeping her own counsel. (As with last time around, she would like to know and I would like to wait; more on that another time, maybe.) Everything is reported to be fine: the usual count of limbs, kidneys, heart chambers. We will have another one of these at the fancy place in a few weeks, and perhaps Critter/Axolotl/Jackalope (poor creature needs a better name) will let them see the cord insertion that time. The cervices are likewise behaving, much to everyone’s relief. The only potential problem is a marginal case of placenta previa. While this does nothing to alleviate my “am I going to bleed to death” concerns, I am trying to take the advice of the lovely southern doctor, who says it’s almost silly to diagnose such a thing at 16 weeks, since the placenta takes up a proportionally larger amount of uterine space at that point. Apparently the lower portion the uterus sort of unfolds later on, and a marginal previa may well be not at all close to the cervix/ces by delivery time. I’m glad he explained it that way; when I was told the Bean’s placenta was low-lying at a similar stage, they said it might move, which, given villi and all seemed unlikely and led me to envision the placenta as a kind of huge, blind slug.

Tomorrow is my first OB appointment in some time, as I was waiting to be on the better insurance. Or rather, it was supposed to be an OB appointment, but will actually be back with the nice midwife from last time, because of scheduling infelicities. I should be diving into meeting the people who might actually be at the delivery, but I’m glad enough for a respite from the “are you incompetent/emotionally unstable” interview questions I now feel compelled to ask them all. (I thought I didn’t need to ask those questions last time, and if you’re new here, click “Dr. Russian” to find out how well that went.) I do plan to make clear that the postpartum anemia I described when she took my history was definitely not a case of anemia in pregnancy (except maybe the last four hours). And I expect we will get to have a probably unpleasant chat about how I do not plan to do that awful glucose test this time, given an absence of significant risk factors and a skepticism about the existence of gestational diabetes — or rather, bad outcomes from same — in patients without previous insulin resistance. I am willing to monitor my own glucose at home for a week or two, which is a better source of data anyway, but I am not willing to make myself sick for three days again for such shoddy science. I have a small person to take care of, for one thing. I’m not looking forward to the monitoring, but what’s a few more stab wounds in pursuit of this baby, am I right?

So. I will report back.

Meanwhile! The Bean had his half-birthday last weekend. I made a tiny cake and everything. It was popular. Picture and recipe to follow; I am quite pleased with the results of my attempt to make a mini-loaf-pan chocolate cake. It’s a useful size for a small household.

Like most two-year-olds, at least in their mothers’ eyes, the Bean is an absolute delight except when he’s a holy terror. Sometimes he is both. Today, for instance, he contrived to discover Sugar’s oil paint box, complete with uncleaned palettes, in its hiding place under the chaise. He very independently figured out how to work the clasps and spread the contents all over his room. NB, for those unfamiliar with the medium, a good sized glop of oil paint, such as one might leave on a palette for later use, essentially never all the way dries. He was so pleased with himself. And surprisingly neat, considering.

Eating and sleeping are still…challenges. At least two of those lacrimae perpetuae days were set off by my frustrations with his diet and the sanctimonious attitudes of many parents on the topic, in particular in our area. Wait, three. There’s half a rant in my draft folder, and maybe I will finish it one of these days. Meanwhile, one of us is in his room until at least 10 every night, waiting for him to fall asleep. Unless he skips his nap, in which case…well, it’s not an acceptable trade-off. He does not often sleep through the night.

But. He does paint and ride his scooter and give the most wonderful hugs. He sings and cooks and wears underpants for increasing stretches of time, despite my refusal to engage in any form of potty training more vigorous than offering chocolate chip bribes. His trucks are grouped in two-mom families. He is obsessed with street sweepers and the alphabet. I know it sounds crazy, but he is desperately trying to learn to read. And who am I not to enable the heck out of that?

So here, to counteract the sleeping and eating complaints, is some unadulterated bragging. Shield your eyes.

I was at the big computer a week or so ago, trying to find some non-ugly maternity clothes, when the Bean came up behind me. “What’s e-da?” he asked. He likes to ask for definitions of nonsense words these days. (It’s fun when he hits on a real word by accident. “What’s a ne-ne?” “It’s a goose, the state bird of Hawaii, and a very useful scrabble word.” Hysterical laughter.) I assumed this was more of the same, and said I did not know. “What’s e-da? What’s e-da?” He kept asking, which is not the usual for nonsense. Finally he walked up to the computer and pointed at the corner of the screen. “What’s e-da?”

I looked. In the corner was the eBay logo, which is all lowercase, ebay.

“Is this what you’re asking about?” He said yes. “What letters do you see?”

“E D A Y. What’s e-da?”

So. He got the b/d thing wrong and missed the diphthong, but hell, I’m pretty damn proud, all the same.

My kid. I think I’ll keep him.

Underwear Model


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It’s Alive!

That’s about what I have the wherewithal for at the moment. It seems that I don’t respond any better to having blood drawn on an empty stomach than I ever did. But that’s the important part, anyway.

Thank you for all the hand-holding. I can’t tell you how it helped me. A very great deal.

Our wonderful friends insisted on taking the Bean after all, and he clearly had a great time, including his first non-mom co-bathing experience. I wish I could have been there — they are a very appealing pair — but I suppose it’s good for him to have some adventures without me. Even if they are adorable adventures.

I was quite taken aback when I came into the office, as it has been severely renovated since my last visit, to the extent of replacing most of the drippier naked lady paintings with aggressively green poppy wallpaper and adding an additional floor. Then came all the rigmarole about being out of my insurance network, the end result of which was my charging an astronomical amount to my credit card, 80% of which I very much hope will be coming back to me (although even 20% is significant). I have made peace within myself about this problem, but lord if every new receptionist and billing person doesn’t have to process with me about it.

The doctor was nice enough. I’m not sure I love her, but that is more a once-burned situation than anything I can pin on her. I imagine I will come to like her fine. She said the right things and didn’t rush us, she just also didn’t emote at me the way my main doctor here did when I told her about my adventures with Dr. Russian. On the other hand, I also wasn’t crying, shaking, or refusing to make eye contact. So her response was fine for the situation. Sugar does not seem concerned, and she is a better judge of this sort of thing.

The blood draw was for the nuchal business, which is coming up very soon. That scan will be at the high-risk place with the fancy machine. Assuming all goes well (and I am too relieved right now not to enjoy that assumption for a bit), perhaps we will get a better picture than today’s. Well, maybe better isn’t the word. Limb-ier. The critter does seem to have limbs and even to be able to wave them about, but that view was not committed to ink and paper. I suppose we will just have to actually remember it, imagine that.

PicsArt.com


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All’s Well

Dateline: Northeast Corridor, aboard Amtrak regional train.

The Bean and I are presently riding the rails southwards, which means, yes, the “where’s embryo?” scan went well. Three cheers for that! It was indeed to early for a heartbeat, but we saw a sac with a little yolk sac in it, in my uterus. “With numbers like these, where else would it be?” Asked Dr. Paternalistic. I know he is right, but I have had too many friends have ectopic pregnancies to truly believe they are as rare as the statistics say.

Yes, Dr. Paternalistic did the scan. I did ask a nurse if we could have someone else, but no dice. He was fine this time, which almost irritates me, since Sugar cannot therefore back me up about his ickiness. Well, he did awkwardly rip the ultrasound pictures out of the printer while still holding the probe in me, which was unsettlingly jiggly, but I think he was just eager to give us a picture. Here it is, by the way:

PicsArt.com

Not as good a picture as if I’d scanned it, but there really is not much to see. And this way you get verisimilitude!

So. Off we go on our adventures. I am requested to organize a progesterone blood test while in Little Rock, but that’s it. No ultrasounds, for instance, until July 15th at the OB’s. A month! And no one seems to have any problem with that! It’s like being a fertile person, except for the huge amount of luggage space devoted to crinone.


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Post-Ovulatory Items

Sshhh, internets, the Bean is sleeping. Finally. I should be in the other room, using this time to finish my semester grading, but the Bean is also sick, and if I move, nap over. So how’s about some items, since I’m here for the foreseeable?

Item: for those following along at home, I was finally deemed worthy of triggering on Saturday. Transfer day is Friday. Cross your fingers, if you don’t mind, for an easy transfer and a conclusive beta to follow. Of course, I’d prefer a conclusively high beta, but what I’m most focused on at the moment is numbers that mean I get to go on our planned summer trip of friends and family and beautiful, quiet places in the north woods of Michigan. When I ran this idea past Dr. BF, he said it was all fine as long as they were satisfied nothing ectopic was happening. No one wants to risk a rupture that far from a hospital, not even me.

Item: There will be Valium at the transfer, and don’t think I haven’t made mention of that to every warm body I can find at the Baby Factory. (I know some clinics always use Valium — and I find their logic of reducing uterine contractions convincing — but mine doesn’t.) Look, I know things have changed in the down-there department, post-Bean, and it’s wholly reasonable to suspect at least one of those pesky cervices is a little easier to navigate now that six pounds of baby has gone through it, but I don’t care to test that theory for no good reason. A tiny part of me is holding out hope that Valium plus baby plus lack of septum (and therefore more space for the hand that rocks the speculum) might mean no tenaculum, even. A girl can dream.

Item: I mentioned this to the nurse who took my blood on Tuesday (progesterone check), and she asked if my inseminations had always been difficult. They were, I said, but less bad with the Valium. I think the first one, with no Valium, was traumatic for everyone, not just me, and for me it was downright ghastly. (To say nothing of the pressure I felt to think warm, welcoming thoughts for a baby, while I was getting stabbed and prodded to the point of tears.) Yes, she said, I think I was there.

And you know what, I feel downright comforted to know that she remembers. The Baby Factory is a big place, with a lot of patients, and this was some time ago. I just looked back at the post I wrote at the time, which in no way captures the horror — no doubt I was imagining some future baby reading about his beginnings and didn’t want to scare the mite (guess who hasn’t filled in the birth story page of her son’s baby book?). We don’t need to go back over such old wounds as that, but suffice it to say that directed coughing in no way distracts from the pain of having yet another cervix stabbed with pointed tongs yet another time, and that seeing the doctor break a sweat isn’t very calming. No one said anything much about it at the time — and what could they have said that would have done anything but worry me? — but I am relieved to know that my impression of the day wasn’t crazy.

Item: That the transfer is on Friday means a doctor I haven’t met before (I think. Unless she was at the aforementioned IUI of nightmares.) will be on duty. And thank heavens for that. Had it been Thursday, we could have had the same guy who did the Bean’s ET, which has a cute aspect to it and all, but also has the less winning quality of requiring me to spend more time pants-less with a paternalistic asshole.

Seriously, I don’t know what this guy’s deal is, but it certainly could use a slightly more robust idea of his patients’ bodily autonomy. I found myself in stirrups with him again last week. He looked at my chart and said, in a disbelieving tone, “natural FET cycle? Why would you do that?”

You know that thing when some guy asks you some supposedly neutral question, like what your name is or why you look a certain way (usually: not thrilled just to be near him), and you just know that no matter what you say, you’re about to get hit on/told you are misbehaving/both? (And okay, I’m sure there are instances of women doing this, but stick with me here.) And you seem, in that moment, to have a choice about how to respond — to take the question at face value or to address its obvious subtext by ignoring him/ rolling your eyes/ telling him off — but really, there is no choice, because either you are going to walk right into the condescension (by being nice), in which case you aren’t allowed to complain about it, or you are going to socially overreact, which means you get called a bitch? Anyway, Dr. Paternalistic (who shares a name with a city in California, if you are local and curious) is like that. There’s no right answer. Except instead of his being a stranger on the street, he is the only one in the room wearing pants, and he’s holding an ultrasonic baton.

Gamely, I said, “why not?” And really, why not? My actual doctor thinks my odds of success are the same this way as in a more medicated cycle. But he didn’t like that answer, because this kind of cycle means I have to come into the office a lot, which, by the way, I haven’t indicated any impatience with, because I don’t actually mind. So I said that I liked that this cycle meant I could avoid the progesterone shots (since my body will make its own, meaning the suppositories are sufficient insurance). This isn’t an insignificant reason, to my mind — a few extra office visits versus stabbing myself in the increasingly lumpy ass for three months? No contest — but he looked unconvinced. “Also,” I said, bracing myself, “I liked the idea of letting my body do its own thing, since there’s no indication of any problem with my hormones.”

“I GUESS,” he replied, with all the self-effacing deference I’d expect from a fourteen year old. And then he stuck a dildocam in my vagina. Because that’s how this game goes. At least there’s no septum for him to make me feel bad about anymore.

Item: I cried on the bus ride to school after that. I’m sure it’s frustrating, as a doctor, when patients don’t make the same decisions you would — hell, I’m frustrated by other people’s decisions all the time — but maybe make a distinction between decisions that actually have anything to do with health outcomes and those that don’t. And then maybe try not to be a jackass, also.

Item: On the other hand, the nurse who gave me my trigger shots (two, because they are subcutaneous now and therefore weaker) on Saturday is in my good books. She, too, noticed and commented on the NATURAL scrawled on my chart. They don’t do many cycles this way, and that note has a lot of highlighter on it. “Good for you! Making your own follicle!” And then she stabbed me in the stomach (because that’s how this game works) and we talked about people eating their placentas. Not our thing, we agreed, but no reason others can’t do it. Imagine that.

Item: For the medical record, the progesterone is different this time. Last time, it was little waxy bullets from a compounding pharmacy, but this time I was given a choice between Crinone twice a day or prometrium thrice. My decisions was entirely based on math: 2<3. So far, the crinone is fine, except for making me crampy and leaving an absolutely revolting substance behind for removal during shower-time spelunking. Still, I will take gross over painful any day of the week.

Item: For the further medical record, following an awful morning of intense nausea, I decided to be pushy and ask if I really needed the doxycycline I'm on, given that I've had no invasive egg retrieval this time, no one thought I needed prophylactic antibiotics for an IUI (which is not essentially different from an embryo transfer), and my stomach is still all ducks and drakes from this sinus adventure. Message relayed via nurse is that I can indeed stop it, and I think I shall. I shall carry on with the methylprednisolone (how much extra do you think my insurance paid for the pre-metabolized version of a cheap, old drug?), as I can see the medical point of that one.

Message goes on to say that I must also stop taking Prilosec and Pepcid post-transfer, which is less good news. (Sinus doctor wants me to stay on both for another month while things heal; they a not presently back to normal.). I remember from last go-round that Dr. BF didn't even want me taking lysine for cold sores while under his wing, so this is hardly surprising. Lysine is an amino acid, for crying out loud; it's in FOOD. Similarly, I was directed to take both Pepcid and Prilosec while pregnant with the Bean, though admittedly later in the process. I guess every drug is suspect except the fertility drugs, which we all know wouldn't hurt a fly. I am at heart a Good Girl, though, so I will try for a bit and cry to my new OB if things get hairy.

Item: I can't believe the Bean is still asleep, but I woke him up prematurely yesterday (following his passing out on the floor in the late afternoon, following heroic meltdown, following utter refusal to nap earlier) and he still didn't go to sleep in a timely manner last night.

Item: Acid reflux and moral purity be damned, Sugar and I are going out for what I hope is a last-gasp cocktail tonight. Which means the Bean will have a babysitter, and sleep, well, that's her problem.


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The Smaller Roller Coaster

In retrospect, another fine title for this post would be Migraine Prodrome.

Hello from the couch, internets, where I am rubbing off the linty adhesive left behind on my arm by the paper tape that covered today’s bloodwork wound.

On the subway ride to the clinic this morning, I wrote in my journal a bit about how nice it is that, in contrast to last go-round, this cycle doesn’t feel so much like a roller coaster for my poor old emotions. For instance, I noted, most of my drugs are trapped in the hell that is our local post office and the mail-order pharmacy hasn’t even gotten the prescription for the trigger shot yet, but I’m not freaking out. I’ll go to the post office Monday, and the insurance people said I could get the trigger at a regular pharmacy.

Sure enough, when I got to the baby factory, the nurse was happy to write me a new prescription. The radio was playing “Unbreak My Heart,” but it was hard to feel maudlin when it was clear from the waiting room that today was Buddy Day — there were at least three pairs of friends there together, chatting and happy. The waiting room is a silent, serious place on the weekdays, but it lets its hair down a little on the weekends.

The anesthesiologist from my egg retrieval came by as i walked from the blood-draw room to an exam room, he who was so sweet to me when I was terrified and crying and so cheering when I was in my post-surgical haze of chatty confusion. I saw him last weekend, too, and called out to him. It was three years ago, I said, but I was so frightened, and you saved me. I remember that face! With the tears! he said, and bent to kiss my cheek.

Undress from the waist down, Lovely, said the prescription-writing nurse, and I felt all warm and fuzzy about that “Lovely.” My toes were wet from rain — it’s a bit of a walk from the subway — but I was wearing my favorite, quasi-matching knee socks, which cheer me up even though their elastic has worn out considerably since the days of our efforts to conceive the Bean, when these stirrups saw them frequently.

The fellow on duty today, who had a long ponytail and the kind of slight southern accent that makes me feel at home, seemed, unlike the fellow I saw on Tuesday, to have taken in what my chart said. (Dr. Tuesday greeted me by announcing I was doing a natural FET cycle (true) and that I had been taking estrace for four days (false, since there’s no estrace in a natural cycle). After the ultrasound, which, like a lot of things this month, was quite painful, she noticed me doubling over in pain and asked why. When I told her my endometriosis was bad this month, she looked blank.) Hmmm, there’s nothing going on in your ovaries, today’s fellow said, and even though she didn’t sound worried and it’s hardly surprisingly late, given my typical cycle length, my heart just sank. If I were doing a medicated cycle, this would be more or less taken care of, but because I chose not to, suddenly it matters how well my body behaves itself. And I don’t like being reminded that its behavior isn’t driven by my expectations or my will.

I left the clinic (radio: “Billie Jean Is Not My Lover”), and my blood sugar plummeted as I walked to the subway. I have inherited my father’s family’s way with hypoglycemia, and I made some bad breakfast choices today, in particular the choice to eat almost nothing. My back hurt from the ultrasound, and by the time I got to the station, it was clear that once I got back to Brooklyn and picked the Bean up from our friend’s house, it would be too late in the day for the outing I’d planned for us. (Sugar had a photo shoot this morning, and though I don’t believe in barring children from RE waiting rooms, I also don’t know how I’d keep him from rummaging through the sharps containers while I am in the stirrups.) I was tempted to sit down and cry or at least zone out, but I got on the train instead. Back in Brooklyn, the pharmacy said my insurance wouldn’t pay for the trigger shot.

It’s not true, it turns out, that there’s no roller coaster this time. It is, however, so far a smaller one. The highs are not so exhilarating, but the lows are not so all-encompassing, at least not so far. Three years ago, I would definitely have had a panic attack in the pharmacy, but today, I bought a snickers bar and went to pick up my kid. I called the insurance company while the Bean and I waited for our friends to meet us at the diner on our block — hardly the big adventure I’d hoped for — and when they said no one from the fertility department would be in before Monday, I hung up and enjoyed our lunch.

It’s not a mystery what’s changed, and I’m not just magically more mature. It’s the Bean. Partly his very presence takes some of the desperation out of my more pessimistic daydreams — one child is a profound difference from zero. But mostly I think it’s that being with him so much of the time just makes a certain kind of fixation impossible. I can’t properly focus on how down I feel while simultaneously keeping him from dumping the diner’s salt shaker onto a pile of their sugar packets, and really, how consistently blue can I manage to be while he’s so very pleased with his first temporary tattoo?

New ink

This isn’t to say motherhood has made a Pollyanna of me, as this blog will attest. I still feel sad tonight. I thought my mother, who has been too sick to travel since just after the Bean was born, was going to somehow make it to a family reunion in Michigan this summer, but I’d misunderstood. Seeing Sugar’s mom here with the Bean makes me sad that mine can’t visit him and afraid that he won’t love her as much as he loves the grandmother who can go with him to the garden and the playground. I tried to send my mom one of these lovely ecards, and when something about my iPad hiccuped and lost my two sentences, I melted down crying on the couch. It’s a bit more than the situation calls for.

It’s more that these blues haven’t dominated the evening, as they certainly would have a few years ago. I’ve felt down, but I’ve also had some surprise neck-hugs and gotten to watch the Bean dance and take pie lessons from Sugar. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and even if our plans don’t work out perfectly, it will be a better day than it was three years ago, guaranteed.

Pie lessons


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CD 2…Or IS It?

Or: The Plot Thickens and The Lining Does Not Thin

What’s going on with my uterus? Who even knows anymore?

After a crabby day of light, intermittent flow on Saturday and a night of worsening cramps, I decided enough was enough and headed into the Baby Factory just barely in time for morning monitoring hours today. Dutifully rolled up my sleeves and pulled down my trousers, only to be told by this week’s Dr. Sunday (whom long-time readers may remember as Dr. “Why Hasn’t Someone Removed Your Septum” — wish granted, buddy; you may thank my son) that my ovaries are nicely quiet but my lining is still so intact that he’s not convinced this really counts as my period yet. It wouldn’t count for a lupron cycle, for instance. For the purposes of a “natural” FET (pause to snort again at the use of the word natural to describe reproduction in any context involving so many machines and embryologists), it may do; we’ll see what the estrogen numbers are. Could things be topsy-turvy from all these sinus drugs, I asked. Could be indeed.

So. Either back next week or presumably sooner, I guess. [ETA: Estrogen is wicked high, so back Tuesday to see if my for real period is rolling by then. Bodies! Whatcha gonna do?]

Meanwhile, is this the worst possible magazine pairing for a fertility clinic waiting room? Nice to see the virgin/whore dichotomy is keeping on keeping on.

20130505-133456.jpg

I spotted the “whore” one and commented on it to the woman in the next chair, who pointed out that The Fecund Princess had been next to it before she picked that one up herself.

Seeing as how the ice was broken and I seem to be experiencing the manic side of prednisone this morning, I said that in case she had not been pregnant before, just for the record, my son had not ruined my life. I also mentioned that he had come from this factory, and she smiled, evidently cheered. She does not have children yet, she said. I know people have different feelings about the appropriateness of bringing children to even the waiting room of REs’ offices, I said, but I remember a woman who had her toddler with her during the IVF cycle that got me pregnant. She made sure to tell us all he had come from that clinic, which I found encouraging.

There’s a baby here today, she said, and at first I felt sad about that, but then I thought, Wait a minute. They’re from here.

(Sidebar: it was a really cute baby, a 24-pound 9-month old named Lucas who doesn’t sleep well. Like I said: I am CHATTY today.)

And that, with a side of soapbox ranting about reproductive freedoms belonging to everyone, not just those who can prove they “deserve” to have children by virtue of their ability to afford babysitting all the time, is why I am pro-baby in the waiting room. In a world that so often seems determined to tell us our children or putative children will somehow be inferior to those “natural” ones made in nicely middle-class bedrooms by rank amateurs, it’s nice to be reminded what hogwash that is. Or so say I, conceived, I have been told far too many times, in a campground near Yorktown, Virginia, with the help of quite a bit of Clomid.


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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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Uterine News And Weird Reports

You might be a trifle done in, if your foremost thought at the prospect of upcoming surgery is relief at the idea of spending a few hours knocked out.

Returned to the Baby Factory this last week, for another look at my storied uterus. During the last dildo-camming, all appeared normal, but the spotting I’ve been having for up to a week before my period for the past several months made Dr. Baby Factory suspect a polyp, one he might not have been able to see at that point in my cycle, when my lining is pretty plush. Sure enough, at the low-nap of CD 8, there it was, big as life and smack in the middle of everything. Even I could have diagnosed something from that ultrasound, though I might have gone with “spontaneous mini-kidney.”

It’s not huge, as these things go, 7 by 8 millimeters or so. Dr. BF says lots of people get pregnant with polyps. But lots of people have miscarriages with polyps, too, and after watching a youtube video of one getting excised, I think understand why: the sucker didn’t bleed. If there’s one thing I know for sure about uterine tissue, it’s that it ought to be robustly vasculated, embryos not being entirely unlike vampires in their basic desires.

So. Out it comes, via hysteroscopy. That’s hyster- for “uterus” and -scopy for “you’d rather not be awake for this.” Dr. BF only operates on Thursdays, my busiest teaching day this semester. Luckily, he is willing to do this surgery any time I’m not bleeding (some people only do them early in the cycle), which means I ought to just squeak in during spring break, a few days before I expect my period. That gives the ol’ ute April to recover herself for a May FET cycle. Here’s hoping.

If you’ve read, um, anything I’ve ever written here, you know what comes next is the part about how freaked out and anxious I am about all this. And believe me, I’d be telling you aaaalllll about it, except that, well, I’m not. Isn’t that weird? I don’t know who I am anymore, either.

Partly, this is because it will be Dr. BF wielding the scalpel cervix telescope/floodlight/scissors thing. I’ve been peeved at him once or twice (twice) during our time together, but he’s never given me the slightest reason not to trust him. Granted, I am not deaf to flattery, and he did call my ovaries beautiful and remark that he loves my (medically rarer-than-rare) uterus. But it’s more that the initial impression I got when first reading his blog (what? You don’t choose your doctors via blog? Wish Dr. Russian had had one), that here was someone with a careful mind who also really cared about his patients, seems to have been accurate. I was a little surprised, during our Triumphal Return appointment, that he didn’t ask much after the Bean. It occurred to me later, however, that there is something really refreshing about talking to someone who seems mostly interested in me, not just the fruit of my wacky womb.

My mother has a story along these lines, which I’m going to put in here because it is funny and my paragraphing is all to hell anyway. Ahem. Mama went to medical school with a woman who had an identical twin living in the same area. Her twin gave birth, attended by a doctor the med students knew. When she saw him next, the med student thanked him for delivering the baby. He looked blank. Incredulous, she asked, “don’t you ever look at their faces?”

I trust Dr. BF because of the post that led me to him, in which he discussed common mistakes in diagnosing mullerian anomalies, because knowing how to do something wrong is an important part of truly understanding how to do it right. I trust him because I know he cares about his patients, not just because he has been considerate of our feelings (mostly — still holding a grudge over that psych consult), but because his blog was the first (only) place I’ve heard a doctor express disdain for the term “chemical” pregnancy, on the grounds that it diminishes the experience of loss. (That I read this right after Dr. “I’m sure you don’t have a septum even though I’ve never examined you” seemed cozily baffled by my observation that “incompetent cervix” is an obnoxious term makes the memory stand out.) And I trust him because I watched his video of a hysteroscopic resection of a uterine septum, which I heartily recommend if that kind of thing doesn’t squick you out.

I admit that I am pretty sad that this means no travel during break. I had visions of a jaunt up to friends in Boston or down to Starr Hill, but Sugar can’t travel the first weekend, and even though I know recovery from this sort of thing is supposed to be no big deal, the thought of counting on feeling up to schlepping somewhere the following day with a toddler in tow makes me queasy. It’s just, I’m lonely. I hadn’t counted on how isolating this “having a toddler means someone is always sick” business would be, and lately, someone is always sick. (And holy smokes, this latest one is a doozy. It’s taken a week to write this, and it hasn’t been a fun week.) I miss seeing friends, you know, in the ol’ Real World. Guess I should have thought of that before I went and got myself knocked up. Meanwhile, I don’t know what I’d do without y’all, I really don’t.

Speaking of, did you know you’d almost gotten me to not care about the specter of those PIO shots? Only almost, but almost is a big deal in this context. You are a pretty amazing bunch. Drinks, all around.

Which brings me to the appointment’s good news. I admit it, after the PIO surprise, I played the field, support-wise. I will always love y’all best, you know that. But I also asked about it on a forum, and one of the women there asked why I wasn’t doing a “natural”* FET. Was there any reason to believe my previous difficulties were related to my hormone levels?

*someday you will get my rant on how much I hate that word. It’s long.

Well, now that you mention it, no, there isn’t. We’ll never know for sure, but I favor Dr. BF’s hunch that I wasn’t getting pregnant via IUI because of structural issues: the endometriomas were preventing eggs from leaving my ovaries, various adhesions were keeping the Fallopian tubes from picking them up, scarring in the tubes was generally fouling things up, or some combination. Given how very many eggs I made on a moderate FSH dose (32), how much those eggs seemed to like the sperm in question (24 fertilized), and how happily the resulting embryos grew (12 frozen, one currently staring in adoration at the engines of Sodor), these explanations seem quite plausible.

Indeed, I had always imagined we would do an unmedicated FET, but when that’s not what Dr. BF described at our recent consult, I just assumed there was some reason. Insert the usual business of not wanting to look foolish by asking. Yes, it’s a great defense mechanism, why?

Emboldened by my forum friend, this time I did ask Dr. BF what he thought…and it turns out he thinks it’s fine! He might still want me to do some progesterone supplementation, but the good old coochie bullets are fine for that. I asked him about odds, expecting they would be lower than in a medicated cycle, but he said that assuming they don’t miss my ovulation (which would mean game over that cycle — this is why they don’t do many cycles this way), he thinks the odds are about the same.

I feel great about this idea, and not only because it limits the ass-stabbery to one trigger shot. I feel excited at the idea of giving my body a chance to just do its thing — at least, as much as such a thing is possible after embryologists have entered the picture. It makes me a bit warm and fuzzy, it turns out, to imagine trusting my body.

I know. I don’t know who I am anymore, either.


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News From the Front

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.