Bionic Mamas

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


16 Comments

Back In The Saddle

…or the stirrups, anyway.

No, no, not in the TTC sort of way, not yet anyway. I won’t spring that on you without some high-octane angst first, promise.

But I did go to the OB/Gyn, for the first time since my postpartum appointment, which some of you may recall ended with me wandering the avenues of Midtown, weeping so hard people were forced to break the NYC taboo on talking to crying people and the one on stopping strangers in the street. (In case you’re wondering, it does take some doing, especially in the blocks around Grand Central.) I was, erm, a little nervous. Related: what is it about filling out those medical history forms that makes me afraid I’ve forgotten my own name, let alone whether I have kidney disease?

You will not be surprised to hear that I did not return to Dr. Russian, as punching her in the face would open me up to more court and jail time than fits my schedule. I stacked the deck a bit by going to Sugar’s doctor, whom I have met before. (In fact, I tried to go to her practice when I got knocked up, but they weren’t taking new OB patients.) Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty shaky as I sat there on the table waiting, gripping my notebook of questions. I fetched my journal out of my purse, for the sense of enhanced safety only another book can provide.

And…she was wonderful. She listened to my slightly quavery explanation of why I was switching practices and said it all sounded pretty traumatic. She said that lots of women push for four hours with a first baby and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, and that they give nifedipine if they even suspect Reynaud’s in the nipples of a breastfeeding mother, because Reynaud’s is so awful and nifedipine is so safe. (See here and here for contrast.)

I haven’t written about this, but one part of labor that I have felt increasingly upset about in recent months is the part where I was bleeding heavily for days at home and Dr. Skinny said it was nothing and then was such a bitch about my calling back when it hadn’t stopped, twelve hours or more after my first call. I’ve talked to many, many women since then about their experiences of labor, and I have yet to hear anything that reassures me it was normal. I suppose it’s possible that it really was just a particularly determined (and large — this was a lot of blood) broken vessel in my cervix, but it’s also possible it was a placental abruption, and there is no way Dr. Skinny could have known it wasn’t via phone. I didn’t think it seemed normal at the time, and I shouldn’t have let her intimidate me out of that. Things turned out okay for me and the Bean, of course, but it’s not a comfortable feeling, thinking that I could have let my baby die — oh, and potentially died myself — because I was too chicken to argue with a doctor. I told the new doctor that, and she looked very serious. That does not sound normal, she said, and no one at this practice would have let you stay at home if you called bleeding that much. That will not happen to you here.

Ultimately, she said that while she couldn’t ethically say things about Dr. Russian to a patient, she was — I think the word was “horrified” — by what I had told her. Then she said so again.

So. Maybe it wasn’t just me.

If this doctor has a fault I am aware of, it is that I find her a little happy to cut, as surgeons tend to be. On the other hand, as much as I don’t want to have surgery for the endometriosis I’ve thus far fail to cure with denial or pregnancy, I’m not sure she’s wrong that I should have it. Things are getting worse, and most months I now spend three out of ever four or five weeks in some amount of pain. In particular, pain in the week before my period is getting out of hand, such that I’ve been dipping into my hoarded Percocet stash to sleep. Nothing else does a thing. The question in my mind is whether surgery is worth the pain of recovery, given that it doesn’t always help with endo. Somehow I didn’t get that question in, but I am being sent back to Dr. Demure, the man who did a transvaginal ultrasound without so much as seeing my legs, to see how my garden of ovarian cysts grows. Well, I imagine, from the way my back feels half the month. I’m also to see a rehab specialist about the way my hip joints fall to pieces and leave me so weak once a month, though she seems unconvinced that isn’t somehow also endo.

If I am going to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, I’m not keen to have surgery first. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a rational excuse for that — besides that I have no idea what I would do with the Bean for two weeks if my recovery were anything like Sugar’s — but she said it did not sound crazy. Should have asked her why not. In the meantime, I have a legitimate prescription for Percocet now, though she said several times that we couldn’t just carry on like this until menopause. Other than pain medication and surgery that might not help, there is no treatment. Birth control pills help some people, but are a bad idea for people like me, who get migraine with aura and don’t like the idea of having a stroke.

The pelvic exam itself was not much fun, though I think she was as gentle as possible while hunting around for cervix number two. Righty seems to have done the job at delivery, for those who were wondering. The worst part, though, was the groping around for uterus and ovaries and such like. I was doubled-over after and am still in a fair bit of pain, though some sangria left over from our party on Sunday did take the edge off last night. She may have a point about this situation not being tenable.

So! On balance, a win yesterday, I think. Let us hope for another one tomorrow, when I have a job interview at a college in Staten Island. I am hoping that my scanty publication record’s including a book about a forgotten corner of our most ignored borough will give me an edge.


2 Comments

At The Baby Factory

Last week, Sugar Mama and I made our way over to the Kips Bay Baby Mill…and I’m a little in love. Our doctor is The Right Sort. He listens well, seems genuinely interested to know us, and Sugar Mama was particularly impressed by how naturally he treated her as my partner, not just as a more-or-less invisible friend. (In fact, the more I think about Dr. Baby Factory, the less I like the gyn who couldn’t find my second hoo-ha.)

I was a little worried about the transvaginal ultrasound they do as a regular part of new patient intake, though it was inevitable that I would have one this month, since the gyn wanted one as follow-up on the ovarian cysts found on my MRI and I was glad enough not to have his hand on the dildocam, considering how uncomfortable I found his pelvic exam. Dr. Baby Factory was very gentle — even the double-pap (the first pap of the rest of my life…) wasn’t bad. Sugar Mama stayed with me the whole time, as did some new PhD who I took to be a med-student sort but turned out to have studied Zebra Fish embryology? (Why was he there? Oh well. It’s getting so I don’t care that much who sees my hoo-has.)

The bad news is that the cysts haven’t moved — or maybe that’s good news, since I was a little convinced I had the Big C — so I had another u/s this week. This one was with Dr. Demure, who managed the whole thing without even seeing my uncovered legs. He passed me the wand under the paper sheet and had me insert it, then daintily reached his hand underneath to maneuver it, eyes always on the u/s screen. It was a little reminiscent of the scene in Kandahar when the doctor can only advise female patients through a sheet, since he’s not allowed to see their bodies.

The other bad news doesn’t really count as a surprise: I, like every other woman in my family, have endometriosis. (Screw spell-check for not knowing that word, by the way.) I was hoping that if I just kept my complaints about my excruciating periods sub-medical, I avoid my fate, so chalk up another loss for magical thinking. Sigh. This will make conception harder, but I keep telling myself it’s not impossible. My mother has endo badly enough that she had a laparotomy years before I was born, after which the doctor said her ovaries so badly messed up from intrusions that “we scraped together all the ovarian tissue we could find and pushed it into a roughly ovarian shape”. And yet, here I sit.

So now it’s an HSG to discover how messy my tubes are. I am terrified at the thought of this — not only does the set-up sound bad (catheter through the cervix?? CLAMP if the cervix is shy????), but getting pumped full of X-rayable dye apparently hurts quite a bit if the tubes aren’t open. Plus, Sugar Mama will be out of town for the only day the procedure can be done this month, and I’m scheduled to teach that night. Friend With Baby will probably come with me. Apologies in advance for any infertiles in the Bad Place who have to see the cute baby, but I’ve decided I’m looking out for number one this time, and Friend With Baby is the best choice for company.

Enh, sorry for the lack of funny pictures. I’m not feeling it.