Bionic Mamas

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


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Red Light, Green Light

I thought it might help to sort out what about IVF I am and am not scared of. Something’s gotta help soon, because I’m sick of waking up at 4:30. (Good news: I found a sliding-scale acupuncture clinic! Gonna call next week, for reals. We’ll deal with what about acupuncture I am and am not afraid of another day….)


What I am scared of:

Big needles. Dr. Baby Factory prefers to use progesterone in oil, but he said he’s okay with coochie bullets. So I don’t need to worry about that one (except for the part of me that’s like “but shouldn’t I use THE VERY BEST THING? WHY DON’T I WANT A BABY???”)


What I am not scared of:

Small needles. I’m a tiny bit weirded out by the thought of the follistim injections, but not in an unmanagable way. I used to watch my dad give himself allergy shots. I think this is one of those times that being a doctors’ kid helps — I don’t have the feeling that medical care is something that doesn’t happen at home, and I’m basically into science experiments. And if it gets that bad, I have a friend with a medical degree who’s already offered to give me the shots. (And if that doesn’t work out, I can always have her 2.5 year old daughter do it. That kid gives me “medicine” with my bbt thermometer every time she’s over, which is often. She has a great bedside manner — comforting but very firm.)

– That follistim and friends will make my ovaries hurt unbearably, given that Cysty Lefty hurts an awful lot of the time as it is. Oh well. I suppose childbearing is a weird goal if I’m interested in avoiding discomfort, huh?

Two-week follicular phase. That sounds like a big improvement over my usual twenty-odd days. I can do anything for two weeks, right?

Egg retrieval. That’s normal, right? How could I not be scared of giant needles in my vagina, right? And how the hell are they going to get around my big-ass cysts? (According to my dream life, I am also afraid of crazy infections that enlarge the lining surrounding my heart. Awake, I am afraid that the Terrible Metaphor part of my mind is taking over. IVF leads to heartache? Real original, brain. MFA in Writing = money well spent.)

IVs. Dr. Baby Factory said he’d want to do my ER with anesthesia — and he thought I’d object! Ha! I’m a big wimp and am all for being knocked out. So I’m telling myself that all I will have to do on ER day is show up and get an IV. Everything that comes afterward…well, I’ll be down for the count. (I hope. Last time I had twilight anesthesia — when I had my wisdom teeth out — I woke up in the middle. On the bright side, I was still too blissed out to be bothered. I remember lying there thinking, “Oh, that crunching sound must mean they’re having to break my tooth to get it out. La la la!”)

Not having any eggs/embryos. Dr. Baby Factory doesn’t think the no-egg thing is likely (since I had a bunch of follicles on the last scan), but really, I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Twins.

Single Embryo Transfer. Dr. BF thinks this is a great idea for me, given my age and all the rest (like my fear of twins). He thinks it lowers my odds only a little bit, and since my insurance is paying….
But then again, my insurance company wouldn’t be the ones climbing back into the stirrups, not to mention dealing with the emotional fallout not getting pregnant. Okay, it turns out I am a little afraid of this. But I am more afraid of twins in our New York apartment and our loosey-goosey financial situation.

Believing this is a sure thing; losing my mind if it doesn’t work, even if only on the first try.

Never having a child. Always being the-adult-kids-love, with none of my own to sometimes love and sometimes loathe me. Again, only one way to find out.


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Baby Dust

Still not feeling very enthusiastic about this cycle. Meaning: I’d like to get pregnant. I’d really, really like that. (And don’t get me started about the little voice in my head pointing out that this would be the cycle that would continue what my birthday-mate aunt calls the family tradition of first children born in late November/early December. Quite a number of us within only a few days, it’s true.) But I feel like it doesn’t matter if I’m hopeful or not — my endometriomas are just too fucking big.

And we’re out of stored sperm now, so we’ll have to scrape up money again. (Thanks, body, for slowing things down enough that we JUST crossed the line into having to pay for a second six month’s storage at the Baby Factory. Nice work.) And the sperm bank raised their prices. Yippee.

So, yeah. I’m not drinking or anything, but I wouldn’t say I feel terribly PUPO, as it were. Nonetheless, I made a nice little baby dust* blingee for a board friend last night, and I thought y’all might like it, too. The pink background — attentive readers will recognize the Sparkle Menace — makes the dust itself a bit hard to see, but yes, it is meant to be emanating from the…hindquarters.

unicorn baby dust

I’ve got a baby-dance one, too, but it still needs a little work. Something to look forward to.

*a phrase that makes me think of ashes. Nice, huh?


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Back In The Saddle

Or the stirrups, at any rate.

Greetings from the [state college where I teach] campus library, where I spend my non-teaching time this semester, since I don’t have an office. Today I’m at a large, shared table in the very open art history section, staring at the double-lined OPK I’m holding under the table, where I can pretend that the students can’t see it. (They can, of course, just as I can see them pass notes in class.) Lord knows what they think, but who cares?! I am FINALLY OVULATING! W00t!

A little background: after taking November and December off from TTC — November because I o’d the weekend we got married; December because of travel (and because I wanted to be drinking, not weeping over my period, while visiting my in-laws) — I expected to ovulate about two weeks ago. Which was right when I found out that I might lose my health insurance. And just like in October, when my revving-to-go body encountered a big wallop of stress, everything came to a screeching halt. (Except the soreness at my left ovary that I get every month around ovulation. That has obligingly kept on going.) Following some major hustle on my part and some help from others, I did NOT lose my health insurance, but even though I’ve been peeing on sticks like it’s going out of style, checking my TP like I’m expecting the Virgin Mary’s face to turn up there, and urging my pituitary on, nothin’. So, I say again, W00t!

I’m going in for a valium-assisted IUI tomorrow, so wish me luck, please. Sadly, Sugar can’t cancel her afternoon meetings, so I’ll be riding solo. I’m sad about that, but it’s evidently a difficult thing to schedule around, my ovulation. I’d be happy to think some of you were keeping me company, however virtually.

Heigh-ho, Spermies, Away!


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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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Best Planned Lays

This isn’t going to be one of those well-made blog posts. This is one of those pissy lists. BUT: Before the ranting commences, Hello and Thanks for dropping by! to everyone, but especially to those of you directed here by the lesbian-lovin’ Kymberli. It’s a pleasure having you. If any of the rest of you don’t read Kymberli’s blog, you should certainly head over to read today’s tale of accidental head-shaving.

1. LH surge: I can has one, pls? Still spending my days with legs crossed, still but the palest of lines on the OPK. Not yet out of bounds for my longest cycles, but getting close. Am secretly convinced I don’t make LH.

2. Farewell, Mr. NMEBSI? It turns out he wasn’t screened for a genetic disorder that I only just now got tested for. I won’t know my results for at least another month or so. I had thought that no donors had been screened (so my own results would only be to help us decide about prenatal testing), but it turns out that some have. So we will choose a screened donor for September, at least, and maybe beyond (depending on my results).

(If you think I’m being over-cautious, please keep in mind that my father is a pediatric geneticist, who treats very small, very sick kids. This disorder is common, and although my parents raised me to be independent, he all but asked me to get tested.)

We were pretty upset about this, but we’ve since found some screened donors who also seem like good choices. Which means we have plenty of energy left to be upset that…

3. Dr. Baby Factory will not waive the $450 counseling session, nor will he allow us to see a counselor outside of the practice (who might take our insurance or just charge a little less than $9/minute). There are so many reasons this enrages me (and fills me with hopeless despair, but the anger is more interesting, I imagine) that it’s hard to keep them all straight in my mind. I’ll limit my rant to three. I’m realizing that they mostly come down not to the refusal to waive the counseling but to how it’s been talked about.

a. There’s equal ≠ fair aspect to the whole thing — Dr. Baby Factory cannot or will not (as I find white men of privilege generally can’t or won’t) wrap his mind around the idea that treating all couples using donor-whatever in the same way may be equal but it isn’t fair, in the sense that it is willfully blind to what brings each couple to this place. The best I can come up with is that this is like saying that it’s fair that no employees get Jewish holidays off, when in fact that’s equal but unfair. It bugs me that he won’t acknowledge that our position is different from that of a straight couple using donor-stuff.

b. There’s the giant fuck-you that is their counselors working with NO insurance. I don’t think I’d be half as mad if they worked with some but not ours, though I’d still be pretty tweaked, since we chose this practice because it works with our insurance. But taking no insurance at all? So it’s just an automatic “too bad you aren’t normal” charge? Shitty, shitty, shitty.

c. There’s the way Dr. Baby Factory distinguishes straight couples from us by referring to them as “married”. GAH! I AM TRYING TO BE MARRIED, JERK-FACE. (How I wish we’d already eloped to CT, so I could tell him off properly for that one.)

As I see it, we have three options — but please let me know if you think of any others, wise internet:

1. Suck it up, swallow pride, see if pooped-out pride sells on eBay, and pay for it.
Pros: Path of least resistance (except cost means less sperm means fewer tries before we have to store up money again).
Cons: Money, rage.

2. DIY at home, at least to start. (Assuming Dr. Baby Factory will still sign the home delivery release, as he said he would back at the HSG.) Reevaluate after a month or so.
Pros: No one involved who makes me want to spit nails.
Cons: Lower conception rate than IUI. Inefficient use of money, since we would be buying 2 vials/month and having to get them shipped every month (vs. getting 3 months’ at once and storing at the clinic).

3. Change clinics.
Pros: I have another recommendation that my insurance will cover, with free sperm storage and no seekrit psych fees. Could work on details while trying DIY for a month.
Cons: Starting all over with intake, etc. More prodding of the vages. More theories. Sounds exhausting and like it will take forever.

Stay tuned, internet, to see down which path our heroines next gang agley.


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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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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.