Bionic Mamas

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


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Tales from the Front

Hi, folks.

So much has been going on, and I haven’t managed to tell you any of it. Mea culpa. Today’s update post comes to you from the couch, where I am staring over the horizon of an empty ice cream container and into space (such as it is in an NYC apartment), worn out from a 12-hour weep-fest. (We’ll get to that, but please don’t worry — everyone is healthy if not happy.)

Here are some updates and stories for you, in this so helpful style I have shamelessly plagiarized from our* May:

Item: Christmas, New Years, and the Great Middle Western Odyssey in general went fairly well. We met the famous TA, as sweet as they say, and her happy mother. I threw caution to the wind and ate my annual bratwurst at the Christkindlmarket. We went swimming at Sugar’s mother’s health club; after looking forward for months to the experience of grace and support I keep hearing about in re: gravid paddling, my attempts to avoid further rib injury lead to a kind of aquatic lumbering down the lane with a kickboard, a foam noodle under my ribs, and a foundering midsection intermittently covered by an old exercise top with shot elastic. Sadly, the ribs got angry anyway, possibly because of the indignity of being seen with me.

Swimming, 28 weeks
All the Grace of a Foundering Tugboat

I steered clear of Sugar’s dumbest cousin on Christmas Day — though I still managed to hear her dumb husband (whose last name is a synonym for “detumesces,” which gives me great delight, even if detumesce isn’t a real word, which it probably isn’t) threaten to spank their child for…oh, I forget. Something dumb that all 10 (10!) kids in the house that day were doing, like being loud. So no stories for any of us there.

To celebrate arriving at my parents’ house, I got a rip-roaring cold. After a day of utterly failing to breathe, accidentally overdosing on my inhaler, and subsequently freaking out about killing/brain-injuring the Bean, I was saved by Sugar’s suggestion that codeine is a fine anti-tussive. My parents’ house could easily be mistaken for a well-stocked pharmacy, and codeine not only stopped the coughing but also made me stop wheezing/turning blue. Mama made Dada listen to my lungs with the chimney of an oil lamp, since he had left his stethoscope at the office. I tried to teach Mama to cut and paste, so she’ll stop sending me emails with instructions on how to google something she’s found (“put X in. now go to the 4th result. in the corner, there’s a drawing of a fish. under that, there are some words you can click on….”) and instead caused a fight over dinner. We (98% Sugar) made a play-quilt. I was given (not “gifted,” dammit) replacements for the water bottle and good gloves I’ve recently lost on my commute; I promptly lost my best wool shawl on the trip home.

Item: We returned home to a house empty of food and full of cats very pleased with the success of their efforts to drive away our vacationing guests (the Baking Dane’s in-laws) by pooping all over their and our belongings. I walk the mile to the grocery store (over mostly-cleared sidewalks), discovering on the way that all that lying around in the midwest while steadily increasing in size has left me woefully out of shape for our car-less life. When I arrive at the hippie coop, I have a stupid exchange with the pregnant idiot working the front desk (this is the kind of coop where you work a shift to secure your right to Waldorf-educated kohlrabi) over her refusal to ask those working with her to rearrange the heavy carts (used to walk home shoppers who live closer than I do) so that those of us who schlep our own organic flax milk can hang our granny carts on the appointed hooks. Another woman sweetly takes my cart from me and says she’ll fix it. While I am recovering myself (read: weeping in the corner by the signs about how evil Coca-cola is), Pregnant Idiot calls over to tell me it’s done. I say thank you and think humiliated thoughts. On the way home, I get stuck in a pile of slush in the middle of a busy street at rush hour, oncoming traffic surging at me. Good times.

Item: We begin birth classes with the lesbian CNM and her somewhat dippy co-teacher, who keeps saying “dilatition.” We are pleased at the first meeting to see that we know one of the 7 couples there: an extremely chipper lesbian and her partner, who has a very charming lack of filter between her brain and her facial expressions. I enjoy watching my own horror reflected on her gaping face all evening.

The class begins with introductions. We are all (partners/husbands/friends, too) to say our names, when the baby is due, etc., and tell a story about our birth knowledge/experience — a birth we’ve been to, the story of our own, what have you. When the talking beanbag (not kidding) comes to us, Sugar goes first.

SUGAR: “Hi, I’m Sugar and this is my wife, Bionic. Our baby is due in March and we’re delivering at Kips Bay Mega-Hospital. The story of my birth is that my mother gave birth in 45 minutes and is still mad that all she got for dinner was a ham sandwich.”

DIPPY: “Wow! That’s amazing! How lucky!”

SUGAR: “Yeah. Too bad I’m not related genetically to our child.”

DIPPY: “But you’re related to your mother!”

BIONIC: Yes, but not to our baby.

DIPPY: “But your hips! You’ll have her genes! This is great!”

BIONIC: “BUT SHE’S NOT PREGNANT.”

[Awkward pause, in which DIPPY flusters about how she couldn’t really see us where we were sitting. Lesbian Teacher looks long-suffering.]

BIONIC: “Hi, I’m Bionic. My mother did not give birth in 45 minutes.”

I then proceed to talk about my (not un-traumatic) birth, touching briefly on a few major anxieties. I do not cry, but I don’t look calm either. Before I have collected myself, The door opens and the late couple walks in. If you’ve already guessed that the late couple was Pregnant Idiot and her identical twit of a husband, full marks.

Watch this space for further reports on the Happy Couple, who remind one nauseatingly of high school. Highlight of the first night came during one of the activity portions, when we were all draped on one another practicing slow-dancing to loosen back, etc. Sugar is admirably taller than I am, so my face was nicely snuggled against her chest, my eyes closed. I hear a *SMACK* on the Happy ass next to me, followed by “THAT’S a BOOTY!” Gorge rises.

Item: I begin to worry more seriously about this whole birth thing. I spend much of birth class freaking out (internally — at least I think I didn’t look as horrified as the Other Pregnant Lesbian, since the Lesbian Teacher never stopped what she was saying to ask me, “Do you have a question? Or is that just the face?”). It’s all very well learning about what the cervix does, what the birth canal will do, and so on, but while I don’t really wish to share the idiosyncrasies of my lady bits with the class as a whole — Lesbian Teacher knows already — it’s frustrating that no one has a clue what my body might or might not decide to do when the moment arrives. I have found 3 anecdotal reports of cervices like mine: one reassuring, one cautionary, one horrifying. (There’s much more out there on UD, but officially, single utes with double-doors do not exist, as we contravene the prevailing theories of fetal genital development.) I’m increasingly despairing that a vaginal birth will even be possible, which makes this all seem like something for other people. I know there are good reasons for us to take the class anyway, but it’s still a bit hard to sit there and look like I believe this stuff will apply to me.

Item: Dr. Robot has quit the practice and returned to Canada, according to Dr. Sympathetic Noises (But No Answers To Your Questions), whom I saw last week. I was quite nauseated and asked Dr. Noises whether it could have to do with the Zantac I’ve been taking for reflux, given that it seemed to have coincided. No, she said sympathetically. Later, I asked Dr. Google, who reported nausea as the most common side effect. Back to pepcid, and it’s a more acidic but less queasy life for me. Nice work, Dr. Noises. Thanks also for refusing to answer my questions about your practice’s labor policies until week 36.

Item: We finally have our belated hospital tour, led by a horrible, scolding bitch. We chose this hospital largely because of how uncommonly NICE every staff member we’ve encountered, orderlies on up, have been over the course of several radiology jaunts, Sugar’s surgery, and my BFF’s terrifying 27-week bleeding incident while visiting us a few years ago. So we weren’t expecting one of those bitter, angry people who loudly pretends to be cheerful while referring to all non-pregnant parties as “Dad,” kvetching endlessly about why her department deserves more space than another, and generally yelling at anyone who asked a question. I also liked the part where — apropos of nothing except a quiet moan from one of the rooms — she snapped at us, “labor is PAINFUL!” Part of my reason for going on the tour at all was to see the space at a time when I wasn’t feeling actively upset. FAIL. I was calmer when in the company of my bleeding friend.

The actual L&D facilities are nice, though it’s a bit annoying that the much-vaunted TV/DVD/CD players are only allowed to be used with headphones — bit of a reach from the bed. Post-partum, like everywhere in the city, is another matter. The rooms are clean and tiny. There are four, un-reservable private rooms that cost a fortune; the semi-private rooms are exactly big enough for bed-chair-crib, bed-chair-crib. There’s no nursery anymore — theoretically great; actually somewhat terrifying — so they allow partners to sleep over…in the hard chairs, which do not recline. It’s not at all clear to me how I’ll get through this (especially with no nursery to give me a break) if I send Sugar home to sleep, but it’s plenty obvious that she won’t get any sleep in that wretched chair. Mostly, that horrid woman made me afraid the PP nurses will be like her. As far as I can tell, she’s a lactation consultant. So help me, if she comes near my nipples, I will not be responsible for my actions. And I do think it would be nice to wait until we’re home before beginning the Bean’s profanity lessons.

It all seems so trivial when I write it, but the aftermath of the tour has had me up weeping since 4:30 this morning. Okay, it’s possible hormones are playing a role here. The basic issues, as I see them: terrible fear of being left alone; much greater comfort taking care of people than being taken care of (read: vulnerable); fear that I won’t be able to take care of the Bean and Sugar and that no one will be taking care of me in that strange place.

Item: Sugar had to talk to the Stupid Cow at HR today, who deliberately refuses to understand that our relationship (our legally recognized, accorded benefits by the employer relationship) exists and tells Sugar she’s single all the time. But that is Sugar’s story to tell.

Item: I wish there were some useful guidelines on alcohol and pregnancy, short of ZOMG POISON. I know plenty of people drink in the third trimester; so far I haven’t, beyond pilfered sips of Sugar’s wine now and then. But boy, I could use a drink tonight.

*Brits: I have no idea if the “our ____” usage has some meaning that’s inappropriate to this situation; I just love how it sounds. I am a dumb ‘merican. Feel free to attempt to (gently) correct my heathen ways.


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A Quick Sono Update and Fret

Oooo, lordy, it’s been too long since we’ve written here. The cliff’s notes are that things are fine, my back/legs/hips are starting (already! crap!) to be a problem but I otherwise feel good, and that we got a big, sudden freelance job that is keeping us busy for a couple of weeks but will provide a few bucks for the “what in the hell will we do when Bionic isn’t working, and have you seen the cost of health insurance these days*?” fund. I’m supposed to be transcribing an interview right now, so this will be quick and sloppy:

We had the anatomy scan last week, at which Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian fussed that it was too early to see things well. (At least they didn’t blame me for getting the date wrong, since it was someone at their office who told me to come in that day.) Nevertheless, they eventually saw what they needed to. I am beyond relieved to report that the Bean’s heart has four chambers. A friend had to terminate after that scan because of a heart problem, and she is in our thoughts often. I am further thrilled that the Bean has a spine! My father was born with a slight spine problem that isn’t considered spina bifida but is close enough for my mother to have been fretting about that since the pee dried on the stick. Likewise cheering were the ghostly images of a two-hemisphere brain, a three-vessel cord, and the dark circle of a bladder.
As before, Sweet Sonographer could find only one cervix, but they were happy enough with it to take me off of incompetent-cervix-watch.
From an “Awwwww!” perspective, some parts of the scan were rather unsettling. We had a brief view of the baby’s face, and boy, do I hope my impression of “terrifying dragon creature” proves to be unfounded. Or at least that it’s a good Dragon-Bean, friendly with the cats and not constantly setting the furniture on fire.
The cutest part was when Sweet Sonographer found the feet. The Bean was wiggling up a storm in there, but keeping its feet neatly together, like so:
19 Weeks -- FEET!
I giggled as the picture was taken, which accounts for the extra toes. I think there are only ten, not multiple rows like shark’s teeth.
You’ve probably noticed the continuing use of “it.” Upon MUCH reflection, we decided not to find out the sex yet. We’re happy with that decision. We’re only just getting to know each other, after all, and Sugar and I don’t think of sex as an essential characteristic (gender, yes, but that’s not visible on ultrasound just yet).
Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian did see something they didn’t like the look of in the abdomen, which is the subject of today’s fret. Dr. Russian said she couldn’t tell if it was a dilated blood vessel or just a cyst, and has referred me to the high-risk clinic with the fancier u/s machine for a follow up today. She said not to worry over it, and mostly I haven’t. But as the hour approaches, anxieties creep in on little spider feet. The Bean keeps kicking and wiggling, though, which is reassuring, even though I know it doesn’t mean nothing is wrong. It is just so hard to believe that anything could be — and harder to believe that I think that, given that my feelings were the opposite for so long.
That was the second time I saw Dr. Russian, whom I quiet like, despite a bit of brusqueness. This time, after announcing my (substantial) weight gain and then taking something of a pause before saying it was okay (Good doctor; you’re learning), she asked after my diet. (Note to self: asking to be left alone about food made them think you are an anorexic and has led them to ask you about food constantly. Dumb move.) I said I thought we ate well and turned to Sugar for help. Sugar said that we cook all our own food, that we eat a variety of things, lots of vegetables. And then she said something I thought was a bit strange:
“We eat meat every day.”
We do eat meat every day, I thought, but what an odd thing to mention. But Sugar is wise. Dr. Russian immediately brightened and began heaping praise on us and meat. “Eating meat is so good! Lots of red meat, and chicken and fish….” She carried on in this vein for some time — it was certainly the longest topic of discussion at the appointment.
Later, I remarked to Sugar how cheering I find the fact that Russians love it when you eat meat. (My college roommate was a vegetarian Russian major, and the department never did take to her; her many wonderful qualities never quite compensated for that essential failing. On the other hand, when she’d take me to the Russian Department lunches, the professors would fall over themselves in praise, just because I’d eat the sausages and cured meats they’d brought in.)
Sugar replied, “I know. That’s why I told her that.”
Clever girl.
*Anyone have the Aetna POS 90 plan? It is by far the cheapest premium on the list. What’s the catch? And why is this confusing?


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Lying Down All Over Town

Today we did the embryo transfer!

I took the day off work to be able to go with Baby to all her various appointments – acupuncture, transfer, acupuncture, home – and in order to do so I told my office that she was having ‘surgery.’ Now they are all worried about her, and probably think she has cancer, since I was so unspecific. On Saturday she actually had surgery (egg retrieval) and I was all worried about her, but didn’t manage to talk to anyone about that, since it was Saturday. Between Sunday and this morning she has been quite sick – in pain, vomiting, the works. But now this evening she seems a lot better, thank goodness.

So here was our day:

6 a.m.
vomiting (Baby)

8:30 We take the train to midtown and go to Baby’s acupuncturist’s office there. Baby goes to lie down. I wander around in search of breakfast, saltines, and a seasickness bracelet for Baby. It is ridiculously hot outside.

10:30 We take a cab to the Kips Bay Baby Factory, where everyone is surprised that we are early. The nurse clearly thinks Baby has already had some Valium at home because she is moving so slowly and acting spacey, but we convince her that no, it’s just the puking and the lack of sleep. The nurse gives Baby some Valium.

10:45 We are seated in front of this sign. I had not previously realized that the doctors here think of themselves as ganstas.

gansta-doc

yo yo YO!

10:50 Dr. Thursday comes to talk to us. He is disorientingly jovial. Also he has tiny feet, which I find myself staring at. However, all the news he gives us is great. 26 of Baby’s eggs fertilized, and 20 of those are still growing. There is a good looking blastocyst to transfer and there will be some to freeze, somewhere between 4 and 10. We won’t find out how many they actually froze until tomorrow afternoon.

11:00 Baby and Dr. Thursday go into a Laurel and Hardy routine about left and right cervices. Dr. Thursday says Dr. Baby Factory told him to go in through the right cervix, but Baby says he must have meant Dr. Thursday’s right, i.e. Baby’s left, etc., etc. After a while Dr. Thursday agrees to poke around and not jab anything too hard until he figures it out.

11:35 Dr. Thursday breezes by me in the waiting room and says I can go back to the recovery room. He waves his arm around saying ‘it’s to the left.’ I try the door he came out of, which is locked. I sneak through a different door and stick my head past the gansta sign into a completely empty hallway and shout. Eventually a nurse wanders by and directs me through two totally other doors to where Baby is lying down. She seems calm and happy and has this picture printed out and lying on her chest.

blastocyst001

our first blastocyst

12:30 IT IS SO HOT OUTSIDE, WHY IS IT SO HOT?

1:00 We sweatily arrive at another office near the Baby Factory where Baby’s acupuncturist also works. Baby goes to lie down and have needles stuck in her again. I read a trashy vampire novel.

2:00 Back on the train to Brooklyn.

3:00 Baby lies down in our blessedly air-conditioned apartment. Because there is no food in the house, I prepare for the trek through the blazing heat to the Food Coop.

4:00 (presumably Baby is still lying down) I search for popsicle molds (no dice) and stuff to make miso soup, which Baby has requested.

6:00 I make miso soup.

7:00 Baby and I eat the soup. Nobody vomits. Score!


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Updates and Such

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

Let’s start with good things:

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


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It’s time

I’ve been in stirrups so many times in the past week that I’ve started wearing skirts to the clinic, just to save the trouble of taking my pants on and off. I take my shoes off anyway, because not doing so seems somehow inappropriate, even though there’s no real need.

I went into the Baby Factory for blood work and ultrasound this morning, as I have for the past seven consecutive days. First stop: blood draw room. There are lots of nurses, most wonderful, and I hadn’t had this one before. She said something sympathetic about how much time I’ve been spending there — both arms are pretty bruised at this point — and I said I didn’t mind, that I appreciated being watched so closely, that it helps me worry less. And anyway, I like having more data.
Oh, she asked, do you work in medicine?
This question comes up a lot. I don’t work in medicine, but I was raised by two doctors in an area where hospitals and labs are major employers. Medicine is my mother tongue.
So I told her no, that my parents were doctors, though. And then she said what easily fifty percent of people do after that revelation:
“Aren’t they disappointed that you’re not a doctor?”
Now I ask you, what kind of small talk is that? To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely convinced they’re not disappointed, though they never say so. Heck, sometimes I’m disappointed in myself for not being a doctor — I’m pretty sure I’d be good at it — and I never wanted to be one. But is this really a conversation I need to have with a stranger first thing in the morning? Public Service Announcement: If you find yourself about to ask someone who is not a very close friend whether her parents are disappointed in her, JUST DON’T.
Onward to ultrasound.
At the Baby Factory, all IVF patients on a given day are seen by the same doctor, no matter who your regular doctor is. Each day of the week has a doctor assigned to it; Dr. Baby Factory, for instance, is Dr. Monday. Ultrasounds are done by one of a trio of lovely fellows — all women, just to complicate the nomenclature — or by the doc of the day. Today I met Dr. Thursday, a jovial, paternalistic jackass.
First of all, I appreciate it when folks introduce themselves before sticking anything up my privates. Call it a quirk of my Southern upbringing. Second, when I tell you, since I’m not counting on your having read the details of my chart, that I have a vaginal septum and that you should aim to the right with that dildocam, the preferred response is, “thank you for telling me.” Not:
“Why didn’t somebody take that out?”
Luckily, my pre-cycle anxiety dreams had prepared me for this moment (only with more knives), so instead of blubbering I managed,
“Because it belongs to me.”
The examine continued in that vein. Dr. Thursday is the only one of the docs I’ve seen who didn’t adjust the u/s screen so I could see it, and I bet he wouldn’t have told me the follicle measurements I’d asked for if he hadn’t had to call them out to the resident in the corner. He ended the session with a pat on my knee and a “Good job” that made me feel like livestock.
So now I know why they want you barefoot in the stirrups: a kick to the face is bound to hurt less that way.
ONWARD.
I am triggering tonight. Ten minutes to midnight, which my sweet, strictly diurnal Sugar is bound to hate. I’m nervous as heck about the shot and mostly about the retrieval and continue to appreciate your reassurances and general support.
Biggest follicle is about 19.5 mm. Dr. Thursday said about 10 on each side. So now I’m nervous about OHSS, too. E2 is 3364. Talked to Dr. Baby Factory, and he sounds a little nervous, too, but not nervous enough to have me trigger with Lupron. So I guess we just hope for the best and stock up on gatorade.
Retrieval is Saturday.
Which means a 5-day transfer would fall on…Dr. Thursday’s shift. Awesome Sauce.


12 Comments

Greetings, ICLWeegers

Hiya.

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

Sugar is shaking her head right along with you.

Our story so far:

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

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

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

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

*make sure safe search is ON.


4 Comments

Is so!

From Sugar Mama’s latest post:

On having a pregnant wife
I’m going to be less inclined to the whole ‘your body is a miracle’ kind of shtick.

EXCUSE ME? My body is too a miracle, woman, and don’t you forget it. Hello — I have TWO VAGINAS. Two of ’em, I tell you. Sounds pretty dang miraculous to me. Are you a lesbian, or what? (see below.)

You see what I have to put up with, Internet? Sheesh.

As it turns out, my body is even more freakish miraculous than I thought. I’ve been doing a little poking around — in medical journals, Internet; get your mind out of the <a style="text-decoration:none;" href="http://www.aluminiumgutteringcompany.co.uk/contact”>gutter — and while there’s a fair amount out there about mullerian anomalies in general (It’s estimated that something like 3-5% of women have one), I’ve only found two examples of someone like me, with duplicated vag and cervix, but a normal uterus. Both are written up as “Hey, check this out,”-type case studies and are fairly recent.

(Plus, Mel, a.k.a. Stirrup Queen, of the inestimable Stirrup Queen’s Completely Anal List of Blogs That Proves That She Really Missed Her Calling as a Personal Organizer, says via email, “I think you just may have the most unique situation on the blogroll.” And let’s face it: this is a woman who knows from hoo-has.)

One of the journal articles pointed out how folks like me seem to contradict the dominant theory of fetal genital development — because the order in which things are thought to fuse should mean that you can have duplication of upstream elements with normal downstream ones, but not the other way around — but then went on to mention that really? We hardly know anything about fetal genital development.

This brings me to another point from Sugar’s post,

Will my answer help you decide which one of us is more gay?

I’m not even going to get into a toolbox arms race or start talking smack about pool-playing skills. All I’m going to say is: I am challenging the hegemonically male-gaze-driven perinatal/OB-gyn orthodoxy with my cooter.

Your move.


1 Comment

Family Matters

Curiouser and curiouser. When I said that I figured my vag wasn’t all that weird after pap smears passed without comment, on the grounds it’s not the sort of thing people talk about, it turns out I was more right than I knew.

One of my many maternal aunts called me the other day. It seems that my mother had told her about my HSG but not the reasons for it. I came clean. She said “Yay!” about the baby-plans (especially nice since she’s the only one married to a bona fide conservative) and then casually mentioned that her uterus wasn’t normal. Wha??

I put Mom on the case, and it turns out that two of her sisters have “heart-shaped” — bicornate, I assume — utes (and children without surgery, I might add). Of the remaining four women in the sib-ship, three have had hysterectomies for endo. No telling what shape theirs were. Time to put in a call to maternal aunt number five….

Oh, did I mention that my father is a geneticist? I suppose I should call him and let him know that maybe there’s something to this heredity business, after all.


6 Comments

Getting to Know You, Lady Business

A long post, but it’s about my hoo-ha!

On the list of awkward conversations I’ve had with my parents, “I have two vaginas” is right up there. Not quite as bad as coming out, but certainly rather weird. “How do you know?” my mother asked. Um, I have fingers and a brain?
To be fair, though, I didn’t know until recently. Not really.

Here’s the deal: the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and top section of the vagina all form from fetal structures called Mullerian ducts. Given what I’ve learned about Mullerian anomalies in the past couple months, I should really have written that list as “fallopian tubes, uterus/uteri, cervix/cervices, and top section(s) of vagina/vaginae,” though, because it turns out anything can happen and frequently does. Ordinarily, the fetus grows two symmetrical systems that then merge in some parts but not others, so that you end up with two fallopian tubes but only one of everything else.

The usual set-up is like this:

But…

…Sometimes you only end up with one fallopian tube and a half-sized uterus, like this:


Unicornate Uterus

…Or two half-sized uteri that didn’t join, like this:


Uterus Didelphys

…Or one uterus, but a heart-shaped one:


Bicornate Uterus

…Or one uterus with a septum dividing the top part of it in two:


Septate Uterus

There are some other possibilities, too, but these are the main ones. (For lots more on this and a link to a great support group, please see http://mulleriananomalies.blogspot.com , which is also where these lovely pictures come from.)

Some people don’t know about any of this until they have difficulty conceiving or, as is often the case with septate uterus, have enough miscarriages that someone takes a look up there to see what’s going on. I, on the other hand, am one of those whose anomalies extend to parts of my anatomy that, while not strictly speaking external, are nonetheless more easily available to the, erm, layperson. Ahem.

Basically, everything looks ordinary from the outside. A little Our-Bodies-Ourselves-style exploration reveals what feels like a slightly smaller duct higher up there, down-there, which worried me a great deal as a younger person. It seemed (and was) way too high up to be a hymen, which was the only thing I’d ever heard of that this was at all like. I was terrified of going in for a pap smear and put it off for years, since I was convinced I’d be told I was a freak of nature.

Eventually, I could put it off no longer, and…nothing happened. Nobody ever said anything. I didn’t say anything, either, because, after all, the expert is down there with a speculum and can actually _see_, so everything must be fine. I figured my shape was, if anything, only a little unusual, the kind of thing you don’t hear about because how often do you hear about anyone’s vagina, really? And it didn’t make much of a difference in my life — tampons have never worked well for me, but I always thought that was because I had too heavy a flow or they were designed badly or whatever. Everything else a person might think to do with the ol’ equipment — not to put too fine a point on it — worked fine, so why worry?

Then we decided to really do this baby thing, and I figured it was time to google “double vagina”. And FREAK. OUT. Not only was it freaky to realize I had no idea what dwelt beyond my cervix, but also it turns out that the usual uterus shape is pretty dang good for baby-making, and these variations…well, it’s not like you _can’t_ have a baby, but it’s a tougher row to hoe. (If this is you, get thee to the Mullerian Anomalies blog, stat! Join the Yahoo! Group or at least read the personal blogs linked there. They kept me from nervous collapse, for reals.) Surgery to remove a uterine septum means micro-scissors through the cervix, which is way better than cutting the uterine wall, but still: Scissors! Cervix! Ack! And Incompetent Cervix (add that tot the list of frickin’ obnoxious medical terms, please) is common, so hello, bedrest.

Off to the gynecologist — I’ve always gotten my GP to do my paps, so first there was the great doctor/insurance matching game — where I had this conversation during the consult:

Me: I’m here because I’m pretty certain I have a vertical vaginal septum.
Mr. Doctor-I’ve-Never-Met: I’m sure you don’t.
Me: I can put two fingers in myself and they don’t touch.
[Awkward pause.]

Later, in the stirrups, with a small crowd peering up my special lady parts:

Mr. Dr.: I don’t see anything….
Me: Hm.
Mr Dr: OH! Oh. Oohhhh…you’re right.

Yes, folks, it turns out I know more about my hoo-ha than some guy who’s never seen it before. Sheesh.

Doctor proceeds to rattle off a bunch of fun facts I’ve already found online (“some women can use this as birth control, if you only have one cervix.” Thanks, but I already have very good birth control, in the form of Lesbianism….) and then announces that I also have two cervices and will have to get double pap smears for the rest of my life. Super-yay. (At least he did not announce that he was going to cut the divider out, which I was afraid he would. I am very opposed to knives in my tender regions.)

A couple more weeks of hardcore freak out, one MRI, and one annoying consult to get the results (which they had lost) later, and it turns out that my ute is fine and dandy! Mullerian anomalies can also affect kidney formation, so there was some question of how many (1-4) kidneys I’d have. Turns out I’ve got the usual two, but I do have 3 ureters, so there’s that.

When Mr. Doctor-guy gave us the report and said everything was okay, I couldn’t believe it. I had considered every possibility in the preceding weeks (I had plenty of time, since Lord knows I wasn’t sleeping) except normalcy. Part of me still doesn’t believe it, but I’m bringing my MRI films into the RE’s office next week, so there’s a second opinion coming.

(Oh, in case you’re wondering — the extra cervix and vag is apparently no problem for childbirth. The baby just comes out one side or the other, and everything stretches. So no knives up in my business, for which I am profoundly grateful.)

So that’s the Story Of Baby Mama’s Hoo-Ha. When Sugar Mama is around to help with the scanner, I’ll see about posting some of the MRI films. They’re pretty nifty, if I do say so myself.