Bionic Mamas

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


Embryo Aweigh

Hi, internets. Sorry for the wait. Valium remains my favorite drug, which is why I didn’t write yesterday.

So. The transfer was fine. After striking out with our usual sitters, thanks to the holiday weekend, I found a former student to stay with the Bean. I was beginning to think I would have to go to the clinic alone, which was a sad thought. Of course all my monitoring appointments have been just me, but a transfer feels more momentous (or at least potentially momentous), and a person likes to feel she isn’t acting unilaterally, you know? It was unexpectedly cold, so Sugar and I had a chilly walk to the clinic from the subway. It rained a little.

At the Baby Factory, we were directed upstairs, to the floor with the ORs. Dr. BFs office, the exam rooms, and the blood draw room are on the lower floor. The last time I was upstairs was the day of the Bean’s transfer, but I always think of the first time I climbed these stairs, when we paid our $450 gay tax in the form of that stupid “counseling” session. Luckily, Starrhillgirl distracted me with a picture of the blue mountain view where she was waiting, and I reciprocated with a picture of the lot beside the Baby Factory, which, despite what I can only imagine must be an astronomical value, has been vacant for at least four years. To give you an idea of the kind of money we’re talking, that tall building in the background is the UN.

Waiting room view

Soon enough, a very solicitous nurse with an English accent led me back to the changing room, buckled me into my hospital bracelet, and gave me that Valium I’d been pestering everyone about. I changed into a Baby Factory gown, but unexpectedly I got to keep my own socks and sweater. I might have chosen more special socks, had I realized, but I was very pleased that I’d worn my softest, most comforting sweater. And the socks were red and striped, so it could have been worse.

I sat in a backwater of the recovery room for a while, waiting to be reunited with Sugar and meet the doctor. A man in Hassidic dress — long, black, silk coat, white stockings, round, flat, black hat — hurried back to meet his wife behind a curtain. A tall, Russian nurse strode in and out in scrubs. I am almost certain her shoes, with blue, gauzy surgical covers wrapped and tucked around them, were either flip-flops or the cheap, mule-ish houseshoes people here wear in the summers. She had lovely ankles, but all that bare flesh still seems odd in an environment with so many sharps containers. Then again, I was walking around in socks.

Bunny slippers

Because of the shoe covers, I can’t say for certain that these are the ones she was wearing, but neither can I guarantee they aren’t.

By the time someone took me to the antechamber by the OR, the Valium was kicking in a little. A nurse took some blood from my left arm; I’m still letting the right recuperate following its refusal to yield anything last week. Sugar met me there, and Dr. Friday, an unknown quantity, arrived to talk about our embryo. It turns out I like Dr. Friday, though I admit that her almost cartoonish voice — it’s possible my mental fog exaggerated the pitch and speed — baffled me for a moment. Pre-transfer googling (what?) leads me to believe she, unlike most (all?) of the other Baby Factory doctors, also still does some OB/gyn work, and she certainly seemed more gyn-ish than the others, in that she seemed interested in hearing about how my septum had behaved in delivery (and, following some clipped statements from me to the effect that I had not been pleased with my medical care, who my OB had been). I know what you’re thinking, but her practice is in Connecticut.

She gave us some papers to sign and said some complimentary things about the embryo in question. The embryology lab, we are told, is put in a very good mood by embryos like this. Later, when I was looking at the creature itself on a screen in the OR, she said “it doesn’t even look like it’s been frozen!”

I’m glad she said all those things, because in truth, it doesn’t look to me quite as textbook-perfect as the Bean’s. I expect it isn’t, but I’m hoping that doesn’t matter, and I certainly know that less than perfect looking embryos have turned into actual people. (Who knows? Perhaps even my own embryonic beginnings were not so glorious.) It’s a 4BB, from what I saw on the chart — only maybe one of those Bs was lowercase — and something about it was “95%”. I don’t have much of a sense of what that means in the scheme of things. Regardless, it’s the one that’s inside me now, so alea iacta est, you know?

Off Dr. Friday and I went to the OR. Nurse Flip-Flop helped me into the most spread-eagled stirrups ever. The embryologists put the embryo up on the TV screen. It was fascinating to watch it change radically as they shifted the focus of the microscope; I wouldn’t have guessed it had enough height to make depth of field an issue, but it did. (Must be the donor; I am quite short.)

Dr. Friday cranked the speculum open to 11, and I must say, it was excruciating. The pain burned from two lines, top and bottom, running the length of my vagina; I suspect this is where my septum was. I have had occasion on my own to notice that what I assume are those areas do not stretch as well as the surrounding tissue. Indeed, Dr. Friday said she could see the septum’s remains, which was almost interesting enough to make up for the pain.

The transfer itself was perfectly smooth, like the way other people often describe IUIs. No wonder people don’t think this is a big deal! (I’ll still ask for Valium if there is a next time, though, if only for the sake of my nerves.) Unlike Dr. Paternalistic, who always hogs the ultrasound screen, she left it tilted enough that I could see it. She and the nurses pointed out the image of the catheter entering my uterus and then, after it retreated, the glowing, white ball of fluid enveloping the embryo it left behind.

Blast 2


A Bit of Shameless Self-Promotion

Hi everyone,

Sugar here.  A quick post today to ask you to go to Threadless and vote for my newest design there.  The deal with Threadless is that if they print your design on a shirt they give you cash (yay cash!).  So if you have a moment, go over and give me a high score.

Threadless is also responsible for the very cute alphabet t-shirt the bean has been wearing for some time now and is a place to get some fun stuff for kids.

Here is a picture of the potential new t-shirt:


I was obviously thinking about “Total Eclipse of the Heart” when I made this (why do I love that song?) but Bionic says it should more accurately be titled “Partial Eclipse With the Heart.”  Ah, the joys of living with an English teacher.

eclipse of the heart - Threadless T-shirts, Nude No More

Thanks everyone! Now back to our regular programming . . .


Swap Sweetness

Probably my favorite thing about this blogging business — maybe even more than the metaphorical sound of my own voice — is all y’all.  I just love feeling part of a posse, you know?

So the first thank you of this post goes to An Offering Of Love, who organizes several community-building bloggy projects, including an annual holiday craft exchange.  Yay, Anoff!

Frankly, I’m awful at this exchange.  I don’t get started right away, and then it’s suddenly the end-of-semester crunch and I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off, can’t think of a thing to make, and don’t get it done on time.  Then we leave for our annual Great Middlewestern Odyssey — some combination of Little Rock and rural Michigan and nearly-suburban Chicago, all via train because I am like that — and I finally get something made, only a little late, but then I can’t get to the post office.  My poor recipient waits and waits and probably feels irritated as all heck, if not sadly forgotten.

Meanwhile, I’m not at home myself, so someone has sent me a gift — probably right on time! — that is languishing in the post office while I am living it up at my in-laws’.  She no doubt feels worried and/or unappreciated.  So I’ve managed to make at least two people feel not-so-awesome.  Happy Chrismukwanzakah!

Probably I should admit defeat and give the whole thing up, but I like it so, so much, feeling part of the club.  So instead I hereby resolve to do better next year, if y’all will have me.

Meanwhile!  You can see all the awesome crafts people made here, but first, let me tell you about the best one: when we arrived back at home this year, following a mostly fun but definitely exhausting trip, I had one hell of a migraine.  (The cluster of them I had around that time may well have been thanks to my established stupidity in not keeping up with the nifedipine.  I take it so my nips don’t clamp down agonizingly, but I think it’s relaxation of the blood vessel walls does help with the migraines a bit, too, as my doctor suggested it might.)  But even though our mail had been on hold during our trip, one of those aggravating pink “Sorry we missed you [or just didn’t ring the bell because we didn’t bother bringing the package in the first place]” cards was waiting, saying there was a package at the post office.  I loathe going to our post office — it’s a somewhat long walk down a less than overly pleasant street and across a truck route, and the employees leave much to be desired, pleasant and rational interaction -wise — but the Bean and I bundled up and headed out once I was well enough, although I was afraid the package would already have been returned to sender while we were away.

The walk was cold.  The post office was slow and borderline rude (which is better than sometimes).  I was good and tired when I got home. And then I opened the box.

The first thing I found was a tupperware full of the most insanely delicious, fudgy brownies.  I knew right away how rich and satisfying and it’s not too much to say how HEALING they were, because if you think I got that tupperware even out of the mailing box before it was open and a restorative brownie was in my mouth, you are mistaken.  I did that thing where you sit there chewing and you let your eyes close and your head rest on the back of the couch because DAMN.  Those were some good brownies, evidently none the worse for their time at the P.O.

But! Then!  I did pull the tupperware out, and there was more!  Can you believe it?  Tucked alongside was this dear, dear ornament, which will surely have pride of place on trees and wreaths and whatever else we find to hang it on for years to come:

I’m in the red.  I think that’s pretty obvious.

So thank you, thank you, Gayby!  I am so pleased and so impressed, though I can’t claim I’m surprised that you made such an awesome package.  When I look at that ornament, I will always think of you following up your egg retrieval by making Thanksgiving dinner.  My hat is off.


Updates of All Sorts

One of those dreadful bullet-blogs.

Exciting things afoot (asnatch?) over at Two Hot Mamas! Go give ’em some labor-love!

— Couple new things up on the Etsy site:
1. the aforementioned custom pet stamp by Bionic
2. a wickedly sweet/sweetly wicked skull pendant drawn and enameled by Sugar

— Tentatively good news on the job/insurance front. After some serious hustle on my part, enrollment in the my endangered class is one student shy of “off the radar” for cancellation. I’m hoping that means they’re likely to run it even if I don’t get another one by Thursday. I also have calls all over the place to see if I could get coverage by taking a Saturday kids’ class offered by the same department. I’d rather not have to, since my horrible commute becomes excruciating when it meets the reduced weekend bus service, but I’d also rather not lose my insurance.

— I’ve been peeing on sticks and so on, and we’ve decided we’ll climb back on the TTC horse this month, now that insurance looks less scary. Frankly, due date for a child conceived this time of year is still bad for us financially — fall is my higher-earning semester — but I’m not willing to insem only during the limited “good timing” months. Especially because…

— I’ve talked to Dr. Baby Factory about my endo questions. He says yes, the GI badness probably is endo, but that there’s not much to be done about it, as that location has particularly bad surgical outcomes. (Basically, the scar tissue from surgery between vag and rectum is likely to be much worse than any original adhesion. Cervix glued to rectum, that kind of thing.) He also said, “I hope I haven’t given you the impression that I think everything is fine with your chances of conception,” and brought up again the idea that going to IVF after 3-6 IUI attempts might be more cost-effective in our case. Sigh.

Okay, I know this is the part you really want updated:

Pee Stick Follies Update….I chickened out. I already know what happens to silica gel when it’s allowed to absorb liquid for a few hours. And if Sugar came home to find quivering chunks of pee-jello on the bathroom sink, you can bet I’d lose all rights to talk about how icky her neti pot is.

If it’s any consolation, I did have a hell of a time getting the packet out of the pee-cup neatly. In fact, such a thing proved impossible. Don’t tell Sugar.


What We Did Over Christmas Break


This is a quilt we had every intention of finishing in time to give to our friend before the birth of her baby…but what’s a four-month delay among friends?

We are happy to say that this is one of the few things the baby in question did not puke all over during our visit. (None of our clothing shares that distinction. Lucky thing he’s got a cute laugh.)


At The Last Minute

This has to be quick (and therefore long), because I want it done in time for Mel’s Show and Tell, but I promise I’ll get you more wedding stories sooner or later. Tonight I want to show you our bouquets.

A devoted and determined and diligent friend I met at the community garden — let’s call her the Plant Whisperer — made them. The Plant Whisperer is no amateur in this department. She works as a celebrity stylist, and her portfolio has like every famous person I’ve ever thought of in it. Her apartment is stuffed with amazing things, from bajillion dollar silk curtains a rich client tired of to a Louis the something-or-otherth vest that Andy Warhol tossed her way. I call her the Plant Whisperer because however impeccable her taste and impressive her client list, her skills in the garden outstrip them. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden just traded 90 year-old peonies to our garden in return for her fairy foxglove seeds, because, frankly, the alpine garden she’s established in the corner of our old building lot is better than theirs.

Months ago, she asked me to send her a list of flowers I like, and I did nothing about it, in part because I’m lazy and would find a way to postpone breathing if I could, in part because I was determined at that point that the legal business was no big deal — the real celebration will come in the spring, when our friends can come to a big party. Three days before the wedding, my mother just happened to forward me an email she’d sent to old friends, telling them we were getting hitched:

I hope they’ll carry flowers.

Mama always has been good at finding that B in subtle. She checked in via phone to be sure I hadn’t missed it.

Sugar and I had invited our parents and two friends from our respective early childhoods who have ended up living within blocks of us, hundreds of miles from our hometowns. I called my “womb buddy,” who’d offered to help with flowers, but it soon became clear this was asking a lot. Womb Buddy is a Soil Engineer and terrified she’d screw this up. I wasn’t expecting much — a grocery store bouquet with a ribbon from home? — and I thought the Plant Whisperer could at least supply the name of the flower I don’t like. She did (alstroemeria), and immediately took charge of the whole project, sending me home with ribbon swatches to hold up to our dresses, enlisting another garden stalwart and all-around prince to drive her to the flower market at 5:30 am, and ultimately coming up with this:

Bigger here.

I still can’t believe we had something so beautiful to carry. They were stunning. I couldn’t have even imagined something so lovely. The roses came from an established bush in the community garden, so we’d have something “old.” The heather made me feel less bad for forgetting the Scottish tradition of a silver coin in my shoe (though Mama says my blood was Scottish enough). The dark red peonies reminded me of Sugar’s grandmother, who grows them and who couldn’t travel for the ceremony.

The leather box in the photo is from the Plant Whisperer, too. We carried our rings in it. It’s a replica of an opera glass case belonging to Napoleon’s wife, Josphine, and so it has Sugar’s and my shared first initial J embossed on it.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, she’s insisting on naming the new peony at the garden — the one she got in return for her seeds — after us.

It all makes me think about grace. Grace is like all of this: something you get despite the fact that you could never deserve it.


Three Cajun French Hens

Lookie: news that has nothing to do with my hoo-ha!

I got a pretty new dress!

It came from my very most favorite dress shop, in New Orleans. I thought about making that modifier restrictive, but I really can’t think of a dress shop I love more…unless it’s this one, where the dress is now off to be altered so it fits me just right.

Trashy Diva (where the dress came from) specializes in beautifully made dresses in 30s, 40s, 50s, and sometimes other styles. Their silk dresses are absolutely worth the money, and I say that as a notorious tight wad. The cotton ones are also awfully pretty…one of these days I’ll try one out for real. Theses are dresses that make you so happy to have curves, and they don’t top out at size 6, either. (The other one I was interested in this time didn’t come in my size, but only because the factory shorted them, not because they didn’t intend it to. Several of the dresses go up to size 18.) When I visited New Orleans and my friend offered to drive me around to save my renting a car, our first stop was their Magazine Street shop, where I reinvested the money I’d planned to give to Hertz in what has become my little black dress:

Yes, my little black dress has dragons on it.

Need I remind you what a mitzvah it is to send money in the direction of the still-recovering Gulf Coast?

Trashy Diva sell through the website but also in a few stores, including Brooklyn’s splendid Flirt, which not only sells oh such nice things but also runs sewing classes and open studio time (with sergers!), makes custom skirts, and generally rocks. They didn’t have the exact dress I wanted in my size, but the minute I stepped out of the dressing room in the one I’d tried on for fit, the owner said, “by the way, we have lots of experience with the alteration you need on that dress.” So the dress went right to them after it arrived, and I don’t have to fret about ruining it by taking the back in myself.

I promise this post is not empty product placement — though Trashy Diva and Flirt are such magnificent establishments that I would be happy to shill for them both — but rather foreshadowing of a kind. If I didn’t owe you so many posts, I’d spit it out in this one.

Yay for pretty new dresses! Yay for occasion to wear them!