Bionic Mamas

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


14 Comments

what the hell is going on in there?

Up until about three weeks ago, I thought of myself as a basically healthy person. I felt lucky for being so healthy, and thought often about how unfair it was for Baby to have to deal with chronic asthma, migraines, and the frequent pain of severe endometriosis.

Then I had an ultrasound, the intent of which was to see if I still had a small polyp in my uterus, that turned up the fact that I had an 8 centimeter endometrioma on one ovary and a 4 centimeter one on the other (!). Faced with how huge 8 centimeters sounds and with the prospect of a more invasive surgery if I waited too long to have them out, I went in for a lap on Tuesday.

When the surgeon looked inside, she discovered some unexpected things. First, both my ovaries are sitting underneath my uterus. Second, the left ovary had become so enlarged that it was as big as the uterus. Third, there are adhesions from endometriosis everywhere in there. And finally, one of my tubes is blocked.

Wow. Ok. I don’t feel good about this at all.

First, somehow I feel like I should have known there was something wrong in there. Maybe I could have done something earlier, if I hadn’t been in denial, except I wasn’t really in denial, since nothing really hurt. But still, how could I not know?

And proceeding from this somewhat irrational reaction, I feel like I’ve been running my life wrong. Or something. Should I have been more invested in being the one to get pregnant? Baby really wanted to be pregnant, and I didn’t really feel strongly that I did want to, so it seemed totally right to have her go first, (or just to be the one to do it, if we only have one). But now it’s looking like I won’t have an easy time if I do want to get pregnant. Plus I’m older that Baby. But I was just going right along assuming I could get pregnant if someone put some sperm up there, like an idiot, so I had all the time in the world (or at least 6 or 7 years).

Not helping is the fact that my really nice and cheerful surgeon keeps asking me about when I want to get pregnant. I know she is happy she was able to preserve both of my ovaries and concerned that my sudden endometriosis seems severe, but, hello, we are expecting a baby in March. I’m not going to try to get pregnant right now, because that would be a nutty thing to do. I was lying in bed, addled from pain medicine, the day after the surgery, when my surgeon called to check on me. After ascertaining that I was recovering normally, she launched into a discussion of how I would probably have to do IVF. Ack! At least wait until I’m off the meds!

Baby has been a great a help through all this. The poor thing is exhausted from being pregnant and has also been doing everything for me for the past three days as I lie here and moan about how percocet gives me a raging headache and the urge to weep. I will be happy to be on my feet again, which right now feels like it won’t be until the distant future, but will really probably be something like three more days. I’ve been a bit surprised at how this recovery is sucking, but I’m not sure why I didn’t put together the fact that getting abdominal surgery = getting stabbed in the stomach. As Nick Swardson says – “no thank you to getting stabbed. I don’t want any part of that process”

Now with working link to the funny! — Ed.


8 Comments

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?


22 Comments

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.


7 Comments

Seven Swans A-Swimming

Hey, y’all. How’s it?

On the blog and in my life, I’m feeling a need for spring cleaning. Got a number of projects malingering* around the house and mind, needing to get finished before I can move on to new things. So here’s one I’ve been letting slide for too long:

April, of CD 1 Again — and doesn’t that title say it all? Don’t you wish you were still back in the innocent past, when “CD 1” was the first disc in your compact disk changer? — gave Our Dear Blog this award some time ago. Thank you, April! You’re grand.

Here are the rules:
*Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
*Copy the award and paste it to your blog.
*Tell us 7 interesting facts about yourself.
*Nominate 7 bloggers that you love and link to their blog.

(I know the purpose of these things is to tell you a bunch of random** details about my non-TTC life, like that I know how to eat fire and did so in several parades in college or that I was one of those super-nerd kids who took the SAT in 7th grade for no particularly good reason (but they gave me a book of timelines of European history (that I never read) because I got a good-ish score) or that my fingers are double-jointed, but really? All I want to talk about right now is TTC stuff. So here follow seven facts about our current TTC plans. You’ll have to decide for yourselves whether they’re more interesting than knowing that my geneticist father and I both have simian creases on our left hands and that he used to show his medical students slides of my xeroxed hand prints (Remember xeroxing your hands? Wasn’t that the greatest?) and that I wonder if I’ll one day have a child with the same crease (Oops, that one was TTC-ish).)


Seven Possibly Interesting Facts

1. We met with Dr. Baby Factory yesterday, so he could re-wand my cysty ovaries.

2. They look the same as last summer, which is something of a relief, as they hurt a lot of the time and I was worried they were worse or turning to the Big C or something. But they don’t look good, per se. Two bigguns on the left (around 3 cm each — no wonder it hurts), some smaller ones on the right. I could have the cysts out with laproscopy, but while that would help with pain, it might well hurt fertility, since some ovarian tissue would have to go, too. I feel down on losing ovarian tissue right when I’m hoping to use it.

3. Plenty of follicles, though. And E2/FSH levels are fine (58/4.3 vs. 74/4.2 last year).

4. Dr. BF thinks we’ve tried enough IUIs. If we had a free source of sperm or if my insurance wasn’t as great as it is (and it is! the one good money thing about my job!) or if the cysts were smaller…but yeah. He thinks three tries was enough.

5. It’s IVF time. Probably in June.

6. I feel partly scared about that, partly excited, partly hopeful that all that’s wrong with me is that my eggs can’t get to the ute, because they’re stuck under cysts or getting hung up in scarred tubes.

7. But mostly right this minute I feel a little ashamed to be moving on after only three tries, even if the doctor does think it’s the thing to do, that my odds without it are getting quite small. I’m afraid people — and that’s mostly you, internet, since not that many IRL people know about all this — will think I’m cowardly or lazy or somehow cheating. HOW I WOULD LOVE to get pregnant in my own bed, with my pervy cats curled up and purring beside me. HOW I WOULD LOVE to not get poked and prodded in new, exciting ways. HOW I WOULD LOVE to never learn to give myself injections, let alone ones that will make my ouchy ovary ouchier.

But more than any of that, how I would love to have a child.


Seven Certainly Beautiful Bloggers

1. Mrs. Basement, whose blog I only found today, but whom I already adore.

2. Hairy Farmer Family, who has two cervices, like me! And also two utes. And she’s named them. Also? She’s brilliant in every way.

3. love+love=marriage, who are a whole lot of fun and have cutie-cute pictures of wee Mr. Holland.

4. The magnificent Mrs. Spock! Who is all kinds of wonderful and to whom I owe a proper thanks-for-the-socks-and-love post — the next piece of spring cleaning business.

5. One of His Moms, who likely doesn’t know I exist, but whose blog is one of the first lesbo-mom ones I found. I devoured the archives over the course of a few days last spring — and even if I never got to try my, erm, hand at home insems, I credit her with teaching me how.

6. Madame X at The Young and The Infertile, who is not so infertile these days but remains eloquent and intellectually dashing.

7. And peg o’ me heart, Starhillgirl at Caved, for whom I would log my lunch faithfully forever.

*Ed: GOD, I hate that “malingering” doesn’t mean “lingering, but in a bad way”. I’ve gotten over “nonplussed” not meaning “feeling “eh” about it,” but “malinger” is still hard. I want to use it so bad, but I can hear my mother’s correction, so I won’t. (I can also hear her sigh over the colloquial use of bad as an adverb.)

**I know Mama hates this usage, too, but it’s taken hold nonetheless. Sorry.


1 Comment

Totally Tubular

What did that mean, exactly, anyway? I remember that the connotation was positive, so I can only assume it had nothing to do with yesterday’s “totally tubular” HSG adventure.

An HSG, for the blessedly uninitiated, is an X-ray of your more internal lady-parts, in particular your uterus and (if you’re lucky) your fallopian tubes. Only if you’re really lucky, you won’t have to do this at all because let me tell you, it pretty much sucks.

Listen, before I go into my story: If you’re reading this because you have to have one and you’re scared about it, do be aware that your experience will NOT be like mine. The part of my procedure that hurt was the part concerned with getting through my cervix, and that was because of the double-vag action. If you have the ordinary number of vaginas and cervices, then the speculum part might be ouchy and the dye might give you cramps, but that’s it. And if your set-up is irregular, take heart: I survived. The anxiety was way worse than the pain. DO take a bunch of Advil beforehand, DO BYO maxi pad, and DO get someone to come with you, if you can.

Now back to our whiny story, already in progress:

It goes like this, in principle: You take a whopping amount of Advil and maybe some antibiotics and then report to Radiology, where you strip down and hop up on a table, all pap-smear style, except there are no stirrups. I have it on authority from several other victims patients that there are never stirrups. You didn’t think the stirrups mattered, but you find yourself annoyed at holding your legs in place without them. Then the doctor gives you something to be annoyed about, and by “be annoyed” I mean “cry”.

The next step is a yawning speculum, followed by a catheter through your cervix. Dye through the catheter into your ute and hopefully your tubes — the idea is to see if the tubes are open — quick X-ray shot of all that business, everybody out of the pool vag, and you’re on your way, sorer but wiser, and leaking dye into the pad you brought with you or else one of those throw-pillow-sized hospital ones.


Aren’t bones pretty? This is not me, by the way, but the internet says it is normal.

The speculum is not a picnic — it has to be open more than for a pap — and some people get some cramping from the dye. I didn’t. Instead, I got endless horrible pinchingburning from the many attempts to get through cervix number one, followed by more stretchingaching from cranking open vag number two, followed by more digging around on that cervix. Holy crap, that sucked, not least because it was so damn demoralizing listening to the X-ray go off again and again and again and again, only to see no uterus onscreen, only the end of the speculum and a sad little pool of dye stuck outside.


Me, after watching nothing happen for the third time:
I promise you I have a uterus.

Dr. BF: I know you do. I’ve seen it on ultrasound.

Me: I’ve seen it on the MRI.

Dr. BF: Yes, I know you have a uterus.

More burrowing around in my nether regions. More nothing happening on the X-ray.

Me: I further swear that I do get my period, every month, and that it comes out of my cervix.


Dr. BF:
I like your logic.

My Cervices, after tries 1-5 (or 6? I lost count):
NOBODY HOME.
THERE IS. NOBODY. AT HOME.

Eventually, door number two yielded. Not without some burning pain, though, and I wish I hadn’t glanced at the instrument tray later, because there was rather more of me on it than a girl would hope. And the news is good: though Dr. Baby Factory describes my endometriosis as “significant” and brings up IVF every time we talk, he says the tubes are open enough to give it a go on our own first.

Thank you, Nice Nurse, for patting my shoulder while Dr. Baby Factory cranked the speculum in my bigger vag up to 11 or so. I know you were right to stop me massaging my poor tum when he went for door number two, so I hope I didn’t give you a very dirty look. Sorry I dissed your pad when it was all over, but seriously, by the time those things take two hands to carry, they are too big. Please tell the hospital to enter this century (or even the final decade of the last one).


When Hospital Pads Attack

Thank you Dr. Baby Factory for telling me when things would hurt, for apologizing repeatedly, for not sounding panicked or annoyed when nothing would get through cervix number one. It’s a real pity the catheter would never go through. Thank both of you for not calling the extra clamps, pinchers, pipe-wrenches, and jaws-of-life required to get a catheter syringe into cervix number two by their names, instead saying things like, “Could you get me…one of the green things? Do we have one of those?” I bet this whole thing took much longer than you had scheduled, so thank you for sticking around to talk with me. If I’d known going into this that my procedure would be “what makes it interesting to keep doing these, even after 20 years,” I would have run for the hills, but it was still nice of you to say something like that instead of acting like I was bad for having a difficult anatomy.

So sperm! We’re gonna buy some! …in August or September, finances permitting, because, frankly, I want to enjoy my week at the beach in July, not run around peeing on things and not getting to drink.

Right now, it’s hard to think about putting anything in my hoo-has, though, because everything is still pretty ouchy. I’m on Cipro for the weekend, on account of all the digging around, and my poor old left ovary, the one that aches for days after dildo-cam-ings, is talking about moving out and getting its own place.