Bionic Mamas

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


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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.

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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.


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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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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.