Friday, March 29, 2013

boys will be boys? cycle 4, day 18

Until today, I hadn’t realized the kind of distance C had from this whole infertility bonanza. He’s been nothing but supportive, sweet and generally happy to endure/speak sarcastically of my, let’s say, ebbing moods – even when I have bluntly told him that I am having a very hard time liking him that I need some alone time. But C doesn’t have to get poked and prodded four times in six days; he doesn’t have Chinese hamster ovary injected into his gut; and he’s not ravenously eating for nine during “birth-control-week.”[1] Simply put: C is not the patient and it turns out, he didn’t quite know how to be.

This morning we went in for our first IUI[2], which means that after a romantic morning of must-ejaculate-into-this-small-plastic-cup-immediately, we headed over to the fertility clinic to drop off the sample, one hour in advance of the procedure. Because, holy shit how on earth are we running late C went up first while I parked. Then, as I was riding the elevator, a frantic text “What do I do? All the women are staring at me.”

When I met him in the clinic lobby, he looked like a deer in headlights. What was he supposed to sign/where was he supposed to go/what is the meaning of life/etc. The questions were coming fast and furious.

Now, it should be said – C has accompanied me to the clinic several times. He’s even given a sample once before, at the beginning of this whole mis-adventure. But never has he been the patient, per se. Now. C is one of the smartest people I know – doctor, builder of kayaks, maker of sarcastic quips. And so it was a surprise, and somewhat baffling, to see him so unhinged. So while I personally may have indulged ever-so-briefly in his panic-stricken-face, I wasn’t really so keen on the entire waiting room and nursing staff thinking that he was some sort of aloof proto-male who isn’t comfortable talking about reproduction, let alone dropping off his sperm in a brown paper lunch bag. Because: feminist! liberated man! Etc[3].

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Supreme infertility

And just like that, a hearing about marriage equality[1] turns into pointed questioning by an unmarried, childless, woman Supreme Court Justice (the horror!), culminating in the sound of thousands of infertiles applauding (or so I’ve led myself to believe in my head):
Justice Kagan: Well, suppose a state said, Mr. Cooper, suppose a state said that because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.  Would that be Constitutional? 
Mr. Cooper: No, your Honor, it would not be Constitutional.
Justice Kagan: Because that’s the same state interest, I would think, you know.  If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage.  So why is that different?
Here, here, Justice Kagan. But wait, there’s more!

Monday, March 25, 2013

slow and, err, steady? cycle 4, day 14

Don’t despair – my tireless rants about working mothers are behind us, and now we can return to all-pelvis-all-the-time programming. So. Where were we?

Well, I’ve finished with my incessant sobbing for now and moved on to every other day wandings and blood draws, because we all know how funny those are. Here’s where we’re at:

Thursday, Day 10: wanding by the tech who seems uncomfortably excited about my ovaries and tells me as much with a very thick Boston accent, while I’m restrained in stirrups and her arm is halfway inside me. Buh-yuuu-ti-fuhl ovuhrees! Goohr-jus! A few follicles on the right, one on the left, none big enough to trigger ovulation.

Saturday, Day 12: welcome to your weekend, please proceed to the far-away-weekend-clinic-location whose waiting room does have better magazines. And, apparently, Jack Hanna on TV, which was compelling enough that as we left, C informed me that he is going to become a doctor for turtles. NOTED.

Meanwhile, behind door number 2: follicles growing ever so slowly, largest at 15 mm, still not big enough to trigger. Which is sad because if there’s one truth in this world it is that I long for my monthly injection of Chinese hamster ovary. Return on Monday. Third time’s the charm?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

intermission: can we have it all?

Taking a break from our regularly scheduled all-pelvis-all-the-time programming to bring you Sarah’s-deep-musings on topics that don’t even apply to her (yet!). Yes, this will probably get me into trouble, no, I’m not judging moms, I’m just judging those who think they know better (like me, apparently).

Can women – or men, for that matter – have it all?

Well, here we go. As a hope-to-one-day-be-a-working-mom, I’m wading into this Internet debate. I just can’t help myself. Aside from my firm conviction that “having it all” is an objectionable phrase that should have been retired almost as soon as it came into fashion, I also find this ongoing conversation to be, well, how can I put this: silly. Not because there’s not a problem here – there is – but because the “solutions” proposed by the parade of working-mothers in glossy magazines are inadequate and incomplete.

There are multiple tropes, but many of them boil down to this questionable assertion: feminism lied to us.[1] Closely followed by a fusillade of prominent, accomplished working-mothers proclaiming – almost resentfully – that they are not feminists. Because feminists are militant and dour and don’t wear kitten heels and a power suit while brokering an international treaty all before picking up Junior from soccer practice. Or whatever. The bottom line is that women accuse “feminism” – that wretched straw-woman! – of selling us a bill of goods; we can’t have it all, they say. And all that marching and protesting and letter writing and policy-making our mothers and grandmothers – and fathers and grandfathers – did? Well, that was just a fraud. But this argument is nothing more than a front; a carefully negotiated distraction.

It’s a bait-and-switch because these nauseating missives about whether the fairer sex can-truly-have-it-all! distract us from proposing real solutions – like challenging and changing a culture that still rewards sexist and unequal behavior, passing laws that allow for greater family leave and paid maternity and paternity leave, subsidizing child care in a meaningful way and allowing greater working hour flexibility for ALL working parents and caregivers like, you know, most civilized nations. Instead, we promote quick fixes aimed at mostly upper-middle class, highly educated women, that do little to address the root of the problem.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

it's alright to cry, cycle 4, day 8

This post was going to be about how the Clomid is working so effing well that I am forever crying – into my granola and my sandwich and my heaping pile of cookies salad and every other foodstuff I happen to have immediately in front of me because: HUNGRY.

This post was going to be about how THIS made me cry weep and how the season finale of THIS made me sob because I inexplicably have a thing for Adam even though he’s a creepy boar with irreverent facial hair and all of the other mouth crying[1] I have engaged in over the last oh, I don’t know, 96 god-for-saken hours.

This post was going to be about how one evening I wrote my hypothetical, as yet unconceived gender non-specific child’s name (first, last and middle, ahem) and then started crying. (But that sounded much too dark so I decided not to tell you guys even though, seriously, it wasn’t really that grim.)

I was going to write about all of these things, I was. But a post devoted to my blubbering lamentations[2] is a pity party to which no one else should be invited.

So despite what you may have just read, supra, I did not write this post. Because I could not. Because the thing is, I’m not actually particularly sad – mom, put down the phone. I actually feel pretty good, rather even keeled you might say, despite my intermittent sniveling. I have just traded in my bitch card[3] for my burst-into-tears-at-the-mention-of-the-air-we-breathe card. It’s a precarious existence I inhabit.

But no matter, for I know that soon, my sniveling will give way to unhinged panic, which is where I really shine. In the meantime, I am buoyed by Rosey Grier[4].

[1] Mouth crying gets a nod on day 8 of every cycle. Because them’s the rules (apparently).
[2] Jessie Spano in, oneofthebestcryingscenesever.
[3] It’s like a trading card, but with Tina Fey on one side and Hillary Clinton on the other/a motto like “women make policy and humor, not coffee” in electric green typeface and then, umm <insert something about feminism and “reclaiming bitch,” etc.>.
[4] True facts about the ineffable Rosey Grier in addition to his cameo on the record that defined your childhood: he is a former bodyguard to RFK who enjoys macramé and needlepoint. Truth.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

off to a very hot start, cycle 4, day 3

I woke up with a fever and thirty-six hours later I was suddenly on my fourth round of Clomid.

Or at least that’s how it feels. On Wednesday morning I woke up bright and early so that I could endure the indignity of a nurse-administered pregnancy (blood) test[1] when, hello-don’t-you-see-my-pockets-stuffed-full-of-tampons. Anyway, feeling a bit resentful woozy and what I would later realize was, what’s the word I’m looking for? feverish! I stumbled into the doctor's office in the pre-dawn hours, coughing all over anyone in my path. I dismissed the motherly words of the tech who told me I looked like hell said I looked like I “could use some sleep” and desperately tried to stop the exam room from spinning. Afterwards, thinking that maybe I should consider calling in sick, I went home, took my temperature and was sort of bewildered when it turned up at 102.

It was all downhill from there and the next 12-16 hours are a bit of daze. Having a fever basically makes me feel like I’m five years old and “adult fever” sounds like either a 60s throwback album or a sexually transmitted disease[2] offered at a discount through this service[3].

Monday, March 11, 2013

struck out, cycle 3, day 25

When I got home from work, I said to C, “if I’m not pregnant, I just want to know now – it’s the uncertainty that I can’t handle.” It turns out, I’m no better with disappointment. Just a couple hours later, the universe heeded my (dubious) call[1]: I got my period.

Because I am the smartest, I think I knew it was coming – the moodiness, the lower back pain that could not alone be attributed to my tendency to type while sitting in bed rather than at a desk, like a proper adult, the absence of searing gas pains… Or not. Seeing as approximately 45 seconds before it happened, I could be found Googling early signs of pregnancy and how early can I take a pregnancy test and how much is a ferry ride to the Channel Islands[2] – because let me tell you, infertility-amnesia (which is something I made up but is totally a thing) is wonderful. (Like I haven’t memorized just how early I can safely take a pregnancy test before a missed period? Pshaw.)

But I still think I knew. So much so that this morning I briefly daydreamed about throwing a surprise party for Aunt Flo. You know, ovary-shaped-pi̱ata[3], cake, kazoos, the whole deal. C and I Рand Luna, much to her consternation Рwould put on party hats and blow out candles and surprise her, beat her[4] at her own game (or something). By the time I realized I was on THE-CRAZY-TRAIN-TO-INSANE-VILLE, I was already buying crepe paper (blue, if you must know, because red would be too obvious).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

breakfast of champions, cycle 3, day 24

There are those days when you wake up, realize you have lost an entire hour of sleep to the daylight savings time gods, spend fifteen minutes with the covers over your face wondering what has become of your slothful existence, what with Sleeping in until 9:30! and My god there are so many things you were planning to do today! and then, in a moment of inspiration, you decide to get up, do your taxes, and go for a six mile run just say, hell with it all. You are going to make orange chocolate chip pancakes and you are going to feel great about it.

So we did. And then, because let’s be honest, we felt pretty slothful, we broke a sweat cleaning the entire house. It is amazing the damage a shedding dog can do.

Meanwhile: <still holding my breath, waiting, in an anxious state of in between, hesitant to embrace the violence of hope, but also not wanting to indulge my own pessimism, wondering if I might be pregnant when I’ll get my period.> Thursday can’t come soon enough. Until then, pancakes for everyone[1]. Recipe after the jump.
My budding photography skills: where "artistic" just becomes "lopsided." *takes bow*

Friday, March 8, 2013

a questionable milestone, cycle 3, day 22

I did it. I made it past day 19. And here we are. The illusive day 22. Just 6 grueling days until the doctor-sanctioned blood work that will confirm that I am once and for all barren whether or not I’m with child.

My long time readers (har, har) may recall that it was on day 19, two cycles ago, that I squatted, dumbstruck, shouting expletives in a rest stop bathroom started a’bleedin’. It was early. Real early. Mathematically bonkers early. But it was all I needed to know: I wasn’t pregnant.

So here we are, nice and smug on day 22, still period-free and pretending like it means something when I know full well that it doesn’t. As anticipated, my eerie calm of last weekend has quickly evaporated, supplanted by a trembling, porous anxiety just beneath the surface: at any moment you could find out you’re not pregnant, which is why if you just avoid going to the bathroom, YOU WILL NEVER KNOW.[1]

I guess it goes back to this – I still barely know how my body works and what I do know, I don’t trust. I didn’t ovulate for nine months and now I’m supposed to rely on one medically induced cycle in December to provide clues about this cycle’s possible success?[2] Thanksbutnothanks.

In any case, I met with the reproductive endocrinologist this afternoon and put the plan in place for the next round[3] – Clomid, Ovidrel, intrauterine insemination (IUI). Though I’m sure that my 8 regular readers in Qatar are old pros at IUI by now, for the uninitiated, here’s the deal: prevailing medical wisdom is that after three rounds of Clomid, your cervical mucus begins to become some kind of sperm-hostile-double-agent, making it more difficult to conceive. There isn’t good hard data but because it’s a plausible, if not scientifically demonstrable, theory and because my insurance won’t let me graduate to IVF without first stopping the train at the IUI station, we’re going to give it a go. Which means that in cycle four, instead of several days of post-Ovidrel romance, we’ll have one very early morning threesome (that’s me, C and one lucky infertility clinic tech. *regrettable mental image*.). On that morning, within 90 minutes of, ahem, C producing a sample, we’ll speed recklessly to the infertility clinic, wait an hour for magic science to do its thing[4] after which I get to lay back, relax, and have a mystery nurse shoot a syringe full of sperm (hopefully C’s) into my cervix.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

pelvis in print, cycle 3, day 20

Chances are, many of you have probably seen, and read, Anna Jesus’s opinion piece, “Pregnant in Medical School” in that mecca of print journalism, the Sunday New York Times. I may have exclaimed just a little bit over my granola on Sunday morning – she has what I have! <jaw agape>. And then I read it. And then <cog slowly turning> I had some rambling, non-sense, it’s the middle of the two week wait, people! thoughts.

On one hand: thank goodness we’re talking about vaginas. VAGINA, VAGINA, VAGINA.[1] I mean it. When was the last time you saw “transvaginal ultrasound” in a major print publication and it wasn’t connected to one of[2] these dolts? I’d be lying if I said career wasn’t something I’m trying (desperately) to balance amidst all of this uncertainty. And who doesn’t appreciate a professional woman candid enough to concede her worries about showing up to work smelling of her own vomit?

On the other hand: <hoisting myself up on the ole soapbox> While I know she wasn’t aiming for a thorough social commentary on the matter and so any critique is wildly unfair, her analysis of infertility and her ultimately successful conception and pregnancy seem reductionist and incomplete. Her proposed remedy – which seems to boil down to “put your career on hold and rely on your gainfully-employed partner to support you” – is narrowly tailored to a group of (mostly) highly educated, middle class women[3] and profoundly out of reach for so many others. Yes, she acknowledges that she was lucky, fortunate to have the support of her spouse, and she seems to at least fleetingly concede that “[e]very woman is different” but still, I was left a little wanting.

But…<falls off soapbox into crowd of angry, clawing women> also grateful for any intelligent discussion of not-as-easy-as-it-sounds-conception in the mass media and thankful that another hole has been poked in the shroud of isolation that is infertility. (It’s just that, you know, I’m greedy, so I want to, like, have my infertility cake[4] and eat it, too.)

But enough about me. (If you have suffered along with me continued reading this far) what did you guys think? (Besides that I am kind of a smug jerk). What would you have told your younger, more free-wheeling-maybe-not-yet-ready-to-be-a-mama selves?

[1] You know, to the tune of marsha, marsha, marsha. Because. Obviously.
[2] But seriously, remember when this guy was on the Real World?
[3] Yours truly. Ahem.
[4] Whatever you do, do not drop everything and Google image search “infertility cake.” After not doing that, you will not be flabbergasted – and terribly bemused – to find that oh my god my blood orange upside down cake is one of a shocking number of cakes that appear.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

an uneasy calm, cycle 3, day 17

There’s a certain calmness in this time – this in between time, after the doctor-mandated-sex but before the two-week-wait sets in, in earnest. The proverbial calm before the storm. Truthfully, I’ve never felt it before – not in the last two cycles and certainly not when I was trying unassisted, futile though it was.

But just yesterday, a kind of calm has settled over me. I want, with every fiber of my being, for this to be it – to be pregnant, to hold on to the gaggle of cells this time, to give birth to a healthy, gurgling babe. And at the same time, I feel almost liberated in my awareness and my (tacit, halting) acceptance that this very well might not be the one. That I could just as plausibly be again un-pregnant.

The last two rounds, the two-week-wait just felt like I was interminably holding my breath – I don’t think I exhaled until the blood work was in, and even then, only with great hesitation.  By contrast, today at least – and that’s to say nothing of tomorrow or the days ahead, during which I’m sure I will descend into the anxiety-ridden crevasse of usual – feels calm and accepting, a very unfamiliar peace. I’m not inventorying my stockpile of pregnancy tests or browsing through the designer nurseries on Apartment Therapy – or at least not as furiously. I know that I’ll be heartbroken if this cycle doesn’t work – it’s the one year mark of trying, it’s the last cycle of Clomid before we kick it up a notch and move to IUI, it’s one step closer to – on bad days – big conversations about how far we’ll take this, whether adoption is a possibility and all kinds of other overwhelming Big Questions.

But for today, I am – how, I’m not sure – calm.

(So that’s it. An entire post without a footnote, a strikethrough or a hyperlink – just me, getting kind of real, without sarcasm as my cover. But I’m not one for saccharine sentimentality. So let’s not make a habit of it.)