Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We are Hovering

around what would have been the due date of our first child.

Last Christmas, E and I were spending the holidays with my family in Country House outside of Small Town inside of Large Midwestern State. Let's call it Monotony.

E had done her 5th IUI, medicated, a few weeks prior. She had gotten her period a few days before we left, and the disappointment was threatening to suffocate the few days we had off for the holidays.

Christmas was celebrated with the family, who were bouyant and compassionate about our repeated failures to get pregnant. They consoled E and engaged in much frank discussion about the trials she had endured thus far to get pregnant. Which was good, because I had grown surly with the perpetual talk of frozen sperm and anonymous donors and injectables and the whole damned medicalized process.

Frequently, when I woke and stumbled to the kitchen for coffee, I would find E and my mother quickly hushing their conversation and rather loudly discussing the weather or the dogs. I'd scowl and march off.

At this point on our path to parenthood, I was rather ambivalent about the whole baby thing. Moreover, I was almost wholly uninvolved. Our initial plans to do home inseminations with a known donor did not work out. Having been initially quite determined to make it happen naturally, we were disheartened to have to find an RE, and the news that E had high FSH was an even bigger blow. We gave up the notion of making it ourselves, and started medicated cycles. My job prevented me from attending E's frequent doctor appointments, and trying to conceive was nearly the only thing she talked about. I was feeling more and more peripheral to the process.

That, in a recap, is where we were when it happened.

A couple of days before our holiday vacation ended, we were milling about aimlessly in Monotony. E popped into Depressing Drugstore for some Advil before we drove back to Country House.

Later that afternoon, E approached me, wild-eyed, and asked that I accompany her to the bathroom. There on the counter lay a stick, with two very dark blue lines. What she thought was her period was actually implantation bleeding.

"I'm pregnant!"

This was the first time in her life she had ever been pregnant, and she was lit and shining with the thrill and the terror of it.

And there it was, for a long and wild 6 weeks. I was alternately sick with apprehension and filled with a a soft, warm, spreading happiness. What a ride it was.

Our first ultrasound showed a little sac, the fetal pole just a bit small for what it should have been at that point. Just a bit.

The second appointment was the biggie, The One When You See The Heartbeat. E was nervous, but oh, we had hope. It had only been a bit small.

When we got there, E clutched my hand, glowing as she had been for weeks. I looked at her - she was pregnant, without question. The physical manifestations were there: she often had a faint sheen on her face (sweat from the persistent nausea), and her belly felt hard. She had changed shape somehow over the last few weeks, although obviously what was there was not big enough to show. Maybe it was just her happiness.

I squeezed her hand and felt only blind optimism.

It took a while for the doctor to do the ultrasound. He kept moving the wand, and there was what felt like a deafening silence.

There wasn't a heartbeat.

E folded in on herself when the doctor left the room, and I wrapped her up and took her home.

Her body clung to that little fetal pole for three weeks. We refused the D&C, and instead she took one tiny pill on a Friday night, and we holed up for the weekend. We called it our Miscarriage Party. I rolled a joint, and we took the dog for walks.

And we loved eachother endlessly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Congratulations...It's a Gay!

So the little social science community is all a-flutter as of late, what with the scandalous Dr. Bailey being semi-exonerated by an ethics scholar who just published a paper about him and the controversy surrounding his work.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Bailey's "science," he wrote a book a few years back in which he hypothesized that (I'm summarizing, here) transgender women are actually just male cross-dressing fetishists, motivated to change their sex by the sexual arousal they feel when perceived as women.

So, whatever your thoughts are on that asinine theory, Dr. Bailey also expounds the belief that sexual orientation is genetic (stay with me here), and, once the gay-gene is isolated, parents' determination of their fetus' sexual orientation and subsequent selective abortion based on the results of that test is "morally responsible."

Let's be clear here. We're talking about an educated white straight man who has made a name for himself by categorizing trans and gay people essentially as "genetic mistakes." Talk about exploiting those a wee-tad bit lower on the political-clout totem pole.

What a douche-bag. I feel like calling him up and telling him that, given the choice, most gays would stay gay. I know I would. I'm not one of those lesbians who snub other lesbians because "my orientation is the least interesting thing about me." I'm just not interesting enough to feel that way, I guess.

But also I think sexual orientation is pretty deep. It informs nearly every part of my life, down to the most widely-experienced life events: making friends, buying a coop, interviewing for a job. Having a baby.

I look forward, with great interest, to confusing the shit out of people who will doubtlessly question the origin of our child (for this will surely happen, even in enlightened NYC).

It's pretty freaking interesting, watching the world react to gay people.

Anyway, the Dr. Bailey scandal made me think of the whole infertility thing again. Part of why I feel so connected to the world of infertile people (even though I'm sort of reluctant to become a parent in lots of ways) is that people who struggle so hard for a child are more likely to love that child no matter its orientation.

Imagine a poor infertile woman busting her ass to get pregnant finally becomes pregnant and takes Bailey's gay-gene test only to discover her long-awaited fetus is, lo, a 'mo.

If she's a homophobe, she may grit her teeth, sock money away for ex-gay camp, and line up Billy Graham himself to christen the wee baby, but she sure as shit isn't aborting.

And my guess is she'd probably love that baby anyways. Because we infertiles have a lot of fucking love to give.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Victory is mine...for a minute.

I stood up our new doctor today. I was supposed to come in for a "swab," but, curiously, I didn't feel like it.

On the phone with the clinic last week, I questioned the necessity of said "swab." Oh, we just need to be sure you don't have gonorrhea or chlamydia, Nurse chirps. I tell Chirpy I'm quite certain that I'm not infected with an STD. She responded that she, too, was certain, and yet I still needed to come in for the necessary swabbing.

I told her the clinic's repeated attempts to get me in the stirrups was becoming suspicious.

When the alarm went off at 6 o'clock this morning, I was like, Swab? I think not. I shut it off and rolled over. E intervened.

E: Get up.

GS: zzz.

E: Get up! You have an appointment.

GS: It's 6 AM. I'm not getting up at 6 AM for a damn swab.

E: They said you need a swab. You have to get one.

GS: Why? Why must I blindly follow their commands? I refuse.

And I slept until 7:30.

So, I know, it certainly isn't interesting enough to blog about, and yet I do it regardless. Why? SEE EARLIER POST!! Despite attempts by E to thwart me, I wrestled a little dignity and control from the iron-grip of Clinic, and it feels good!

But I still have to get that fucking swab tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2007

IVF v. Intuition

IVF should stand for Intiution Very Fucked-up.

Babymaking is, on the whole, an instinctive kind of thing. Papa Wildebeest doesn't read little Willy "Where Did I Come From?" before he trots off to the praire for some grazing with the girl wildebeests.

The sheer amount of deliberate fuckage one must do with their mind and body to conceive through IVF is off the damn map of Intuition-ville. IVFers are milling around in the stratosphere.

  • Instinct tells us not to poke ourselves in the sensitive belly area with shiny, extremely pointy objects which must thereafer be disposed of in biohazardous waste containers.
  • It suggests we not shove little hormone-saturated pellets up our vaginas.
  • It encourages us not to spread our legs for strangers with a camera .
If you were to make yourself small and sit on the shoulder of an IVF virgin you would doubtlessly hear her mutter: "I'm supposed to stick that where?"

And yet, and yet.

We brashly defy our intuition: deliberately shoot ourselves up nightly with drugs that make us miserable and fat, purposefully paste in pantyliners to soak up our melting suppositories.

Seriously, who regularly injects drugs that provide not a modicum of pleasure? Not even the tiniest hint of euphoria, here, people. No wonder it's legal.

I'd like to announce that my instincts, my reflexes, all those handy self-protective resources written onto my genetic code, have surrendered. My IVF cherry was popped 2 months ago, and now I willingly hop into my stirrups. I pop my pills, easily surrender my veins to satanic phlebotomists.

But injecting myself with those anti-pleasure serums? That still really gets my goat.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Poop-on Lupron

This try is going muuuuuch more smoothly than the last one. Probably because I'm not on Lupron.

I was a holy cunt on Lupron. I alternated between knashing my teeth whilst kicking those in close range in the shins and sitting limply in my chair, staring at the wall with glazed eyes.

"YOU ARE IN MORTAL DANGER!" I would cry out when E approached me with the syringe each night.

And she would soothe me and after my shot bring me a gin and tonic and I'd clutch at her and apologize for being a monster. It felt like my time with Lupron lasted 8 months. I think in reality it was closer to 2 weeks.

E, of course, is having no similar symptoms, because she's a better person than I.

She enjoys pointing out that "fits of violent irritability" and "lapses into semi-concious stupor" are not included on the list of potential side effects.

Lupron is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist that, over time, downregulates the release of FSH and LH, which are hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. It "shuts down" your reproductive cycle so the doctor can ramp it back up with a cocktail of stimulating hormones.

This is called an agonist protocol, and apparently it is the most common protocol used in IVF because:

1. It is more controlled, thus easier to prevent ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which, as I understand, is no diddling flu (with a moderate case, you can put on 2 pounds a day - yippee!)

2. It works with most people.

You fail your agonist cycle (i.e., you produce few eggs or poor quality eggs)? You're given the glamorous label of "poor responder," and may be told you need an antagonist cycle, which, your doctor will surely point out, is generally used for elderly ladies with shrivelled up raisin ovaries so desperate to become with child that they'll try anything. An antagonist cycle stimulates the ovaries without shutting down your system first, so you're more at risk for OHSS.

I'm not on Lupron because our new doctor has put me on an antagonist cycle. To be honest, I threatened suicide if I had to go back on Lupron, so he had little choice. If I've learned anything through this process, it is self-advocacy, and I was determined to avoid Lupron this cycle.

Not only because it fucked with my head, but it also gave me huge cysts on my ovaries. During monitoring one day during IVF #1, our old doctor, weilding dildocam with a vicious glee, proclaimed that I had Lupron-cycts. "Holy God! Look at the size of that one! That's gotta be ASPIRATED!"

"Aspirated?" I moaned.

"YEP. Don't worry, I'll prescribe you some VALIUM. You might even enjoy it!"

That sicko.

1. He prescribed me one feeble little Valium. Although I'm a relatively small person, I have a strangely high tolerance for drugs and alcohol. I need a horse tranquilizer to take a nap.

2. He refused to give me the pill until after I read my consent forms, so I popped it as I signed. I was strapped to a gurney with a foot long needle between my legs about 15 minutes later. I was feeling EXTREMELY UNRELAXED.

Lupron was cruel to me.

Anyway, I was pretty convinced that my Lupron-cysts had something to do with the fact that we only got 7 eggs from the egg retreival, only 5 of which were mature. It seemed like such a small number after so many drugs.

Hence, the antagonist cycle. E takes the Lupron to align our cycles and I start stims next Friday.
I'm glad that my old mate Lupron and I have gone separate ways. So is E. Things are looking up.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

On the Road Again, or, My Blog is My Toilet

Thus far, I've used my blog primarily as a place to bitch and moan about various items of minimal interest to anyone aside from myself. I'm cutting myself a little slack, since it's brand spanking new, but I do feel the need to clarify its purpose a little.

When E and I decided to go the "let's split this baby down the middle, shall we" route, I poked around the net for others who've done the same, but didn't find much. I did, however, find loads of people blogging about their IVF experiences, which was enormously helpful, and especially consoling after our first go didn't work and we were struggling.

So I thought I'd try it out - to talk about the experience of IVF, in particular the experience of sharing the IVF-related responsibilities with my partner E. Initially I had lofty goals of creating a resource for other lesbian couples going this route, but it quickly became clear that I would instead be regularly abusing my readers with verbal diarreah of the bitter variety.

And that's okay too.

Because what other bloggers have taught me is that infertility (whether due to troublesome reproductive organs or the general sameness of your partner's sex) sucks a whole lot and so does IVF.

Infertility kicks the shit out of you and leaves you doubled over on the sidewalk, crying like a ninny. Then IVF steps over you, walks over to your car and takes a dump on the hood.

E and I have been married for four years tomorrow. Which is astonishing, since I feel sometimes like I am just beginning to know her, a feeling this ordeal has intensified. We laugh a ridiculous proportion of our time together, hysterically; we are mirrors of eachother's twisted and juvenile sense of humor. We cannot ever seem to get enough of the other, despite being tired, overworked people.

And o, our love for eachother. It's fierce. That our love is incapable of creating our family is profoundly unfair. Just as it is for so many infertile people.

So there's stuff to bitch about, in other words. Reading others' stories of their experiences makes this whole bumpy-ass ride less desolate and the disappointments less devastating.

And frankly, it just feels good to know that we're not the only ones with busted lips and shitty hoods.

So the time has come. Today our second IVF cycle begins.

We met with our doctor today (wait time: 3 minutes - i heart him) for my day 2 ultrasound (time spent with dildocam: <1 minute - i heart him so much) and bloodwork (satanic phlebotomist scrubbed my arm with steel wool then poked my vein with her pitchfork: i will seek my revenge with holy water).

We next met with the Protocol Nurse who is also Adorable and who Loves Us Very Much, and she informed us that E would be on Lupron this time, not me, which I think is best for all involved (although I admit I am slightly evil because I hope E experiences a taste of the ferocious Lupron-induced crankiness).

So, I'm doing my best to be hopeful and positive in the face of the barrage of drugs and dildocam appointments and blood tests that lay ahead.

But ambivalence spreads its wings right in my chest when I remember all we put ourselves through last time, for nothing.

But what the fuck else are you going to do? You get to your feet, wipe the shit off your car with a bit of newspaper from the curb, and then you stab yourself in the gut with your Gonal F pen.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Thoughts on Dudley Dursley

I've always shunned parenthood. To me it always appeared awful and boring. Small, snotting, angrily screaming people who comprehend nothing but their own needs. Dear god, the monotony. O, the obligation.

In fact, parents rarely seem happy to me. The vast majority of moms I encounter appear either:

1) Exhausted and miserable, or

2) as if her one truest hope is that every person in the immediate vicinity is watching her and her offspring interact and acknowledging her nobility of purpose as a mother.

And it is far from noble.

These shrieking mothers, catering to their obnoxious children's every whim at top volume, ensuring all the poor souls trapped on the bus can hear, they sicken me.


*ignoring mom completely, red-faced child repeatedly kicks elderly lady in adjoining seat*


*further kicking of small granny, who appears to be losing conciousness at the hands of vicious child*


and on.

In fact, when I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone many long years ago, I thought it would revoluntionize parenting in the United States....because to me, nearly every parent-child operation I encountered was the spitting replica of Dudley and Aunt Petunia.

But throughout the years, my revulsion eased, my gag-reflex relaxed. I started to see that it wasn't the children's fault that their behavior was so abominable, it was their parents'. As that realization sunk in, I began to understand that cool people could be cool parents. And that gave me hope.

E, of course, was a constant source of patient and sincere encouragement.

(E) "Think of it as expanding the tribe. Creating a couple of groupies. We won't morph into mini-van owning childbots with matching Tevas, I swear."

(GS) "Do our dog, cat, and fish mean nothing to you? Are you saying that our thriving family of five is insufficient for your purposes? Are you a Mormon?"

One day, during one such soul-searching conversation, E turned to me and asked: "Do you really want for it to be just you and me for the rest of our lives?"

Hm. That's the question, isn't it sweetums?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

48 Days and Counting

I'm fat and cranky. I passed out last night, facedown, after nary an alcoholic beverage, at merely midnight. On E's birthday. Something is awry.

It's been almost 50 days since my last period. I blame it on round 1's daily drug cocktail, still fucking up my stuff. Round 1, that cunt, haunts me from her grave.

Round 2 begins when my period begins. So E has been harping on me to get going. Nice. I swear she was actually trying to squeeze my uterus last night under the auspices of snuggling.

Although at this point I'm also ready to get this period party started. Nausea, nasty attitude, and exhaustion notwithstanding, it's going to be a hairy monster when it comes, know. Let's get this over with.