Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from Chicago

Where the lox will fuckin' jack you, dude.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Job Woes

Somehow, after doing well in college and grad school, I make less money than ever. I like what I do -- teaching writing to college students -- and I'm good at it, but it's messed up career. For the past few years I've been an adjunct professor at a state college. The good things about the job are that I love the work, I love the students, and I have good benefits (or we'd never be able to afford Dr. Baby Factory). The bad things are the 2+ hour commute (that's each way, via subway, train, and bus), the irregular hours, the excruciatingly low pay, and the semester-to-semester uncertainty of employment.

In the fall, I get up at the crack of dawn (usually before that) to teach Freshman Comp for the better-paying Humanities Department; in the spring I stay up late to teach evening classes for perpetually-broke Continuing Ed. I'm finishing a semester of 4-class days: 8:30, 10:30, 2:30, 4:30. This spring, I'm teaching long, late classes on Mondays and Thursdays. If we finish early, I might be home by 10 or 10:30, though we should really go late enough that I wouldn't be home before 11:30.

My fall boss just offered me an 8:30 section of Freshman Comp -- nice of her! Adjuncts don't often get the spring sections of that class. But, ye gods, the thought of leaving the house at 6:15 and getting home so very, very late...I just don't think I can swing it. We could use the money -- I don't see how we'll buy more sperm if what we have doesn't get the job done, let alone put money away towards motherhood -- but I think working those hours will leave my body too messed up to conceive.

I have to call her this afternoon with my decision. Ugh.

(Anybody in the NYC area need a great writing teacher? Or an editor, a writer of video scripts for social work interventions, a test-prep writer?)

Friday, December 4, 2009

This is your brain on holiday cheer

Thanks brain. Good morning to you too.

This morning I woke up out of a terrible baby-related anxiety dream. In my dream, I had a newborn, but for some reason I hadn't been able to find it for about a day. (!) Most of the dream was a fruitless search for the baby. I was convinced that the baby might be across the street at MIT in the astronomy building, but when I got there there was a big conference of therapists going on. One of these therapists wanted to know why I was so upset, and when I told her she shouted at me that my children were not her problem. Okay.

Then I spent way too long going up the down escalator in a Christmas store.

Finally back home, I found the baby, dead due to my neglect. At this point Baby Mama woke me up. Apparently I was making unhappy noises.


I don't have time for you problems! I'm a therapist


WTF head? That was uncool.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

She's Learning

From time to time, I chide Sugar for not having much in the way of the gift of the gab. It's unfair of me. After all, she's Polish. Our ancestors may have had in common their unrelenting diet of cabbage and potatoes, but while my Irish forbears were spending their winters thinking of something suave to say to the girl next door (and starving), hers were busy staying out of the way of commuting armies (and starving).

But let it not be said that I withhold credit where it is due.

Last night, while I was performing my evening ablutions in the bathroom, Sugar made a remark from the other room to the effect that the wedding had been a stressful experience. (Stressful? Why, all of our parents were here to help! And we got to organize every little thing they did!)

"Excuse me," I reminded her, "That was the HAPPIEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE."

A pause.

"No," she replied, and I waited to pounce. "Being married to you is so much better."


My wife: I think I'll keep her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Last Night

I dreamed last night I was in my garden, in back of a house I don't own. I was quite covered in dirt when I noticed a long curve of something coming up from my left hip. I pulled it up and, as I was surprised to discover, out of my groin, which hurt but also felt satisfying. "Ah," I thought, "an old vein. Must have gone bad. Forgot I'm supposed to be pulling those out." But when I shook the dirt off and looked again, it was a tough runner of grass, which had evidently grown into me and rooted.

All of which is to say that I woke up with cramps.

I don't mean to complain about that. For one thing, I wasn't thinking I might be pregnant this time, since I ovulated on the weekend of our wedding, which was beautiful timing for poetry but lousy for a trip to the Baby Factory, with all the scheduling and defrosting and spiking of my cervix that entails. For another, the cramps aren't that bad. In fact, the five periods since my horrible HSG have been the five least painful I can remember. I used to spend three days or so every month nearly incapacitated, popping Aleve until my stomach hurt, often swearing, sometimes writhing, rarely passing out. Now the pain almost goes away with Advil. My theory is that much of my pain was because my cervices -- despite having, in principle, twice the potential to admit blood -- were so circuitous and given to clenching that the blood couldn't get out, leaving my uterus Very.Angry. Now one entrance has been, to quote the note on my chart that I read over a nurse's shoulder, "perforated," and it's not so dramatic. (Unfortunately, even that side is still tough for the catheter to negotiate, which is why the new note in my chart says I'm to have Valium the next time we try to knock me up*.)

At the HSG, Dr. Baby Factory told me that my tubes were open, though the cysts on my ovaries still left him calling my endometriosis "significant." I could have surgery for it, if it was bothering me, or just try to get knocked up and hope for the best, if it wasn't so bad. I am, as previously noted, generally opposed to knives wielded at my person, so I politely declined. And then my cramps all but stopped!

Except. Now that I'm keeping better track of my cycles, I'm wondering if this insane GI awfulness I've been having occasionally for the past few years isn't secretly some kind of endo. It doesn't happen every month or usually during my period, but it has happened the past two months, both times a few days before my period started. Remember when I thought I might have super-early morning sickness but them decided it was the stomach flu? That. It happened again this month, on Thanksgiving (so I couldn't eat anything)**. Basically, what seems to happen is that my colon stops advancing (uh, TMI, sorry, but you are reading this because of my hoo-has, so only kind of sorry), I fill up with gas, and I lie on the floor writhing and screaming for 12-24 hours until things move along again. I went to the GI doc some time ago, pooped in lots of cups, and got told that probably I had injured myself getting food poisoning, that things were out of whack, that I should take pro-biotics and hope it got better, which it sort of seemed to, but only sort of. Now I'm wondering if the real issue could be that I have endometrial nodules on or near my bowel that get inflamed and mess everything up. I have a call in to Dr. Baby Factory to see what he thinks of this theory, but I know that the answer is likely to be that there's no way to tell without surgery.

Did I mention how I don't like the cutting? Oh, and how I'd like to get one with this TTC business already and stop having to hurry up and wait?

Did I also mention that the weather has turned cold? How about that this is my last night of 30, and that when my mother was my age, she was about 3 days from going into labor with me, after two endo surgeries and several more years of TTC?



*Which -- and believe me, baby-watchers, I am as impatient about this as you -- won't be until mid-January, at the earliest. Not only am I most likely to ovulate on the day we set off on our annual Middle-Western Odyssey, making timing a clinic visit stressful, but I would also, on balance, like to be drinking at New Years and also not weeping over getting my period while snowed-in at Sugar's parents'.

**but still had a nice time, because my super-awesome cousin was visiting. She was the most compassionate 18-year-old EVER about how sick I was, sadly because she was been so very much sicker with endo herself for the past couple years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

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:

IMG_1596
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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your Wedding Might Be Gay If...

...you realize the next day that you skipped your shift at the food coop.

RIMG0059

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cupboardful of Faith

It's a busy time in the bionic household, and a time of great changes. Or rather, it's a time of contemplating changes -- both potential and inevitable -- and wondering if we're up for it all.

It's fall, and a good time for canning.

I find canning a source of great comfort in uncertain times. It's a lovely bit of household magic -- the sugar stopping time, water sealing the jars. It seems impossible (like so many things do right now), and the fact this small impossible thing works gives me some faith that bigger things will, too.

The only preserves I make regularly are Green Tomato Preserves, from a recipe by the great Edna Lewis. (If you haven't read The Taste of Country Cooking, her cookbook/memoir of growing up in the Virginia farm town her grandparents founded as freed slaves, well, it's worth your time.) This year, a few friends whose tomatoes (unlike mine) survived the blight, traded me their unripe tomatoes for the promise of jam.

RIMG0222
3 lbs green tomatoes + 3 lbs sugar.

The tomatoes have to be really green. If they're starting to ripen, use them for something else. You can let them ripen on the windowsill or make a lamb tagine or fry them if they're still mostly green. We've been doing all three.

RIMG0224

The tomatoes, with stem ends and blemishes removed, rest under the sugar overnight. The next day, they will have released enough liquid to dissolve some or all of the sugar: the first miracle. They get cooked for an hour, then left to rest overnight again.

RIMG0229

On the third day, the preserves get cooked for another hour or so. Jars are boiled, jar lids and rings sit in a simmering pot. Tomatoes and strained liquid are spooned into jars, which are just barely closed before being submerged in boiling water. The air in the jars expands and squeezes out from under the lids. When the jars are returned to the air, their contents cool and contract. Lids ping shut against the new vacuum.

RIMG0228

The jars cool in place overnight, and on the fourth day I fill my cabinet with amber vials of autumn.

RIMG0234


P.S. There's something else these days giving me faith in the future, too.



ETA: I've never done Mel's Show and Tell thing before, but it seems nifty-difty. Looking forward to checking out the other participants, though it may take until after Friday....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Kleptomania Goes Too Far

It's sad times around the Bionic household. Baby didn't get pregnant this time, and I'm having the worst work week of the year. We've been reduced to only telling each other slightly comic anecdotes, for fear of setting the other off weeping. For instance, a woman behind me in the bookstore on Friday said to her friend, "I don't like Dickens, he uses too much language." That got a wan smile out of Baby.

On my walk to my run (I know, but I like to run around the pretty park rather than jiggle past our questionable, corner-standing neighbors) I overheard a rather longer story between two young hipsterish women who were walking behind me:

woman 1: "You know, she needs to understand that it's not OK to be that way all the time, once in awhile is fine, but not three nights a week."

woman 2: "Yeah."

woman 1: "I mean, if you wake up the next morning and are told that you were found passed out on the bathroom floor with some guy's pants and you have no idea how that happened, I mean . . ."

woman 1: "Yeah."

Some guy's pants? All the time? She's a serial pants stealer? There's more story here people, I know it! Sadly, they just went on to discuss how she was resistant to talking about her 'problem' with them. Boring.


what pants?


So I'm waiting, New York. Do some more funny stuff, stat! We need material!

You Know What Else They Sell At the Grand Central Rite Aid?

Sanitary Napkins.

CD 1, y'all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What We're Weeping Over, Sunday Edition

Have you already watched this? I'd seen it pop up on friends' Facebook pages, but hadn't taken the 4 minutes to watch it for myself until today. It's from testimony in Maine concerning marriage equality.



"What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?"

For me? You fought for me? Oh, man, I'm tearing up all over again.

The old folks are all right.

Book Fair Betrayal

If you're as nerdy as I am, perhaps you remember with a similar fondness the Scholastic Book Fair. Ours was around this time of year, as I recall. Parent volunteers would set up table after table after table of books in the GYM -- double-bonus, since that usually meant no dodgeball for at least one day. My mother could usually be convinced to take me to the fair after school (massive understatement -- apples don't fall far from trees, and the woman is OBSESSED with books), but even if your parents weren't the sort who understood why you HAD TO HAVE that shiny copy of The Boxcar Children or Sideways Stories from Wayside School or Harriet the Spy -- a new copy, of your very own, a perfect rectangle that you would be the first to peel open -- the school would lean on them to send you with a little spending money for the day your class went to the fair. (Triple-bonus: book fair, no gym, and less time in class.)

Scholastic makes money hand over fist at these things (and gives less back to the host school than they used to), as one would expect with a captive and coerced audience, but it's hard to begrudge them a little profit for something as all-around good as the book fair.

Which is why it made me so sad to read this:

You have to wonder why an organization dedicated to getting students to read would decide to make censorship such an important part of their work. You also have to wonder why one of the leading organizations dedicated to helping students learn would decide to wallop a giant blow of discrimination toward gay and lesbian families and children of same-sex parents.

But that's what Scholastic Books is doing by banning a book from its book fairs simply for the fact that the book contains a girl character who has two lesbian moms. The book in question is Lauren Myracle's book Luv Ya Bunches, a new book that wittingly covers the trials, tribulations and friendships that a group of young girls go through in school.




Teh Gay Agenda?


And yes, the book is definitely, no question about it, being censored because it dares to suggest that not all children grow up in heterosexual households. Scholastic is up front about that:

The company sent a letter to Myracle's editor asking the author to omit certain words such as "geez," "crap," "sucks," and "God" (as in, "oh my God") and to alter its plotline to include a heterosexual couple. Myracle agreed to get rid of the offensive language "with the goal—as always—of making the book as available to as many readers as possible," but the deal breaker was changing Milla's two moms.

"A child having same-sex parents is not offensive, in my mind, and shouldn't be 'cleaned up.'" says Myracle, adding that the book fair subsequently decided not to take on Luv Ya Bunches because they wanted to avoid letters of complaint from parents. "I find that appalling. I understand why they would want to avoid complaint letters—no one likes getting hated on—but shouldn't they be willing to evaluate the quality of the complaint? What, exactly, are children being protected against here?"


And here's where I get all misty (am I pregnant or just PMSing???) and fall in love with Myracle a little bit:

“Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents, just like Milla. It's not an issue to clean up or hide away,” says Myracle. “In my opinion, it's not an 'issue' at all. The issue, as I see it, is that kids benefit hugely from seeing themselves reflected positively in the books they read. It's an extremely empowering and validating experience."


So here's what we need to do:

1. Sign this petition at Change.org

2. Especially if you're a parent whose kids will have a book fair (or who just love Scholastic Books), let Scholastic know why appeasing a few testy weirdos who hate everyone who isn't just like them is a bad business decision.

Investor Relations
Strategic Development
(212) 343-6741
investor_relations@scholastic.com


(Thanks to Mombian, Change.org, and The School Library Journal for writing most of this post.)


(Also: If, like me, you're wondering whether or not I have been knocked up, I feel I should let you know that I'm up at 5am on a Sunday not to begin walking across the fields to church but because I've been throwing up much of the night. Gross. I sure as hell better be pregnant.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Signs Of The Times 2

Train schedules. They might also know if I am pregnant.

Not the ones online, only the big framed ones at the station. Definitely not the printed pocket schedules -- I'm not crazy.

This time...It's Personal

Here's something I learned during my month away from the blog: the Rite Aid at Grand Central does indeed sell OPKs, and cheaper than my local Duane Reade.

I learned this on Day Infinity of peeing-on-sticks (CD Infinity + 13). I had run out on the day before and assumed there would be none at the GCT store, a strange warren with much more in the way of Pringles than of anything drug-like. I catch the 7:12 train from GCT in the mornings, and even at that hour, a line of dazed people grasping Powerade and Funyuns clots in the hair-care aisle. The last thing I bought there was Scotch Tape in a donut-shaped dispenser.

So on CD (Infinity - 1)+13, when I realized it was time to traipse merrily along to the meeting of my Community Garden Governing Board (how I got suckered into that one is another story), I instead ran in the opposite direction, waited in line 4-EVAH at Duane Reade, and arrived late at the meeting, panting and with open wounds on my feet from flip-flops that aren't made for speed. That night I opened the box and made sure to leave one test out on the table, so I wouldn't forget to take it with me to school, where there are no drugstores for miles.

I'm sure you know where this is going. Yadda-yadda happy ending, although the message on the receipt still strikes me as slightly creepy.

It's Personal
Rite Aid is even more excited about peeing on sticks than I am!!
RA OVULATION PREDICTOR!! RA! RA!


The test was negative, of course.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Signs Of The Times

  • I've realized I'm repeatedly refreshing my email because I'm waiting to find out whether I'm pregnant.


uterusmail

You've Got UteMail!

(click image for bigger)

I Really Don't Think I'm Pregnant, But...

...my hoo-ha smells funny.


(Probably because I started taking different vitamins -- ran out of plain folate right around the insem, started taking regular prenatals 'cause why the heck not -- but that hasn't stopped me from furtive TP-sniffing and general obsessery.)


Thought you'd like to know.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

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!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Loopholes

Lucky I left one in that post the other day -- you'll note I said I'd post something "for every day" not "on every day." Probably I should have been a lawyer.

So now I owe you three four things.

Here's one thing you missed (unless you heard me kvetch about it on the IVP): I am having the World's Longest Cycle. Or at least, it wins in the local competition that is my little charting notebook. When I started keeping track last spring*, it came as a shock to me that my cycles weren't 28 days -- I mean, that's "normal," right? I'm normal (hindsight sez: haaaaaaaaaaaaa!), ergo my cycle = 28 days.


*Note to my lovely man-borking lady readers: one of the (many, many!) perks of lesbianism is that, until now, I have never once bothered paying attention to when my period is due. Hell, it's not like I could have been pregnant. When I noticed myself crying at pet food commercials and comparing my physique unfavorably to that of a manatee, I figured it was time to hit up the ladies-only aisle at the drug store.


Does this dugong make my arms look fat?


Turns out my cycles are more like 34 days. Except when they're 30 or 37. Still, it's all regular enough, and I suppose I haven't been complaining about getting 2.5 fewer sets of cramps per calendar year all this time, now have I?

My shortest cycle since I've been keeping track has been 30 days, so I started peeing on OPKs at day 13 (shortest cycle minus 16 except I forgot on day 12). You know how I love all that leg-crossing, so I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to keep that up for TWENTY DAYS.

I am now officially a believer in that whole "stress can delay ovulation" business, which had previously seemed right on the edge of hippie-dippy. I spent the middle of the month VERY stressed about a number of things (certainly including "when the hey-diddle-diddle am I going to freakin' ovulate?"); the worst of it was right about the time I should have ovulated in a typical cycle. Things started to line up -- OPKs got a shade darker, ovary started to twinge -- and then NOTHING. All systems powered down, except whatever system is in charge of my pulling my hair out.

Convinced this cycle was a bust, we packed up and headed to the beach for a weekend of friends and serious eating. Couple of days of relaxing, and BAM. Positive OPK on CD 32.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On The First Day of Waiting

...I'll tell you a little bit about yesterday.

In the morning, we were still at the beach. I'd planned to be in the TWW while we were there, but my body had other ideas. We'll talk about just how damn many sticks I've peed on this month another time. At any rate, there seems to be something to this whole "stress can delay ovulation" theory.

The good news about all that was: no limits on hot tubbing or drinking red wine. And indeed, no limits were observed. It was beautiful and peaceful and -- here's the key, I think -- relaxing. ...The next thing I know, I've got EWCM out the yingyang, and a true, indisputable positive on my OPK. Since we were planning to leave the next day anyway, we took the early-squirrelly ferry and headed to the ol' Baby Factory.

Once there, I took off my pants and signed a lot of paperwork (including saying I am an unmarried woman -- but that's another post for another day). I had already talked to one of the IUI nurses about the peculiarities of my anatomy, why I thought the left side was the way to go, etc., but the other nurse was on duty. She sat down between my legs, syringe aloft, and I thought to say, "by the way, I know you've probably read my chart, but just in case...."

Her eyebrows rose just slightly. Here is a woman who knows better than to alarm a patient.

"Oh, just a minute, then. I'm going to get someone who will be very interested."

Great, I thought, another med student. Or that poor Zebra Fish guy again.

Instead, she brought the big guns: a doctor. And then the fun began. It was not on the order of the "fun" we all had at my HSG, but it was more like that than I had hoped. A tenaculum was involved. Ultimately, so was an abdominal ultrasound. (Given how pricey that pink (!) goo was -- and this was two vials-worth, as the clinic thought the counts were low -- I was glad enough that the doctor wanted to be sure she was in before pulling the trigger, as it were.) I tried to think relaxing thoughts, as Stephanie Brill has put the fear of God in me about the contraceptive properties of prostaglandins, but my cervix evidently has both ridges and bends, and that damn tenaculum did hurt.

But! The doctor says that if this one doesn't take, I should come early next time and they'll slip me some valium. So there's that.

Neither the doctor nor the nurse were overly excitable, which I think is good for us in re: not getting too worked up about any particular cycle. We're trying to think of this one as "getting started", which didn't stop me from waking up in the middle of the night a little freaked at what we just did. (Man juice. In my hoo-ha. Yowzers.)

They Call It The Waiting Game

Hi again, Gentle Readers. Sorry we've been out of touch. Plenty enough has been going on, and now I have that horrible "I can't write now, because I can't possibly explain everything I've skipped saying," feeling.

So here's the plan:

We are now officially at the start of our first 2 week wait. For every day until Bionic Baby Mama either starts bleeding or peeing on new kinds of sticks, we'll get you caught up on one thing you missed out on in the last month.

xoxo
Sugar and Baby

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best Planned Lays

This isn't going to be one of those well-made blog posts. This is one of those pissy lists. BUT: Before the ranting commences, Hello and Thanks for dropping by! to everyone, but especially to those of you directed here by the lesbian-lovin' Kymberli. It's a pleasure having you. If any of the rest of you don't read Kymberli's blog, you should certainly head over to read today's tale of accidental head-shaving.

1. LH surge: I can has one, pls? Still spending my days with legs crossed, still but the palest of lines on the OPK. Not yet out of bounds for my longest cycles, but getting close. Am secretly convinced I don't make LH.

2. Farewell, Mr. NMEBSI? It turns out he wasn't screened for a genetic disorder that I only just now got tested for. I won't know my results for at least another month or so. I had thought that no donors had been screened (so my own results would only be to help us decide about prenatal testing), but it turns out that some have. So we will choose a screened donor for September, at least, and maybe beyond (depending on my results).

(If you think I'm being over-cautious, please keep in mind that my father is a pediatric geneticist, who treats very small, very sick kids. This disorder is common, and although my parents raised me to be independent, he all but asked me to get tested.)

We were pretty upset about this, but we've since found some screened donors who also seem like good choices. Which means we have plenty of energy left to be upset that...

3. Dr. Baby Factory will not waive the $450 counseling session, nor will he allow us to see a counselor outside of the practice (who might take our insurance or just charge a little less than $9/minute). There are so many reasons this enrages me (and fills me with hopeless despair, but the anger is more interesting, I imagine) that it's hard to keep them all straight in my mind. I'll limit my rant to three. I'm realizing that they mostly come down not to the refusal to waive the counseling but to how it's been talked about.

a. There's equal ≠ fair aspect to the whole thing -- Dr. Baby Factory cannot or will not (as I find white men of privilege generally can't or won't) wrap his mind around the idea that treating all couples using donor-whatever in the same way may be equal but it isn't fair, in the sense that it is willfully blind to what brings each couple to this place. The best I can come up with is that this is like saying that it's fair that no employees get Jewish holidays off, when in fact that's equal but unfair. It bugs me that he won't acknowledge that our position is different from that of a straight couple using donor-stuff.

b. There's the giant fuck-you that is their counselors working with NO insurance. I don't think I'd be half as mad if they worked with some but not ours, though I'd still be pretty tweaked, since we chose this practice because it works with our insurance. But taking no insurance at all? So it's just an automatic "too bad you aren't normal" charge? Shitty, shitty, shitty.

c. There's the way Dr. Baby Factory distinguishes straight couples from us by referring to them as "married". GAH! I AM TRYING TO BE MARRIED, JERK-FACE. (How I wish we'd already eloped to CT, so I could tell him off properly for that one.)

As I see it, we have three options -- but please let me know if you think of any others, wise internet:

1. Suck it up, swallow pride, see if pooped-out pride sells on eBay, and pay for it.
Pros: Path of least resistance (except cost means less sperm means fewer tries before we have to store up money again).
Cons: Money, rage.

2. DIY at home, at least to start. (Assuming Dr. Baby Factory will still sign the home delivery release, as he said he would back at the HSG.) Reevaluate after a month or so.
Pros: No one involved who makes me want to spit nails.
Cons: Lower conception rate than IUI. Inefficient use of money, since we would be buying 2 vials/month and having to get them shipped every month (vs. getting 3 months' at once and storing at the clinic).

3. Change clinics.
Pros: I have another recommendation that my insurance will cover, with free sperm storage and no seekrit psych fees. Could work on details while trying DIY for a month.
Cons: Starting all over with intake, etc. More prodding of the vages. More theories. Sounds exhausting and like it will take forever.


Stay tuned, internet, to see down which path our heroines next gang agley.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What I Think About When I'm Not Thinking About Peeing

Trick question. I'm never not thinking about peeing these days.

In the interest of getting my act together re: ovulation prior to introducing pricier ingredients, I've been dutifully sticking a thermometer up in my business despite my morning grogginess (invariably poking myself something fierce) and peeing in cups and on sticks like it's going out of style. Hooray for peeing on things!

Is peeing not the definition of a simple pleasure? Maybe it's conditioning left over from potty training that makes the the characteristic sounds of micturition flood my brain with "new train set" endorphins, or perhaps it's more ancient than that. Even my memories of wetting my pants in public -- shame spreading across the seat of my corduroys in front of everyone, the wetness turning cold as the door handle that was in my hand, the injustice of not having been allowed inside to the bathroom sooner, the ugliness of the strange pants I was told to change into -- contain, if I am being honest, a sighing undercurrent of satisfaction.

I always enjoy home science projects, and peeing on sticks sounded so easy, until I read the part about holding for four hours first. Four hours may not seem like much to you, but I'm a two-hour girl. Just am. Rare is the night that I'm not up once or twice, which is a lot more fun now that I don't live in a dorm. I have shamelessly irrigated the shoulders of our nation's interstate highway system, and my college students get "some time to work independently" during almost every class. (Yes, I know pregnancy will be insanity.) The last several days have been a delight.

If only I could be more like the woman in the OPK instructions! Sure, she seems to be missing an arm and the finer points of her anatomy are troublingly Barbie-esque, but look at her confidence! She appears to be practiced at standing(?) with one leg cocked, like a dog with a chemistry project. If I tried that, the pee would run right down my leg, but hers droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the stick beneath.

peestickfigure(2)
Split-stream = Twice Blest

I bet the pee-stick lady never forgets, three-and-a-half leg-crossed hours into the wait, and just hauls off and pees in the toilet like a normal person. I've done that twice this week. I bet she wouldn't have to radically dehydrate herself to avoid Monday afternoon's near-accident, in which I ran back to the house, the whites of my eyes turning yellow, an hour after foolishly taking in liquid. I bet her pee is still lightly yellow. (Mine looks like fancy beer.) I bet if she has to have blood drawn, as I did Wednesday, it doesn't just d.r.i.p. into the vial, because she isn't congealing from thirst.

After that blood draw, I wandered, dazed, back to Grand Central, where my lone functioning synapse demanded I find food and fluid before getting back on the subway. The food court was packed. Everyone was in a hurry. In the midst of it all, a miserable looking pit bull squatted on a ramp while a river proceeded from her and pooled on the concourse floor. From the look on her face, it was evident this was not territorial behavior. This was dire need. And I know just how she felt.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm doing it right!

I just went to Minnesota to see an art exhibit and also to see some friends and family. One member of my family there is three years old. I hadn't seen her since Christmas. Suddenly she's not a cute, tiny, shy thing. Now she's a cute, tiny drill sergeant.

She discovered early in the visit that I would do things that she told me to do. I found myself stretching out on my stomach on the floor and flailing my arms (Swim! Swim!) and then standing up and sitting down a lot of times. (Now you're all dry! Stand up! Stand up!) She had small fleece blanket that was alternatively a sprinkler (or maybe a tsunami machine?) and a hair dryer. Sometimes I was supposed to hold the blanket, push invisible buttons, and then pretend the blanket was doing . . . . something.

While this was exhausting, I found it very reassuring. I remember games like this. I had an invisible mouse that lived in an invisible, knitted, spherical house. I was the maniacal director of endless games of 'Harriet Tubman and the Spaceships'. (Um, all I can say about that one is that rapid travel through time and space would have made Harriet Tubman's job a lot easier in my six year old opinion.)



Also reassuring was the fact that my tiny cousin didn't stare at me in confusion or give up on me when I pushed the wrong invisible button or sprayed the fleece blanket instead of waving it or whatever. She just shouted no! no! over there! over there! As long as she had my attention, everything was A OK.

Apparently I can still play pretending games and not be lame. Cool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Word On The Street

Here's where we are these days, apparently (click for biggerness):

Wordle

(Word Cloud courtesy of the very fun Wordle, which I found out about thanks to the even more wonderful starhillgirl.)

Clearly I need to be saying vagina more often.

i haz them

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Voice Recognition

Baby Mama and I are trying to pick a donor. Somehow I thought this would involve a lot of choice - huge numbers of profiles and audio clips to go through, baby pictures to order, etc. In reality, we have only a few donors on our list, since we are restricting to ID consent and also trying to find someone with my ethnic background. (In the WTF category - how come no one is eastern European up in here? I'm kind of from Chicago, so this just seems unthinkable to me . . . )

So we found this guy who is, in fact, partly of my ethnic background and even seems to have my interests - studying art, introverted. But his audio clip is intensely boring. It sounds like a high school essay on 'Doing the Right Thing.' Every time I hear it I'm like, really, that was your best answer?

Behind door number 2, we have Mr. Not-My-Ethnic-Background-Silly-Interests. There isn't as much to recommend Mr. NMEBSI, except that his audio clip makes him sounds like a sweet guy. What he talks about in his 30 seconds isn't very profound, but it's funny, and it sounds honest. I would rather go with him.

I have no idea if this is a good way to choose a donor. In fact, it's probably not. There's less chance that a child from Mr. NMEBSI will look like me and less chance that this child will want to major in the humanities (although, wait, maybe that's a plus . . .). The only logical thing I've thought of so far is that since we are looking for ID consent, there is less likelyhood that Mr. NMEBSI will be a tool when, 18 years from now, our child might be cold-calling him.

I just don't want to stick the sperm of some doofus who has learned how to give the right answers to pass the test (Morals and ethics my butt, you're like what, 20 years old?) into Baby Mama. Yuck. That's what we avoided by being lesbians right? We had coming-out anxiety and bizarre interactions with old friends, but not the sorrow of sleeping with some surface-y guy who later turns out to be arrogant and a little dumb.

The whole choice of donor thing feels so random. I wish it didn't have to happen at all. It seems both important and impossible. (I mentioned to Baby Mama my wish that we could just have Sperm Tuesday every month or so, when sperm would fall from the sky, but she said that would be gross . . . .) So Mr. NMEBSI here we come, I think.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Waiting

Hello, internet. I'm feeling a bit blue today. No good reason, except that summer is winding down and the writing projects I've been supposed to finish remain undone. By the same token, I'm blue because summer is not done yet, and I'm impatient to start TTC in September. I've made the big decision, so how come I'm not pregnant yet? Baby, get in my belly! (I'm going to be a real picnic during that 2WW business, no doubt.)

Ages ago, the very marvelous Musings of A Fat Chick was kind enough to tag me for a wee meme, Six Silly Things. At the time, I was feeling too blue to think of anything, but I'm going to make an effort to pull myself up by my boob-straps and cheer the heck up. It's a beautiful day, I have a cookie sheet of perfect biscuits cooling on the stove, and Sugar and I are going to have a picnic in the park. There is no call for gloom!

Without further ado, here are the rules:

* Mention and link to the person who tagged you
* List Six Silly Things That Make You Happy
* Tag six of your favorite bloggers to play along

1. My very serious cat:

What?


2. Making inanimate objects talk, puppet-style. I enjoy it more if the object in question is resolutely un-puppet-like, say, a salt shaker or a coat hanger. (This is why we have a house full of junk. Every time Sugar tries to throw something out, I make it talk to her. I am going to be so good at mother-guilt!)


3. Sneaking up to and petting the night toads that hang out near the beach on Fire Island.

Night Toad of Pine Walk

4. Nicknames. I rarely get them, maybe in part because my real name is uncommon in my generation, and I cherish the ones I do have. I also LOVE making up new ones for Sugar, but I'm sure she'll do me grievous injury if I share the best ones here. Most aren't...conventionally complimentary, though they aren't conventionally insulting, either. Maybe she'll tell you one if you ask nicely...but I doubt it.

5. Clothing that seems "circus-y" to me. Or piratical. Or both. Big stripes, big dots, overblown fishnets, black and white, bright red, fancy shoes and mismatched parasols. Japanese silk haori bound with an obi, tiered skirt, t-strap high heels, hair bound up in ribboned braids like Frida Kahlo. That kind of thing.

6. The soulful stuffed animals Sugar makes when she's feeling crafty

Sweater Bird and Monocle Pod Are Friends


7. Breaking the rules.

Speaking of breaking the rules, I'm not nearly bold enough today to tag individual bloggers, who could ignore my tag (entirely unlike how I've been ignoring Musing's) and prove my worst ideas about the world and my place in it all too true. So how about this: if you're reading this, and you have a blog, be tagged. If you put a link in the comments, I'll come check it out and love up on you for doing it. I can put you in my blogroll, if you want, too.

xoxo,
Bionic

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Baby

Our friends have a very charming baby. She's about two years old now, and she's smart and cute and all that, but the thing that really amazes me about her is how freaking happy she is all the time. How does she do that, and where can I get some? Or at least, where can I learn how to bring up a kid like that?

Cause I got depression and I really, really don't want to pass it on.

I had extensive depression lessons as a kid. For example, when I was about four and my mom's rheumatoid arthritis flared up, I remember standing next to her chair and talking to her while she stared straight ahead and didn't answer me. When I was a little older she found a dent in a tea strainer that sent her off weeping. And about once a day for my whole life my dad took some perfectly normal occurrence to mean that the world was coming to the end of its inevitable downward spiral. It was a barrel of laughs around our house, for sure.

I learned it, and I don't want to teach it. Yikes.

So I'll act happy, right? I'll espouse concepts like 'the world is great', 'people are basically good', and 'everything is going to turn out just fine.' This seems like a solid plan until I remember myself as a cynical, irritable seven year old who was having none of it.

Like the time fifth grade some nimrod at my elementary school hired an inspirational speaker to come inspire us. Our class was marched down to the all-purpose-room to hear an old dude with stick-out ears chant 'life is good, good, good!' at us. Even at the time I wondered how much he got paid for that, and could we have our taxes back? Then in seventh grade we all had to take a course called 'Quest' aimed at making us love one another through planning our social and financial futures in unsupervised 'cooperative' groups. At the end of the quarter, when we were allowed to give feedback on the experience, I stood up and announced that the entire class had been unmitigated hooey.


wait, are pep rallies required?


What to do? Right now I only have a growing version of what one of my college students called 'the anti-list' (everything he wasn't going to do for his final project, including mediate the artistic process with his mind). So far I've got:

  • not say that child's behavior x will result in eventual doom
  • not say (or imply) that child is unattractive
  • not send insomniac child back to room with instructions to 'work on your breathing' (sorry mr. buddhist, but save that for the grown ups)
  • not insist that every single thing the child thinks is wrong is due to lack of sleep
  • not to announce that the world is becoming uninhabitable for environmental/economic/aesthetic reasons
  • not have inexplicable crying jags

I sent Mr. Artistic Process back to write me a new project proposal after reading his anti-list. Now if only I could come up with my own . . .

On Dedication

Stop what you're doing. I don't care what it is; this is too important. Stop it. (Oh, not you, sir. You just keep at that transplant surgery and come back when you've sutured.)

Go to (New! Improved!) Musings of a Fat Chick and read this post, now. If you're in the kind of office where you shouldn't be laughing out loud, take appropriate precautions. Close your door. If you're in a cubicle, gag yourself.

If you have a story to beat this, please post a link in the comments, because DAMN.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You Might Be Disappointed If...

...any of the following searches got you here (and according to Google, some of you got here these ways.):



video speculum


bionic dildo video
When I have a punk band, this will be our sophmore album.


to buy bionic babies


baby your bionic and i dont think your

What? You don't think I'm (im?) WHAT? This is a frustrating elision.


bizar speculum female catheter play tube

This one shows up twice. TWICE. I'm trying to figure out what constitutes non-"bizar" speculum female catheter play tube.


In other news, we just spent a week at the beach. When the relaxation wears off, we'll find something to fret and therefore post about. Spermy plans now delayed until September, so I can get a better sense of cycles and how to pee on the stick rather than my hand.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is so!

From Sugar Mama's latest post:

On having a pregnant wife
I'm going to be less inclined to the whole 'your body is a miracle' kind of shtick.


EXCUSE ME? My body is too a miracle, woman, and don't you forget it. Hello -- I have TWO VAGINAS. Two of 'em, I tell you. Sounds pretty dang miraculous to me. Are you a lesbian, or what? (see below.)

You see what I have to put up with, Internet? Sheesh.

As it turns out, my body is even more freakish miraculous than I thought. I've been doing a little poking around -- in medical journals, Internet; get your mind out of the gutter -- and while there's a fair amount out there about mullerian anomalies in general (It's estimated that something like 3-5% of women have one), I've only found two examples of someone like me, with duplicated vag and cervix, but a normal uterus. Both are written up as "Hey, check this out,"-type case studies and are fairly recent.

(Plus, Mel, a.k.a. Stirrup Queen, of the inestimable Stirrup Queen's Completely Anal List of Blogs That Proves That She Really Missed Her Calling as a Personal Organizer, says via email, "I think you just may have the most unique situation on the blogroll." And let's face it: this is a woman who knows from hoo-has.)

One of the journal articles pointed out how folks like me seem to contradict the dominant theory of fetal genital development -- because the order in which things are thought to fuse should mean that you can have duplication of upstream elements with normal downstream ones, but not the other way around -- but then went on to mention that really? We hardly know anything about fetal genital development.

This brings me to another point from Sugar's post,
Will my answer help you decide which one of us is more gay?


I'm not even going to get into a toolbox arms race or start talking smack about pool-playing skills. All I'm going to say is: I am challenging the hegemonically male-gaze-driven perinatal/OB-gyn orthodoxy with my cooter.

Your move.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

so...which one of you is the man?

It's not so PC to ask that question any more (if it ever was). Here's what people say instead -- Do you two plan on having children? Which one of you will have the baby? Then they usually look very pleased with themselves for having come up with such an open-minded topic.

Now when I say 'people,' I don't mean my close friends. I mean colleagues, or people I've just met at parties, even the occasional stranger. This has been happening for years, since long before Baby Mama and I started talking about actually having an actual baby. As you might have guessed, it really pisses me off.

I have several answers to the baby question that I don't say out loud. These are:
1) Do I know you?
2) It's absolutely none of your goddamn business.
3) Will my answer help you decide which one of us is more gay?

I also have out-loud answers, which mainly try to head irritating conversations off at the pass:
1) Oh, we at least need to wait until ____ is done with ____.
or
2) Yeah, we've talked about it . . . Hey look, is that Elvis?


Quick! To the Batmobile!


Now though, _____ IS done with _____ . We are actually going to do it and we've decided that Baby Mama is going to carry the child. So sometimes I tell people that. When I do, they turn to me and say, "And how do YOU feel about that?" (dramatic pause....)

Wait a minute, you don't look like my therapist.

The only way I can describe questions like these is as prurient. And what makes it especially annoying is the fact that the (straight) people asking get to satisfy their curiosity about how the other half lives while feeling magnanimous about recognizing my right to exist.

But the show must go on, so either I say that I'm fine with it (frosty smile) and maybe I'll carry the next one, or the questioner suddenly solves the problem of lesbian fairness for herself by asking if we've ever thought about adoption. I prefer the adoption question because it lets me take the questioner directly to the land of straight guilt:

"Actually it can be really difficult to adopt if you're gay. Some agencies won't work with you. State law in some cases blah blah blah."
"Oh," she says, "that's terrible . . . . Are you going to that concert tomorrow?"

But, since we are in Bloglandia here, how do I really feel about it? I don't think I'll really know until Baby Mama pops one out. Here are some things I think right now:

On wanting to be physically pregnant
I don't. The fact that theoretically I could grow something inside me, change my body shape, then push it out and change back is kind of cool, but along the lines of how it's cool to fly in dreams. I guess I don't really believe it. Kind of like how sometimes I don't believe in men. They're just so unlikely.

On sperm
I hate that we have to use sperm. It's like buying a stranger's snot. I am, however, a realist.

On having a pregnant wife
I'm going to be less inclined to the whole 'your body is a miracle' kind of shtick. On the other hand, I know how having your period sucks. Things will balance out.

On wanting to be the biological mother
Here is where I get into territory where I feel worried. What if I don't really feel like the baby's parent? Or it doesn't love me? Or I don't know how to hold it? Or a thousand other things that might be solved by a biological bond? Normal new parent (or new dad) fears, I know, but still bothersome. And not something I'm going to dump into small talk with the office gossip.

I do think that it will end up being fine. Right now I feel some of the bizarre ennui that followed directly upon my coming out. I had heard all my life how gay people were abnormal, unnatural, lonely, sad, never had long relationships, and could only live in New York City (oh no!) because they would be ostracized anywhere else. So I worried about those things until I realized they did not apply to my life. I hope my baby worries will go the same way.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Family Matters

Curiouser and curiouser. When I said that I figured my vag wasn’t all that weird after pap smears passed without comment, on the grounds it’s not the sort of thing people talk about, it turns out I was more right than I knew.

One of my many maternal aunts called me the other day. It seems that my mother had told her about my HSG but not the reasons for it. I came clean. She said “Yay!” about the baby-plans (especially nice since she’s the only one married to a bona fide conservative) and then casually mentioned that her uterus wasn’t normal. Wha??

I put Mom on the case, and it turns out that two of her sisters have “heart-shaped” — bicornate, I assume — utes (and children without surgery, I might add). Of the remaining four women in the sib-ship, three have had hysterectomies for endo. No telling what shape theirs were. Time to put in a call to maternal aunt number five....

Oh, did I mention that my father is a geneticist? I suppose I should call him and let him know that maybe there’s something to this heredity business, after all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

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.

Friday, June 12, 2009

At The Baby Factory

Last week, Sugar Mama and I made our way over to the Kips Bay Baby Mill...and I'm a little in love. Our doctor is The Right Sort. He listens well, seems genuinely interested to know us, and Sugar Mama was particularly impressed by how naturally he treated her as my partner, not just as a more-or-less invisible friend. (In fact, the more I think about Dr. Baby Factory, the less I like the gyn who couldn't find my second hoo-ha.)

I was a little worried about the transvaginal ultrasound they do as a regular part of new patient intake, though it was inevitable that I would have one this month, since the gyn wanted one as follow-up on the ovarian cysts found on my MRI and I was glad enough not to have his hand on the dildocam, considering how uncomfortable I found his pelvic exam. Dr. Baby Factory was very gentle -- even the double-pap (the first pap of the rest of my life...) wasn't bad. Sugar Mama stayed with me the whole time, as did some new PhD who I took to be a med-student sort but turned out to have studied Zebra Fish embryology? (Why was he there? Oh well. It's getting so I don't care that much who sees my hoo-has.)

The bad news is that the cysts haven't moved -- or maybe that's good news, since I was a little convinced I had the Big C -- so I had another u/s this week. This one was with Dr. Demure, who managed the whole thing without even seeing my uncovered legs. He passed me the wand under the paper sheet and had me insert it, then daintily reached his hand underneath to maneuver it, eyes always on the u/s screen. It was a little reminiscent of the scene in Kandahar when the doctor can only advise female patients through a sheet, since he's not allowed to see their bodies.

The other bad news doesn't really count as a surprise: I, like every other woman in my family, have endometriosis. (Screw spell-check for not knowing that word, by the way.) I was hoping that if I just kept my complaints about my excruciating periods sub-medical, I avoid my fate, so chalk up another loss for magical thinking. Sigh. This will make conception harder, but I keep telling myself it's not impossible. My mother has endo badly enough that she had a laparotomy years before I was born, after which the doctor said her ovaries so badly messed up from intrusions that "we scraped together all the ovarian tissue we could find and pushed it into a roughly ovarian shape". And yet, here I sit.

So now it's an HSG to discover how messy my tubes are. I am terrified at the thought of this -- not only does the set-up sound bad (catheter through the cervix?? CLAMP if the cervix is shy????), but getting pumped full of X-rayable dye apparently hurts quite a bit if the tubes aren't open. Plus, Sugar Mama will be out of town for the only day the procedure can be done this month, and I'm scheduled to teach that night. Friend With Baby will probably come with me. Apologies in advance for any infertiles in the Bad Place who have to see the cute baby, but I've decided I'm looking out for number one this time, and Friend With Baby is the best choice for company.

Enh, sorry for the lack of funny pictures. I'm not feeling it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I don't have a kid yet...

...so I can say FUCKITTY-FUCK FUCK!

No gay marriage for us in NY, because an embezzler, a domestic abuser, and a plain ol' liar just had a coup of the state senate.

Don't worry; they didn't do it over any real issue. It's just about money.

From the NYT:

But money also played a major role. Mr. Espada said he was angered that a top aide to Mr. Smith had threatened to hold up his legislative earmarks, known as member items.


Fuck you, New York. Guess Connecticut will get our money after all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Getting to Know You, Lady Business

A long post, but it’s about my hoo-ha!

On the list of awkward conversations I’ve had with my parents, “I have two vaginas” is right up there. Not quite as bad as coming out, but certainly rather weird. “How do you know?” my mother asked. Um, I have fingers and a brain?
To be fair, though, I didn’t know until recently. Not really.

Here’s the deal: the fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and top section of the vagina all form from fetal structures called Mullerian ducts. Given what I’ve learned about Mullerian anomalies in the past couple months, I should really have written that list as “fallopian tubes, uterus/uteri, cervix/cervices, and top section(s) of vagina/vaginae,” though, because it turns out anything can happen and frequently does. Ordinarily, the fetus grows two symmetrical systems that then merge in some parts but not others, so that you end up with two fallopian tubes but only one of everything else.

The usual set-up is like this:




But…

…Sometimes you only end up with one fallopian tube and a half-sized uterus, like this:


Unicornate Uterus


…Or two half-sized uteri that didn’t join, like this:


Uterus Didelphys


…Or one uterus, but a heart-shaped one:


Bicornate Uterus


…Or one uterus with a septum dividing the top part of it in two:


Septate Uterus


There are some other possibilities, too, but these are the main ones. (For lots more on this and a link to a great support group, please see http://mulleriananomalies.blogspot.com , which is also where these lovely pictures come from.)


Some people don’t know about any of this until they have difficulty conceiving or, as is often the case with septate uterus, have enough miscarriages that someone takes a look up there to see what’s going on. I, on the other hand, am one of those whose anomalies extend to parts of my anatomy that, while not strictly speaking external, are nonetheless more easily available to the, erm, layperson. Ahem.

Basically, everything looks ordinary from the outside. A little Our-Bodies-Ourselves-style exploration reveals what feels like a slightly smaller duct higher up there, down-there, which worried me a great deal as a younger person. It seemed (and was) way too high up to be a hymen, which was the only thing I’d ever heard of that this was at all like. I was terrified of going in for a pap smear and put it off for years, since I was convinced I’d be told I was a freak of nature.

Eventually, I could put it off no longer, and…nothing happened. Nobody ever said anything. I didn’t say anything, either, because, after all, the expert is down there with a speculum and can actually _see_, so everything must be fine. I figured my shape was, if anything, only a little unusual, the kind of thing you don’t hear about because how often do you hear about anyone’s vagina, really? And it didn’t make much of a difference in my life — tampons have never worked well for me, but I always thought that was because I had too heavy a flow or they were designed badly or whatever. Everything else a person might think to do with the ol’ equipment — not to put too fine a point on it — worked fine, so why worry?

Then we decided to really do this baby thing, and I figured it was time to google “double vagina”. And FREAK. OUT. Not only was it freaky to realize I had no idea what dwelt beyond my cervix, but also it turns out that the usual uterus shape is pretty dang good for baby-making, and these variations…well, it’s not like you _can’t_ have a baby, but it’s a tougher row to hoe. (If this is you, get thee to the Mullerian Anomalies blog, stat! Join the Yahoo! Group or at least read the personal blogs linked there. They kept me from nervous collapse, for reals.) Surgery to remove a uterine septum means micro-scissors through the cervix, which is way better than cutting the uterine wall, but still: Scissors! Cervix! Ack! And Incompetent Cervix (add that tot the list of frickin' obnoxious medical terms, please) is common, so hello, bedrest.

Off to the gynecologist — I’ve always gotten my GP to do my paps, so first there was the great doctor/insurance matching game — where I had this conversation during the consult:

Me: I’m here because I’m pretty certain I have a vertical vaginal septum.
Mr. Doctor-I’ve-Never-Met: I’m sure you don’t.
Me: I can put two fingers in myself and they don’t touch.
[Awkward pause.]

Later, in the stirrups, with a small crowd peering up my special lady parts:

Mr. Dr.: I don’t see anything….
Me: Hm.
Mr Dr: OH! Oh. Oohhhh…you’re right.

Yes, folks, it turns out I know more about my hoo-ha than some guy who’s never seen it before. Sheesh.


Doctor proceeds to rattle off a bunch of fun facts I’ve already found online (“some women can use this as birth control, if you only have one cervix.” Thanks, but I already have very good birth control, in the form of Lesbianism….) and then announces that I also have two cervices and will have to get double pap smears for the rest of my life. Super-yay. (At least he did not announce that he was going to cut the divider out, which I was afraid he would. I am very opposed to knives in my tender regions.)


A couple more weeks of hardcore freak out, one MRI, and one annoying consult to get the results (which they had lost) later, and it turns out that my ute is fine and dandy! Mullerian anomalies can also affect kidney formation, so there was some question of how many (1-4) kidneys I’d have. Turns out I’ve got the usual two, but I do have 3 ureters, so there’s that.


When Mr. Doctor-guy gave us the report and said everything was okay, I couldn’t believe it. I had considered every possibility in the preceding weeks (I had plenty of time, since Lord knows I wasn’t sleeping) except normalcy. Part of me still doesn’t believe it, but I’m bringing my MRI films into the RE’s office next week, so there’s a second opinion coming.

(Oh, in case you’re wondering — the extra cervix and vag is apparently no problem for childbirth. The baby just comes out one side or the other, and everything stretches. So no knives up in my business, for which I am profoundly grateful.)

So that’s the Story Of Baby Mama’s Hoo-Ha. When Sugar Mama is around to help with the scanner, I’ll see about posting some of the MRI films. They’re pretty nifty, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Just What Do You Think You're Doing, Young Lady?

Every time I begin to write a "who we are" post, I realize I'm being defensive about our right to have children, which is a little crazy, since I'm pretty sure no one is even reading this. (Yes, I am that girl who imagines arguments in advance, spending subway rides perfecting rejoinders for remarks made by strangers who, in the actual world, have not given me a second glance, let alone disparaged my clothing/reading material/hairstyle.) We are ready, or as ready as anyone is. I've known I wanted to have a baby for many years, and Sugar Mama's sure now, too. Our relationship is solid: we've been together for 12 years, 3 states, and one death-of-a-pet. Good times, bad times -- all that jazz. While we're not legally married (more on that another time), we've been everything-but for many years. We have insurance and jobs, and though mine is not so very remunerative, it does have a flexible, baby-friendly schedule. Sugar Mama is no corporate lawyer, but she makes decent money (hence the name). Even our parents think we're ready, or at least they do when they step out of De Nile and towel off.

An actual conversation, coming out of a "you should wait until you have more money" admonition:


Sugar: Well, there's only so long we can wait.

Sugar's Mom: We waited a realllly long time to have you.

Sugar: Yes, and you were a year younger than I am now.

Mom: I was 32!

Sugar: And I'm 33.

Mom: No, you're not!

Sugar: Mom, really. I am. Really.


After a long conversation and some long-distance carding, Sugar's Mom was forced to admit that she had radically revised the age of her only child. (There are some lingering issues there, but we are confident they will be no match for Sugar's Mom's intense love of babies.)

...and maybe we should wait until we have more money. We're doing okay, but we live in a very expensive city, and Sugar's job has a hiring freeze that is also a raise-freeze. We don't own a house, which is normal where we live but not for where we grew up, so it feels weird. I never figured I'd be an unwed mother, though I'm not so proud on that count that I want to risk 1000-year-old eggs waiting for this cake-sniffer to leave office.





Also, in case you missed it, the world economy just belly-flopped and we're all going to die of Bacon Fever.





Perverse as this sounds, I think the economic apocalypse is what pushed us from the "maybe someday" camp into "leggo my spermcicle" mode. It was a big reminder that no matter how much you try to build your house on the rock, there is no rock to build upon, only different kinds of sand. (I'm sure the adorable baby I've been hanging out with for the past year and the recent announcement of a very close friend's pregnancy has Nothing To Do With It.)


Be sure to tune in next time, for the story of my bionic lady-parts. (With pictures!)