Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Greetings from the snowy midwest, where we are visiting Sugar's family. The snow is not too deep and very pretty, but I am nonetheless grateful that my mother's giant grey marshmallow of a down coat still closes around me. It's touch-and-go after a meal, I tell you what. Luckily, we'll be out of the cold weather and down to my parents soon, so it only has to hold on for a few more days. Related gripe: why doesn't anyone make a maternity coat that is actually warm?

Perhaps because pregnant women are supposed to be warm all the time, but let me tell you, this one ain't. Obviously everything is going as it should in terms of the important aspects of gestation, but I do find it funny how many of the "typical" symptoms have not visited me. I am cold all the time. My skin has never been drier -- shea butter on the face every morning or the skin just peels away. And that business about your hair not falling out and then all coming loose after birth? I have very thick hair to begin with, but if it finds a way to fall out more than it is already, I will certainly be bald by the time The Bean sees me. (And yes, I will trade all that happily for the mildness of my morning sickness.)

I will also take it in happy trade for the nurse's call yesterday saying my glucose test results were normal, which saves me a fight with the doctors, since I had made my mind up firmly to refuse the three-hour test. It was just over 24 hours before I was recovered from the one-hour, by the way, with an additional 24 to get rid of the migraine it brought on. And meanwhile, I've been poking around the journal literature and have become increasingly convinced that nearly all of the GD paranoia is based on g-d horse shit. I won't bore you to death, but just for starters: in a study of outcomes for gestational diabetes patients and babies, wouldn't you suppose it a good idea to exclude women who had poorly-controlled diabetes BEFORE pregnancy? Of course not: that would exclude almost all of the scary outcomes, and then how will you get published?

Sugar is champing at the bit to do laundry, so I'd better get out of these very soft but somewhat whiffy pajamas. (Yes, Melody, they are pajamas. Garnet Hill German cotton flannel. Get yourself some; I promise you will not be sorry. This is my fifth set.) I will leave you with a picture of my rapidly expanding mid-section, circa 28 weeks, and a promise that I will be back to report on anything exciting that happens on Christmas day at Sugar's paternal grandmother's house, where we're not at all sure anyone has been told about the pregnancy. Last time I was there, one of Sugar's cousins refused to do anything but gape at me while I was talking to her (about such controversial topics as "your daughter is very cute"). This should be even more fun without alcohol.


P.S. Yes, I'm beyond pissed about the legal goings on of my home state. Guess it's off the list of "states I will allow us to live in prior to being absolutely certain we're done having/adopting children." Nice feeling to have about a place my family has lived for 250 years.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Wish For Today

I'd like to find the fellow who invented the glucose tolerance screening procedure.

And then I would like to puke on him. And kick him for a bit.

Related: Should I really still feel like donkey shit, ten and a half hours after the test? Does this mean that my body is not, in fact, any good at processing glucose, that I will fail the test and be told to do the three-hour one? Have no risk factors and no family history of diabetes. Am getting lots of scans of The Bean* anyway, because of the PAPP-A thing, so there will be plenty of chances to keep an eye on its growth and well-being.

Dammit, I was perfectly healthy** this morning, and then I went to the doctor and they made me sick as hell.

My apologies to any who are hurt by today's "pregnancy sucks" tone. Pregnancy -- at least this one -- does not suck. I am happy to be pregnant and enjoying it very much, I assure you. I do not enjoy being made to feel nauseated, faint, weak, disoriented, achy, and generally awful***, but pregnancy didn't do those things to me (at least not all at once).

*Including today! Everything fine! Pictures when one of us is well enough to scan them. Sugar remembers all kinds of cute things that are a bit of a blur to me, so maybe we should make her post about it, eh?

**If you don't count the heartburn and the rib thing, but let's not.

***And POSSIBLY a TINY bit emotionally overwrought.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Still More Of Me To Love

Greetings from your favorite dugong! Not only is my physique tending towards the marine mammal look (though I look considerably less svelte than a real dugong, I'm afraid), but my attempts to forestall rib pain by keeping my arms close to my chest may soon result in their becoming flippers.

Still feeling like I'm being stabbed and rather peeved at Dr. Russian for not really listening to me about it. She says it's a bruise (though how I am supposed to have hit the bottom of my ribs with anything, given the significant convexities surrounding that area, I've no idea) and to go easy on the meds. I say it's a torn muscle or pissed off cartilage and it hurts like heck. Since the treatment is the same for both theories -- wait, wish, and pray it gets better before the Bean can kick that high up -- I suppose it doesn't matter. I mostly have stayed off the percocet, but some nights (like last night, for instance), that's just not possible.

Ah, well. Dr. Russian is, after all, Russian. Disregard for non-lethal injury is as inevitable a part of her character as the praise she heaped upon me for eating meat. I will gladly accept her boredom with my ribs, given that she is similarly unbothered by my having already gained as much weight as the practice "wants" me to put on over the course of the entire pregnancy.

I'd be lying if I said the weight gain didn't bother me at all, but I'm doing my best not to worry about it. I don't think there's much I can do about it -- I'm hungry most of the time, and we eat pretty reasonable kinds of food. I guess I'm just one of those women who gains a lot in pregnancy. My weight has mostly been stable in adulthood, so I hope that losing it won't be too terrible.

At any rate, one member of the household seems pretty happy with the situation. (He's usually more of a boob-man, but those are getting pretty sizeable, too -- and don't think he doesn't cop a feel.)

More of Me To Love

More of Me To Love

Now that's my kind of Perfect Moment Monday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


You know it's the dark time of year when you find yourself eating breakfast by candlelight.

Candlelight Breakfast

Those are kitchn's ricotta pancakes, by the way, and quite tasty they were, too.

Hope you are keeping the fires alight -- and dry, fellow New Yorkers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Items From Our Catalogue

Item: This post is coming to you from my dismal office, as I wait an hour for the next bus to ferry me to the train station, the first step of my 2+ hour commute. It will be even longer tonight, because I missed the early bus. I had (somewhat irresponsibly) let class out early so I could catch it, and then I spaced out and missed it anyway. Is this "pregnancy brain" (gag) or ordinary incompetence?

I have become too lazy/dull/generally pathetic to participate in my own meme. Will this be in the DSM-5?

Item: You should check out (and submit to, in all senses of the word) starhillgirl's very fun new tumblr blog, Lunch. Make your lunch famous on the internet! I'm going to pull a fast one and call my Thanksgiving Sandwich entry my Come And Eat post for this time.

I made half as much sweet potato pudding this year, since Sugar had requested a savory sweet potato dish. I should have made more pudding -- it was gone in a day, and I only got one sandwich out of it. The savory option is currently dying a quiet death in the back of the fridge.

Item: All that frantic eating seems to have led to another growth spurt. Internets, I am certifiably enormous. I am back to running into things every five minutes. I am in denial about the fact that turning sidewise to slip by objects or people has become comic in the extreme. (Imagine it -- I, not un-wide, approach a narrow passage. I pause, turn 90 degrees, thus rendering myself twice as wide, and proceed to shove my way through.) I would say picture to follow, but I think we can all agree that said picture is more likely to actually happen if I don't make any promises.

Item: While spending a very nice weekend with friends outside of Boston -- and the fact that I can call the weekend very nice, despite how much of it was spent dealing with a teething toddler, a sudden lack of heat and hot water, and an obstreperous landlord ought to give you some idea how wonderful these friends are -- I discovered that I could cleverly heft my (considerable) self out of their comfortable but very low armchair by pushing down on its arms and hovering my butt in the air such that my legs swung perfectly underneath me. I was very proud of being strong (and short) enough to manage the feat and performed it more than necessary.

Pride ever goeth before costcochondritis, as it turns out.

This is plenty bad, but how much worse it would be without Dr. Russian, who was on call last night when I left a tearful message with the answering service, after a day of increasing agony. "Take the percocet!" quoth she. Good doctor, that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remember This Game

Hello from the calm before the cooking storm, chez Bionique. My mother is here, which has forced us to begin to make inroads in the junk filling the "spare" room (of course, no room can ever be truly spare in a New York apartment), at least to the extent that the aerobed can be jammed in there. Tomorrow, I will wear myself out cooking Thanksgiving dinner, as I love to do. I am still trying to decide which sweet potatoes to make: Sugar prefers them savory (being sufficiently sweet enough on her own, I reckon), but while I like them savory, I LOVE cold leftovers of sweet potato pudding, gobbled on its own or as a dense layer in the "Thanksgiving sandwich" I look forward to all year. (A Thanksgiving sandwich is turkey, sweet potato pudding, cranberry sauce, gravy, and any other leftovers you care to stick in there, all cold.)

Besides sweet potatoes of one or more kinds, we'll have turkey (we are not vegetarians, only lesbians), cornbread and pecan dressing, biscuit, maybe some mashed potatoes (lest we die of carb deficiency at table), a few pies, a non-wheat dessert (the surprisingly lovely almond cake from IKEA? candied pecans and baked apples?) and whatever other oddments occur to me in the next 24 hours. (Gravy, ice cream for the pies, and other such condiments are implied, of course; and cheese, bread, nuts, and pear paste to build the appetite. Can't be too careful.)

The Dane-stralian family will be bringing green beans, cranberry sauce, and their very scrumptious nearly-3-year-old. I've been a boorish hostess and made it clear that no orange nonsense is welcome in cranberry sauce at my house, thank ye. Another friend is bringing a mushroom dish that apparently cooks for nine hours. I reckon we won't be TOO hungry after.

Meanwhile, what are YOU making (or eating) for Thanksgiving?

I thought perhaps it might be nice to play our old Come And Eat game this weekend, with posts about what you eat at Thanksgiving dinner or what you eat instead or what you do with the leftovers -- or what have you, my dear, benighted, unAmerican friends. (I admit that those of you with antipodean addresses are likely too high on the coming of spring to need a big feast to cheer you on, but the rest of y'all in northern climes must be dreading the dark, too. Nothing like a few thousand calories shoveled down in a single sitting to take the sting out of the coming of winter and/or prepare you for hibernation.)

So. Come And Eat, would you? Sign up below with the address of your food post, any time this weekend. Please paste the address of a particular post, not just your whole blog, so folks know where to comment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My lady parts: an artist's rendering

Hi everybody. Thanks for your kind comments. I am feeling much better now, I'm not even taking Aleve anymore. Yay!

I had my post-op consult today. No surprises - the surgeon wants me to see a neurologist before I go on birth control to make sure it's safe, since I had a few migraines with aura in 1999. She told me I had to wait yet another week before going back to my regular workout schedule (fml, I just shouldn't have asked). And she showed me pictures of my own internal organs. Weird.

Apparently, my left ovary was very big and angry. It spent a lot of time threatening to beat up the right ovary. Both of my ovaries were bigger than my uterus, which made the uterus kind of worried.

BEFORE being stabbed

AFTER being stabbed

Sunday, November 21, 2010

23 Weeks 6 Days And All's Well

Hi folks. We are okay, just busy. Sugar is mending pretty well -- her post-op appointment is tomorrow, so I hope we'll know more then. Poor dear hates percocet, though. Isn't that the saddest thing you've ever heard? (More for the rest of us....) I've managed to mostly keep the household from falling down around our ears while she's been sick, but it's pretty darn shambles-y. And my mother is arriving on Tuesday (probably because I spent last Monday's commute weeping at her over the phone).

No, no hormonal craziness at all, why do you ask?

Everything medical seems to be fine. I have passed my cervix checks; first growth scan (because of low PAPP-A at nuchal) is Tuesday. I met OB 4 of 4, the one with the scary, super-skinny picture, and she was fine. She did not yell at me for gaining so much weight, contrary to my expectation. (And boy howdy, I have gained some weight. I have now officially crossed into "I have never weighed this much" territory. Yikes.) I get tired more easily and walking is beginning to be strangely exhausting for someone whose life involves so much of it. Like walking in sand. I have discovered that wearing the good ol' Bella Band over my maternity pants is the secret to not having to yank them up every 3 steps, at least.

Must get back to salt mines grading. But hello! and We Are Not Dead!

Here is a picture of my best pumpkin impression:

23 weeks 6 days

Friday, November 12, 2010

what the hell is going on in there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now with working link to the funny! -- Ed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quicker Still

Everything is fine! Dr. Fancy thought the issue might have been seeing the gallbladder, which looks fine on the fancy machine.

And the Bean looked far less dragon-y this time.

Related: if I've always been kind of grossed out by 3D u/s pictures but thought mine were cute, is pregnancy destroying my brain?

Okay! Back to work!

A Quick Sono Update and Fret

Oooo, lordy, it's been too long since we've written here. The cliff's notes are that things are fine, my back/legs/hips are starting (already! crap!) to be a problem but I otherwise feel good, and that we got a big, sudden freelance job that is keeping us busy for a couple of weeks but will provide a few bucks for the "what in the hell will we do when Bionic isn't working, and have you seen the cost of health insurance these days*?" fund. I'm supposed to be transcribing an interview right now, so this will be quick and sloppy:

We had the anatomy scan last week, at which Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian fussed that it was too early to see things well. (At least they didn't blame me for getting the date wrong, since it was someone at their office who told me to come in that day.) Nevertheless, they eventually saw what they needed to. I am beyond relieved to report that the Bean's heart has four chambers. A friend had to terminate after that scan because of a heart problem, and she is in our thoughts often. I am further thrilled that the Bean has a spine! My father was born with a slight spine problem that isn't considered spina bifida but is close enough for my mother to have been fretting about that since the pee dried on the stick. Likewise cheering were the ghostly images of a two-hemisphere brain, a three-vessel cord, and the dark circle of a bladder.
As before, Sweet Sonographer could find only one cervix, but they were happy enough with it to take me off of incompetent-cervix-watch.

From an "Awwwww!" perspective, some parts of the scan were rather unsettling. We had a brief view of the baby's face, and boy, do I hope my impression of "terrifying dragon creature" proves to be unfounded. Or at least that it's a good Dragon-Bean, friendly with the cats and not constantly setting the furniture on fire.

The cutest part was when Sweet Sonographer found the feet. The Bean was wiggling up a storm in there, but keeping its feet neatly together, like so:

19 Weeks -- FEET!

I giggled as the picture was taken, which accounts for the extra toes. I think there are only ten, not multiple rows like shark's teeth.

You've probably noticed the continuing use of "it." Upon MUCH reflection, we decided not to find out the sex yet. We're happy with that decision. We're only just getting to know each other, after all, and Sugar and I don't think of sex as an essential characteristic (gender, yes, but that's not visible on ultrasound just yet).

Sweet Sonographer and Dr. Russian did see something they didn't like the look of in the abdomen, which is the subject of today's fret. Dr. Russian said she couldn't tell if it was a dilated blood vessel or just a cyst, and has referred me to the high-risk clinic with the fancier u/s machine for a follow up today. She said not to worry over it, and mostly I haven't. But as the hour approaches, anxieties creep in on little spider feet. The Bean keeps kicking and wiggling, though, which is reassuring, even though I know it doesn't mean nothing is wrong. It is just so hard to believe that anything could be -- and harder to believe that I think that, given that my feelings were the opposite for so long.

That was the second time I saw Dr. Russian, whom I quiet like, despite a bit of brusqueness. This time, after announcing my (substantial) weight gain and then taking something of a pause before saying it was okay (Good doctor; you're learning), she asked after my diet. (Note to self: asking to be left alone about food made them think you are an anorexic and has led them to ask you about food constantly. Dumb move.) I said I thought we ate well and turned to Sugar for help. Sugar said that we cook all our own food, that we eat a variety of things, lots of vegetables. And then she said something I thought was a bit strange:

"We eat meat every day."

We do eat meat every day, I thought, but what an odd thing to mention. But Sugar is wise. Dr. Russian immediately brightened and began heaping praise on us and meat. "Eating meat is so good! Lots of red meat, and chicken and fish...." She carried on in this vein for some time -- it was certainly the longest topic of discussion at the appointment.

Later, I remarked to Sugar how cheering I find the fact that Russians love it when you eat meat. (My college roommate was a vegetarian Russian major, and the department never did take to her; her many wonderful qualities never quite compensated for that essential failing. On the other hand, when she'd take me to the Russian Department lunches, the professors would fall over themselves in praise, just because I'd eat the sausages and cured meats they'd brought in.)

Sugar replied, "I know. That's why I told her that."

Clever girl.

*Anyone have the Aetna POS 90 plan? It is by far the cheapest premium on the list. What's the catch? And why is this confusing?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baby's First Stoop Sale Saturday

In Which Bionic Is Reassured That Non-Pink/Blue Baby Clothes Do Exist.

And they're darn cute, too.

I'm posting this partly so Sugar can see them while she's visiting her parents for the weekend. She'll be home tomorrow, but should she really have to wait a whole day to see this?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What'll It Be?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a crucial step in practicing belief that the lump in my belly will one day be a Real Live Baby TM: we’ve told lots and lots of people. We’ve told the friends we hang out with but don’t make the “we’d want you to know about a miscarriage anyway” list (GULP). We’ve told my boss I can’t teach in the spring (financial GULP). We’ve even told Facebook (high-school-frenemy GULP).

By and large, this has been great. Most people have said something nice, and no one’s been rude — one of the great things about being loudly gay is that the suckier-type people don’t want to be friends with you anyway. Excitement has come from unexpected quarters: Sugar was suddenly hugged by a moderately nerdy male colleague running for the train yesterday, and the father of our favorite toddler, who was luke-warm at best on the topic of reproduction prior to the arrival of his daughter, checks in on my health nearly as solicitously as my mother does.

Nearly everyone we tell in person immediately asks, “Do you know what you’re having?” which sounds like something a diner waitress would say.

I have an impulse to answer, “BLT, fries, and a coke, please; no mayo on the BLT,” but that would be unhelpful. Instead, I tell them, “I’m hoping for a puppy, but it’s looking more and more like a baby.”*

Partly Mostly, I answer that way because I’m a congenital smart-ass, and I’d hate for my friends to think pregnancy has changed me (though apparently they expect it to — a shockingly large number of them have not laughed, but rather stared at me as if I’ve lost my mind). Partly, though, it troubles me that even now, at whatever fruit-metaphor size it is this week, the bean is already supposed to be defined primarily by its sex.

Now I know, I know. I know it’s just small talk, that no one is saying our baby can’t wear a tutu while operating a steam shovel or be the butchest kid on the synchronized swimming team. I get it. It’s meant to be nice, a way of thinking of the baby as a real person. But though I’m pretty darn gender-conforming in lots of ways, I’m still not nuts about the whole business of tying personhood to sex.


Our anatomy scan is a week from today, and we haven't decided yet whether to find out the sex. Sweet Sonographer has promised she will not let me find out if I don't want to know, even through I'm on deck for lots of extra scans to look out for IUGR. So that means the decision really is up to us.

On the one hand, knowing would make it a little easier to buy/beg for clothes. It is remarkable how much is either pink or blue. I don't hold with the whole pink/blue thing -- both of those colors are a little blah -- but it sure is a lot of what's out there. And even though I grew up in the South, where pink is a normal color for men's shirts and even though I know that pink was the baby boy color in the nineteenth century (apparently because of its association with powerful red) and even though my dad does look very smart in a pink oxford, I'm not so sure I want people to think we're those lesbians, if you know what I mean.

And yet.... I have a strong feeling that once we know one way or the other, the follow-up to those diner-esque questions will be non-stop advice based on stereotypes or anecdotes of babies of whatever sex. Which sounds annoying. (Yes, we can use "Pregnant Women Are Smug"**-style evasion, but I don't think I could really keep that up. Sugar could.) Whether to circumcise isn't going to be a tough decision for us, and nothing else seems like something we really need to decide right away. We like the green IKEA crib. We can pick two names, as our parents did for us.


Yesterday (when I started writing this, for what it's worth), was National Coming Out Day. I don't remember to think about it every year, but it is a day I hold fond. In college, it was the day of my favorite party, after which everyone would stream out all over campus armed with sidewalk chalk. In the morning (and, with lucky lack of rain, well through fall break, when prospective students and parents often tour, heh), every sidewalk and pathway would be covered in explosions of support and affection, everything from "I love my gay roommate" and "I love my parents (even though they're straight)" to triumphant labia and, when Sugar was around at least, the sweetest love poems. It was late on the night of that party, my first year, that I first (tentatively, awkwardly) came out to a friend. These days, when it is so easy to forget how hard that was, it's a good reminder that there are plenty of people, especially teens, who need us to be loudly, gladly out, who need the reassurance that full, happy lives are not only possible but actually easier when we tell the truth about ourselves.

But even though being out is important and often a pleasure (see note about lack of sucky friends, for instance, plus the fact that, in my case, it means being able to marry Sugar), coming out is mostly scary. It's scary because it requires you to tell everyone in your life that you are not, in fact, the sum of the expectations and assumptions of your sex; you are yourself. It's amazing how difficult it can be to remind people of something that shouldn't be so hard to remember.


As you may have gathered from my earlier post, the bean has gotten big and strong enough that we can feel it now. And I mean "we." This has been so far an unusually physically non-mutual pregnancy -- not only didn't all those years of, erm, "trying on our own" work, not only didn't we do this at home with the baster, but Sugar wasn't even allowed in the room for the transfer. It's therefore even more magical that the first time I felt something I couldn't explain away as anything other than its beanship, Sugar was holding her hand on my belly and she felt it, too. The strongest movements don't feel to me like "flutters" or whatever else the book says. They feel like throbbing, like very strong blood. Like another heart, held in my belly.

For now, I like just feeling the bean move on its own, reminding me that it is its own person, even inside me. I'm not sure I'm ready to cover it up with all my expectations and fears about boys or girls. When*** it's out in the world, I will no doubt learn soon enough that it isn't every boy or every girl or even primarily a boy or a girl, just itself. While it's inside, not knowing seems to help.

*On balance, I’m glad it’s not a pony. Those hooves intimidate the hoohas rather a bit.

** You HAVE seen "Pregnant Women Are Smug," right? On the off chance you haven't, go watch it now. I command you.

***Knock wood, knock wood.

Friday, October 8, 2010

17 Weeks and Change

Hey, y'all. I owe you a real post -- more than one, really. Things have been afoot, chez Bionique.

But it is getting late. For tonight, here is a picture to tide you over. (Please to ignore the crazy background. Somehow, this will magically turn into a baby's room by March or so. HA HA HAAAAAA. ha. ha.)


Special thanks to Dora, who gave me the tights, along with quite a few other nice things to wear and the cutest tiny hooded sweatshirt ever. (It has ears!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What We're Googling, 17 Week Edition

drop-side cribs

(Seriously, thoughts, fellow shorties? How the hell am I supposed to reach all the way over the side?)

cold sore
cold sore pregnancy
cold sore depression
cold sore pregnancy treatment
lysine pregnant
valtrex side effects



Friday, October 1, 2010

everyone is fine and at the beach

Hello everybody. We are all fine. We are on Fire Island. It's raining, but maybe it will be sunny tomorrow.


Baby's last OB appointment went fine. Her one cervix is behaving well. Her other one, the sonographer thinks she found, probably, and is probably fine too.

The bean seems to have grown ears.


Our two year old friend is at the beach with us. Her mom is roasting ducks in the oven and making creme caramel. We will eat well tonight!

Two year old friend has been demanding, "Sugar take pictures of the beach NOW!" We actually went out to take pictures earlier and were surprised by a sudden storm-driven wave that engulfed us up to our waists.


The camera stayed dry.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Round About Week 15

Hiya, friends. Sorry for the silence.

Not much to report around here except for the IF equivalent of first-world problems: feeling blue about feeling fat; feeling terrified at the prospect of an actual baby in our actual apartment; feeling like stabbing someone in Old Navy while attempting to buy maternity clothes and settling for having a melt-down in H&M instead. Fascinating stuff.

I have an OB appointment tomorrow, so perhaps there will be more to report then. I'm hoping it will at least help with the fat-freakout -- I know it's moronic, and it isn't as if I was skinny before this, but it turns out I'm having a bit of trouble ignoring the past 30 years of societal conditioning on the subject. With luck, said OB (The Russian, OB 3 of 4. Haven't met her yet.) will not tell me I am gaining too fast, eating too much, etc. With further luck, that will help my brain get off this hamster wheel. If she *does* say I'm gaining too fast, batten down the hatches, 'cause we'll all be in for a stormy ride. (In point of fact, I *am* eating more than "they" say to, because I'm freakin' HUNGRY. There is no reasoning a stomach into peacefulness at 4 in the morning, and there is no going back to sleep for me while said stomach is restless.)

Enough ado! Here is your photographic evidence of my state at 14w6d (their count) or 15w1d (mine), in an Old Navy tank top wrested from roiling Herald Square this weekend and a very stretchy skirt of Sugar's (double-wardrobe is one of the great benefits of the Homosexual Agenda):


ETA: Oh, gawd. I just realized that this turned into one of those "I'm so fat (now tell me I'm skinny)" posts. Yuck. Not the (conscious) intent, really. Please just take it as evidence of the crazy I referred to above -- I swear I have regressed to my 15 year-old self vis-a-vis body image, and frankly, that was not the best or most interesting aspect of her personality.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Dating Game

A few people have commented on the timequake that struck my ticker recently. If you thought it went backwards for a few days, you're not wrong.

When I first made the ticker, I was using the EDD I'd gotten from an IVF website. After all, I thought, no need to bring my LMP into this when I know *exactly* when I conceived, right? Egg Retrieval was CD 13 for me -- the closest I've had to a "normal" cycle since I started charting -- but the protocol says it's CD 14 for all date-figuring purposes, so I went with that.

And then I joined up with the OB practice. And they only wanted to hear about when my last period started. (Let's not even get into how the dang thing had the spottiest start ever and I wasn't even sure when to start stims and I ended up calling the Baby Factory in a tizzy, 'kay?) And they decided my EDD should be 3 days later than what I'd been thinking.

After some dithering, I've decided to go with their date. The word on the street from the lezzie-mamas and others who know for darn sure what day they conceived, thank you very much, not as if we're just casually throwing spunk up in our business, is that having a date that's a little later than you know is right is better than having an early date -- that way, you buy a few days' breathing room before people start pushing pitocin on you for being overdue. (I was doing all this reasoning before the specter of pre-term labor was raised at the nuchal, understand.)

So I've adjusted my ticker accordingly, even though it feels wrong to see the week number turn over on the wrong day of the week. (Those who know me from the IVP may notice that I left that ticker alone as a compromise to my view of truth.) I put off changing it for weeks, because I didn't want to lose ground in the struggle to get past the time of highest miscarriage risk with my sanity intact. But I'm gradually forcing myself to practice belief that this bunny-bean will stick around, whether or not I remember every superstition I've invented.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Buttons Of Our Lives

It's been far too hot in the past several months to think about wearing jeans, but Cali's Photo Friday suggestion got me curious.

12 weeks and change

Most of my summer clothes are big and loose; I had no idea it had come to this.

Here is the other exciting button in our lives these days:

doppler button

This darling little doppler was lent to us by a splendiferous blogger, with the help of another pair of magnificents (all of whom I'm happy to name if they'd like -- You Know Who You Are). We love it and are so happy to have it visit us, especially knowing its storied history, listening in on the early moments of some very fine babies.

Before getting pregnant, I was very smug on the topic of dopplers. New-fangled nonsense, nothing a person with any faith would need, ultimately meaningless -- not being able to find a heartbeat at home doesn't mean there isn't one, nor does finding one today mean one will be present tomorrow -- and so on. Then came the Days of Bleeding. By bleeding, I mostly only mean spotting, but by days, I mean over a month, every day*. No matter how many times I told myself that the extra scans I had showed nothing wrong, that my cervices are famously testy, that none of it meant DOOM, it was DOOM I thought of at every bathroom trip, nonetheless.

The big argument against dopplers goes something like: You will one day fail to find a heartbeat, because you aren't trained at this and these wee little machines aren't perfect. And then you will panic, when you wouldn't have panicked if you'd never had the means to try to eavesdrop beyond your uterine walls. And there's something to all that, for sure.

But you know what? The first night of red bleeding, I PANICKED. Not having a doppler didn't save me. I think if I'd had a doppler then, one of two things would have happened: We would have found a heartbeat and possibly felt a bit better; or we wouldn't have found it and possibly felt worse. But I'm not so sure we had so very much worse to feel, in the absence of medical confirmation of our fears.

All of that is a very long-winded way of saying we're glad to have the doppler. (THANK YOU, lovely people.) Sugar is good at finding the heartbeat, probably in part because she's more patient than I am -- she really seems to believe there's something in there. I failed to find it the one time I tried alone, but strangely, it didn't scare me that much. Sugar found it that evening.

If she weren't pottering about, cleaning, I'd have her look for it now and try to record it for you. Just as well. All the books say these poetic things like, "your baby's heartbeat sounds like a galloping horse," but our baby? Our baby sounds more like a blue-tick hound on a porch somewhere, panting away the summer.

(Check out the other button-y pictures at Creating Motherhood.)

*I'm chicken to say this out loud, but there's been nothing since Sunday. (!)

Friday, August 27, 2010


Thank you all so much for your good wishes and encouragements and sympathies. (May, get your heart our of your mouth, darling, you're liable to chew it or something.)

The short answer is that everything is fine.

ETA: pics to come; I think Sugar took them back to work in her bag.

The bean was very reluctant to get into the necessary position, so we had a nice long spying session while the sonographer punched, jiggled, and generally assaulted my bladder. (I like her anyway.) Heart was visible even to me, amid the sea of static. It was beating away at 155 bpm, she said. Lots of wiggling and so forth.

Measurements are all good and put risk of Downs and Trisomy 18/13 at comfortably remote levels. HCG was also good. PAPP-A, less so. Dr. Southern said that was still fine vis-a-vis Downs and Trisomy 18/13, but did have a slight correlation with increased risk of Pre-eclampsia, IUGR, and Pre-term Labor. Yuck.

The math part, in case you're into that kind of kink:

My measurement for PAPP-A was 5th percentile -- still well below what they like (30th) for its principal use as a indicator of risk for DS and Tri 18/13, but not an issue in my case because all the other data was so good.

The study that found the correlations listed above found them at and below the 1st percentile. It wasn't, apparently, an amazingly significant correlation for all aspects. Risk of pre-e was about double the general population risk for the patient's demographic group, which is still a pretty low risk. (For instance, Dr. Southern said that if I had been 1st percentile, my risk would have gone from about 2.5% to 5%.) IUGR is associated with pre-e (because of blood-flow problems in the placenta), so it's not surprising that it made the list, too.

I'm not at the 1st percentile, though. I'm at the 5th. Which means the correlations in my case are less convincing.


Dr. Southern said he would recommend keeping a closer than usual eye on me for IUGR and pre-term labor, but he didn't seem too worried. As it happens, that's already in the cards. Both are common complications for those of us with bionic anatomies, that is, Müllerian Anomalies. Dr. Baby Factory thought I wasn't at increased risk for incompetent cervix because, unlike most bionics, I have a uterus of normal size and shape. But then Dr. Robot mentioned, in our discussion (ok, her lecture and my attempts to squeeze in a question without being interrupted) of c-sections, that she wouldn't attempt a version on me in the case of a breech presentation, because even if my ute looks normal, it will be different on a microscopic level from a typical ute, and won't stretch as well. The wheels in my head finally got through processing that tidbit this week, so I called to find out whether that also put me back in the incompetent cervix crowd, and it turns out it does. So it looks like I shan't be lonesome for medical attention after all.

Speaking of Dr. Robot, who has the bedside manner of Henry Ford: Dr. Southern asked if I'd seen her and said she'd called recently to ask his opinion on a patient he was pretty sure was me. (They aren't in the same practice; my OB clinic sends all patients to this practice for NT.) Warms the cockles of me heart, that does. I guess she's not so bad. She needs some lessons on talking to people, but she both knows her stuff and isn't too arrogant to seek help with tricky bits. That's not such a bad kind of doctor, really.

Good Morning

Hello, all.

It's 5 in the morning here. I've been awake for at least an hour.

Nuchal this afternoon. I sat down with a calendar yesterday to make notes: I've been spotting and/or bleeding for exactly one month.

Not nervous at all, why do you ask?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Heavy Lifting

Hey there, internets. How are you?

Things are basically fine around here. We've gotten several chances lately to spy on the bean, who seems to have arms and legs and a steady heartbeat. It even *moved* while we were watching last Monday -- a kind of quick sit-up, prompting my mother to observe that it obviously has genes not from our family.

The reason we've been getting so much screen time is more nerve-wracking. I keep bleeding. First was the two weeks of brown spotting leading up to the wedding. Once I'd gotten used to that, it turned pink, starting just before the sit-up look-see. A few days of pink, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for learning not to panic at every trip to the bathroom, so my body upped the ante: bright red blood, and plenty of it, in the middle of the night.


After the long wait until the OB office opened the next morning -- I didn't see much point in waking up whoever was on call, since there isn't much they could do about it if I was miscarrying and at least one of us ought to get some sleep -- another scan. Less cute time looking at the bean, more v.e.r.y. slow examination of the ute, after which Sweet Sonographer said she didn't think there was any blood flow from in there, so it is probably my sensitive-soul cervices. (Why no one has cranked open a speculum or two and taken a look, I don't know.)

More brown spotting, plus a new, sandpapered sensation in my upper hoo-ha regions; a period of self-imposed, er, pelvic rest. Things seemed to be settling down. And then I cut the cheese.

Sugar and I belong to a hippie food coop (*the* hippie food coop, really) of the sort where all members work. (Well, almost all members -- as the underemployed member of the household, I do both of our shifts.) When we toured the place and entered the food prep area, our guide said, "this is where we cut the cheese. If you join the coop your job might be cutting the cheese." Naturally, I signed up at once.

It's not all fun and games. Besides cutting the cheese, I wrap it, weigh and label it, and carry it upstairs in grocery baskets. Because of summer school and the wedding, I am behind several shifts, which jeopardizes our access to Waldorf-educated kohlrabi, so I made one up yesterday. I was careful not to fill the baskets the way I normally would, but instead to go up when I had ten pounds or so ready. I had them ready at waist-height, and carried them held against my body, for minimal strain, as my back has been unreasonably testy these past few weeks.

After my 3-hour shift, I found a huge streak of red in my underpants. Slightly more controlled panic. Hovered in the public but uncrowded hallway, left a message with the nurse, did some speedy, highly disorganized shopping (extra shallots? Yes. Trash bags? No.), took a cab home. Nice Nurse called back and said that since the bleeding stopped quickly, I should just rest and stop lifting "heavy" things.

Relief, of course. Followed by a nap. Followed by some feelings of pathetic worthlessness.

I like being pregnant. I like how it feels, for the most part. But while I am hardly a tower of physical might, I am used to thinking of myself as strong enough to manage things. I don't like not carrying things, not being able to open the stubborn window. For that matter, I don't like being so easily exhausted that I had to stop gardening after an hour the other day, when I had planned at least two.

I can live with being lazy, but I hate being weak.


Monday, August 9, 2010


The appointment went well. Jury's a little out on this doctor -- if she'd started the appointment in the mode that she finished it, she would have only seemed a little robotic, but the first part...yuck -- but to be fair, she did send us off for a reassurance scan without argument. And I am madly in love with the sonographer.

I told myself I would do this if we got through today okay:

AlternaTickers - Cool, free Web tickers

While You Were BlogHer-ing...

...we went and got married again.

We Went And Got Married Again.

It was a perfect day, preceded by weeks of utter exhaustion and chaos. We have new respect for wedding planners: this was the most low-key party ever to be thrown outside of a parental backyard, and it nearly killed us. But it did not. The food was good (and the caterer's partner, a dentist, fixed our bridesmaid's broken tooth that morning), we didn't run out of wine (even if the champagne was served not at all when we'd intended), and, after an Indian friend bustled me off to a corner to pin me in more appropriately, the sari ended up being the perfect choice for glamorously concealing my lost waist.

Today is our real first OB appointment (not to be confused with the "holy shit, I'm panicking" appointment two weeks ago). Exciting, but terrifying. I'm convinced, now that we've told a few close friends and the parents and the aunts and uncles who were in town for the wedding, that the universe will take it all back. Hubris is a particular fear of mine, you understand.

It's also that the two weeks since the panic appointment are by far the longest I've gone without seeing a doctor in months. It is very difficult to believe that my body could know what to do without constant intervention, and knowing how little useful intervention exists at this stage of the game does not help.

(What also doesn't help is the light brown spotting I've had most days in between these appointments. It has never become any of the things the nurse told me to call back about -- heavy, red, very crampy -- but it is hard to be sanguine about it.)

(My God, what a terrible pun. Apologies.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Updates of All Sorts

Hi, y'all.

I always wondered why so many bloggers suddenly stop posting as much after successfully getting knocked up. I figured mostly it was an abrupt slowing of narrative -- particularly compared to the flurry of data that was IVF, early pregnancy is pretty low-key, leaving less that needs urgent discussion. What never occurred to me was what I think now must be the real reason, at least for some people besides me: crazy exhaustion.

I can't complain much about my symptoms thus far -- I do spend at least part of every day trying desperately to avoid vomiting, but it's nothing like as bad as some have it; my waist vanished surprisingly early, despite my having lost several pounds in the past few weeks (not just OHSS weight, either), but I'm not sure my waist was ever one of my better features; my boobs hurt a lot, but I also love how they look -- but heavens, I am tired. If I get any more low-energy, I may actually become a houseplant. And at the moment, I am a houseplant trying to teach summer school and plan a wedding.

Which is to say, sorry for posting less. Things will likely pick up in two weeks, after I stop waking up at night to fret about the number of tables in the church hall we've rented or why my mother has decided we need a bubble machine.

Yesterday, however, was not a slow day. Yesterday, I learned that how you get results from the OB practice that has been saying they'd call you back for the better part of a week and won't let you even try to make an appointment (and at least this one takes both your insurance and new patients) is to have a hysterical, weeping tantrum about how upsetting it is that you can't get signed up with them, the RE has dismissed you from the clinic (so your insurance is done with them), and now you're spotting and have no where to go.

Suddenly, I had an appointment an hour later. I may not love the manner of the receptionist, but I must admit she did right by me.

The wee bean is fine, by the way. The sonographer was so sweet. She played the heartbeat for me when I couldn't find it on the screen and asked after it in a terrified voice. She printed out a very fuzzy picture without my asking. We had talked about IVF, and when I half-apologized for freaking out about what really was a very tiny amount of bleeding, she said, "You've been through a lot."

I met with an OB who isn't the one Dr. Baby Factory recommended, but I like her well enough, I think. The practice rotates all OB patients through all doctors, so I don't suppose it matters much who the main one is. She took my history and did a standard gyn exam, since it's been a year since my last pap. Paps, really, since I get to have two -- lucky me! She felt my uterus and said, "You feel pregnant!" That was surprisingly lovely to hear.

The less lovely part was when she said that my double-door womb situation may make a vaginal birth impossible. On one level, that's not surprising: obviously, I don't need a baby trying to come out of both cervices at once. Hearing it out loud was a bit of a gut-punch, though.

...and I have too much to say about *that* subject to possibly wrap this up in time to make it to school. So we'll have to pick that thread up later. The doctor did say "may" not "will," and we agreed to discuss it another time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Hi everybody. Sorry it's been so long. We have been experiencing serious wedding related stress. But anyway . . . .

We had an exciting Monday! We went for the first ultrasound and saw a tiny pulsating 2 pixels on the screen (apparently a beating heart) and even heard the teeny tiny thing!

Here is our embryo, which, since it looks like a very small blob inside a slightly larger blob, looks like every other embryo, but hey, it's ours:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bitchy Spam, Symptom/Crazy Watch, and So On

Dear Chinese spammers,

I know, I know, you don't read the blogs you spam. And it's true that I'll delete your comments no matter what, since they all contain those silly links that are long strings of ellipses. (While we're on the topic, the rule is three dots when the ellipsis falls mid-sentence, four if it ends the sentence. There's no call ever for using 15-20. I will deduct points for this error from now on.) Nevertheless, I'd appreciate it if your comments were at least not obliquely discouraging. Take my last post, for instance, the one where I was happy that my beta went up, even though I know the pregnancy could still end. I am fully aware that while the beta is a good sign, it is no guarantee of continued progress. Your comment, "one swallow does not a summer make" was frankly rude. I will expect better in the future.

Dear Rest of The Internet,

Hi. Sorry for the posting slow-down. Obviously, we're very happy (so far, knock-wood, spit-on-a-swallow) with the whole being knocked up thing, but it is true that compared to the daily shots and blood-draws and dildocamming of an IVF cycle, it's pretty uneventful. (Outwardly. I'm aware that in principle the Bionic apple seed is developing a circulation system and probably also learning the basics of Newtonian mechanics or something in there, but how in the heck do I know that, except that or RUKILLINGURBAAAAAYYYYYBBBBEEEEEEEE?????.com or whatever says so? It's pretty hard to believe.)

So here's your update:

I am still intermittently convinced I've made this whole thing up. This is partly because I'm always paranoid I'm doing the wrong thing socially, and the most wrong thing I can think of in terms of the scheduled trip to the RE on Monday for a first u/s would be if I'd somehow misunderstood everything they've told me and am going to be up on the table with no pants for no reason, and someone will have to explain it to Sugar, so she can gently take me home. AWKward.

My boobs are mostly a comfort to me, as they are full and painful and the nipples are definitely looking different. But then yesterday morning, they were smaller and not that painful, leading to a wee nervous breakdown. (Hmmm, when has that happened before?) By evening, they were back to their new old selves. I keep chanting Shroe's "sanity-defying logic all their own" wisdom in my head.

The whole idea that I can't trust my body to tell me what's going on is very difficult to get used to. I'm accustomed to being able to figure out a fair amount by paying attention to small signals -- a certain sore throat means a virus is settling in; wacky vision means a migraine is coming -- and trying to ignore what seems like real information is unsettling.

I am having periods of nausea from time to time, most enjoyably during my 2-hour commute via a variety of public transit conveyances and hot waiting areas. No vomiting, but lots of sucking on ginger candies and fretting.

I can't say I'm having cravings per se, but I do have these moments when a very specific flavor will arrive in my memory (with no outside stimulus) and I have to spend a while thinking of what it is before I can do anything else. The first few times, the flavor proved to be beer, so I attributed the whole experience to my brain's liking beer and not understanding why we can't have some. Yesterday, however, the long-forgotten flavor that possessed me halfway through class was elementary school cafeteria fish sticks.

For that, I have no explanation.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

So Far, So Good

today's beta = 2988

So that's:

14dpo = 137
21 dpo = 2988

Doubling time = 1.57 days

Everyone at the Baby Factory seems happy with those numbers. (But the nurse I had today, whom I like a lot, seemed happy from the get go. She kept acting like I was pregnant, imagine that!)

U/S Monday after next.

Holy Shit.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Practicing Belief

Thank you again for all your kind congratulations and general huzzahing. I have read and reread the comments an embarrassing number of times. You are lovely.

Not much new to report around here. Crampiness seems to have tapered off. Have flirted with nausea a few times, but nothing serious yet. Might be having some new strangeness vis-a-vis temperature regulation, but it could be just that it's sensationally hot around lately. Progesterone has me sleeping like a drugged kitten.

I will but tease you with the suggestion that changes are afoot in the nipple region.

We will go in for a second beta on Saturday. Part of me is, of course, steeling for bad news. Why shouldn't the news be bad? Plenty of other news has been, for plenty of people. And just because my body has seemed pregnant this week doesn't mean everything couldn't be going south...right...NOW.

On the other hand, why shouldn't the news be good? People do have babies, after all, or at least that is the rumor. Pregnancies progress normally. Embryos become fetuses become infants. These things happen. To plenty of people, as well.

Since I can't know and there's not a thing I can do at this point to influence the situation (at least positively), I am for now practicing believing that the news will be good. Practicing believing there is a living tadpole of a creature in me now, that it will stay put and grow appropriately and come to meet us after a sufficient number of weeks.

Practicing believing those things doesn't make them true, of course, but it's a lot nicer than my usual habit, which is to practice believing everything will go terribly wrong. So I will spend tomorrow and at least half of Saturday doing that.

And staring at my nipples.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blog Trouble

Quick inside-baseball post:

Blogger is eating my comments. As in, I get a nice email with your nice comment in it, but it never shows up on the blog itself. Which is sad, because some of you are really funny.

It's only been happening since last night, but I'm already driven a bit batty.

Has this happened to you?

If so, did it fix itself or did you have to do something?

Is this all a sign that we should pull up stakes and move to wordpress?

If so, is that hard?

If you have an answer to any of those questions, would you drop me an email? Theoretically I'll get your comments, but I'm losing faith in this whole blogger business....

bionicmamas AT gmail.


PS, THANK YOU for all your lovely comments. We love reading them, even if only in my email. Y'all rock.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Perfect Moments

Hey, y'all. Chez Bionique = still reeling. Happy, befuddled, occasionally panicking...never a dull moment, as they say.

Symptom watch includes mild (but not so mild that I wouldn't take an Advil under other circumstances) cramping, some fatigue, and -- I'm going to count this -- the biggest MFing cold sores I have had in easily 15 years. As in, where did the left side of my upper lip go? Yuck. Dr. Baby Factory says no taking anything, even L-Lysine. (Confession: I took some before I asked. I guess I'll not take any more. Probably.) Your miracle cures welcome.

I don't think I've ever managed to participate in Weeble's Perfect Moment Mondays, but Sunday had a couple of moments that bear recording, I think.

Here is Sugar, under the triumphal arch near our place:

A Piano At The Plaza

Piano courtesy of Play Me, I'm Yours

My father is a pianist. He played Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Bach every night of my childhood. Some of my favorite baby pictures are with him at the keyboard, in a carrier on his back or pounding the keys beside him like a real hambone. He put neon green stickers on the ends of an octave's worth of keys to teach me their names; I don't remember ever not knowing. For reasons related to the crippling shyness that characterized my early childhood, I never took lessons, so while I can play a little, not much, really. (Let's not go any further down that road, lest the crying start.)

Even when we were first "dating" (misnomer for typically lesbian reasons), I was comforted to think that Sugar's ability to play represented a kind of redemption on that count, that there would, after all, be someone to play for our children.

Which brings me to this:

Yes, I surely did go out and by the pricey kind only when I already knew what it would say. What of it?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pregnancy Test Day

Yesterday was Pregnancy Test Day. Which we also spent getting lost in Queens, driving all around Long Island and, for me, photographing the inside of an old couple's house.

We went to the clinic in our borrowed car and Baby got her blood drawn for the test. Then we proceeded to try to go to the beach at Robert Moses State Park, but first ended up shooting across the Queensboro bridge and not finding 495 at all. We eventually did get on the expressway and found the beach, but then we only had an hour before I had to go to my photo shoot.

The nurse had told Baby, "we'll call you in the afternoon, or maybe earlier." Turns out it was earlier because when we were once again on the road - I was actually navigating the roundabout when Baby noticed her missed calls - we had a message from the clinic.

"Should I check this?" she asked me.

"Yes!" I said. (Thinking: WTF, why would you wait even one second, like even to ask me that question?)

So she did, and then went through a whole series of facial expressions, from happiness to actual weeping, in about 7 seconds.

"Is it bad?" I asked.

"No! It's good!"

So, OMG BABY IS PREGNANT. For now. We realize that this is not the time to start telling the world (except for the internets, of course) but OMG! She has to go in for more tests next week, and in three weeks, an ultrasound to check for heart beat. HEART BEAT.

This does not feel completely real right now. But I'm sure it will soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Feeling Blue

When I woke up this morning, my boobs were no longer big and painful (nor as awesome-looking, I should add).

I don't understand how that can be the case, when I'm sticking 200mg of progesterone up my hoo-has three times a day, but as it is exactly what happens three days before my period every month, I'm not exactly brimming over with happiness.

Beta is Saturday. Not planning to POAS before then, as the thought of having to go in for the test when I know it's negative seems exquisite torture.

Yes, I know I have quite a few embryos in the freezer, but if I can't get pregnant with that embryo, the one that looked like it belonged on a fertility factory website (and it did; the picture I put up here was fuzzy, but I saw it onscreen), and with my "beautiful" lining, then it's hard to feel terribly hopeful.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Egg Retrieval Story

Hey there, folks. How are you? I'm much better than I was, happy to say. I have been all blown up like a water balloon from a touch of OHSS, which wasn't particularly painful but was kind of tiring, but on Sunday night I peed like I have never peed before -- I think someone told my kidneys there was a talent scout in the house -- and suddenly I can wear pants again. If I do end up pregnant, I know this will be only the eye of the storm, but I am enjoying it nonetheless.

As far as other ailments, I know Sugar told you I've been rather sick, but I want to make clear that pain and vomiting did at least happen on different days. The pain was very bad the day after retrieval -- probably because of all the endometriosis -- and then not. The nausea was bad around transfer (5 days post-ER), and I am convinced was a side effect of the progesterone. Now that my body's used to it, I'm fine. (The doctor tried to sell me on nausea as being because of the bloating, but I haven't felt sick when at my most bloated; when I felt nauseated was between the post-ER bloat and the real OHSS ballooning.)

I said before that your ER stories were all of so much help to me at my own retrieval, so I figured I'd better tell mine before it fades in the haze of the percocet-filled days that followed it. It's looooonnnggggg. I hope it will help someone later.

On the morning of retrieval, I was hungry and scared. My clinic says no food or drink at all after midnight the night before, and my procedure wasn't until midmorning. I have a touch of hypoglycemia, and that long without food leaves me a hot mess: shaky, frightened, easily confused, possessing the emotional self-control of a nap-less toddler. On the other hand, my ovaries felt so big and my back was so sore that if someone had handed me a grapefruit spoon, I might well have dug the eggs out myself. I was, shall we say, ready as I'd ever be.

We took a cab to the clinic, which was very empty because it was Saturday. After filling out payment contact forms for the anesthesiology department, we went up the the second floor of the clinic, where they have operating rooms. I really liked that I didn't have to go to a separate hospital. Not only was it less nerve-wracking to be in a familiar place -- a VERY familiar place, given how much monitoring I'd been having -- but it was also calm and uncrowded. Most of the nurses I saw that day I had met in the blood draw room at one point or other, which was comforting.

When we got to the second waiting room, there was one man by himself and one male/female couple. After a few minutes, the woman was called back. About ten minutes later, the nurse called her (presumed) husband back through a different door.

Wow, I thought, if he's already going to meet her in recovery, this really IS a quick procedure.

Very soon, a brusque nurse I hadn't met before called me back. "Okay, she'll come find you after she's done," she said to Sugar, prompting a freakout from me. The materials we'd been given all said that "depending on time and patient flow," she could meet me in recovery. Not anymore, the nurse said, new policy. I felt angry and even more scared. I would have been okay if I'd been expecting it, but I was in no state for surprises. I began to suspect that the nurse thought Sugar and I were just friends, that we weren't being treated like the het couple that had gone before us.

"What about that guy? How come he got to go, then?" I demanded. The nurse claimed no knowledge. I was rattled and pissed.

After that, I went to the locker room, where I exchanged my clothes for two nice, cloth gowns (one tied in back, one in front), little socks with rubber treads, and a shower cap that was extremely awkward for my long, heavy braid. The key was on a springy loop that I put on my left wrist. I then met the nurse in a tiny room with a table, where she took my pulse and BP (high for me -- "maybe you're a little nervous?" she said, rather kindly) and had me fill out more consent forms and so on. When we were done and the OR still wasn't ready, she totally redeemed herself in my eyes by fetching Sugar and letting us sit there together until it was time for me to go.

When they were ready, I walked with the nurse to the OR. The way there was through recovery, and I suddenly understood why Sugar couldn't meet me there -- there were just too many patients. The recovery area at the clinic is a series of curtained nooks (like you see in ERs sometimes) arranged around a nurses' station. Because some of the patients weren't conscious yet, all of the curtains were open. No partners were there, and I did understand that the nurse was right when she said that having partners come in had been a problem, since everyone was talking and people who were just coming to got confused. The atmosphere was very quiet and calm, even if it was still pretty weird to walk by the woman from the waiting room, out cold with her mouth wide open. She looked like a child or a rag doll.

The OR itself looked, well, like an OR. There was a table with white sheets and "stirrups" that were really just long things to put your calves in. I was standing in the big, open part of the room on the right hand side of the bed. To the left was lots of equipment. There were what seemed like a ton of people but was probably only 4 or so doctors and nurses bustling around. Everything was moving really fast. I got scared again.

"Hop up," they said, after having me take off one gown and "loosen" the other. (It turned out that by "loosen" they meant "completely untie." It would have saved some time and frustration on my part if they'd just said that. I felt like I was already supposed to know all this stuff, like in a weird dream.)

Hop up HOW? I thought. The bed was too high for me to get onto easily. They pressed something and it lowered down, I got on it, and everything started happening really fast. A man in green scrubs grabbed my left hand and pulled it out to the side, where there was a little table at a right angle to the bed. He started telling me to make a fist and so on, so he could start the IV. At the same time, a nurse I knew from the blood draw room was telling me to scoot down the table farther, so that my butt was at the edge of a hole in the bed that I could see because it was covered with a pad. Then she told me to put my legs up, then scoot more. Also at the same time, the anesthesiologist was asking me lots of questions about my history with IV anesthesia, my drug allergies, and so on. Only the anesthesiologist, on whom I have developed a bit of a crush, introduced himself.

At this point, I came a bit untethered. The man in scrubs -- who I recognized at some point as the surgeon, Dr. Saturday (and wouldn't it have been nice if he'd introduced himself?) -- put the IV in. It hurt like hell. In fact, it never stopped hurting for the rest of the day and I still have something of a bruise there, because it wasn't in right. I wish I had known that it wasn't supposed to be like that and that I should have asked him to do it again. (On the bright side, many people reported that the first stuff in the IV stings, and I barely felt that....) Everyone kept telling me to do things all at once. Someone put a BP cuff on my right arm, which inflated itself every minute or two. I started to cry, just a little.

"Oh, no! Don't cry!" said the sweet anesthesiologist, an Italian man of roughly my father's age. "Whenever I see a pretty lady cry, I start to cry too." I pulled myself together and explained that I was worried about the IV sedation, because when I had that for my wisdom teeth, I woke up in the middle and threw up for several days afterwards. He listened to that and to my saying I was going to need real pain medicine after, because tylenol doesn't do jack for me, and assured me that he would make sure everything was ok.

It was then that I really appreciated tbean's story, which scared the hell out of me when I first read it, such that I required much buoying from friends who'd done IVF themselves. As upset as I was at the time, my experience wasn't anything truly traumatic, but it helped during the worst part to remember what tbean had said about how this is surgery, no matter how much they act like it's just a "procedure." I looked up at the ceiling and told myself that everything that was happening was normal and how it was supposed to go, that these people were doing their jobs and that my job was to look at the ceiling, try not to think about how much my hand hurt, and trust that Dr. Italian would take care of me. The nurse tucked a white blanket around me so that my right hand was against my chest (nice touch), and the next thing I knew, I was in recovery.

My bed was facing the window, so I could see the green vacant lot next door and the bridge beyond. It was a sunny day, the view was pretty. I don't remember feeling anything but awake -- no groggy period or confusion. I knew where I was, why, and everything else. A nurse noticed I was awake and came over to check on me. She took care of me for the whole recovery period and was great in every way. She asked if I was in pain, and except for the &^$%ing IV, I mostly wasn't.

After a few minutes, I started to be. My belly was sore in the gas/endometriosis kind of way it had been that morning, my back was a little bit achey, as it had been for a week or more. My vaginal pain was very slight and never got bad, ever. Less pain than I have after a pap smear. I told the nurse and she said she would have the anesthesiologist see me as soon as he was out of the OR. That took 10-15 minutes, by which point my belly had started to be more of a problem.

Dr. Italian came out and gave the nurse something to put in my IV, and I started to feel better right away. He later gave her a syringe of the same something to give as an IM injection, which would last for the ride home.

I was my typically chatty self under the influence of drugs. I asked Dr. Italian to repeat his name a few more times. I ended up remembering it almost right. I told him, somewhat in awe, "I didn't wake up!"

"That's my job," he said.

The nurse brought me some apple juice and graham crackers, which were awesome. At some point, the nurse asked if anyone had told me how many eggs they got. She brought me a paper and pointed at the number 32. My eyes bugged out of my head.

I reminded her that I really needed a scrip for something that wasn't tylenol, and she had the fellow write for what turned out to be very necessary percocet. "Tylenol doesn't do anything," I said, "I might as well take water; it tastes better."

"That's my kind of lady!" said Dr. Italian, passing by.

A while later, she said it was time for me to try going to the bathroom, and helped me very slowly get up, carried my IV bag to the hook in the bathroom, and left me sitting there, with firm instructions not to try to stand if I felt weird.

So I sat there.
For a long time.

I had had two bags of IV fluid by that point, but nothing was happening. The nurse called to me that I should come out if it wasn't working. I was desperate not to stay longer than I had to, so I asked for an extra minute, turned on the sink, tried every mental trick I know, and peeds maybe 3 drops. When I wiped, I was shocked by how bloody the toilet paper was.

The nurse declared that even three drops counted, and I graduated to a recliner with the leg cushion out. Eventually I was allowed to sit up normally. Dr. Italian dropped by again and said "Good work, young lady," which I loved. (Seeing a theme? Why can't this man just be constantly passing through my life, praising me?) A while after that, she detached my IV from the cord (leaving it in my hand), and sent me to go put my real clothes back on. (I stopped to get a dreaded hospital pad from the bathroom, as I'd cleverly left the one I brought from home with Sugar.) Once in the locker room, I realized my fatal error: my key was attached to the wrist of my IV hand, which still hurt like hell. I had to gingerly stretch it over everything, which sucked. Nicole: put the dang thing on your right hand.

I returned to the chair, carrying my bra, because hell, no, it was not going back on. The nurse took out my IV, gave me my scrip, and sent me home with Sugar. As we left the 6th floor, I explained to Sugar my understanding why she couldn't be in recovery, but said I was still confused about where that first husband had gone.

"Dude. He went to give a sperm sample."

Oh. That's probably why the nurse didn't explain, huh? I hope the other waiting husband at least thought my outrage was funny.

We took a cab home, I retired to bed with my percocet, and everything was basically fine. I ate and drank normally. I peed. At some point, I stopped bleeding. The pain got bad the following day, probably as a combination of some OHSS and a lot of endo, but I don't think that's typical. In short (TOO LATE!), I was scared but nothing terrible happened. If I have to do this again, I don't think I'll be that upset.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lying Down All Over Town

Today we did the embryo transfer!

I took the day off work to be able to go with Baby to all her various appointments - acupuncture, transfer, acupuncture, home - and in order to do so I told my office that she was having 'surgery.' Now they are all worried about her, and probably think she has cancer, since I was so unspecific. On Saturday she actually had surgery (egg retrieval) and I was all worried about her, but didn't manage to talk to anyone about that, since it was Saturday. Between Sunday and this morning she has been quite sick - in pain, vomiting, the works. But now this evening she seems a lot better, thank goodness.

So here was our day:

6 a.m.
vomiting (Baby)

8:30 We take the train to midtown and go to Baby's acupuncturist's office there. Baby goes to lie down. I wander around in search of breakfast, saltines, and a seasickness bracelet for Baby. It is ridiculously hot outside.

10:30 We take a cab to the Kips Bay Baby Factory, where everyone is surprised that we are early. The nurse clearly thinks Baby has already had some Valium at home because she is moving so slowly and acting spacey, but we convince her that no, it's just the puking and the lack of sleep. The nurse gives Baby some Valium.

10:45 We are seated in front of this sign. I had not previously realized that the doctors here think of themselves as ganstas.

yo yo YO!

10:50 Dr. Thursday comes to talk to us. He is disorientingly jovial. Also he has tiny feet, which I find myself staring at. However, all the news he gives us is great. 26 of Baby's eggs fertilized, and 20 of those are still growing. There is a good looking blastocyst to transfer and there will be some to freeze, somewhere between 4 and 10. We won't find out how many they actually froze until tomorrow afternoon.

11:00 Baby and Dr. Thursday go into a Laurel and Hardy routine about left and right cervices. Dr. Thursday says Dr. Baby Factory told him to go in through the right cervix, but Baby says he must have meant Dr. Thursday's right, i.e. Baby's left, etc., etc. After a while Dr. Thursday agrees to poke around and not jab anything too hard until he figures it out.

11:35 Dr. Thursday breezes by me in the waiting room and says I can go back to the recovery room. He waves his arm around saying 'it's to the left.' I try the door he came out of, which is locked. I sneak through a different door and stick my head past the gansta sign into a completely empty hallway and shout. Eventually a nurse wanders by and directs me through two totally other doors to where Baby is lying down. She seems calm and happy and has this picture printed out and lying on her chest.

our first blastocyst


1:00 We sweatily arrive at another office near the Baby Factory where Baby's acupuncturist also works. Baby goes to lie down and have needles stuck in her again. I read a trashy vampire novel.

2:00 Back on the train to Brooklyn.

3:00 Baby lies down in our blessedly air-conditioned apartment. Because there is no food in the house, I prepare for the trek through the blazing heat to the Food Coop.

4:00 (presumably Baby is still lying down) I search for popsicle molds (no dice) and stuff to make miso soup, which Baby has requested.

6:00 I make miso soup.

7:00 Baby and I eat the soup. Nobody vomits. Score!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ET Phone Home

Okay, I know that post title makes no sense; I just felt like it.

The fact that I am aware that it's meaningless should indicate to you that I am off the percocet. After a fairly wretched Sunday and a somewhat rough Monday morning, my belly stopped aching and I didn't need it anymore. Acupuncture probably helped, too. I'm still somewhat bloated -- only up 2 lbs. from retrieval day but it's all in my suddenly barrel-shaped tummy -- and my back/hips/thighs hurt the way they have been ever since my ovaries got big, but nothing really excruciating. Walking sucks a bit because of the legs, but it's also 90+ degrees, humid, and smelly out, so staying in isn't such a problem. (Although I also think being sedentary is part of how my back got so bad....)

Saw Dr. BF today, who wanded and specul-ized both vaginae and declared me fit to fly without anesthesia. Yay! He thinks a tenaculum will be involved -- UNyay -- but it almost always is when my cervix needs crossing, so at least I'm pretty used to it. He didn't come right out and say it had been silly (lazy?) to suggest I needed to be knocked out, but he did say, again, that they really only use that for patients who can't stand a speculum at all. Here's an idea: maybe they could have left that decision to someone who's met me when conscious, not just gone by the word of Dr. Saturday. (And folks who can't stand a speculum and do IVF anyway? HATS OFF to you. You are at least eleventy-million times braver than I.)

It turns out Sugar can't be there anyway, because they just don't allow that. Poo. She'll come with me to the office, and I know the important part isn't whether she's physically with me for that particular 20 minutes but that she's with me in the ways that count throughout all this. I'm gonna stop before I make y'all yack on your keyboards, but the point is: my wife pretty much rocks.

So! We're on for a valium-inflected ET tomorrow. I asked how the ol' emby gang is doing, and while I didn't get numbers and letters (and frankly don't really want them at this stage in the game), Dr. BF says they're doing great, better than typical. Genuises, all, playing suzuki violin and writing plays, I'm sure. I really hope we'll have some to freeze, so that it doesn't feel like everything is hanging on this cycle.

Thanks for all your ET stories. I'll think of you in my valium haze, while trying to ignore the spikes in my cervix.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Updates and Such

Hey there, internet. It's been a rather rollercoaster-y day around these parts, so I'm not sure how peppy I can make this.

Let's start with good things:

  • We now have two dozen fertilized eggs. Obviously 24 is too many to put back, but luckily vitrification and FET means we can have two, reasonable pregnancies of 12 each....
  • The red gatorade isn't so bad if it's really cold.
  • After no percocet overnight, I felt great this morning. Better than in a week, in fact.
...that's all I can come up with.

Less good things:

  • Stopping the percocet was stupid, stupid, stupid. Midmorning, I was suddenly in so much abdominal pain that I freaked out. Luckily, I did the responsible thing and called the Baby Factory. The doc on call there said she wasn't a bit surprised, given my age, battery-hen-style egg production, and extensive endometriosis. She told me to get back on the percocet and stay the heck in bed. Although it took several hours for the percocet to get back to its former level of effectiveness (because it always works better if you don't let the pain get away from you), I am basically okay now. I am also still in pajamas, which now have gatorade stains. Classy.
  • Way too sick to go to acupuncture, even if I hadn't been forbidden to leave the bed.
  • The nurse who called with the fert report announced that I would be having anesthesia for my ET, per the doctor who did the ER (Dr. Saturday, not Dr. Baby Factory), who never introduced himself in the OR and put my IV in badly so it hurt like hell the whole time.
Dr. Baby Factory and I had already talked about ET procedures, as he knows my ornery cervices better than anybody, and he did mention that anesthesia was a possibility. He mentioned it in a "in case you think *you'd* like this" kind of a way, just as information. We decided that valium was enough. Now some guy I don't even know has just announced that my care is changing, because he feels like it. I feel out of control and angry.

I also feel really, really sad about the idea of not being conscious for the ET. So much of the IVF experience is so distant from what I want the conception of our child to be like. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to use IVF, grateful that it may save us from infertility. But the experience is not without loss, you know? I've read so many IVF blogs, and ET day seems for so many couples like the day it becomes personal again, as they watch the embryo on the screen, hold hands as it goes in. I want that.

Doctor On-Call wants me to come in tomorrow anyway, to get checked for OHSS and so on. Since Dr. Baby Factory is also Dr. Monday, I hope to talk to him about it. I just hope I can keep from crying. Because crying hurts my belly so much right now.

Oh, I forgot one other good thing: a big shout out to my wonderful acupuncturist, who wrote to check in on me and is just generally a blessing.