Yays and nays.

This morning I shuffled myself back into Clinic One for a pregnancy test.  Today, when they call with the results of my bloodwork, the two week wait will officially end.

While we (okay, I), wait, I hope you’ll indulge me in some hopeless navel gazing: the yays and nays of why I might (not) be pregnant.

The Pregnancy Test:

I’ve only twice before needed to go in for a pregnancy test.  One of those tests was negative, the other was Bingo. 50/50.  Crap: that tells us nothing.

14 DPO:

And no signs of bleeding, hence the need for the pregnancy test. Prior (unmedicated) luteal phases have ended 12 days after ovulation.  I’m not on progesterone suppositories this time, so if blood is coming it should be coming.  But I Googled (yes, I Googled), and apparently Femara can increase the length of the luteal phase by raising progesterone levels.  Also, this is my first tracked cycle post-Bingo, and she may well have messed my cycle up.  Still we know nothing.

Cramping:

On Sunday I grumpily declared to Sea and a handful of friends that this cycle had failed.  I was cramping, it felt like my period was coming, despair set in.  Three days later the cramping has continued on and off.  Period warm-up stretches or pregnancy? Only my uterus knows.

Exhaustion:

I’m really, really tired.  A toddler also woke me up at 5:20 this morning.  Singing.  I’d be worried if I wasn’t tired, frankly.

Nausea:

I’ve had moments where I feel like I’m on a ship, but that could also be psychosomatic.  Or the result of getting up at 5:20.  Or the fact that I ate Twizzlers for breakfast.

Modern Family:

The other night, an episode of Modern Family nearly made me cry.  When I was pregnant with Bingo, I could barely go on Facebook because posts about missing pets would leave me teary.  Maybe I’m being overemotional.  Maybe that’s a symptom of pregnancy.  Or maybe the episode of Modern Family was just really sad.

And with that, gentle readers, I rest my case. So, while we wait for the phone to ring, yay or nay?

 

 

IUI #1

IUI #1 (or #5, if you’re counting from 2012) happened last Wednesday, as the rest of the world focused on the PowerBall.

As I headed out into the snow that morning, it was impossible not to make comparisons to my last IUI, the one that resulted in Bingo.

Back then, Sea and I congratulated ourselves for getting out of the house so early, probably around 8am.  This time, I was trudging through the snow at 6:40am, by myself.  I had already been awake for two and a half hours, thanks to Bingo deciding that it was morning.  I finally convinced her to go back to sleep, just as it became painfully obvious that it was time for me to get ready to go out into the cold.  I’m not going to lie, I briefly thought, “If we skip this month, I could sleep for another two hours…”

Instead, I found clothes in the dark, hoping that my socks matched my shirt (they didn’t).  I left Sea and Bingo to sleep, and I went to thaw one of the four vials of sperm that we had bought in 2013 when Lefty retired from his career as a sperm donor.  Much like the sperm, the andrology lab had been frozen in time since my last visit, including the baseball player bobblehead.  After signing a lot of paperwork and paying a lot of money, I left Lefty to warm up and headed across the hallway for my bloodwork and ultrasound.  Both were quick, though unusually painful.  Still much less painful than having a baby, I wincingly reminded myself as Diana tried to get the ultrasound wand out through my bellybutton.  Much less.

Done with all of the poking, I was ready but Lefty wasn’t.  I left the clinic, feeling like I was playing hooky, and went to get some breakfast.  The ordering system used by the coffee shop, I noticed, was almost identical to the system used by the fertility clinic: a constantly updating screen of orders, numbers being called.  Eggs being prepared too, I suppose.

  
Back at the fertility clinic, I sat reading and waiting for the other key players to show up: Sea, Dr Paul, and Lefty.  Dr Paul showed up first, to tell me that Lefty was ready.  I stalled, and Sea showed up five minutes later after a morning of toddler-wrangling.  She was carrying a plastic bag with my lunch and a bottle of holy water, both of which I had forgotten on my way out.  (“BRING HOLY WATER!!” I had texted Sea frantically, as I waited for the ultrasound.  It worked last time, after all.)  Facing the fishtank, I took a sip of the water before we headed into the clinic room.

Dr Paul showed us in, then left to get ready.  We settled in quickly: Sea in the chair next to the exam table, me in the stirrups.  Over the speakers, the radio played static-filled light rock.  We wondered what would be playing this time: Bingo having been conceived to Call Me Maybe.  Dr Paul came back in, knocking at the little door in the clinic room wall. 

 

  “Two pepperonis!”, he joked with the lab technicians hiding behind.  Laughter, from people I couldn’t see from my position in the stirrups.  Then Lefty entered the room, looking much like he had in 2013: a vial.  A vial that contained 12.something million sperm we were told, a number that made us worry (previously, all vials had been 18 million +).  Dr Paul reassured us that it only took one sperm then got to work, telling me that my secretions looked perfect (Oh doctor, don’t make me blush.), and IUI #2/#5 happened to the tune of tune of Rudimental’s “Lay It All On Me”.

  
So now we’re waiting.  A wait that is, so far, infinitely calmer than any I remember from 2012/2013.  I’m not Googling, obsessing over every twinge, or checking my breasts 1000 times a day to see if they’re sore.  I’m not thinking about my uterus at every hour of every day: in fact, I keep forgetting.  So far in this two week wait, I’ve scooped cat litter, lifted a lot of heavy things (not the least of which is a toddler), and eaten raw cookie dough.  Somewhere inside, my obsessive 2013 self is cringing, but honestly?  I much prefer it this way.

Total Ultrasound Count: 5

 

 

A follicle named Chubs and a resolution.

In the past two days, I’ve read 2/3 of a book.  This is directly connected to a New Year’s resolution I made about 34 hours after the new year began, while staring at the large fishtank that features prominently in Clinic One’s waiting room design.

On January 2nd, as I sat staring at the fishtank, I was thinking about the liminal space of waiting rooms and of fertility treatments in general.  Of how much time we spend waiting and bored, in what is cumulatively a life altering process.  Not just the time spent in waiting rooms, sitting in light wood furniture looking at fishtanks or walls painted in neutral tones, but also the time we lose to TWWs, next tries, scans, or other anticipation.  I tried to think back to what I had done in those countless waiting hours in 2012-2013.  Stared at my phone, probably.  Watched the fish swim in circles. Googled.  Thinking back, I resolved to make the waiting that 2016 will inevitably hold more productive.  I’ll do things while I wait, I decided.  Not just crush endless candies on my phone.  I’ll knit, I’ll read, I’ll write: anything that makes it feel a little more like my waiting counts.  (My other fertility resolution is to not Google, which I’m half succeeding in.)

So, I’ve spent the last two days of cycle monitoring/waiting reading.  Half-listening for my name or number, but mostly absorbed in somebody else’s life.  (This Is Happy, if you’re wondering.  On theme, and probably deserving of its own post.)

I only managed to read a little bit yesterday, in a visit that was luckily short.  My ultrasound number was called before I could even choose a light pine chair to wait in, and my blood was drawn almost immediately after that. I did have to wait to see my doctor, whose face I couldn’t remember.  So I read and waited, listening to other people’s names being called by other doctors.  Then my doctor appeared.  Though I hadn’t remembered what he looked like from our first visit, now it occurred to me that he looked uncannily familiar: eerily like my brother.  We’ll call him Dr Paul from now on.

Dr Paul spoke to me for all of five minutes, as I tried to focus on what he was saying and not his resemblance to my sibling.  The Femara has worked like a charm, it seems: on CD11, my lead follicle was 22mm.  “A good follicle,” Dr Paul noted approvingly, “that will hopefully turn into a good embryo”.  With that cheerful announcement, he sent me on my way to return for cycle monitoring the next day. (Today.)

Today’s visit featured a similarly quick ultrasound and blood draw, but was followed by a wait that stretched almost two hours.  I diligently read, covering decades of Camilla Gibb’s life while I waited for Dr Paul to make his pronouncement.  Patients filtered out of the office until I was only accompanied by a singing toddler and her mother.  Dr Paul found me in the waiting room, not bothering to call me into the office.  My follicle is now 24.5mm, or giant.  (I’ve nicknamed it Chubs, though Sea doesn’t approve.)  Dr Paul explained that, one way or another, the IUI would be happening tomorrow.  I just needed to sit and wait until my bloodwork came back, so that they could decide whether to trigger or not.   That wait took another hour, or 1/3 of a book.  Finally he came back: my bloodwork shows that I’m surging, no trigger needed, IUI tomorrow.

So tomorrow Sea and I will head back to Clinic One, and I’ll finish a book while the sperm we’ve stored there since 2013 thaws.  Then the IUI will happen, and we’ll be on to another wait.

Wish us (and Chubs) luck!

 

2016: year of the baby.

In an auspicious start to the new year, my period began on January 1st.
We didn’t end up trying in December, because it would have cut dangerously close to our holiday travel plans. We might have been able to squeeze in the IUI before we left, but we might also have been doing it on the way to the airport. So December came and went. I consumed a lot of sugar and paid very little attention to my uterus. It was lovely.
And now, 2016 is here: a year that, for one reason or another, will likely involve paying a lot of attention to my uterus.

Continue reading

I believe in Santa. (Again.)

I remember the exact moment I stopped believing in Santa. I was in an after school program: a vacant classroom where kids of every age and stage were thrown together. As I sat carefully plotting out a masterpiece of tissue paper and white glue, a couple of kids approached me with all of the wisdom and callousness their ten years allowed.

“Do you believe in Santa?” 

“Yeah…”

“Ha! She believes in Santa! What a baby! Santa isn’t real!”

Having unleashed their cruelty, the Santa-deniers moved on to destroy holiday magic for another child, or to pick the bowls of canned fruit salad with the most cherries. I was ruffled, but my faith in Santa was intact. These kids were just kids, I reasoned. What did they know? I would ask the person who knew everything: my dad.

My father picked me up that day. As we walked to the car, I looked up at him and asked. His reply came quickly and with confidence: “No, Santa isn’t real. Neither is the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Don’t tell your sister.”

This was the moment that I stopped believing in Santa: not only in the large elf himself, but also in the perpetuation of the Santa myth. What was the point, I wondered, of stringing kids along in an elaborate lie? The disappointment wasn’t worth it, I was sure. By the time we made it home, I had made up my mind: if I ever became a parent, my kids would know right away that Santa wasn’t real.

Over the years, this decision was reaffirmed a few times: Santa gifted my sister a box of K’nex she had previously found in my mother’s closet, ruining Christmas for everybody; I saw a few creepy looking Santas working the mall circuit; I had a part-time job at a Jewish community center and saw how hard it was to keep the handful of Santa-believing kids in a state of ignorant bliss.

In 2013, as we wrapped the box of newborn-sized diapers that we were gifting Bingo for Christmas, Sea and I discussed whether Santa would be visiting on December 25th. “Why don’t you want her to believe in Santa?”, Sea asked. “Santa is exciting, and magical!” I argued that Santa was a twinkly-eyed fraud. That if you didn’t believe in Santa, you couldn’t be disappointed by him. Expectation begets disappointment, and so forth. We ended the argument in a stalemate and left the gift tags off all the presents that year. We muddled through the next Christmas in the same way, not explaining exactly who had filled the stocking with care. As we cleaned up the wrapping paper, I knew that the Santa-related ambivalence would soon have to come to an end.

This year, as the Halloween hype ended and Christmas appeared on store shelves, it was time to settle the Santa issue once and for all. At the same time, something unexpected happened: I began to change my mind.

It started a few weeks ago with an unconvincing Santa, probably an obliging neighbor, at our local winter fair. Maybe it was just the twinkling lights or the richness of his faux-velvet suit, but Bingo stared in undisguised wonder. Without even realizing what I was doing, I bent down to her level. “Do you see Santa? He’s visiting from the North Pole. And on Christmas he’ll come to our house and bring you presents!” She began to wave at her new friend. What had I done, I wondered, what had I done?

Here’s the thing: I had assumed that when I became a parent, I would be the one deciding whether magic existed. I didn’t know that children are born with an innate sense of wonder and belief. I only really and truly began to understand this when I started paying attention. To Bingo, so much is magical: bubbles, airplanes, swings. I watch her talk to her stuffed animals, and know that they’re talking back to her. When I see this delight, how can I do anything but cultivate it? When I see a new opportunity for wonder, how can I do anything but bring it to life? It isn’t up to me to decide whether Bingo will believe in Santa, she already does. Sure, it might have something to do with growing up in a consumer culture, but mostly it’s because she knows magic. If I tell her that Santa doesn’t exist, I won’t be telling her the truth or sparing her from future disappointment, I’ll be destroying something that’s already real.

So, on December 1st, we went all in. An Advent Calendar appeared in our kitchen, the elf showed up on the shelf. We borrowed a few festive books from the library, and began to plan trips to assorted winter wonderlands. Now, as we go down the street, we greet every Santa mannequin with the warmth usually reserved for old friends. I can feel my past, Scrooge-like self observing this Christmas cheer with cynicism, but that isn’t stopping me. I want my home to be a place where magic exists, where wonder is celebrated, and where the door* is always open to Santa.

*We don’t have a chimney.