The idea originated in the narrow aisle between the racks of men’s long sleeve knits and children’s clothing. I’d been Pinteresting creative pregnancy announcement ideas for months and the ones toward which I always gravitated were the various incarnations of the shoe lineup. If you’re half as obsessive as I am about all things baby, you’ve seen the straight version: dad’s loafers, mom’s heels, and a gender-appropriate pair of pastel baby booties. I couldn’t exactly justify spending $22 on genuine baby Chucks for a fetus, but nonetheless I eagerly imagined staging a queer take on the aforementioned announcement with a lineup of Converse.
Tonight, PartnerA and I Skyped PartnerA’s parents. The script that we had practiced in advance of this call included the words ‘we’ and ‘our’ in every sentence to tacitly reinforce to PartnerA’s already-skeptical mother that regardless of its genetic makeup, PartnerA’s and my child is PartnerA’s and my child. Our embryo and someday-child has two parents and two parents only — and PartnerA’s mother, contrary to some opinions, is not one.
The rehearsed plan was to catch both of her parents mid-conversation at the point when they exchanged seats in front of the webcam. But that didn’t quite work out so well because upon completing a lengthy conversation with PartnerA’s mother (during which PartnerA’s mother referred to PartnerA as “child” twice), she announced that PartnerA’s father was in the midst of making dinner and was too busy to chat. PartnerA insisted, so PartnerA’s mother disappeared to the kitchen. Moments later, she returned, sans Daddy. Again, PartnerA’s mother reiterated that PartnerA’s father was too busy making dinner to talk. Again, PartnerA insisted and again, PartnerA’s mother disappeared to the kitchen. Moments later, PartnerA’s father appeared in front of the computer, sans Mummy. Dude! Getting those two into the same room is impossible.
That’s when PartnerA made the spontaneous decision to ditch the plan and launch into our script. She caught me off guard, but I squeezed her hand out of view of the webcam and rolled with it.
Mothers. You can’t live with ’em. You can’t live without ’em. Literally.
When a person becomes pregnant without the intervention of a fertility clinic, the medicalization of conception is largely absent through the first trimester. My therapist dismisses my obsession with signs and symptoms that fluctuate by the minute and charts of numbers that are never even measured, let alone documented, when pregnancy is achieved “the usual way” (her words, not mine). Back when she had children, she says, HCG numbers were not a thing.
I understand that a great deal of the world has far more life experience in this regard, but it was everyone’s first time once, and I highly doubt that even my all-knowing therapist was as blasé about her first pregnancy as she seems to expect me to be about A’s. Is that condescension I detect? Or am I just painfully self-conscious and projecting?
Part of me wishes that we hadn’t shared the news with anyone on day 14. As the internet continually reminds me, the first three months are defined by uncertainty. Miscarriage rates are astronomical. I dread the humiliation of having to renounce the announcement. “Oh, sorry, I’m just a naive idiot who believed that a blood test at 13 days actually meant something.”
I feel as though I’m perceived as a naive idiot. I feel as though I’m being watched and judged by everyone who knows. I feel as though out of earshot, I’m being mocked and PartnerA and the poppyseed are being pitied.
I’m incredibly insecure. There are good reasons for that. But I’m not here to write about myself. I’m here to write about the poppyseed.
The first and second HCG blood test numbers were higher than average — 155 (13 days) and 536 (15 days). The nurse half-joked (and half not-joked) about the possibility of two poppyseeds, given the high 13-day number and the notable 15-day leap. That’s a good sign.
A less good sign: spotting. Day 15, blood. Intermittently, days 15 through 18. At this point, it (whatever ‘it’ is) is the size of a poppyseed. Which is to say, a poppyseed that could have easily been passed without detection.
I went with PartnerA to the fertility clinic this morning for her third HCG blood test. I didn’t have to. I could have slept in on this chilly Saturday morning. In fact, PartnerA encouraged me to stay in bed. But I know that presence demonstrates support and support is important, right? It felt important that I be there with PartnerA this morning.
We spoke to DrText for all of two minutes as he dashed between patients. I’m not sure what I expected, but he was more pessimistic than I’ve ever seen him. The Google and many a blog reader reassure that spotting is common. The Google asserts that first trimester blood occurs in 30% of pregnancies and 15% of those go on to avoid miscarriage. The Google would have one believe that first trimester spotting is relatively shrug-worthy. After all, what can you do? Nothing.
This morning, DrText offered PartnerA no such Google-like reassurances, though. Instead, he gently explained that a miscarriage is the result of a poorly developed sperm or egg or both, and that should miscarriage be the result of this cycle, know that it was nothing that PartnerA did or did not do that caused it.
Hm. All of this before 9:00 AM. Also, perhaps a tad premature to prepare oneself for the end before it’s even begun. Should we not at least await the results of the third HCG blood test?
In my non-official assessment, only today’s HCG number (day 19) will tell us if the poppyseed is even still present. If the number goes up from 536, that’s good news. If it goes down, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Truth be told, for all of my hesitation and anxiety (borne of my own tumultuous childhood), I would be very disappointed. Honestly, I’m rather excited about that potential poppyseed.
If the day of the fourth insemination was a sitcom, it would be titled Two and a Half (Strange) Men. The episode would feature our half-stranger fertility doc Dr. Text, our brand new donor Lefty, and a man named Tom who PartnerA and I came upon outside as we made our way to our appointment at Clinic One that morning, face-down on the icy pavement bleeding from his head.
Oh yes indeed, the day of the fourth insemination was a doozy. Continue reading
“If today was a sitcom, it would be ‘Two and a Half (Strange) Men’. The episode would feature our half-stranger fertility doc Dr. Text; our brand new donor Lefty; and a man named Tom who PartnerA and I came upon outside as we made our way to our appointment at Clinic One this morning, face-down on the icy pavement bleeding from his head.”
Immediately before IUI #4 today, I spent 15 minutes on the telephone with a 911 dispatcher. What’s your favorite pre-insemination activity?
The other night, I had a dream that PartnerA told me that she was due in August. August is nine months from November. I awoke wondering about the significance of the conversations that we share with one another in dreams. Continue reading