Three.

When I was pregnant with Bingo, our donor retired.  At 24, he was done donating.  At 31, with no actual, out of the uterus babies on which to base our decision, Sea and I were left trying to decide how many babies we might want and how many vials of the now limited edition sperm it might take to conceive those potential babies.

I don’t remember the exact math that landed us there, but somehow we ended up with four vials of Lefty’s sperm in 2013.  They sat chilling at Clinic 3 until the beginning of 2016 when, after my period began on January 1st, one of those vials was used to conceive Powerball.

The incredible luck of conceiving Powerball on the first try meant that we had three vials left. In the hospital room, minutes after Powerball was born, I declared that we were done with two. Over time, Sea became more resolutely “two and through”.  I felt some feelings as we left babyhood behind, but also knew that I was at capacity: physically, financially, mentally, emotionally.  We were done. But were we done-done?  Done enough to part with those three vials of frozen-in-time ejaculate?

We hung on to them.

In 2018, my relationship with Sea was struggling in a big way. After a conversation where we seriously discussed the possibility of separating, we decided to try couple’s counselling.  “How will we pay for it?” Sea asked.  Without thinking about it, without hesitating, I replied: “We’ll sell the sperm.”

Sea agreed, and we posted to our Facebook group of donor sibling families offering up the sperm. Though nobody replied right away, a few weeks later a new member joined the group and asked if we still had vials to sell.

We did.

After about a million phone calls and e-mails to two fertility clinics, an in-person visit to Clinic 3, and more paperwork than I would have to fill out to transfer a house, a kidney, or an actual baby, one of those vials of sperm was packed up into liquid nitrogen and sent off into the world.  Though I know a little bit about what happened with it, the story of that vial is no longer mine.

Then there were two.

It seemed that nobody wanted those remaining two vials, which could have meant that they ended up flushed.  But a funny thing had happened in the process of selling the sperm: Sea had become less certain that we were done-done.  And when she wavered, I wavered. What if, one of us said, we used those vials?  IUIs, nothing fancy, just a fun game of fertility Russian Roulette.

Our relationship was still struggling.  We were still at capacity, in every way.  It was, in many ways, a terrible idea.  But we also knew that we would never look at a kid that this gamble might conceive with regret.  So, at the beginning of March, a year to the day after the injury that ended my dad’s life, we went back to Clinic 3 for an IUI.

I found out that I was pregnant on the day of the Spring Equinox. It felt meant to be.  But just because something feels a particular way, doesn’t mean it is.  And sometimes dates are just dates.  A second beta revealed that the pregnancy wouldn’t last, and a few days later I began to bleed.

Then there was one.

Our first response was to say that we had tried, that it hadn’t worked, and that we would move on with the two kids that we had.  But as I bled, I turned to Sea and said, “What if we used the last vial?”

The answer to that “what if” is currently rolling around in my uterus: I’m 20 weeks pregnant, with the third baby that I’ve been sure, at many times, we wouldn’t have.

I’m sorry for not sharing the story of those 20 weeks with you here, where I once counted every ultrasound.  The pregnancy has been my rockiest: including loss and risk, as well as the embodied knowledge that loss can happen, that my others just didn’t have. It has felt dangerous to name, even to the people closest to me.  It has also included moments of joy, plenty of humour at the hands of a new fertility doctor who managed to be unintentionally offensive at every turn, and growing excitement that maybe, just maybe, this story could end with three.

Of all the things I thought I would be doing at 35…

I never imagined that selling my sperm would be on the list.

Year in review.

This morning I received an e-mail from WordPress, directing me to my year in review. I read, with some interest, the statistics summarizing the number of visitors to my blog, most popular posts, most common search terms (“lesbian pregnancy” was the winner, in case you’re curious). Really though, this summary of posts written and read isn’t my year captured- my year is captured more by the stories the posts tell and, of course, by the small person currently lying stretched across my lap.

My year, in review:

January brought the disappointment of a third failed IUI and the last attempt with our first donor. February was the month that worked, March was the month where we learned that it had. In the middle months of the year, my belly slowly grew as did the number of people anticipating Bingo’s arrival. As I sweated through the late summer, we went Facebook public. We learned Bingo’s sex: a badly kept secret until she was born. In the fall we worried about about our maybe-breech baby. In October we anticipated her early arrival (ha!) then I lay inverted on an ironing board and she flipped. In November I left work and waited. On November 22nd Bingo was born- though I did not give birth. She came into the world almost two weeks late, after almost two days of induction and labor (story still owed). The rest of November was spent in flux, split between the physical and emotional exhaustion of post-birth/early parenthood and the wonder of learning and falling in love with our daughter. December has brought increasing stability, as Sea and I have learned a little more about who Bingo is and who we are as parents. It has been a month filled with amazement, frustration, spit up, dirty diapers, uncertainty, sleep deprivation and love.

2013 has been a terribly hard year for many of the people I care about the most. For me it has just been a year of much change and growth- both literal and figurative. There have been many moments- over the past five and a half weeks in particular- that have left me feeling raw. This is no bad thing: it comes with the potential for more change and growth. I have no resolutions for 2014, but I am full of hope and anticipation. Part of that hope is for those people I care about- including all of you. I hope that 2014 brings only good things, and finds you and your family exactly where you need to be.

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Leave.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve slowly stripped my office of all things personal.  I’ve pulled down notes and cards from my bulletin board, I’ve deleted years of e-mails, I’ve recycled an impossible amount of paper.  Today I shoved the last of my stuff into three bags, shut down my computer, said goodbye to the people I share an office with, and stepped out into the cold.  Aside from the three extra bags, it felt a lot like leaving on any other Friday.  The big difference, of course, is that I wasn’t just leaving for the weekend: I was leaving for 6-12 months* of parental leave.

My parental leave is partially funded.  While Sea and I will be taking a (significant) financial hit, this partial funding means that I’m able to have more than the weeks or scant months away from work that so many of you have described.  I feel lucky to have this time, and even more lucky that Sea will be able to take a full two months away from her job.  I’m looking forward to spending time together in our little family, really getting to know Bingo.

At the same time, I’ve worked in the same organization for a very long time.  My work is meaningful (to me), engaging, and something I’m truly passionate about.  Stepping away from it, even temporarily, involves stepping away from something that has defined a great deal of my adult life.  Today I joked with my manager that I couldn’t handle being “cut off”, and that I would probably still be checking and responding to work e-mails when I went into labor.  Except I wasn’t really joking: I don’t know how to let go.   Confession: I’ve even had moments of resentment and jealousy as I’ve trained my (truly lovely) replacement.

I’m sure that I will let go of my work, likely stop thinking about it entirely, when Bingo is here.  I’ll forget how to log in to my work e-mail, I won’t wonder how things are going in my absence.  Right now, pre-Bingo, that’s hard to imagine—but I’m sure it will happen.  And I’m absolutely sure that this new job will be even more meaningful and engaging under this new pint-sized boss.

(Side note: As I was readying myself to leave, a co-worker asked me if I was looking forward to my “break”.  Though I only have a theoretical understanding of what parenting a newborn will like, I still felt like hitting her for treating parental leave like an extended vacation!)

*I don’t know exactly how long my leave will actually be.  Sea might end up taking part of the available time.  We’ll see!

Borrowed time.

NaBloPoMo, Day 2

Today was a perfectly ordinary, if busy, Saturday in almost every way.

Sea and I slept in until the luxurious hour of 9am. We went to the mall in search of a Christmas outfit for Bingo, our first dedicated shopping trip for new baby clothes. (Between hand-me-downs and the secondhand store around the corner, we haven’t needed much.). We helped a friend move into a new apartment, though I was banned from heavy lifting. I made four dozen cupcakes for an event. I put on a bow tie. I’m currently writing this post on my phone as I travel across the city to another friend’s birthday party.

A perfectly ordinary Saturday that, in many ways, feels anything but. Having believed until less than two weeks ago that Bingo would be making a forced early entrance into the world, and having been told a week and a half ago by Dr. Selleck that an ECV with an accompanying induction or c-section was in the cards for this past week, today feels unexpected. This ordinary Saturday feels like borrowed time: appreciated moments as an individual and as a family of two before ordinary permanently shifts.

(Disclaimer: I know how lucky we are to be having Bingo. Though I appreciate today, I’m obviously also excited and grateful for this upcoming shift in ordinary!)

Go ride a bike.

Note: This doubles as my first NaBloPoMo post.

As a fat and nonathletic kid, I hated gym class.  The only year I did well in the despised course was in tenth grade, when our grades were based only on effort, participation and written tests.  Even then, I likely only did well because some misguided teacher mistook my red, sweating face as indicative of effort.

My overarching dislike of any physical activity has extended well beyond high school or gym class.  At 30, I’m still physically awkward: running for the bus seems like a Herculean feat, I cower when Sea throws me my keys, I worry about what will happen if Bingo is an athletic child who demands involved parents.  While all of these things are pretty consistent with my gym class hating childhood self, both my physical strength and how I view it have changed significantly since then.

A large part of that change began in 2001, when I met Herbert.  Herbert was bulky, inelegant, purple and shiny.  Herbert was my bike and yes, Herbert did have a name.  I bought Herbert for $50 from a dubious store downtown.  He had definitely been ridden and most likely stolen before he came into my possession, but I didn’t care.  It was love at first ride.  Herbert became my primary mode of transportation.  I was living on campus at the time and would wake up ten minutes before my class began, throw on clothes, and bike to class with time to spare.  When I moved off campus, Herbert came with me and carried me on the longer journey from my dingy apartment (complete with mice and cockroaches!) to class, as well as on the even longer weekend journeys to the queer bars downtown.  I vividly remember biking home in the wee hours of the morning, often slightly drunk, feeling so connected to the city.

Five years later a move had taken me further away from downtown and a new job had supplemented my income.  I bought a newer, shinier bike and lent Herbert to my roommate.  The roommate promptly left Herbert unlocked outside while he ran into the grocery store, and Herbert was stolen.  Though I still feel a twinge of jealousy or nostalgia when I see a pale purple bike, the loss of Herbert didn’t diminish the love for biking that had somehow emerged.  I was hooked.

I’ve been through two (unnamed) bikes since then.  Another move planted me firmly in the suburbs and increased my commute, but didn’t decrease my enthusiasm for biking.  Five days a week I would hop on my bike and travel the ten mile round trip to and from work.

When Bingo was conceived, I immediately Googled “bike riding while pregnant” and found a reassuring article about how it was both safe and common practice in Finland. Along with assurances from Dr. Text and later Diet Coke that biking while pregnant is safe, this was enough to keep me in the saddle.  I’ve continued my 50 mile a week bike riding habit while gestating Bingo and, whether accurately or not, have attributed  a lot of my easy pregnancy to this fact.  Good blood pressure?  Biking!  Passed glucose test?  Biking!  “Excellent core strength” (according to Diet Coke)? Biking!  Biking has made me feel strong.  Beyond this, I enjoy biking. I like spending the time outdoors, breathing deeply, stretching my legs, just thinking. Despite the city traffic, I’m at my most relaxed when I’m on my bike.

At 36 weeks when Bingo was firmly breech, Diet Coke told me to stop biking. At 37 weeks when Bingo had flipped, Dr. Selleck told me the same. The advice of two medical professionals, accompanied by Sea’s stern gaze, was enough to finally stop me. Since then, I’ve reluctantly stored my bike in the garage and stepped into the world of public transit. I hate it, with its uncertain timetables, crowded platforms, and 1000 comfortably seated people willing to look anywhere except at the standing pregnant person swaying in their midst.

Three weeks isn’t a long time, I know.  Though I’m glad to have spent 37 weeks biking with Bingo, I also worried about errant car doors and careless drivers.  So it’s only with the slightest bit of resentment that I’ve hung up my helmet for the first time in over a decade. I know it will be there for me when I’m ready to come back.

Here’s my confession though: earlier this week I had errands to run. It was a beautiful day and the fall leaves made the morning light golden.  So I unlocked the garage, pulled on my helmet and rode. I inhaled the smell of the crunching leaves, felt the damp air on my skin, listened to my own breath, and appreciated those final stolen moments where it was just Bingo, the bike and me.

Image

Magic baby.

No, we don’t have a baby yet.

My lack of update following our impromptu appointment with the OB/GYN on Tuesday is purely a result of my computer having experienced an utter collapse a week ago.  Though the computer has not yet been repaired, I’ve come to the decision that blogging from work is an excellent use of my lunch hour.  (Food is optional at 37ish weeks pregnant, right?)

So, Tuesday.

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