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.

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?

 

 

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.

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