For those of you TTC (or trying to avoid it)…

A more inclusive cycle tracking tool is now available!

From the little I can see, it still seems to assume the type of sex folks are having.  Regardless, if I still had a cycle to track, I would appreciate a tool that doesn’t involve various pastels and unfortunate euphemisms.  And I would really love to set an app, any app, to “sex mode”.

How romantic.

I tossed the cookies onto the file lying open on the exam table: “These are for you.”

Sea had stayed up late the night before, making dozens of cookies to take into work.  As I did dishes, and she carefully arranged red and pink candy onto the dough, I asked her to save a couple for Dr. Text.  “Is that weird?”, she asked, “Will he eat them?”  I was fairly sure that it was weird, but equally sure that most people will eat freshly baked chocolate chip cookies when presented with the opportunity– particularly festively decorated cookies. Also, I argued, maybe he would work harder to make us a baby if we had made him cookies.

So this morning I walked into Clinic One with festive cookies tucked into my bag.  Though the waiting room was almost empty, I noted that there were fewer people sitting alone today.  Instead, silent couples sat slumped in the chairs.  It seemed as if the clients of Clinic One had decided that a Valentine’s Day trip to the fertility clinic was not a solo undertaking.  Judging by the glum expressions that surrounded me, however, these couples also realized the irony of sitting in a fertility clinic on a holiday represented by a cherubic, fat, weapon-wielding baby.  I appreciated that Clinic One hadn’t tried to decorate for the occasion.

(Incidentally, speaking of celebrations, while waiting to have my blood drawn I noticed a still-posted bulletin granting  Clinic One a temporary liquor license for 12/12/12 at 12:00am.  I wonder what that party was like, and who was in attendance.)

Both the technician drawing blood from the back of my hand and Diana, who performed my ultrasound, asked what my Valentine’s Day plans were.  I did my best to explain that these were my Valentine’s Day plans– getting my blood drawn, having an ultrasound, seeing Dr. Text.  Sea and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day in any significant way and, anyways, she had left for work early that morning and I would be working late into the evening.  So Dr. Text was my Valentine.

He seemed to appreciate the cookies: his smile was certainly wider than usual as he hunched over my files, and I doubt that it was my follicles making him grin.  In my last cycle, unmedicated, I had three 11mm follicles on Day 10.  This time around I have one 16mm follicle and one other at 11mm.  Dr. Text seemed pleased enough: taking his cookies and leaving the room, he told me to come back on Saturday.  While 16mm is certainly more than I’ve seen on Day 10 before, I had hoped that Femara would improve my odds a little more.

I left Clinic One a little disappointed, which I guess is how many Valentines end.  But I guess that we only need one good follicle, some strong sperm and a little luck.

How romantic.

Total Ultrasound Count: 26

Switching it up.

Despite the undisguised bitterness over January’s negative result, I’m beginning this cycle with some modicum of optimism.  I may not have been humming a happy tune or skipping down the hallway as I headed towards Clinic One this morning, but I also wasn’t kicking my feet against the taupe tiled floor.  Enough is shifting this cycle to make it feel like we’re doing something different, not just expecting a different outcome with the same steps.

Of course most things haven’t changed between January and February.  Heterosexist Receptionist greeted me by name in the same, slightly nasal, voice as always.  The blood draw technician, not the blood drawing miracle worker, still couldn’t find a vein in my arm.  I ran into the same acquaintance in the waiting room.  Dr. Text rushed down the hallway at the same frantic pace.  But some things were different.

There were the small things that make every visit to Clinic One different enough to write about: the Christmas tree was finally gone, replaced by a chair, and the blood draw technician told me that riding a bicycle would make my ovaries shrink.  In addition to running into my acquaintance, I also ran into two actual friends– a couple, there for their first visit.  (“Oh, you know them?”  Heterosexist Receptionist said, with surprise) and I sat with them as they filled out their paperwork and I waited for Dr. Text.

Then there were the bigger things, like my visit with Dr. Text.  Though his race down the hallway hadn’t slowed over the past couple of weeks, his first words as he sat down at the desk and opened my file were, “Now let’s go through this very slowly”.  It turns out that a slow read of five months worth of medical documents takes five minutes for Dr. Text.  As he settled on to January’s paperwork, he told me that he thought it was time to try medication.  He explained that, if somebody asked, he wouldn’t be able to say I was infertile– that, in fact, he didn’t actually think that I was.  But, he continued, he understands that this is costing a lot of money and, repeating one of his oft used lines, he can’t just tell us to go home and have sex.

Dr. Text raised the issue before I could, but I had been planning on asking.  As a person who generally considers taking two Advil excessive, I find the idea of fertility drugs disconcerting.  After three months of trying, there’s really nothing to suggest that I’m infertile and not just unlucky.   At the same time, I’m learning very quickly just how emotionally and financially draining this process can be.  Sea and I have spent thousands of dollars on sperm, procedures and various pills, powders, oils and suppositories with nothing to show for it—not even a lousy t-shirt.  I’m sure the ends will justify the means and our kid will be worth every penny, but we would prefer to get there sooner rather than later.  My health insurance covers medication, including fertility medication, so this increased chance isn’t going to cost any more money.  I left the office with a prescription for Femara.

The other big change for February is our new donor, made necessary by the fact that Mickey retired at the impressive age of 24.  I appreciate having the option to blame other people when situations aren’t going my way, and I’ve decided that blame for the IUI failures to date should be placed squarely on the shoulders of  the young drum circle enthusiast who donated his sperm.  I don’t know whether the sperm was inadequate or fate intervened to prevent the creation of a dangerous killer but, either way, Mickey wasn’t working out.  I’m confident that our new donor—Lefty—will be impossibly virile and using his sperm will result in children who will awe everybody with their impressive accomplishments and bent towards pacifism.

New month, new meds, new donor– here’s hoping for new results.

Total Ultrasound Count: 25

Times three.

I tried to move quietly.  Sea had woken up with me but, with the day off work, had quickly fallen back asleep.  I looked over: the cats had already claimed my side of the bed, leaving me the only one awake.  Squinting in the near darkness, I dressed in clothes that I hoped were both clean and work-appropriate before fishing socks from a drawer and heading downstairs.

It was only as I was about to leave the house that I unfolded the socks and realized they weren’t the semi-respectable work socks I thought I had grabbed, but a novelty set of three mismatched socks that I had been given for Christmas.  I considered going back upstairs for another pair, but was already running late and didn’t want to wake Sea.  Defiantly, I chose the most mismatched of the socks: bright stripes on one foot, orange and green spots on the other, and headed out to Clinic One.

The holiday decorations had been purged from the waiting room: the garland was gone, the red and gold ornaments packed away.  It looked as if the Grinch had visited Clinic One.  Only the tree remained, still shoved into the same corner but stripped of all embellishments.   I only had a few minutes to take in this slightly grim scene before being called in for my blood draw.

It was not a good day for blood drawing.  The technician flicked, tapped and slapped at my arms and hands, ignoring the fact that a person was attached to the “uncooperative” veins that she was loudly tsking at.  “We’ll get them to wake up!” she said, hitting the back of my right hand repeatedly as she spoke.  My right hand admitted defeat, and the triumphant technician was given her vial of blood.

The ultrasound was much less eventful, conducted by the technician—called Diana from now on—who seems to have asserted full claim over these regular probings.  As she conducted the ultrasound, she asked about my weekend.  I explained that I had gone to a friend’s wedding, and then had to spend the rest of the ultrasound explaining how a wedding could have taken place in a location other than a church.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not the first time that I’ve been required to educate on social issues with my pants off.

Dr. Text was not at Clinic One, or perhaps he was and the other staff just couldn’t find him.  In any event, I was called into an office by the fourth doctor.  In a November mid-cycle slump, sulking over my unpredictable ovaries, I neglected to give this doctor a name or description.  The fourth doctor appeared in Clinic One sometime around the beginning of November, a younger, balder version of Dr. Text.  His actual name is pretty unbelievably great, leaving most potential pseudonmys feeling a little lackluster, so the fourth doctor he’ll remain.  Anyhow, the fourth doctor cheerfully announced that the follicles were at 11mm each.  That’s right, the follicles— three of them.

One might still take charge, leaving the others behind.  Or three follicles could turn into three eggs, which could (only very hypothetically) turn into three babies.  Third try is the charm?

Back at it.

The alarm went off at 6:03am on Monday morning.  The three minutes past the hour were intentional: I had included them as I set the alarm the night before, in a futile attempt to make the time seem more reasonable.  The futility of this attempt was increasingly clear as I stumbled through my morning routine and then out the door towards Clinic One.

This was my first day back to the real world after two weeks of vacation time, and it was a jarring re-entry.  Not only did I have a non-negotiable 8:30am meeting to attend, I somehow had to make it to Clinic One for cycle monitoring beforehand.  I imagined calling in to the meeting:  “I’m sorry, I’m going to be late this morning.  My period started yesterday, which means that I’ll be spending the morning with an ultrasound wand up my vagina.  I’ll be in as soon as possible”, but anticipated this wouldn’t be well received.  Instead, I woke up with the 6:03am alarm and was at Clinic One only two minutes after its 7:30am opening time—my Converse already soaked through by the dirty slush on the sidewalks below.  Continue reading


Today is day 11 of my cycle, which meant that I was back to Clinic One for another whirlwind visit.  It was such a fast trip, in fact, that I’m sitting at work less than an hour after arriving at Clinic One.

I was called in for my ultrasound literally seconds after signing in and, with my jacket still zipped, was sent to the ultrasound room at the end of the hallway.

Today’s ultrasound hurt.  It’s the first one that has.  Of course others have been uncomfortable—there’s nothing comfortable about being probed ten times in the span of a month—but this one hurt enough that I instinctively yelped and pulled away.  This reaction first resulted in the ultrasound technician asking again if I was sure this was an unmedicated cycle, before deciding that my discomfort had nothing to do with the state of my ovaries but rather just the angle and state of my body at that moment.

The state of my body today seems to be tender.  Though the blood draw was accomplished in one try, much to my relief, it has left a reasonable bruise on the back of my hand.   The only part of today’s visit to Clinic One that didn’t hurt was my 30 second talk with Dr. Text—a 14mm follicle (on the same side as last time) means a Saturday visit to Clinic One and a prediction of IUI #2 early next week.

Total Ultrasound Count: 11