As you all know from avidly reading my blog, Bingo was conceived with the aid of an anonymous donor: the same one we used to conceive the still-cooking Powerball.  The donor is identity release– when Bingo is eighteen she can choose (or not) to find out his name and last known contact information– but for now he’s a man of mystery.

What I haven’t mentioned before is that we do know a small something about the other side of Bingo’s genetics. Continue reading

A visit to Clinic One.

I woke up to the sound of our alarm clock, early enough on a fall morning that our room was still completely in the dark.  I squinted as I rooted through the laundry basket of clean, unfolded clothes: hoping desperately that the clothes I grabbed would both fit and vaguely match.  Then I stepped out into the cold and headed downtown to Clinic One.

Yes, this was this morning.

Continue reading

A conversation with two ten year olds.

Kid 1: Wait, you’re pregnant?

Me: Yes.

Kid 1: How?

Me:  I just am.

Kid 1: What did you get pregnant with?

Me: A baby, I hope.

Kid 1: No, with what man?  What man did you get pregnant with?

Me: I didn’t get pregnant with any man.

Kid 2:  (leaping up, in great excitement) I know!  I know!  She got pregnant with insemination!  That’s how my sister and I were made!  With insemination!

The birds and the bees.

When my mother asked how I had gotten pregnant, I responded: “Sometimes, when a sperm and an egg love each other very much…”

This summary didn’t satisfy her curiousity.  I suspect that a story about a stork wearing a rainbow bandana and a pair of leather chaps wouldn’t cut it, either.  Instead, our weekly conversations have now become near interrogations of the whats, whens, wheres, whys, but mostly the whos of Bingo’s conception.

Sea and I have been asked about which procedures we used, which medications, which clinics, how much money, how many attempts, how many months, whose eggs.  We’ve responded to most of these questions with evasions and ballpark answers, with an outright refusal to disclose the answer to the last one.  Superficially my mother seems to accept this, but we’ve learned that she’s been mining my aunt for more information.  My aunt doesn’t know anything more about the process than my mother does, but the very asking of the question reveals her focus on Bingo’s genetics.

That focus moved over to questions about the sperm donor in today’s conversation.  She began casually enough, “So, when you buy sperm from the fertility clinic, how much information do they tell you?”  Following a brief lesson on sperm banks, I explained that we were given quite a bit of information about our donor.  This brought us to my mother’s real subject of interest: how had we chosen?  What criteria had we used?  Who is he?   She asked specifically about his post-secondary education, his ethnicity, his family’s medical history.  (There’s a larger discussion of eugenics to be had in how these are the questions that get prioritized, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I refused to answer.  The truth is that a lot of time, thought and discussion went into picking our donor(s): first Mickey, then Lefty.  There were even spreadsheets.  Like Mickey, we picked Lefty not because of his high SAT score, impeccable medical history or interest in mixed martial arts, but because he was the right choice for us.  The choice was partly made because he resembled Sea, partly because we wanted a Jewish donor, mainly because a lot of his quirks and comments just made him feel right.  But it’s also the truth that it doesn’t matter who Lefty is: Lefty’s sperm comes with countless genetic possibilities (as do my eggs) and, more importantly, Lefty isn’t going to be the parent of our child.  Bingo may end up with my dimples or large head or Lefty’s nose, it’s true, but Bingo is also going to end up with the values, habits, expressions and quirks that will come from being raised by me and Sea.  This is what I want to focus on: not Lefty’s post-secondary education.

So I told my mother that we had closed our eyes and pointed.  That we had flipped a coin.  She wasn’t satisfied, but those are the only answers that she’s going to get.  And, at the end of the day, how much difference is there really between a coin toss and a spreadsheet?  All that we can do is make the best choices that we can, and trust that Bingo will be who Bingo is meant to be.

Three stories.

1)  My coworker is a psychic.  She wears flowing dresses and a knowing smile.  She almost always has a shawl draped over her shoulders.  She creates astrology charts and reads tarot cards.  Months ago, as I stepped into the office, she told me that she had a dream about me.  In her dream I was very happy– something very good had happened.  I forgot about her dream until a week and a half ago, a few days after ovulation.  I was having a terrible day, when my coworker asked me if the good thing had happened yet.  “No, not yet.”, I replied bitterly.  A few days later, I was cheerfully relating some inconsequential good thing that had happened.  “Maybe this is the good thing you were talking about!”, I joked.  “No,” she replied: “the thing I dreamed about was something much bigger”.

2) We were going over to our friends’ house to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  I looked up my horoscope for the year.  It read: “For most things, you may need to lose before you gain. Your relation with young people is good. If you are female and married, it is easy for you to conceive a child.”  

3)  The Doctor is Muslim.  When she told her mother that Sea and I were trying to make a baby, her mother scolded her for having not given me holy water to consume in the process– before procedures or pregnancy tests.  Appropriately chastized, The Doctor told me this story.  I believe anything is possible, so gladly accepted the offered water.  It sat in a small plastic bottle in my cupboard until yesterday morning, when I went to Clinic One for my blood test.  Wanting to do the thing correctly, I downloaded an app on my phone that would point me towards Mecca.  I texted The Doctor asking her to pray, angled myself in the right direction, closed my eyes, squeezed some of the water from the bottle into my mouth, and went in for the blood test.  Later that afternoon I texted The Doctor saying, “Holy holy water!”

I’m pregnant.

The case of the stolen sperm.

The title is a lie.  The sperm itself wasn’t stolen, just the IUI.  It’s been quite a day.

Sea is recovering from the flu, and this morning her hacking cough woke us up before the alarm did.  As she coughed and I stared at the clock, we decided that attempting further sleep would be an exercise in futility and we might as well get up and go for an IUI instead.

We left our house smug, congratulating ourselves and each other for the early morning that, we assumed, would translate into arriving at Clinic One before the morning rush.  Then, cutting through a park to get to the bus stop, we saw the man lying on the cement path– glasses broken and blood around his head.  A woman stood over him, on the phone with the emergency dispatcher, but she was the only other person there.  Of course we stopped to help.  As I sat on the ground next to his head, rubbing the shoulder nearest me and encouraging him to stay still, Sea ran to the ambulance bay conveniently located about twenty feet away from where he had fallen.  She came back minutes later, now on the phone with an emergency dispatcher herself.  “But I can see the ambulances!”, she said, exasperated.  “I’m at the park immediately behind Station #123…  What do you mean what’s the nearest intersection?”  Sea continued to go through the same questions that the dispatcher had just gone through with the other woman.  I kept talking to the man on the ground, encouraging him not to move, still rubbing his shoulder.  Finally, fifteen minutes after Sea’s call, an ambulance drove up to the edge of the park and two men in bright yellow jackets appeared.  They simultaneously helped the man up and flirted with the woman who had been there when we arrived: “Are you okay sir?  Oh, uh, that’s a nice coat, ma’am.”  The woman smiled briefly at the compliment before kicking snow over the blood on the path and hurrying away, explaining that she was late for the first day of a new job.  We followed behind her to the bus stop, not explaining what we were now late for.

We arrived at Clinic One almost at the end of cycle monitoring hours, stopping at the andrology lab first to request the thawing of our first vial of Lefty.  As the nurse teaching me how to inject myself had said during our visit, “They won’t thaw the sperm until they’ve seen the whites of your eyes.”.  As I signed the waiver, I pointed to a machine steaming in the background: “Is that the machine that thaws the sperm?”  Sperm Thawer laughed and replied no, it was just a humidifier.  Oh, okay then.

Having missed the early morning lull at Clinic One, Sea and I walked into a crowded waiting room.  We sat watching other people being called for blood draws and ultrasounds, aware of how far down I was on both lists.  The blood drawing miracle worker was on shift: I anxiously watched every time she came out to call another name, hoping that she would call mine.  She didn’t, and the back of my hand suffered yet another puncture wound.

I was soothed from the injustice of my bloody bad luck (Ha, get it?  Bloody!) by my ultrasound.  Granted, the wait was long enough to prompt Sea to ask, “It still hasn’t happened?!”, but while I stood by the closed door of the ultrasound room I ran into a couple who I had met years ago in a gayby making info session of sorts.  I couldn’t remember their names, but in the context of a fertility clinic still felt comfortable enough to compare sperm counts and procedures with them.  They’ve been trying for about as long as we have, and together we marvelled over the fact that you could put 20 million sperm right up next to a just-ovulated egg and still not get pregnant.  I was finally called in by the same sonographer who had performed Saturday’s ultrasound.  The room was, clearly, the room where they do pregnancy ultrasounds.  A screen was placed at eye level with the exam table, and I watched as my uterus and ovaries appeared, ghostly in black and white, on the screen.

After the ultrasound it was a long wait.  Sea and I began to name the fish in the aquarium.  We used my phone to read every website we could think of, twice.  I began texting The Doctor.  I had pulled out my knitting project and Sea was attempting to stifle a coughing fit when Dr. Text finally called us in for the IUI.  He seemed pleased with the timing of the IUI which, compared to his usual confusion with my chart, was a nice change.  As Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” played over the radio, Dr. Text reviewed Lefty’s sperm count with us.  18.9 million: a fine count that still managed to dash my dreams of Lefty being a much more virile donor than Mickey had been.  Dr. Text performed the IUI as all three of us chatted about how our parents had shared, or not shared, our conception stories with us.  Sea and I may or may not have high-fived at some point during this process.

Dr. Text left after the procedure and, a few minutes later, so did we.  We didn’t just leave the room, we left the clinic.  Without paying for the IUI, or picking up the additional progesterone suppositories Dr. Text had ordered.  To be fair, our sperm-fueled equivalent of a dine and dash was entirely accidental.  We were several blocks away from Clinic One when I turned to Sea and said, “Um, we forgot to pay.”  We debated going back, but we were far enough away that an awkward return to the clinic we had just accidentally fled was too unappealing to contemplate. So we just kept walking.  Tomorrow morning I’ll go back to Clinic One to pay and get more progesterone, but right now you are reading the blog of an IUI thieving fugitive.  May that one day be the search term that lands somebody here.

The pregnancy test is on Sunday, March 2nd.  I can only hope that Clinic One hasn’t issued a warrant for my arrest and put up my mugshot next to their liquor licence and collection of baby photos by then.  Stay tuned.

Total Ultrasound Count: 28

Venial Cupid.

Last night I dreamed that Sea and I had a baby.  I was pregnant in the beginning of the dream, but it then became clear that the baby had been born and we were supposed to pick her up.  We went to get her from a building that looked a little bit like our grocery store.  A group of people wearing white scrubs were working in an area that looked like a cross between a factory and a professional kitchen.  They reached into a large metal machine and handed us our daughter.  She was small, and had the same nose as Lefty– the one feature of our new donor that I really don’t like.  As I tried to push the baby’s nose into a different shape, Sea held her.  Walking through the aisles of the building, Sea and I decided that we would name the baby Venial Cupid.  We decided this was an elegant name, reminicent of the goddess Venus.  A friend of ours (V!) appeared and told us that the name was terrible, and sounded more like venereal disease than anything else.

I woke up and realized that it was time to go to Clinic One for cycle monitoring.

Clinic One was crowded, but operating with unusual efficiency.  Within ten minutes of arriving at the clinic I had my pants off for the ultrasound.  The sonographer, an older woman who has only performed one or two of my many ultrasounds, worked with friendly efficiency as “Some Nights” played over the radio: “What do I stand for? What do I stand for?  Most nights I don’t know anymore…”  Pulling my pants back on, I told the sonographer that I find the ultrasounds less invasive than the blood drawing (true).  Smiling, she explained that they were necessary, “but not very romantic”.  Also true.

After my blood was drawn– from my hand again– Dr. Text called me in to the exam room he often uses as an office.  After looking at my chart for a few minutes he bluntly announced, “Well, the Femara has done nothing.”  I still only have one follicle– now 20mm.  The 11mm follicle hasn’t grown but has, mysteriously, transferred sides from the left to the right.  I’m going to assume that one of the sonographers marked it down on the wrong side and it hasn’t actually gone wandering, because if it has we have bigger problems than ineffective Femara.

Dr. Text flipped back and forth between the pages of my file, trying to decide when to trigger ovulation.  Finally deciding on tonight, he sent me to see a nurse who would explain the process.  Though I was only there to learn how to inject myself, she poked through my chart like a nosy relative, commenting on my beautiful follicle and asking why I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet.  She sighed over the cost of the processes in the same tone as somebody bemoaning the rising cost of gas.  Finally, asking whether my thighs were less fat than my stomach, she told me how to inject myself.  As we walked back out to the reception desks, I asked her what the “TDI” she had written on my chart stood for.  She raised my file to her mouth before answering, in a stage whisper that would have made Heterosexist Receptionist proud, “therapeutic donor insemination”.   Lowering the file, she cheerfully told me that if she was the one doing the procedure that she would set things up and then let Sea do the rest.  This seems both sweet and suspect.

It turns out that the Inject Yourself 101 course was unnecessary: Nurse Brittany called early this afternoon to tell me that I was beginning to surge naturally and that I should refrigerate the (non-refundable/returnable) shot for later use.  IUI #4 is on Monday morning.

Total Ultrasound Count: 27

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


Sea and I have decided that a child created using Mickey, our first choice donor, would have been a serial killer.  The child would likely have brought us nothing but grief, making us rue the day we chose the donor we did, before he killed us in our sleep.  He would have been used as an example of the dangers of same-sex parenting by conservatives around the world, with old men shaking their heads and exclaiming, “Just look what can happen!”  So you can thank us now, because IUI #3 didn’t work.

Dr. Text had told us that I could come in for the pregnancy test on Sunday or Monday, and we had previously decided that I would go in on Monday before work.  This morning I woke up early, feeling ill.  I had horrible cramps, and was certain that my body would be bleeding if the progesterone suppositories weren’t preventing it.  If this cycle wasn’t going to work, I wanted it to be done.  I discussed it with a still-groggy Sea, and we decided I would go in to Clinic One.  I would get my blood drawn and, while I was there, I would track down a doctor or nurse and ask why my body might be revolting.

I was at Clinic One less than an hour later, mercifully having my blood drawn by the one technician who can reliably find a vein in my arm.  Soon after the blood draw, my name was called by a young nurse who I didn’t recognise.  She pulled me into an insemination room, and stood in the doorway looking through my file, “Do you feel foolish?”  “Sorry?”, I responded, confused.  “Do you feel fluish?  Fever, chills?”  Oh, fluish.  No, I didn’t feel fluish– just uncomfortable and ill.  She proceeded to tell me that, as a nurse, she couldn’t give any advice.  She told me to take my progesterone as usual, and wait for the results of the pregnancy test.

The nurse called early this afternoon, awkward in what I’m sure is a routine call.  I had managed to avoid these calls in the first two cycles, bleeding before a pregnancy test told me I was going to, but this time I was on progesterone and wasn’t going to bleed until I stopped.  “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your beta was zero.”

Zero.  Not even a little bit pregnant.  Just absolutely and equivocally not pregnant.  Just like I was an $1000+ treatment and two weeks of progesterone suppositories ago.  Just like I was four months and several thousand dollars ago.  Except now our first choice donor has left the program, we’re out of sperm, and really beginning from the start.  Again.

And the cramps that I woke up with have progressed into a stomach flu.

In other news, I read a lot of blogs and a number of people were in the same two week wait I was.  Every single one of those two week waits has resulted in a positive pregancy test, other than ours.  Many of you have been trying a lot longer than Sea and I have, and I’m glad that your results this week are better than ours.  Still, I feel a little left behind.

But we didn’t want to have a serial killer for a child, so this is lucky, I guess.

Two dozen ultrasounds and 20 million sperm.

For reasons unknown, whenever our home phone rings we are about as far away from it as you can be in our fairly small house.  Not only that, we are usually both otherwise occupied.  My hands will be in a sink of dirty dishes, suds slopping up my forearms, while Sea will be cooking an elaborate meal.  And then the phone will ring.  So it only made sense that we were in the middle of a home renovation project when the phone rang on Sunday afternoon.   I ran across the house, bare feet covered with drywall dust, simultaneously trying to wipe the paint off my hands onto a cleanish corner of my shirt and answer the phone before voicemail intercepted.  My urgent “Hello?!” as I grabbed for the phone at the last minute was met by Nurse Brittany’s cheerful greeting, followed by, “Congratulations!  Your blood test results show a surge!  Your IUI will be tomorrow.”  Continue reading