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.

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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”.

http://tumblr.sexmind.com/post/62617096834/mcalc-the-first-gender-neutral-menstruation

Fruits and vegetables.

(Alternate title: “There’s an app for that.”)

When I found out that Bingo was working on cell division, one of my first acts was to download every free pregnancy app that I could find.  I then moved on to websites and e-mail lists, signing up for updates with abandon.  Sea did her part as well, creating a series of tickers that would make even the most avid blogger green with envy.   Though I’ve pared down on the electronic stalking of our fetus quite a bit as the months have passed, I still receive several updates every week.

One of the primary features of most of these pregnancy tracking tools is a weekly size update.  As well as giving length and weight (which mean nothing to me), the tools provide a handy visual by comparing the zygote/embryo/fetus size to the size of a fruit or vegetable.  At first I found these comparisons charming: “Bingo is a blueberry! Now a raspberry!”  I would wander the aisles of the grocery store, smiling indulgently at the fruit or vegetable of the week.  Unfortunately, the comparisons quickly moved out of the aisles of my grocery store and into the realm of the obscure: “How big is a persimmon?  What is a persimmon, again?”  Now the comparisons have become completely illogical.  Take, for example, the past couple of weeks:

-Two weeks ago, a cheerful e-mail update informed me that Bingo was now the size of a loaf of bread.  I looked down at my stomach, totally unable to imagine how a full loaf of bread could be stored in there.  A small loaf, I decided, might fit.  I moved on.

-A week later, an app told me that Bingo had grown to the size of bok choy.  I happened to have some bok choy sitting at the back of my fridge, so I took it out and looked.  It was, as I suspected, smaller than any available loaf of bread.  It was barely the size of a reasonable sandwich.  Bingo had shrunk?

-This week, the apps and the e-mails agree: Bingo is the size of a pineapple.   Smaller than many loaves of bread, still, but bigger than the bok choy.   It seems that Bingo grew, shrunk, and grew again.

Despite my disillusionment with the size comparisons, I find something really great about the idea of Bingo as a pineapple– all prickly skin and sharp spears. So I’m holding on to the idea of Bingo the pineapple at 33 weeks, just hoping that next week’s updates don’t downgrade the kid to some flimsy melon or hairy coconut.

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!

Mayhem and midwifery.

It had been five weeks since my last medical intervention.

After being cut loose from Clinic One at 12 weeks, I found myself anxious in the absence of regular blood draws and ultrasounds.  It’s true that I had my blood drawn twice during those five long weeks, but these tests were swift wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am blood lettings requisitioned by Clinic One and the midwife, Diet Coke.  Nothing more.  I was feeling a little twitchy.

So it was with some relief that I met up with Sea to head to the third visit with Diet Coke at the midwifery clinic last week.  Due to a hectic schedule, this was the first visit that Sea was able to attend.  She was nervous both about what the clinic would be like, and my ability to find my way there.  I scoffed in the face of her fear.  This was my third visit: I was an expert.

Ha.

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The final dose.

Dear Progesterone,

We’re done.

I never expected us to get together in the first place, to be honest.  We came from different worlds, I knew you had a bad reputation, I just wasn’t that interested.

But then I found myself feeling low, and you appeared.  You got under my skin and promised that you would take care of me. I couldn’t resist: we fit together so easily.  Before I knew it, you were inside of me.  And then we were seeing each other every day.  Twice a day, actually.  Oh, I broke it off once or twice.  Went two weeks without you, even, but I always came back to you.

Our relationship got comfortable, you kept your promises, you made me feel safe.  But there was the other side, too.  You always wanted to see me, I had to take you everywhere, I always had to clean up your messes.

Maybe this doesn’t seem fair.  I know that you’ve done most of the work in this relationship.  I’ve ignored your issues for a long time, and you’ve taken care of mine.  But I’m not sure that I need you anymore.  I think I can make it on my own.

Oh, come on, don’t get all mushy on me.  You’ll be fine.  We’ll both be fine.  I’m moving on.  And as for you?  Well, you know where you can shove it.

Love,

A

The final shot.

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

Naturally.

Two weeks ago, I walked through the rain to yet another unfamiliar medical building and knocked on the door of yet another office.

The waiting room was completely different from that of Clinic One: or Clinic Two, or Clinic Three, for that matter.  The entire space could probably have fit into a single ultrasound room at Clinic One, in fact, and I couldn’t imagine the cheap white IKEA chairs in this waiting room finding a home among the faux-leather and plush seatbacks of the other offices I had visited recently.

The doctor, who I suspect can’t legally use the title of doctor, was the only person in the tiny IKEA showroom of an office on this particular rainy Thursday.  Smiling, she ushered me down a narrow hallway into an even smaller room, with a treatment table, a small desk and two chairs.  Several diplomas were framed on one of the beige walls, none of them bearing her name.  I sat down and, somewhat ashamed, handed Dr. Nature, the naturopath, my incomplete medical history forms.  I had left them almost entirely blank: a combination of the bustle of the last day of work before vacation, and my own reticence regarding this appointment.

You see, it’s actually fairly implausible that I would be sitting in a naturopath’s dimly lit office on the late afternoon/early evening before leaving for vacation.  I wouldn’t have believed it six months ago, frankly.  Many people, both online and offline, who I respect greatly place a lot of faith in a broad range of “alternative therapies”.  I use that term only because I can’t think of a more descriptive one at the moment, though logically I recognize that these therapies– acupuncture, reiki, massage, aromatherapy, naturopathy, hypnotherapy, whatever else– are actually much less radical than their medicalized alternative.  That said, I have also somehow developed a deeply ingrained belief that something isn’t likely to help you unless it is available in a pharmacy, prescribed in a clinic, by somebody who was issued the title of doctor by a recognized medical school.  I know: I’m so cynical that I make myself wince.

My visit to Dr. Nature wasn’t the result of a Christmas miracle in which my Grinch-like heart grew three sizes, but rather the quirks of my work-funded health insurance.  I’m very, very, very grateful to have the health insurance that I do: it’s the reason that my teeth are checked for cavities occasionally, and my impossibly tilted and scratched glasses were replaced last year.  However, my health insurance seems to fund things in a haphazard sort of way, with no rhyme or reason to what is covered and what isn’t.  Fertility treatments?  Not covered, at all.  Therapy, which would also be fairly useful?  Nope. Prescriptions?  Sometimes.  At some doses.  Maybe.  Massage?  Sure!  Go for it!  Naturopathy?  Absolutely!

A coworker of mine, pregnant belly pushed up to our office lunch table, reminded me of this fact in early December.  She had been trying to get pregnant for a year in a series of IUI cycles, unmedicated and medicated, using frozen donor sperm.  After a year of failed cycles, she had seen Dr. Nature.  She was pregnant the next month.  Sitting at that lunch table, my cynical brain screamed “Coincidence!”, but hope and my insurance coverage countered, “Why not try?”  Which is how I found myself sitting in a small clinic room with Dr. Nature, the same naturopath seen by my pregnant coworker.

Though my scepticism about naturopathy didn’t dissipate when I walked into Dr. Nature’s office, I decided pretty quickly that I liked Dr. Nature herself.  She was nice.  If she saw my scepticism, she didn’t point it out.  She responded to my nervous joking with her own humour, and accepted my incomplete medical forms– offered sheepishly– without criticism.  She began by asking why I had come to see her– to which I responded by mumbling something about how I had heard she got people pregnant.  She then turned to my incomplete intake forms and began to ask me questions.

We talked about the two IUIs using frozen donor sperm that have already happened, and chatted a little about  the pros and cons of the area’s fertility clinics.  I told Dr. Nature about Clinic Three and the extensive male medical history form that Sea had been required to complete, and laughed.  She asked about follicle size, hormone levels, and my uterine lining.  My scepticism began to waver: she clearly knew a lot.  She asked about exercise, stress, medications, my family health history and my diet.  As I responded to this last inquiry, her smile began to falter a little.  She noted that Sea seems to be a good influence, which is true: if it weren’t for Sea, my instant noodle intake would be much higher, and I probably wouldn’t know what kale is.  She also noted that my consumption of approximately a candy store’s worth of sugar a day is probably not supporting fertility.  She doled out dietary advice in the manner of a ninth grade home ec teacher: eat leafy greens, dark berries, orange foods.  I asked her if barbecue chips counted as an orange food.  She put her head in her hands, slumping towards her desk.  I took that as a no.

Having finished prescribing a much less candy-centred diet, she asked me how I felt about pills.  Having determined that they were neutral territory, she wrote out a list of pills, oils and drops that were to join the thyroid pills, B12 supplements and prenatal vitamins already filling my cupboard.  Looking back at her notes about my diet, she threw in an additional Omega 3 supplement.

Finally finished, she walked back down the narrow hallway to issue me a receipt.  We were the only people in the tiny office, as far as I could tell, and she was receptionist as well as doctor for the evening.  As I stood to follow her, I looked out the window behind her desk: it was now completely dark, and the rain had turned to sleet.  We had been there for an hour and a half.  She was still sitting at the reception desk as I left, probably writing notes about her most difficult patient ever.  As I walked out into the rain, I realized that I had forgotten to ask her about whether Doritos were an acceptable orange food.

Next time.