A few more details

Well, I hate to leave you all hanging (I’m a sucker for context) so I thought I’d provide a quick but more detailed update.

Despite still no positive OPKs, we did our first insemination last night. BFF’s car broke down and he asked La to pick him up from his teaching gig, and suggested we give it a go, since he was coming over anyway. I was a little surprised but figured it might be best if we did a sort of test run. And, I do have fertile fluid right now, so it’s not totally out of the question that the little suckers could hang out until O. Although we aren’t taking that chance – we will be doing insems this weekend as well.

It was awkward but sweet. We did a tung Lin meditation and some other ritual type stuff. Then BFF left with his cup and La and I fooled around until he knocked on the door and gave us the sample. There was a fair amount of giggling and awkward sounds from the syringe, but it never felt embarrassing.

Afterwards I put my pjs on and propped my hips up, and BFF, La and I read BFFs tarot cards and laughed. I went to bed after that and they stayed up talking.

So, one down, a few more to go. In La’s immortal words, “we’re gonna flood that shit”

So close, so far away

Day 12. Negative OPKs (all three of ’em! I’m working on that major in peestickology!) but growing gradually darker. Got a blob of eggwhite fluid on Sunday night and again yesterday, although its otherwise been the less exciting ‘creamy’ type. Things are a’brewin’ but I’m not sure when the storm will be here. Yes, I fully intend to mix metaphors all over the place today.

I have been ovulating on day 18 or so, but I think it may be coming a bit earlier this time, thanks in part to getting my thyroid in check. I got a little freaked out when I got the egg white fluid and made La call BFF and see if he could come over tonight for our first insemination, but when the OPKs at 8am and 1pm were both negative, I called it off. Its hard to feel like people are re-arranging their lives based on what color my pee stick turns, you know? I don’t want to apologize all over the place but I also feel like an asshole when I can’t give a more specific window for La and BFF.

I’m super glad I didn’t get an LH surge today, though. This is one of the crazier weeks at work I’ve had for a while – I’m conducting a day long training on Thursday for the biggest school district in the state, and the future of my project is resting on the success of this training and the other pieces of the teacher preparation I’ve developed. So, you know, no big deal. The grant application that is due on Friday is just icing on the cake. I just finished the work I needed to get done and I can’t imagine it being a restful, relaxing or anything but anxious evening if I had to squeeze the first insemination in tonight too. Plus, we have to make sure the first time includes the ritual and laughing and awkwardness! You need TIME for these things.

And, with all of the crazy going on, I’m pleasantly distracted and merrily wandering along with my pee sticks in hand. I’m excited, but I have other things to think about as well – and that is an excellent space to be in. May the next few weeks continue apace.

So, still waiting . . .waiting for the waiting.

The Right to Choose, the Right to Want

I have been meaning to write this entry for a few days but have been too busy to find a few minutes for my thoughts. Given my last entry, I’m sure you can appreciate that the busyness is, for all other purposes, an excellent thing. And hey! Thanks! to everyone for your understanding about the impatience trying to conceive breeds in us all.

Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. For my international readers (yay!) – this made abortion safe and legal in all 50 U.S. States, overturning individual state laws prohibiting abortion. It was then and continues to be now a contentious issue. Its also one I care deeply about.

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Right to choose politics were some of the first feminist philosophies I ever encountered. The Campus NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) was my first taste of radical campus organizing. From there, my life has progressed in a steady progressive queer direction towards more complex and nuanced intersectional politics. But the issue has stayed close to my heart.

Now that I work full time in the sexual health education field, it is more relevant in my thoughts. Although I work for an organization that doesn’t have an official stance on abortion (to maintain relationships, avoid controversy and focus the issue) – the goals are deeply interwoven. Teaching people about their bodies and sexual health means creating an environment where pregnancy, among other choices, can be chosen and parenthood can be intentional.

I’ve never been in the position of having an unplanned pregnancy, although I certainly didn’t help myself out with that much when I was younger (first hand experience with a lack of accurate information is part of why I got into this game) and had a scare or two in my late teens. I also don’t run in circles where too many of my close friends have had direct experience with abortion, although I find out every day that more and more people I know have had them – and I am so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories.

So my personal relationship is a unique one. But I do think a lot about the right to choose when it comes to reproduction. And I think you should too, even if you are a person who has never (and will never) have the kind of sex that could get you knocked up and your only choice is to spend hours and dollars getting pregnant.

The same fucked up systems that keep the Roe v. Wade decision a tentative and controversial one play out in the experience many queer folks have in trying to GET pregnant. Yep. Sometimes NOT wanting something and WANTING something are more similar that you’d guess.

One of the biggest legal hoops we had to jump through (and which can really complicate your life if you don’t – see here) using a known donor was having our inseminations “supervised” by a physician or advanced practice nurse. Our awesome doc – also queer and so super supportive – wouldn’t do it because of legal liability, neither would the OB-GYN. We had to hunt around all over until we found a friend who was willing to put her name on the line to help us out. Without the form she signed, La’s parental rights could be called into question and – like the Kansas case I linked to above – BFF donor could be sued for child support BY THE STATE.

The reasoning is that without medical intervention, the ‘donation’ isn’t a donation but rather a relationship that warrants equal parenting rights – no matter what other contract is signed between parties. The existence of a medical third party is what makes it legit.  Without that signature, BFF and I just had a series of very unusual one night stands, I guess?

This is the same reason that most clinics won’t let you use a known donor sample unless it has been quarantined for 6 months and rigorously tested (not just for HIV and STIs, but genetic issues, mobility and motility, etc. – stuff that costs a lot of money) They are taking on the liability – putting their medical name on the line – and passing the cost along to the intended parents.

In all cases, the medical industry and the sperm donor (‘father’) is considered to be more culpable and responsible than the woman getting pregnant. And, at its root – its the same damned issue as abortion. In both cases, women aren’t trusted to make decisions about their own bodies and what happens in them, especially when it comes to having (or not having) babies.

Of course, there’s a lot of homophobia in this as well, as a married woman can use her husband’s sperm donation at a clinic without having it quarantined. BUT if a donor is still needed then the same rules apply.

So, this week, I am grateful for Roe v. Wade and the difference is has made in millions of lives. But I’m also reminded that it is not the be-all-end-all. That the Hyde Amendment still keeps the women who most need reproductive support far from it, and the almost daily barrage of new legislation to make abortion difficult, illegal or just really shitty is depressing. So, its not done.

What do you all think? Am I grasping at straws? What are your feelings about termination of pregnancy as people who are working hard to achieve a wanted pregnancy?

In semi-related other news: The Colorado Civil Unions bill passed out of its first senate committee yesterday – which is awesome! One step closer!

CD1: The Journey (really for real) Begins

I started drip-drop-spotting last night and woke up to full on gush this morning which means . . .we are officially in TTC Cycle #1! As, perhaps, a very special gift from my uterus to me to kick this whole process off, I have the worst cramps I’ve had in YEARS. I used to have very painful periods (that also involved intense bouts of depression) but the last couple of years they have really chilled out and been entirely manageable. This morning I could barely get out of bed without feeling like I was going to puke from the pain. I keep reminding myself that if we are lucky, this could be the last period I have for a year or more . . .but then I get another ass-kicking cramp and my uterus is all “ha ha F you!”

This past cycle was 32 days, with ovulation on day 18 (or 19 – Fertility Friend and I are in disagreement) and a 14 (or 13) day luteal phase. This is awesome! I am crediting the B6 and B-Complex I started taking in early December for lengthening my luteal phase, since I didn’t do anything else different this time around.

If things go as they have been, we will do our first insemination on Friday Feb 1st and continue until the 5th or 6th. Because BFF is awesome and will come over many time so long as we feed him well and let him choose what to watch on TV.

I got some instead cups for the inseminations and decided to practice using them during this menstrual cycle. They are shockingly easy to use and by far the most comfortable period protection I’ve ever used. I was a big fan of the Diva cup until my spaniel ate it for lunch (cause dogs are wonderful but totally gross) and before that, in my college radical lesbo days, I used sea sponges which were awesome but could leak when you sneezed. This is kind of the best of those things. So, go get you some is my advice.

La talked to our friend (who had a super hard time conceiving with her male partner and ended up having IVF with donor sperm) yesterday about baby making stuff. Our friend asked if La had considered how she was going to handle it if we didn’t get pregnant this first time around. La said, “No. Because we are going to get pregnant this time.” She’s is super confident but also not cocky about it, which is strange but also nice. I have tried to remind her that statistically speaking, its not likely it will work on the first go, but La thinks statistics are bullshit or at least not really helpful. It scares me a little that she is so sure, but I also trust that her certainty is not going to translate into devestation if things don’t happen this go. She is really just focused on this cycle and being positive and present and figure that if and when a negative test happens, she can figure out how to feel then.

I’m less certain that we will get knocked up right away, but I also haven’t thought about how I’ll feel if it doesn’t work. I suppose, right now, the whole thing is a big experiment and the first time around just feels like practice almost. If beginners luck hits us this time, it will be awesome – and if the more likely outcome happens, then we will be that much more experienced the next time around.

That said, a baby conceived in this cycle would be born smack dab between my birthday and La’s this coming fall. And that sure would be sweet.

How do you balance the need to be positive and confident and overtrusting that optimism and getting crushed? What is the sought after middle path of trying to conceive?

Win-Win!

I’m on CD30, no bleeding yet. Hoping I hold out until Thursday which would mean a nice, long, cozy luteal phase and make this cycle the best (tracked) one yet. In any case, we should be inseminating in two weeks – whether we are at the start or the end is the only difference. La has taken to talking about how my cervix will be ‘soaked’ in sperm which kind of grosses me out even though I know, odds wise, that’s the way to go. Still, I wish she could find a less disgusting metaphor.

On Saturday we spent our collective Xmas money on new tattoos! Its been a while since I got any ink and I was very excited. This is one of the bigger pieces I’ve ever gotten and it will probably take another two sessions to finish. Since you have to wait about a month between sessions for healing, and you can’t get tattoos when pregnant (well, at least, the evidence suggests it isn’t a very good plan at best), I am in what some would consider a conundrum but which I think is a fabulous TTC situation: If I get pregnant the first time (which would be AWESOME) then I would have to wait until after I delivered to get my tat finished. If I DON’T get knocked up (which would be sad) I would get to have a second session on my tattoo (which would be AWESOME.) So, at least for the first few tries, there is something good that can happen if I don’t get pregnant – which takes the pressure off quite a bit.

I’m attaching here a picture of the tattoo – keep in mind that it is only partially complete, that it was JUST finished at this time (if you’re unfamiliar, this means its swollen and shiny with A&D ointment) and that Hilda has a MUCH better tan than I ever will, especially on my thighs.

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Much love and luck to everyone out there gestating, raising and trying to make babies! <3!

It’s a good week here at the Gayby Project.

On Wednesday, La and I went to our first couples counseling appointment in preparation for making, birthing and raising a child together. The counselor is fabulous – just enough woo woo but not over the top – and it affirmed for me that La and I have a lot of really good tools and strategies for handling things when they are shitty. I knew this, but having professional confirmation is always nice. We both have a lot of feelings and thoughts about so much – from La’s experience of, essentially, being a non-party to the legal contract between BFF and I relating to sperm donation, to my fear that I might be infertile, to our experiences with how people react when we tell them we are going to try and conceive. I’m very glad we are taking the time and spending the money to really parse things out before there is a wailing infant and lack of sleep making things that much more challenging.

Today, we had an appointment with the OB-GYN for a pre-conception visit. I’m also really glad we spent the money for this, even though I felt kinda silly about it. I talk a lot about my unsubstantiated fear of being infertile, so it really helped to have a doctor tell me that she didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant quickly and easily. We also asked questions about our plan with timing (she recommended every other day, instead of every day like we’d planned), the process after getting a positive home test, and about how to get involved with the Midwifery Center at the University (we see a faculty practice out of the University of Colorado)

She also got me a pertussis vaccine, since I didn’t have one and you need it prior to or during pregnancy, and drew some blood to check my thyroid (its always been slightly underactive, but managed with medication. She said my TSH was a bit higher than ideal at last check, so she wanted to review it again – but that would just mean upping my levothyroxine slightly – and a higher TSH could account for my lengthier cycles) She said I’m ovulating, my labs and other numbers look good, and that she thought we shouldn’t have issues.

The OB-GYN was such an awesome place to be – I genuinely enjoyed my time there, which is not something I often say about medical practices. I’m sure it has something to do with pregnant people waddling around and an overall feeling that there is more expectant joy than impending disaster than most other places, but I LOVED the Doc we saw, and we chatted with lots of the ladies in line for the lab, and everyone was chatty and happy and nice. I felt a little bit like a fraud, waiting in line with the pregnant bellies – a few of them asked when I was due and I had to blush and say, we’re not -yet. But, I’m hoping that a couple of months from now, we might be back and have an answer to that question.

Hung out with BFF last night. He is very excited, has been wearing boxers regularly for two months now, and said his last steam room visit will be next week. OMG, love that man. I really can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have a guy who is involved, excited, and willing to do stuff like not have sex for days or change the type of underwear he wears and he ALSO doesn’t want to parent. Its totally the best possible situation.

I’m on CD26, 8 DPO, with either 4 or 6 more days to go before I menstruate. I’m hoping that I might have a 14 day luteal phase this time, but am also expecting it to be closer to 12. In any case, I should be bleeding by next week, which will mean the start of our (actual, for sure) first cycle of trying to conceive. As disappointed as I was to miss January, I have to say I am actually so relieved it worked out the way it did.

So . . .here we go. I think I am just ready enough.

The Baby Avalanche has begun!

At 12:19pm, mountain time, one of my colleagues delivered her 6lb9oz baby girl, who is nicknamed Lou (which I tell you because I LOVE it) Lou is the first of what will end up being a virtual landslide of babies to come in the next few months. After Lou, there is the baby that is just about done cooking in my boss’ belly, the babies from La’s cousins, due just two days apart in March, my friend H’s baby due in April, my new niece or nephew in July and my cousin’s baby, also due in July. I may have missed one or two as well . . .that’s how many babies are coming.

Of course, I’m hoping that all of these pregnancy hormones swarming around me will give me a good shot come the end of january/beginning of February when we give it a go. But I’m also just genuinely so excited to have so many babies in my world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the babyless trying/wanting baby jealousy that I think comes up a lot – at least, I see and hear about it a lot on the boards I’m a part of and in the conversations I have. My cousin, for example, was in tears (reportedly) when my brother and sister in law announced their pregnancy. They had a miscarriage in September and, I assume, had been trying before and since. Some friends of a friend have been trying (with a known donor at home) for over a year now, I think – they too had a miscarriage at the end of the summer – which seems just insufferably long. And there are countless others who I don’t know who hate that they feel jealous, even though they do. Its sort of a part of this process, I think  . . .especially when it ends up not being easy – or just isn’t easy from the start.

Right now, I’m not jealous – I’m overjoyed. I can’t think of anything better than having babies to love and cuddle, and, with any luck, having so many peers for the baby we hope to have. And while I’m not, in general, a jealous person (learned or natural, I don’t know; but I certainly honed my skills when I was in a long term non-monogamous relationship) I can imagine beginning to feel the burn if this process ends up going longer than we expect. I already have a bit of that hole-in-the-heart longing, although that tends to crop up most often in target in the diaper aisle, that I think can make me blind to the bigger picture. I’m scared of getting jealous – because I don’t think anyone *wants* to resent their friends and family for something so wonderful as a baby – but its also a human fallability to feel jealous when someone has something we want so much for ourselves – especially when we can’t get that thing through no fault of our own.

Tomorrow La and I go for our first couples counseling appointment. I’ve never been to a couple’s counselor before, so I’m nervous and excited. I’m glad that La and I are going now, when things are still so awesome between us and in our feelings about this adventure. Having babies is a big and super scary thing, and I love that I am married to a woman who believes as much as I do in the power of prevention. There is both hope and trepedation here.

Friday I go see the OB/GYN. I’m a little more nervous about this appointment. To start, I don’t have a real ‘reason’ for going – I’m going to frame it as a ‘pre-conception’ appointment. I made the appointment after AwkMD gave us a referral when she couldn’t sign the paperwork. I decided to keep the appointment even when that got taken care of because I’d rather have *some* sort of established relationship when I make a call to get a confirmatory pregnancy test. But going to doctors is always nerve racking for me, even more when it comes to this stuff. I just don’t have any trust that a medical practitioner isn’t going to make assumptions about me and my life based on my body. And as outspoken as I am about fat acceptance in so many other areas of my life, in a doctors office there is a lifetime of shame that comes with me.

I’m hoping to bring a really wonderful experience with me. Yesterday, a yoga teacher who I took a class from last year left me a link to a blog entry she’d written. It included this passage:

There was this beautiful girl in my Body Acceptance yoga classes, let’s call her Mandy. She’d come to class, and laugh and sweat and move and I liked her. One day during class I walked over to adjust a posse, and I caught a glance of one of her tattoos. It simply said fat, in a cool, bold, typewriter-ish font. In that little nugget of a moment, she was my new hero, and that was just the beginning of the unraveling of “Fat Acceptance”

That’s my tattoo. I got it years ago, when I hardly even qualified as “fat” by many standards.  It was heartwarming that I gave this women some support in loving herself – even if I didn’t know it then. What meant more to me was being seen as a person in a fat body who sweats and laughs and moves in the world in a joyful way. So often I think fat people are seen as sub human blobs living out pitiable existences in the world. Shit, sometimes that’s how I think of myself – in less than loving moments. But I’m not that. I am a yoga enthusiast, a runner, a dancer, and I live in my big beautiful body with joy and love and humor – most of the time. I’m very grateful that I was seen in that context.

Many milestones this week . . .even if it isn’t the one I was most looking forward to. The requisite cycle update is this: I definitely ovulated on Jan 4th, which was CD18. I got + OPKs on Tuesday and Wednesday (CD16 and CD17) and a sustained temp rise beginning on Jan 5 (CD19) This is all MUCH more in synch with a more ‘typical’ cycle for me. I’m hoping that I will have a luteal phase of at least 12 days (going for 14 this time around, with the addition of a B complex and B6 supplement) putting menstruation at 1/17-1/19, and, with another ovulation on CD18-20, the insemination process would likely be 1/30-2/3, since we are aiming for 3-4 days of insemination.

Which could mean a home pregnancy test (with reliable results) on 2/14. Now, just as a caveat, I am not a big fan of Valentine’s day. I am a religious scholar (by training) and I think what modern american society has done to this otherwise kind of bloody Saints day is really weird, which is why I was super resistant to doing anything for the holiday back in Feb  2009 when La and I were just barely dating. La, though, is a tried and true romantic. Which is why we ended up having a very schmaltzy date and deciding to be girlfriends (I call it the DTR or “define the relationship” talk) that night.

Dudes, what I’m saying is: if we DO have a one hit wonder and the dates DO line up, La and I could find out we are having a wee one 4 years after we decided we were an item! Or, we could be wicked disappointed . . .whatever.

But, in any case . . .I may just be grateful for the profusion of chocolate and an excuse to spend some extra time with my boo, for one reason or another.