It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Greenery, stockings and lights!

 

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We made our own wreath this year. Yes, everything on it is covered in glitter. As Liberace said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful!”

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Tiny Christmas tree!

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And finally . . .when La and I decided we wanted to have a wedding ceremony/Gay Love Extravaganza Event, we didn’t go through the usual engagement rituals. We bought very lovely unmatched wedding bands to exchange during our ceremony which we have loved. Over the last year, we have talked more and more about having more traditional engagement type rings. Well, we found two MATCHING used (ahem, ‘pre-owned’) engagement rings for a price we could afford – so we bought them! Merry Christmas! Or should I say, Marry Christmas? They are off being sized and soldered to our wedding bands but we should have them back in a week or two!

 

Gratitude.

For all the bitching I do in this blog, I must come across as a real spoiled asshole. Sorry about that. Since it’s Thanksgiving week here in the good ol’ US of A, I thought I would do a little thankfulness post. With pictures. Because more images usually equals less brattiness, amiright? So, here is a short list of things I’m thankful for: Image

This babe, obvs.

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This dude, obvs.

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My brother, sister-in-law and the gorgeous baby of theirs (who is in the 99.53 percentile for height!) Image

My amazing, loving, generous parents (dressed in the family tartan for my wedding two years ago)

 

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The best, snuggliest, most adorable dogs in the whole land.

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A church community that fills me with awe and wonder while also thoroughly calling me on my shit. Image

These ridiculous chickens and how they teach me to care for things and not take them for granted.

 

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My babely friends who take post modernist abstract portraits with me.

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A job I love that accomplishes good in the world, and which I am paid a living wage to do.

 

NOT PICTURED:

*Education – good public schools, the opportunity to attend college and graduate school 

*A warm, secure, comfortable home

*Books and libraries

*Hope and possibility

*An appointment next week to investigate what’s next on the fertility journey

 

 

Confessions.

I have a confession: I took a pregnancy test last night. 

I don’t know why I did it. Maybe because I started getting the kind of cramps I associate with bleeding. Maybe because I just wanted to know. Maybe because I actually thought I might get to carry around a happy secret all to myself for a few days. I don’t know. I did it and I feel bad because I didn’t tell La and that’s such an asshole move.

It was negative, of course. I mean, there are good non-indicative reasons for that: it was 11DPIUI and not first morning urine. And, of course, no conclusion can be drawn yet. But, it still feels miserable, which makes me wonder once again why I decided to do what I did.

The test I bought was a cheap store brand, the kind with blue dye and a plus sign for pregnancy, the kind that all the boards say are notorious for false positives or dye runs or indents or whatever. After I waited the requisite 5  minutes and nothing appeared, I tore the test apart and looked in every crevice and from every angle for something, anything. It seems like all kinds of women get those dumb dye runs or indents or whatever, or at least the damned baby center board is full of pictures of them. And maybe it sounds stupid but I fucking want that. Even if it isn’t real. I want that level of hope for a day or two. I want a test that I could squint at and maybe make something out. I have never seen anything but stark, white, nothing. There has never been a glimmer, a pool, a whisper, a hint. 

Its dumb, I know, to want something so silly. And maybe its foolish to feel so miserable when there is still time for a line to appear. Maybe I’m being self indulgent. If so, I guess I’ll have to eat some crow and apologize for being so morose. More tomorrow.

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There’s not a lot to report except that I continue to feel totally dragged down by this damned wait. Even with very full days and evenings, the moments are creaking by.

Dr. G called with my post ovulation progesterone results last night: 8.5. So, better than last time but not much, since, you’ll recall over 5= ovulation, over 10 is normal for unmedicated cycles and close to 20 is ideal for medicated cycles. I don’t know what it ‘means’ really that I had four mature follicles which all appeared to be likely to ovulate and yet still only managed a progesterone level of 8.5. Dr. G just mentioned that if I got a positive pregnancy test to call him right away to get on progesterone support and that ‘if there is a next time’ that we would probably want to add the progesterone. But it seems to me that this low progesterone continues to signal some sort of ovulatory disfunction. Which makes me sad. He was very clear that this level did not mean I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant or wasn’t pregnant . . .indeed, he said he’s seen pregnant women with lower progesterone levels. Still, its hard to feel very encouraged knowing my body still doesn’t quite have its shit together.

Nothing else to report, really. I started getting cramps this afternoon which – I know, I know – could be good or bad. I’ve had hella crazy cervical fluid, but its of the sticky variety which doesn’t seem to bode as well for pregnancy as the other kinds. No other symptoms to spot . . .

Anyway . . .I’ve got a few more meetings to get through today, an exceptionally long work day tomorrow, and one night of anxiety filled sleep before I can find out if we are pregnant or moving on to the next great fertility adventure.

Fork in the Road

It has been a week since our most recent IUI, and while we have been plodding through what is undeniably the slowest two week wait we have yet experienced we have also been thinking about what the next chapter in this story might look like if it is not the long awaited “Pregnant” chapter. As I mentioned, La would much rather suspend the conversation until it is absolutely necessary, and I would prefer to get all the dominoes set up so they can be promptly put into play. So we have been striving for a balance and, mostly, succeeding.

This week I scheduled two conversations – one with an alternate donor, The Director, and the other with a Reproductive Endocrinologist a friend of mine saw for an IUI (and ended up getting pregnant.) I was mostly curious if they would have the same rules about non-partner known donor sperm – which they do because, well, its an FDA rule that mostly RE’s seem to adhere to without any acknowledgement of the ways it is sometimes really absurd.

The conversation with The Director was great. He is a very sweet dude who loves babies and loves community and is so genuinely interested in helping us. We talked about logistics, about relationships and roles, about his donating to another couple who we know but aren’t close to, and about how his child(ren) and our potential child(ren) might understand each other. Plus, there were two babies – The Director’s son M and our nephew Liam, who both got passed around and loved on and generally made the conversation less awkward that it could have been. We agreed to keep in touch about if this try worked, the legal pieces that still need to be worked out, and conversations that remain.

The conversation with the RE didn’t go so well. I mean, she was very nice, and very direct, and gave me some excellent numbers. But I definitely left that conversation feeling pretty lousy, which was not the case with The Director. After getting a basic rundown of my medical stuff and BFF’s medical stuff, she let me know that if it was her, she would just choose another (anonymous) donor. She did say that she could work with us, but would have to go through the testing-quarantine-testing 6 month wait deal, and kind of implied that our OB was fucked up for doing IUIs without this quarantining. When I asked about success rates for IUI with the kind of issues we have currently, she quoted me at 5-8%. When I asked about IUI’s with my PCOS + clomid + anonymous donor sperm, that only bumped up to 12-15%. With injectibles and anonymous donor sperm, she said 20%. So, basically what I heard was: this is hopeless.

So, last night felt kind of hard. On the one hand, the conversation with The Director felt good . . .but in light of the statistics about IUI and my PCOS, it felt like such a potentially long hard road. But what other options existed? Anonymous donor sperm, which just isn’t what we want to do (and doesn’t exactly have any better success rates), injectibles (which our OB doesn’t do, so back to the RE and the anonymous donor option), IVF which would require the waiting period, or . . .or . . .or . . .All of a sudden, the necessity for this cycle to work felt so much more urgent.

At some point, we remembered that the RE/Fertility clinic we went to last weekend when our OB couldn’t do the insemination already had BFF and I listed as ‘partners.’ This was because when BFF was sent for his initial sperm analysis in July, it was MY OB who made the order. And because of the assumptions that get made, that automatically entered us into the system as partners. So, when we showed up last weekend, no one asked a damn thing – they just told me to send my husband to make his donation. And none of us corrected those assumptions. Which means that those assumptions would already be in place without us having to say a thing. Is this ethically questionable? Maybe. Do I have reservations about putting it on the internet? Yes, I do. Do I believe that it is appropriate given the reality of the situation? Hell yes.

Which meant there was one final conversation to have before our next path could be picked. That conversation was with my Mom.

I’m going to take a minute to interrupt the trajectory of my story to tell you this: My mom was a teacher, principal, and school administrator (at the end of her carreer, at an exceptionally high level) in the same school district for over 30 years. She is smart and was really good at what she did – she also loved it. Because of her length of service to a public education organization, she has ended up pulling in a pretty great pension – and I do mean pension in the traditionally awesome sense of the word. Then, after retiring from the school district, she took a job in the private educational research field making even better money. She would probably still be doing this if she hadn’t had some serious medical complications, including back and hip issues, that made it impossible for her to travel and train as much as she needed. Because of the back and hip issues, and the years she put into THAT job, she is now on long term disability. Long story short – my mom has made a career she loved into something shockingly lucrative for herself. The fact that she is smart with investments and saving has only amplified this.

I’m telling you this so you know that my parents have a good sum of money which they mostly don’t spend, because they never expected to make that kind of money in the fields they chose. My parents have been incredibly generous and have been very helpful when I have been in tight spots in the past. When we started working with the OB and knew we would be incurring some costs, my mom offered to pay for some of those costs to offset our expense. We knew that *if* IVF was an option depended not only on the doctor and the donor issues but also on if my mom would be willing to help us financially in some way or another – whether that was co-signing on a loan, loaning us some or all, or gifting some or all.

So today we went to lunch with my mom and told her where things are at with the baby making business. I wanted to get her perspective for a lot of reasons – not just because she could help us with the cost of IVF. We told her the numbers, the medical pieces, the potential of other donors (side note: My mom ADORES BFF. Like, serious LOVE!) success rates, and estimated costs. And she looked at us with tears in her eyes and said, “You deserve to be parents. And we spent that much on your father’s teeth this year, so . . .” Which really makes you consider things, you know? That this amount of money, while certainly still significant to my parents, was a potential, a realistic amount. To La and I, it is a huge and looming terror. To many others, I know, it is a(n appalling) yearly income or an impossibility to spend.

So, it appears that if this IUI is unsuccessful, we will be moving to IVF, thanks to assumptions, our willingness to be less than 100% honest, and the incredible gift of my parents. I feel humbled and incredibly grateful to be able to make this decision without having to think about loans or financing, waiting to save or balancing credit card balances. I know that this is an incredibly rare experience for most people going through this kind of thing and I feel so very blessed.

For us, this makes sense. With my PCOS and our deep desire to know and have a relationship with our donor, IVF with BFF is the best choice. Of course, the hope remains fierce that all of these conversations will have been for nothing. That the next chapter is not injections or protocol, its just a beautiful baby.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Lala!

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On this day 33 years ago the most fabulous, funniest, goofiest, most wonderful girl was born! She grew up in Indiana, a star amongst cornfields, shining with glitter and too big for her small town. She busted out of Avon and headed west to Los Angeles where she met her BFF and got her BFA, then meandered back east(ish) to Colorado to get an MFA and get married – to me! I’m super, super glad this babe is my wife and that, despite all the crap we’ve endured, that I am trying to make babies with her!

On the baby-making front:

We are 5 DPIUI. Last time, the wait fairly flew by. Not so much this time. It feels impossible that its only been 5 days. 5 days! 

Maybe its dragging because, oh! I have *SO* much hope this time. I admit, I’m a data girl. I like numbers. I like statistics. I like probability. And it is simply true that chances of pregnancy with IUI increase with multiple follicles. Granted, it doesn’t guarantee anything. But I’ll take 18% over 7% any day. (To be honest, the real crap of it is how widely the numbers vary on success rates . . .) The point is, I feel hopeful. And damnit if that hope doesn’t make waiting so.fucking.hard.

Tomorrow, La and I meet with The Director about using him as a donor. Later that day we have a phone consult with an RE about the possibility of IVF with BFF. Saturday we are going to lunch with my mom to see what options we might have around borrowing money for IVF from my parents, should we decide that is the direction we want to go.

All of this is, in some respect, counter to that big ball of hope we are holding on to . . .and yet, it doesn’t feel inappropriate to me. La and I talked about how to hold on to both – maintaining our hopefulness that ‘next steps’ will be unncessary while still pursuing them. For me, this actually feels kind of good. I’d rather have options figured out and not have to use them then be devastated AND have to deal with logistics. La feels like investigating other options diminishes the hope somewhat. We are trying to find ways to support each other in these very different ways of being in the world. 

My truly amazing executive director left a moonstone on my desk – moonstones support fertility and fortune. It is beautifully egg shaped and fits so nicely in my hand. I am grateful to work with so many lovely people who are supporting me through this journey. 

But today! Today is all about that gorgeous girl up there! We are headed to see “The Book of Mormon” tonight, and I have everything I need to make her a chocolate cherry cake! That plus pho from the little place in our neighborhood should be a pretty awesome b-day!

4 + 11 = 1

I do love a good story. It will be the best if it doesn’t just go down in the annals of trying to get pregnant and ends up in a baby book, eh?

So, Saturday morning La and I got up at 5:45am, which would hurt on almost any morning, but was particularly rough on a Saturday after having people over for dinner and games. I was dragging. We decided that La was coming and we would handle lying/not lying if and when it came to it. Right after our insemination, I had to be on an interview panel for the organization whose board I’m on so we took two cars. In retrospect, such a blessing.

On the way to the fertility clinic there was a massive piece of metal sitting in the middle of the road. Despite the 6:30am dearth of traffic, it was still almost impossible to miss the hazard safely and so I did my best to navigate around it. No dice. I heard a huge ‘clunk’ from the undercarriage and prepared myself for signs of damage. A few minutes later my car started making the undeniable aircraft carrier life off/flat tire sound, and I pulled over.

Thanks to my incredibly bad luck as a teenager, I became an expert at changing flat tires and with La as my assistant, we were able to get the whole process done with in 15 minutes! Unfortunately, that made us 15 minutes late to the appointment and unable to call the clinic to let them know.

We met BFF at the clinic and signed in – the receptionist was unphased at my tardiness or showing up as a trio instead of the typical dyad. I was sent upstairs promptly for the ultrasound and BFF and La stayed downstairs to wait for instructions. Upstairs in the ultrasound room I went through the usual ultrasound ritual and the tech looked initially at my right ovary. “Yep, you’re ovulating!” she said, taking measurements. Then she looked over at the left side. “Oh, there’s a few more over here.” She took measurements for three additional follicles on the left, then told me I could get up. “You’ll have to talk to the nurse about the risk for multiples.” No big deal, I thought – I was expecting that conversation.

After I was shown to an exam room, the nurse came in, introduced herself and looked at my chart. “You have four mature follicles releasing eggs,” she started, “So, we won’t be able to do the insemination.” Cut to: immediate waterworks. She leaned in and hugged me, which felt totally weird and awkward but I imagine its just protocol there. She explained to me that ‘legally’ they just couldn’t. When I looked at her funny (because I know there isn’t a *law* against inseminating someone with a certain number of eggs) she clarified that “they just didn’t do it,” She didn’t tell me what mitigating circumstances might change that, just said no. When I pointed out that I am not usually a patient at their clinic and was only there because it was a weekend, she mentioned that she MIGHT be able to call my on-call doctor and get approval, MAYBE. I told her that on 50mg of clomid I hadn’t even really ovulated, so what was I supposed to do? I was fucking exhausted and probably still had clomid coursing through my veins and all I could think about was missing this shot and how bad it would feel.

The nurse then left – without giving me much information about why or what was going to happen – and went running around the clinic. La later informed me she came downstairs and complained to the receptionist about me. (Side note: I have been known to be a real hardass with medical professionals who treat me poorly, but I actually didn’t this time. I just cried. Really.) La spoke up, specifically letting the nurse know that the orders from our doctor had been faxed the day before, and the nurse got a little contrite. By the time she came back up to me, she had learned that if the on-call doctor would approve the insemination with four mature follicles, they could move forward.

Thank god it was The Cover Girl on call for the weekend (which is why I was there, anyway.) The nurse tried to talk her out of it, but CG said we had talked about multiples (not entirely true, but I appreciate the small fib on my behalf) and that the risk still remained quite low for anything more than twins. And so, with the CG’s approval, we went forth! Even after what seems to me an obvious interlocution on the part of my partner, the nurse still told me ‘my husband’ could go leave his sample. So, downstairs I ran to tell BFF to do his thing.

A little while later, they called me back in and a different nurse prepped me for the IUI. Unlike the ma and pop process at the doctor, this IUI involved a lot of paperwork and chain-of-custody forms for the sperm sample. I guess I am grateful to know, without a doubt, its BFF’s guys that got injected into my uterus. The process was slightly more painful than the last, although that was mostly because she pinched me with the speculum. 

And then, off we went, into an exhausting Saturday. BFF’s total count post wash was 11 million with 89% motility. Even if only 4% of those suckers are well dressed enough for a long term date with an ovum, that’s pretty good – right? And FOUR whole eggs hanging out seems like pretty good odds. 11 million sperm, 4 eggs – we just need one baby.

IUI #2 – Follicles, Ahoy!

After a few days of nervous nellying about the positive OPK, it finally showed today at 1pm, coming in just under the freak out wire. Dr. Cover Girl had told me to call if I hadn’t gotten a positive by this morning – which I didn’t – but I decided to try one last time before I went full scale freak out. Sure enough, the positive showed.

Since tomorrow is Saturday and our OB/GYN isn’t open, we are being referred to an RE for the wash and the IUI. The office is faxing over the order and we should get a call soon to schedule the IUI. I’m nervous about a change in protocol, and that La will be leaving for the Western Slope on a work trip at noon tomorrow, and that I am watching my nephew Liam which means he might have to come with me . . .but I’m also so so hopeful that this IUI will be the try that works. 

**Update: Scheduled the IUI with the fertility clinic for 7:15am (please see previous posts regarding NOT being a ‘morning person’) – well, technically, a follicular u/s at 7:15, sperm wash at 7:30, and the IUI after. I was told that ‘my husband could come leave a sample’ following the u/s. I giggled inside about that. Until I realized that this was not a quaint assumption or misunderstanding – the fertility clinic doesn’t work with known donors (except in the case of freezing and quarantining at a bank) and we were really actually going to have to fake this. Which means that La probably can’t come with me. Because being honest would run the risk of having the clinic not do the IUI. So, that sucks. 

La and I had a good, but also complex, conversation about the possibility of looking into IVF with BFF if this IUI doesn’t work (thanks JennandM!) and its something we are definitely putting on the table. I think the biggest reservation is (of course) the cost, and the fact that our plan all along has been for La to also carry a baby, ideally using BFF as the donor as well. Because we both also feel compelled to use our own eggs, this makes the IVF process a little less appealing, since it would likely mean two complete rounds with less reality of using frozen embryos. We would also have to consider whether we wanted to be on the up and up but pay more to use our known donor, or be less straightforward and proceed as though BFF was my partner. There is a lot to think about, in general, but it feels good to have that possibility on the table.

We also reached out to our two other potential donors, The Director and Mr. Fabulous. Both of them are dear friends of ours, although I am closer with both. The Director is the partner of one of my very best friends, who is also an ex-girlfriend (cause that’s how queers roll, eh?) They have a baby together who, if we conceived using The Director’s sperm, would be something like a cousin to our kid(s.) Mr. Fabulous is a former co-worker who has been a successful donor for another couple. The hitch with him is that he may be currently donating to them for a second child and we aren’t sure what their expectations/understandings are about him donating for other folks. We are meeting with The Director next week to talk about details, and I hope we hear back from Mr. Fabulous soon. 

Overachieving ovum and subpar spermatazoa

The results came back from BFFs repeat semen analysis: 4% normal morphology,  up from 2% in July.  This is,  add I anticipated,  a very marginal and pretty much inconsequential improvement.  Normal morphology is 14%. La and I were hoping for something like 8 or 10. 4% just feels.  . . Unfair.

So we will be going forward with the IUI using BFF this time and hopehopehope that one of those 4% of normal shaped sperm find one of my five follicles and make a baby.  It’s not impossible or even a total long shot.  This protocol is,  after all,  the recommendation for a woman with PRO and a man with poor morphology.  So hope isn’t lost.  But today is still sad.

We will be contacting our two other potential donors to talk about moving forward with one of them.

It can’t all be good,  I know,  and I am still grateful for the hope we have to hang on to,  but there is a fair amount of grief to contend with today as well.  Especially for La, who has held on to this idea for years,  the possibility for loss is just as present and palpable as the hope.