(In)Fertility Stories (26w4d)

There’s so much to update you on! But I want this post to mainly focus on one idea I’ve been ruminating about while here in Indiana, so I’ll start there and then decide whether to break things out into separate posts or just keep going.

On Christmas Day, I called my family back home (as is my custom now) to get the update on what everyone got, how the food was, you know – the usual. My mom gave me the standard details, then told me that my cousin and his wife – who I’ve mentioned before on this blog – are pregnant! 10 and 1/2 weeks, to be precise. If you’ve forgotten their details, I’ll remind you: They were seeing the same fertility clinic as us, after having tried naturally for a long time and having one early miscarriage. They did 3 IUIs at the clinic last spring/summer, and were waiting for open enrollment on my cousins insurance to add his wife, as they’d have coverage for IVF. That open enrollment period was between Nov. 1- 15, and they found out just days later (after they’d switched, of course) that they had conceived naturally. They are due July 20th – which is actually the same due date my sister in law had for Liam two years ago. When I spoke to my cousin-in-law on the phone, she sounded apologetic – like she was sorry they’d ended up pregnant unassisted while we are expecting an IVF baby. But I very honestly feel nothing but genuine excitement and relief for them; I wouldn’t wish IVF on anyone.

So, they are Fertility Unicorns, Urban Legends come true. They are not the only Fertility Unicorns I know. La reminded me that HER cousin also conceived naturally, while waiting to save for IVF. That baby is about to turn 2, although their fertility luck didn’t carry over – he was born at just 28 weeks gestation and spent a lot of time in the NICU and still has a G-tube to get all of his nutrients. And there are a few folks out in the blogosphere as well, who have gotten lucky on their ‘hail mary’ IUI or while they actually were ‘relaxing’ or ‘taking a break’ or trying to adopt.

I don’t begrudge any of these people their conception. But I do hate that these are so often the stories we hear most often – the miraculous, the impossible, the ‘inconceivable.’ And, unfortunately, its those stories that allow La’s aunt to say to us, while talking about her son and daughter-in-law who are currently TTC, ‘she just needs to calm down! it’s never going to happen unless she calms down!’ and feel justified in her opinion. It’s these stories that cause the trite and obnoxious bullshittery that all of us in IF land – no matter how or when or if we get knocked up – have to hear and suffer through.

Which is why I am grateful to be a part of a community of story tellers, like this one. Not because I don’t want my cousins’ story told – I do – but because I also want all of YOUR stories heard. I want the stories of success after 4 FETs, or choosing thoughtfully to remain childless, or forgoing infertility treatments altogether to adopt, or donor eggs or gestational surrogacy – I want ALL of those ways of building a family to be heard. The more stories get told, the more the naievely fertile have to reconcile that while going on vacation and getting knocked up does happen – so does IVF cycle after IVF cycle. So does people remaining childless. What you are doing is adding important voices to the greater narrative of (in)fertility, creating space for more stories, more experiences, more feelings. I am genuinely grateful to be a part of this community. Thank you.

Here are some other things that have happened since last we spoke:

  • I failed my one hour glucose test. I am pissed off. I felt really confident that I wouldn’t, since I have consistently had good blood sugar/metabolic panels (my PCOS is the cystic ovaries and androgen variety) and I’ve only gained 7 lbs since my pregnancy started. Apparently none of this matters. So, I’m going in tomorrow to get my three hour test out of the way before I head back to work. Please say some prayers that I pass the three hour test. Apparently 2/3 women who fail the one hour end up passing the three hour, so the odds do seem to be in my favor.
  • We have spent too many days in Indiana, and specifically, too many days attending huge family events for this certified introvert. Last night I sat in the bathroom, preparing myself to go out into the family dinner of 15 and I thought I was at my breaking point. I made it, but I am excited to head home to quiet and (relative) solitude. I am less excited to head home to negative temperatures. It’s practically balmy out here in the midwest!

I’m being summoned to ball yarn for my mother-in-law, so she can keep knitting the most adorable baby blanket on the planet for little SF. . . toodles, and HUGE CONGRATS to my buddy at LadyLoveandBabyDust for her much deserved BFP! ❤

Let it be with me according to your word.

In a few hours, I’m getting on a plane headed to Avon, Indiana, hometown of my love. This is my fourth Christmas in Indiana. I still miss being a part of the Colorado traditions that I grew up with, but I’m starting to settle into this new family routine as well. I’m always sad to leave the only place I’ve ever called home during a time where home is so part and parcel of the whole experience, but part of falling in love is making new understandings of home. And part of that, for now, is Christmas in the midwest.

Now is a good time to tell you a funny anecdote. Those of you who are gay/lesbian/queer might be familiar with the terms “Rice Queen” and “Bean Queen.” For my hetero (or just less catchy-term influenced) readers, these terms refer to (mostly) white gay men who exclusively (or mostly) date men who are Asian (=rice) or Latino (=bean.) They are kinda fucked up terms, but they also describe questionable behavior, so . . .In any case, at some point I realized that about 90% of the women I’ve dated in my life were from somewhere in the midwest. This wasn’t intentional, it just happened. I’ve got Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and now . .  .Indiana. Because of this, I started describing myself as a “Casserole Queen.” A Casserole Queen indeed, but my heart belongs to a Hoosier. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised that I spend my holidays in the heartland.

I’ve never been a high maintenance traveler, but that was before I was knocked up. I mean, seriously, once upon a time I could travel with a backpack and be gone for days. Now . . .well, La left me the biggest suitcase (she took the small and medium sized ones, the small with her stuff, the medium with presents for the family) and I packed that MF’er FULL. Part of this is my reliance on the snoogle to sleep comfortably, and the snoogle is not exactly a small accessory. But I also have to bring my giant bottle of miralax, and prenatals, and . . .and . . .I know that travelling gets even heavier once you have a kid, so I guess I’ll get used to it and just be thankful that southw.est lets you check a bag for free.

So, I attend a Lutheran church that was started by a friend of mine from college who is now kind of a big deal in the churchy/theological world. (no, really: http://www.nadiabolzweber.com/) I started going when we were a group of 10 people who hung out in her basement, which was really only a few years ago. Now we’re a fairly well established ’emergent’ church with a congregation of closer to 300 (about 175 folks show up weekly, though.) Anyway, we also closely follow the liturgical calendar, which I love, and we do a lot of kind of old church kind of stuff, including chanting the gospel text during the four Sundays of Advent. Because my church is full of irreverent and ironic people who see the simultaneous absurdity and wonder of the church, I was asked to sing the gospel the fourth Sunday of Advent, because: a pregnant lesbian singing the annunication text. (the annunication, for those of you not into Christianity, is the part of the book of Luke when an angel comes and tells Mary she’s about to get knocked up by the Holy Spirit. Instead of being totally freaked out by this, Mary says, ok – sure! or, more exactly: Let it be with me according to your word.)

Nadia posted about this on her twitter and FB, because shit like that gets people to church. And some twitter dude scolded her for ‘patting herself on the back’ by announcing my sexual orientation and ‘making something holy about something sexual.’ So, you know completely missing the point of why she mentioned my sexual orientation, which was not to show how ‘open’ we are (we are, but we’re kind of over announcing it. do rather than say, y’know?) but to point out that maybe, just maybe, the miraculous story of Jesus’ incarnation is still relatable and real. Because Mary got pregnant without ‘knowing a man’ and, well, so did I. The details are (well, a lot) different, but still.

The whole experience – both chanting the text and the twitter exchange – got me thinking a lot about the miracle of conception and childbirth, and why Christianity makes sense as an important story and guiding theology to me. Infertility fucks with who you are and how you think of your body and what it does. But here I am: pregnant. It IS a miracle. A miracle that science helped make possible, but still . . .a miracle, because even science can’t do it all. And God’s incarnation – that God showed up on earth in a human body – is a story I treasure in part because it means God participated in the miracle that is every conception. Because Mary bore a child who was also the Christ, but ultimately she was still his mother. Sometimes I get all weepy about the idea of Mary and baby Jesus and I chastise myself – seafoam is NOT the word made flesh, y’all! – but that’s not the point, right? Mary loved her baby because he was her baby. The beauty of Jesus fully-man-fully-God is that he was here and had these messy human experiences, and all of that informs the kind of God the trinity is. At least for me. (I promise I’m not prostyltizing, just theologically rambling.)

Anyway, all of this is making Christmas feel a lot more tender and lovely than usual. It’s an interesting bookmark that my due date is Good Friday. (side note: I’m actually sort of hoping seafoam will come a bit late because my church does an amazing Triduum – three days of Easter – service that I really want to go to!) But maybe it only feels significant because the church year is a compass point for me.

Final fun note for today: Seafoam got a package in the mail! I opened for him, since he’s stuck inside. It was a “Twlight turtle” which is something we registered for, but after checking the registry – no one had bought it. The package only had the return address of the company, and there was no packing slip or anything else to indicate who sent it! I’m hoping we’ll figure it out!


I promised a post appointment update,  so I’m doing one quickly from my phone before we head out to eat Mongolian bbq and look at Christmas lights.  . .
Today is 25w – seafoam is the size of a rutabega, which is a delicious and under appreciated root vegetable. As of today,  I have gained a mere 7lbs since pre pregnancy which,  if you’re playing along at home,  is 0 lbs since 21w/my last appointment.  This feels shocking since i feel like all I do is eat and seafoam’s estimated weight is about 2lbs. Still,  since I started out chubby,  my pregnancy weight gain goal is no more than 25 lbs. Since I’m 2/3 of the way through my pregnancy (wait.  What?!?) And only 1/3 of the way to that gain limit,  I’d say I’m doing pretty well!  The midwife agrees.  It’s a total mindfuck to feel like you just keep getting bigger but aren’t really gaining weight.  Weird.

I’m also on track uterus size wise at 27 cm to the top of my fundus. This was my first appointment having it measured.  despite having a lot of room in there,  little dude continues to hang out low in my pelvis and,  I’m thinking,  more toward my back.  His heartbeat was harder to find today but still strong and beautiful. 

I did my gestational diabetes one hour test today.  Fingers crossed i dodge that bullet.  In this case no news is good news so pray for that,  ok? By the time we left the appointment, i was ready to barf and pass out.  The sugar drink on an empty stomach is the worst.

Finally,  I’ve taken to alternative therapies for my heartburn which is starting to get out of control.  I’ve been gulping tums,  which has the unfortunate side effect of making the constipation worse,  something neither i nor my hemmeroids need.  So i consulted with an herbalist who advised marshmallow root.  I’ve just started so can’t get report but according to the herbalist,  marshmallow is good for both heartburn AND constipation. Sounds like a pregnancy winner.  I’ll report back,  promise!

Thanks to everyone for your smarty pants comments and thoughtful responses to my last post. Money is so crazy making and it can Fuck with your head.  Thanks for helping bring me back to earth.

I leave you with week 25 bump!



Sticker Shock (24w5d)

First things first: I am (finally) wearing my carpel tunnel brace at work (after having to pause every 10-15 minutes to regain circulation to my fingers while not wearing it) and while I seem to be suffering from less blood drainage than before, it sure makes typing a bitch. So, bear with me y’all.

I was going to just wait to do any sort of update until Friday, when we have our next midwife appointment (last one of the second tri!) but then I remembered that I actually have something to say and there is no reason to ‘save’ it, so why not write a little update? So, you can expect a bonus on Friday!

On Monday, I got my first bill from the hospital where I get my prenatal treatment. I was a little surprised – my insurance plan covers all prenatal care, with no co-pay even (after the initial visit to confirm pregnancy) and a mid-term ultrasound. So what was I getting a bill for? The bill was, in fact, for the anatomy scan – $513.00 for the equipment, and another $200 for the physician fee. How could this be, since my plan so clearly states that I have coverage for an ultrasound?

I called the insurance company and asked this question. The (very nice but ultimately inept) agent looked things over, agreed with me that the scan should be covered, then put me on hold for 20 minutes while she talked to the claims folks. When she came back on the line, it was to tell me that actually, the u/s was only covered after I’d met my deductible. Not that this caveat was mentioned in any of the paperwork I had access to (which even the agent acknowledged.) When I asked her how, exactly, I was supposed to know what was actually covered and what was subject to loopholes like this, she didn’t have a clear answer. Instead, she instructed me how to manually resubmit the claim. I’m not sure why my manual resubmission will make any difference, but that was the best she could do for me.

This sent me down the rabbit hole of investigating estimated costs for our delivery (our hospital is one of the cheapest in town and we are anticipating the most basic vaginal birth (with, hopefully, not even an epidural to pay for) and the total cost is still going to range between $12-20,000 (our portion is likely to cost around $3-4K), and double checking my flex spending limits and the limits around all of that (praise be that I can use the entire amount in the 125 account in April, even if I haven’t paid that amount into it yet!) Which of course sent me into a tailspin about all the other costs associated with having a baby, which even with a minimalist approach like we are taking, will still exist.

We don’t make a lot of money. This may be confusing, since we conceived via IVF. But we were only able to do so thanks to the incredible generosity of my very frugal and financially savvy mom, who gifted us the cash to do so (I have a lot of feels about this situation – about privilege and having my mom ‘own’ some stake in my kid, and etc etc etc). I work at a non profit organization and while I make a reasonably good salary for my position, it’s still a LOT lower than what folks my age (education, experience level, etc) in the private sector make. La is adjunct faculty at a local college. If you weren’t already aware, I will fill you in that the adjunct system is basically a way to exploit labor in colleges and universities, but it’s also a system that you basically have to pay dues into before you can get a tenure track or even permanent position at most academic institutions. She’s paid per credit class, but if you boiled it down to a per hour wage, it would be below minimum – that’s how bad it is.

Sometimes I have some guilt/shame about the fact that we are not as ‘financially stable’ as maybe I (and I’m sure others) think we should be. I mean, I want to be clear, we have a house (that we own) and cars, and plenty of resources to pay for those things plus food and clothing and essentials. But we don’t have a big savings account, and a bill for 500 (let alone $3,000) will be a matter of payment plans, not withdrawing from savings. We very well may never have many of these things – I love the work I do, and while I am successful and will likely continue to increase my earnings, there just isn’t big money in the field I love. La will eventually get a full time position that will pay her much better, but academia isn’t where you get rich either.  I also believe deeply that you don’t need to be wealthy to have a kid, and the idea that there are people who ‘shouldn’t’ be having kids because of their income level is basically just veiled classism and racism. But it’s always a lot harder for those high minded ideals to apply to yourself. At least, that’s usually my issue.

We are cloth diapering, going to do our damndest to breast feed, and are making choices about child care based in part because we are kind of crunchy, but more so because we don’t have the disposable income for disposable diapers 😉 or formula. Folks don’t always get that. When the average cost of disposable diapers for one kid (over the average years they wear them) is equal to one person’s annual salary, you start to rethink these things, you know?

I’m feeling a lot less terrified right now, but I’m sure it will ebb and flow. La and I know how to have the things we need and want in our lives with the money we have. A lot of our choices are ‘counter cultural’ because of this, and I am 100% ok with that. But there is enormous pressure from the world at large about what you ‘need’ to have a baby. My aunt, for example, was insistent about registering for a bottle warmer – that we needed  it – despite it being about as far down on my list of necessities as is possible. It’s hard for that kind of stuff not to weasel it’s way into your head and, in conjunction with general parental guilt (it’s totally already started!) make you feel like shit if you heat your bottles in a bath of hot water. Or whatever. And so it begins.

I’m also feeling crazy lightheaded the last few days, despite keeping up with water and food, and not taxing myself with standing, etc. I’m vascillating between feeling like I need to call the nurse line and thinking it’s totally not a big deal at all. Advice is appreciated, if you have thoughts. I’m starting to think about those great third trimester fears – gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. I have my glucose tolerance test on Friday, so at least I’ll get some intel there. But, of course, anything unusual makes me feel a little uneasy.

We met with our doula who had a LOT of questions about what I might want during labor. And I was like . . .uh . . .I don’t know. Some of the questions about how I like to be supported, I could handle (please don’t make small talk, tell me what to do or offer options don’t ask what I need, etc.) but I honestly hadn’t thought through a lot of my birth wants (other than being quite resolute about NOT being induced unless its an emergency – luckily my midwives won’t even talk induction until 42 weeks, and then will only push for one if an ultrasound shows low amniotic fluid) So I invested in Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth  and Birthing from Within both of which I am in the process of devouring. It adds a little to the terror (I had 100% not even considered what I’ll do if seafoam is breech, for example) but I am a researcher to the core, and am excited to have access to research studies and data to think through these things.

I leave you with a picture of the baby bulldog curled up next to my belly. All of the dogs seem to especially love snuggling with the bump, but Hilda loves it the most.



Poster Pregnancy (23w6d)

Whoa. It’s been a week.

I made the mistake of booking three trainings in three days in a city almost two hours from my office. I did this two months ago, when such a schedule would’ve been a little frustrating, but didn’t realize that I would be sneaking into the part of my pregnancy where it would exhaust me deeply. Added to this was another day long training last Friday, and two days of singing holiday concerts while standing. Basically, I’ve been performing (in one way or another) 6 days in a row, which does not a pleasant pregnant introvert make. And then, of course, there’s the swelling that comes from too much standing that has left my already kind of big hands and feet looking downright sausage like and making wearing my wedding ring something I consider on a day by day basis.

Tomorrow marks 24 weeks – a big deal, I think? 6 months (or 5.5, depending on how you’re counting) and the start of what folks call ‘fetal viability’ (although I have a lot of thoughts about why this cut off exists and, more importantly, I would really really really like seafoam to stay put for another 16 weeks.) Still, it’s a milestone, and those are important.  It also means the third trimester is just around the corner. January 1st, to be precise (going by fetal development trimesters.) I am definitely beginning to feel like I’m almost to the pinnacle of the hill that this roller coaster is going to race down very, very soon.


In the last few weeks, three separate couples have contacted me for information about getting knocked up while queer. I’ve sent some of them here for a more complete recounting of our saga (hey, y’all!) and have answered questions via e-mail and in person. I’m happy to do it; it means that we might have a few more local queer parent friends soon and I am a wholehearted believer in the power of sharing stories and learning from communities of people with similar experiences. It’s hard, though, because our story is so much more complicated than I ever imagined it will be. I’m happy to talk about how we negotiated having a known donor (both legally and emotionally), and how we navigated a heavily medical experience when we intended do go DIY from the start. There have been times when I wish we would have kept things to ourselves more, but ultimately I’m glad we’ve been so open about our experience, because I think sharing stories brings comfort. Obviously, this is why I am so attracted to this community of blogs – because I find peace and comfort and relationships in sharing my story and reading others. But I think being so open, when others often are not, also puts us in the position of feeling like we need to be somehow representative or to make the experience appealing for others. That’s all internal, of course, but it does become a different dynamic when people I know (well or not) are hearing this story, instead of people who I have grown to know through this shared experience.

In other pregnancy news . . .

I bought some clothes from ebay, which I think is both awesome and kind of not ideal. On the one hand, I got about 12 shirts for 10 bucks. On the other hand, the lot was marked XL and a medium somehow also showed up, and there’s at least one shirt that I would never, ever, under threat, wear . . .but still, not a bad deal. The shirt I’m wearing above (which feels so maternity, with the bow and the empire waistline and all) is one of my ebay scores, and I love it so . . .I would still recommend it, especially if you don’t wanna spend a lot of cash on new clothes and don’t have a good maternity resale store (we do, but they didn’t have a lot in my size).

La finally felt Seafoam kick from the outside! Last Friday, he was giving me some good big thumps, and I felt him when I put my hand on my belly . . .La wasn’t home, so I tried to keep him at it for a bit, but no dice. For the rest of the weekend, every time he started moving, I grabbed her hand and held it there. It ended anticlimactically, with her hand awkwardly on my belly for too long . . .until Sunday night! He gave the hardest whack to my lower abdomen, and she felt it! His favorite move continues to be the cervix punch, which doesn’t hurt but is kind of uncomfortable. But I can also feel the movement getting a bit higher up as well. This makes sense as, apparently, my uterus is now the size of a soccer ball (!?!)

Bending over is becoming increasingly out of my range of ability. Shaving my legs? Forget it. Until La gets me a shower stool, I’m going hairy. The carpel tunnel continues, and the heartburn has picked up a notch, but really, things aren’t too bad.

We signed up for our hypnobabies class (starts in January!) and we are giving our doula her deposit tonight! Seems like there might be a baby here kinda soon. shit.


Toward the Light (22w3d)

It’s F’ing DECEMBER. Whoa. I realized this morning that I had only really envisioned the ‘milestones’ of my pregnancy up until about this point. I think I vaguely knew that my third trimester starts on January 2nd, but in my imaginings of this pregnancy, somehow I couldn’t quite see past November. And yet, here I am.

I had a truly lovely four day weekend – so lovely that I think I would like to have them more frequently. Perhaps once a month?

I saw my BFF from HS, The Professor, his wife and their very sweet and now almost 2 year old daughter last Wednesday. The Professor lives in Portland, so we don’t see one another that often, but we’re quite good at picking up wherever we last left off. We hadn’t seen little N since she was just a few months old, and now she’s a dog-loving toddler who  ran around our house with the baby bulldog rapt and in-tow. They are also pregnant with #2, a boy, due in February. It took them over a year to conceive N (in fact, they are one of those urban myths who got a positive pregnancy test a week before their first RE appointment) and they anticipated it taking a bit for #2 as well, and then got knocked up the first month trying. We spent the bulk of the night talking about babies and daycare and maternity leave and other very, very ‘adult’ things . . .which both felt lovely (we don’t have a lot of close friends who are also parenting/pregnant in our regular lives) and weird (The professor and I have spent many many years talking about decidedly non-adult subjects.)

Thanksgiving morning La made cinnamon rolls and I pulled the meat off the turkey I made for “Operation:Turkey Sandwich,” a ‘thing’ my church does where we make bag lunches and deliver them to folks who have to work on T-Giving (cause that sucks) and baked 3 (THREE!) pies! Thanksgiving at my parent’s house was a little awkward, as my mom had invited a few ‘orphan’ friends (which is awesome) and then didn’t do the best job of integrating them into the family dynamic. Little Liam was a hilarious doll, impressing us all with his newly learned “gobble gobble” of a thanksgiving turkey. Plus, there were mashed potatoes. God bless mashed potatoes.

We put up our Xmas decorations on Friday, and La even convinced me to go out for some black friday shopping – mostly so we could (finally!) get our new dishwasher and deep freezer! Here are some pictures of our little gingerbread (slash stucco) house all lit up (plus bonus gorgeous Colorado skies for you!) We are a 4 ft fake tree house because we are always in Indiana for the actual event. Maybe someday we’ll have the fresh 7 ft firs of my childhood!

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I made turkey stock for the year, then turned some of that into Turkey noodle soup. La made some delicious sourdough and spicy sausage dressing, we took some naps and slept in a little later than usual, snuggled some bulldogs, went swimming in the warm indoor pool at the rec center, and had dinner with some friends. All that and we even cleaned the house and did some laundry too!

Sunday I spent in the dumps again – no discernable reason, really . . .just weepy. I think I caught a little sniffle cold which made my head a bit foggy and my body a little achey, but really I had no reason to sit on the couch watching the Broncos win and weep through it all. Guess this is just what pregnancy is for me, at least some times.

It’s advent, finally – my second favorite time of the Church year (right behind Lent and Holy Week- during which I may very well be giving birth this year! whoa.) It feels especially palpable for me this year – the waiting season, a quiet internal time thinking of what is to come. After lent, of course, we travel on a trajectory towards light . . .and that, too, follows the curve of my life right now – on the upswing towards . . .well, something – but what exactly, we don’t actually know.