The Fall of our Discontent

Usually, when I sit down to write a blog entry, I work to come up with at least some coherent thread to weave through the narrative. But I just can’t do it today. Things feel big but also inconsequential. Lots of feelings, but I’m not entirely sure why. I’m going to default to bullets, just so there’s some organization and I don’t have to try and craft sentences that bridge one paragraph to another.

  • Migraines: I got my first migraine in high school. It was terrifying as well as incredibly painful. All through my adolescence and 20’s, I would get a migraine 2-4 times a year. They were scary and painful but so infrequent that I didn’t really actively seek treatment and when I did bring it up to a doctor, was told that it was probably just best to manage them when they popped up. So, I learned that a pot of coffee could limit or occasionally stop them; that an ice pack on the back of the neck provided good relief; and that a dark room and falling asleep were about the only surefire ways to get through the 4-6 hours that they lasted. Since moving to Seattle, I have had 6 migraines. Most of them have hit me mid-day at work, have been preceded by the visual aura that I’ve traditionally had, and have made being at a new job VERY difficult. So a couple of weeks ago, I made an appointment with a new doctor here in Seattle to see what my options were. I should take a moment here to say that, aside from being awful and putting work to a grinding halt, migraines scare the shit out of me. My maternal grandmother had a brain aneurysm which caused a stroke when she was in surgery to have it fixed, leaving her paralyzed on her right side for the last 25 years of her life and my maternal uncle also had an aneurysm, as well as some other blood vessal in the brain issue that very nearly killed him and required intensive rehab for years (he still can’t work and is a drastically different person – his case is also in medical journals because he should have died but didn’t.) I am genetically predisposed to awful things happening in the brain so when I get a terrible headache I pretty much assume it’s the end. The doctor gave me a script for Imi.trex and told me that if I started getting more than 2 headaches a week, she would refer me to a neurologist. She also ‘prescribed’ massage (which my insurance pays for!) which I’m going to be taking advantage of soon. The imi.trex seems to work, insofar as it keeps the intense pain at bay, although I still end up with a headache and also seem to get ‘hot flashes’ and a drained/fatigued feeling for the rest of the day. Its still better than the migraine. But it’s exhausting and consuming and, BTW, I’m still hella freaked out that I went from getting the occasional seasonal migraine to having this be a part of my general experience.
  • Homesickness: For the first time since we moved, I’ve been feeling a sad kind of longing for home. I don’t know that’s its actually Denver that I miss . . .I think it’s the things that come with being established, the homeyness of home. Of course, as trite as it is, home really is wherever I’m with my loves . . .but you can’t get everything you need from one person + one toddler. I think part of feeling things now is that we have really settled into schedules and patterns here. Enough of my life is normalized that I can see the gaps more clearly. Homesickness is a funny thing, though, the way it comes and goes and hits you in funny places. I wouldn’t even necessarily say that I’m lonely (although sometimes I am, I guess) but I feel a strange longing for things that don’t even make sense – for the color of the old bedroom or the awful leaves that fell on the patio in Denver. I sometimes feel a strange disorientation, as well. Where I can’t quite decide where to call home. I’m in a transient space, I think – where neither Denver nor Seattle are really my place right now. Getting past the stark newness into something half settled has left me feeling kind of sad, I think.
  • #2: We have started considering other known donors, in case we cannot use BFF. We have also made some additional consult appointments with other clinics, just to get the lay of the land, although the initial clinic still has the best ratings and the best success rates of them, and one appointment lady sounded down right kooky on the phone, so . . .we’ll see. I think each of us are having our own internal reckoning with what the process of conceiving #2 might look like, and determining priorities and needs. Honestly, I feel like I need to just be helpful co-pilot in this case. SO MUCH of our first trip down the TTC path was driven by me and my needs and wants and L was just so fantastically supportive. She had her boundaries too (let us not forget the near impasse when we discovered BFF’s sperm was less than ideal) but I led the charge. And so, I’m taking the backseat on this go. I think we both feel pretty clear that we need another known donor. It just feels too weird to have one (maybe two) kids who have a donor they know and can have a relationship with (for their entire lives) and have one who was conceived with bank sperm. It also feels clear to me that we want our known donor to be someone we have a relationship with already, vs. someone we might meet via a known donor site. I also think we will likely opt for IVF right off, unless insurance limits our ability to do so. We have been considering some options for other KDs – my best friend who lives in PDX is a possibility, although he is married with 2 kids of his own and that might complicate things (we haven’t asked him); L’s good friend’s husband (they don’t have or want kids) offered; and we have one more possibility, although it sounds like he may be moving to Berlin soon so . . .that would really complicate things. Did anyone go to consults at multiple clinics? We may have to pay out of pocket for those, so I want to be thoughtful but . . .damn, it would be nice to get some info about things in more detail than the admin person on the phone can offer.
  • My mom: We are going back to Colorado for Christmas. This is the deal, because when we lived in CO and went to Indy for Christmas and my mom lost her shit, the deal we struck was that when we didn’t live in CO, we would alternate. So, we are going to Colorado. You may recall that I would really prefer to just stay home (wherever that may be, see above) and not have to deal with travelling with a toddler and negotiating the competing priorities of my family and L’s family. Going back to CO for Xmas is hard this year, as well, since I do not technically have any vacation time. My very generous boss agreed to let me work from home/telecommute so that traveling was a more feasible option. Even still, we are flying in on Friday afternoon and coming back early Tuesday which is a very short turn around. Many of our close friends won’t be in town for that time, and it’s fucking stressful to travel. I’ve also long struggled with my mom’s intense compulsion towards buying I say crap intentionally, because that’s what she gets him. Lots of lots of cheap plastic things – matchbox cars and thin plastic dump trucks. Piles and piles and piles. It gives me intense anxiety and clutters up our house and I have a value about not buying lots of plastic shit that ends up in dumpsters and landfills and isn’t ethically made. I also don’t want him to associate Christmas with piles of gifts, because that’s not what it’s about for me. So, after consulting with my brother, I sent an e-mail proposing that we do the 5 gift idea – “something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need, and something to do.” This way, there are some limits imposed and we can do some additional guiding around the number and kind of things. I also let her know that L’s mom had asked about getting him a train table months ago, so that was taken care of and gave some ideas for play food and kitchen accessories since we are getting him a play kitchen. She initially responded ok, but after I sent more details, she sent a response saying that “all the joy from Christmas was gone.” And it took everything in me to not say, “Well fine, we’ll be in Seattle for Christmas then.” Because, fucking really?! First of all, I was under the impression that gift giving was about the recipient, not the giver so . . .WTF? But also, we are spending Christmas with you! I feel like I can’t win this – no matter what I do, unless it is to let her have free reign over everything, I will be ‘hurting’ her. Stealing her joy. I think I was able to reach some sort of understanding with her by giving her some more latitude (while still keeping some limits) but I’m actually not hopeful that there won’t still be a glut of toys come Christmas. I guess if that’s the case, we can always leave some at their house.


  • ANSEL! Here’s some cute/fun/funny things about the cutest toddler on the planet at 19 months:


  • He is rapidly gaining words, although we are definitely in the toddlerese translation phase. Some recent favorites: Football, duck, train, bowl, hurt, Eliot (one of our dogs), spin, dance.
  • He’s really into hurling his body at things, like – running from one end of the house into the couch/our legs/a dog and then laughing and repeating the whole process. He also like to stand on the ottoman and leap into my lap.
  • Now, when he says no, he shakes his head and says it twice (always) in a little short, high pitched voice. Trying to capture it on video.
  • He is OBSESSED with the Freight Train book, which we currently have on loan from the library. Specifically, he is obsessed with one page and will make us read the book up to (but not beyond) that page over and over and over . . .

We’ve had some seriously fun adventures recently too . . .



Hanging in Portland with lots of friends, including our friends Pot, Lid and their Kid:


Attending a Victory Dinner:



Pumpkin Patching in Everett with Other New Internet Friends:



Playing in the Hay:


and riding on tractors:



So, it’s not all doom and gloom, even if that’s what I’m making it sound like.

La Deuxieme 

We were finally able to make an appointment with a Fertility Clinic here in Seattle to discuss the making of Gayby #2. It took so long because we needed to get BFF to sign a records release and he is 1) in Tennessee and 2) woefully technologically challenged, which meant he printed, signed and then mailed back to us. In the midst of all this, he also had appendicitis and ended up in the hospital for a few days. Just our luck, the clinic is also booked out 2-3 months . . .so we have our first appointment on December 8th. Yes, really. Three years ago this would have caused me to lose my shit. But it’s different this time around. The soul crushing, all consuming need to have a baby RIGHTFUCKINGNOW has eased a bit. THANK GOD.

But even with the appointment weeks away, and the intense pressure off, there’s still a lot to think about when it comes to this process. Here’s a recap/the complications . . .


To catch anyone new up (or remind those of you who can’t remember our particular fertility saga – don’t blame you at all, by the way . . .):

*L and I started trying to conceive using ye olde turkey baster method, with our friend (BFF) as a known donor. We did 6+ tries at home this way, using OPKs and fertility charting to time things. We maybe had one chemical pregnancy, but otherwise no luck.

*After having no luck at home, we went to see a midwife/OB practice who also did some limited fertility support. They sent BFF to get a sperm analysis and ran some tests on me (HSG, ultrasounds, labs) and determined that BFF had some morphology issues and I had PCOS. They recommended IUIs with clomid.

*We did two IUIs with clomid with the midwife/OB. No dice. They referred us to the Big Fertility Clinic. Because the Big Fertility Clinic (BFC) was the place BFF got his sperm analysis done, we were already in their system before we made an appointment. Because of the heterosexism of BFC, we were listed as a heterosexual couple. We did not correct this assumption to make life easier for ourselves, but also did not ever confirm it. This will be important later.

*We did one more IUI with femara at BFC, then moved on to IVF. We did a full frozen cycle due to my PCOS (50+ eggs, hey!) and fear of OHSS. We also had genetic screening on the embryos, and ended up with 4 “normal” embryos, plus one more that did not get tested (you can only test a total of 8, and we had a few that they grew for an extra day that didn’t meet the cut off.) We transferred one embryo, leaving 3 tested + 1 untested = 4 total. This embryo is now a super cute 19 month old named Ansel.

*Almost a year ago, our friends who had been struggling to conceive were considering IVF and received news that the success rate with their own eggs was very low due to age. We made the decision to offer 2 of our remaining 4 embryos. During this process, we learned that we could not donate the embryos because BFF had tested positive for a Hepatitis B antibody, but was non-reactive. Meaning – he couldn’t actively spread the disease but had likely been infected at some point. The FDA says that anyone with a positive Hep B antibody cannot donate genetic materials.

*The original plan for #2 was for L to carry and use BFF as the donor. We started trying at home this past winter/spring. We did 4 at home tries, unsuccessfully. Then we decided to move to Washington, then BFF got a job in Tennessee. Trying at home is not an option anymore.

So, all of this leads us to some complicated questions.

  • In an ideal world, the fertility doc here will be understanding and somewhat flexible and decide that because we have tried at home with BFF, they would be willing to allow us to use him as a donor using L’s eggs, despite the fact that he has this Hep B antibody and he is not her ‘sexual’ partner. I’ve heard about clinics that go both ways on this, so it’s really a crap shoot.
  • If that can’t happen, then we need to consider what we would want to do. If we can’t use BFF’s sperm and L’s eggs, we have a couple of options:
    • Decide to use an anonymous donor from a bank. PRO: It’s immediately available and not all kinds of complicated, systems-wise. CON: Having a known donor is important to us; our current kid has a known donor and if we decide on #3 who I’d carry, likely with the frozen embryos, that kid would also have a known donor leaving #2 the odd kid out. Which could super suck for them.
    • Decide to find a different known donor and either go back to at-home options (would have to be someone local) or do a directed donor option at a bank (pricey, time consuming, not covered by insurance) to do IUIs/IVF. PRO: The kid has a known donor like the others, even though it would be a different donor. CON: expensive, time consuming, we don’t actually have anyone local who we know who would be a good donor and don’t have many options for others who aren’t local.
    • Decide to use our frozen embryos. This would likely require me being pregnant, due to the Hep B issue but even if the doc would allow L to carry the frozen embryos despite the Hep B, L isn’t super excited to be pregnant and really the priority in her being pregnant would be to deliver a baby from her eggs. She likely would veto being pregnant with my embryo. Which leaves me as the sole GP. PRO: don’t have to deal with the known/unknown donor issue. CON: we both really, really want to have a baby that is from L’s eggs. It would be a huge emotional loss for us.

Basically, unless the ideal situation presents itself (possible, but maybe not likely?) we will have a difficult decision to make. I’m not looking forward to it, honestly. Ultimately, I know (from personal experience and deep belief) that biology is not nearly as important as it can feel like it is. I know on such a deep, cellular level that Ansel is L’s son. I also know how important it feels, and how special it is, to have a biological connection to a baby and it’s something you have to grieve if it cannot happen. I very much want it to happen for L and our family. But all we can do now is wait and see . . .