All of the Feelings.

Welp. Its CD5 of the first IUI cycle. I’m having a lot of feelings.

I think I’m excited, because I think this is ultimately a better shot than we have had before. I think I’m hopeful because the acupuncture + supplements + diet changes have made clear positive changes for my cycle and that *must* mean that BFF’s swim team is shaping up too, right? I’m nervous about trying to fit an IUI in during a very complex three day training (because, of course, that is when I am due to ovulate) and having to possibly ask my colleagues to step in for me at the last minute. I’m scared this is a waste of money without any evidence that BFF’s sperm has improved.

My therapist, herself the mother of twins conceived via IVF and donor sperm, seems to be pretty pessimistic about BFF’s sperm working. While she understands that we have reasons for wanting to keep trying with BFF, she ultimately believes we won’t be successful until we switch to another donor. I’d prefer she at least not tell me this as I genuinely want this to work but have so much fear we are throwing money away and prolonging the awful roller coaster we are on. Its hard not to want to dive into whatever has the best success rates. And IUI’s with less-than-awesome-sperm aren’t it. Balancing the things I know rationally and the ones I know emotionally is, like always, fucking hard.

So I’m doing everything I can on my end to make my uterus the most fabulous place in the world. A friend bought us a BlendTek blender which is, I guess, a really fancy blender. Since we didn’t even own one before, I’m not clear on the details. What I do know is that I have been making fabulous green smoothies every morning for a week and its been delightful. I’m keeping up with the supplements, the less sugar less wheat diet plan, and consuming a truly remarkable amount of produce, god bless the summer harvest.

I’m trying not to be so damned down about the whole thing, but its feeling hard these days. In the grand scheme of things, we are still so new on this path of fertility. It feels so impossibly sad to think that there could be so many more months of this. And yet, I can’t imagine stopping here.  Some friends of ours will hit 2 years of trying with a known donor in the next few months. They have done some tests but are not going to do IUIs, use any fertility medications, or go to any further lengths. They are giving themselves until december and then calling it quits. That feels so foreign and impossible to me. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit to myself that I will absolutely advocate for us to do whatever we reasonably can to get pregnant. And, frankly, for me to be pregnant.

I think that fear is deep down inside of me. That while we will have children that I will never be pregnant. It feels like a grief I don’t want to admit to. Because I know and believe that children, however they come, will be mine. And still . . .still I want so so deeply to be pregnant and give birth and maybe that just isn’t in the cards.

Its too early to say that. But sometimes, when I try to unbury just how and why I am so morose, I come to that. And it stings because it means something about me that I don’t want to be true.

 

Almost as Good, and sometimes better

My nephew is here!

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Liam Greer came busting onto the scene on Friday night at 8:20pm, MST. He came in at a whopping 8lbs 15oz, 21in long and a 14 in head. I really, really hope the giant head runs in my sister-in-law’s family and not mine. Dear lord.

He’s pretty fabulous already. We haven’t hung out much, because he’s kind of a big deal and I really hate being *that* family member who doesn’t respect boundaries (because there are plenty of them already) We have a dinner date tomorrow. His mom and dad are coming too.

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I know I’m biased but he is a REALLY beautiful baby, amiright?

In other news . . .

Both BFF and I had appointments with the fertility acupuncturist on Saturday. She seems to see some evidence of PCOS in my chart, and explained that while I do ovulate on my own that I may not be ovulating well or producing very good eggs. She noted that having many days of positive OPKs could indicate ‘weak’ ovulation and eggs trying to be released in the midst of lots of cysts impeding them. Still nothing confirmatory, but I think I might push for some blood tests when I go in to see the Texas Ranger tomorrow.

I’m now taking myo-inositol (which, BTW, seems to have a LOT of clinical evidence of helping PCOS symptoms without side effects), fish oil and vitamin D3 to support ovarian function and increase blood flow. And, of course, it is now officially time to stop eating refined sugar, wheat and dairy again. Which I have always known I would have to do but have ignored for a while now. You guys, donuts are my kryptonite. This is no fun.

I’m feeling much more at peace with the path we are on right now. We are definitely taking this month off, and will likely not proceed to the IUI in the Aug/Sept cycle either, although we may try at home again (possibly using The Conception Kit – another recommendation from the Acupuncturist) BFF will get a repeat sperm analysis after 8 weeks of acupuncture/herbs/supplements.

There is a lot of waiting ahead of me, and I know it is being mitigated somewhat right now by the appointments I have. I’m working hard to put some other things into place that will help me get through the next (maybe two) month(s) of not trying. And, still, I know there will be times when it feels so so so far away.

But today, things are good. Today, I have a tiny (or not so tiny!) nephew who is precious beyond measure. Today I have a few more answers and a few more techniques to try. And tomorrow I see the Texas Ranger for more information.

The day after that, well, I will get there when I get there.

Things. Some good. Some hard.

I had originally wanted to wait to update you all until AFTER my nephew made his arrival earth-side – which should have been by now. Unfortunately (for all of us, but mostly for his mama) the induction using pitocin did not encourage Liam to come out to this side of the belly. After 12 hours of not enough progress, she was sent home. She will go back tonight to try again. Nephew Wath 2013 has been delayed. Adorable baby photos will have to wait until another day.

Some things have happened this week, like this:

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aka the best salad ever aka direct from the garden at the estate.

And this:

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aka the first egg from the golden girls (there was another last night too. So exiting!)

Eating stuff from your backyard is THE BEST.

But then this also happened:

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Which I guess for some people isn’t that bad, but made me feel like this:

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I find it shocking that for some people with uteruses, the HSG is totally like, no biggie. This is the impression I got when I asked about it on the babycenter board and when I did some pre-procedure googling. I find this shocking because it was absolutely, hands down, the most exrutiating pain I have ever experienced. Granted, I (thankfully) have not had a lot of run ins with excessive pain. But I do have a fair number of tattoos and have undergone surgery and busted my ankle up so bad that doctors now don’t know what to do with it. So . . .I have some reference.

In any case, yesterday was miserable. After screaming through the HSG, I was informed that my ovaries looked poly cystic. I’m going back on Tuesday for another ultrasound for them to check and decide if this is actually the case.

I feel somewhat confused by this. I have very regular periods (with the exception of the last year when two cycles were longer than usual – one very long, 60 days) and appear to ovulate based on BBT signs. My metabolic panels have always been good – no signs of insulin resistance, blood pressure issues or high cholesterol. I’m a bigger girl, but my weight is much more packed into my thighs and booty vs. my belly. I don’t have acne or hair growth. Basically, this is coming as a bit of a surprise to me.

The doctor who did the HSG and subsequently informed me of the appearance of my ovaries was not the Texas Ranger, but the follow up is scheduled with her. So I’m hoping to get some answers then, and also from the fertility specialist acupuncturist I am seeing on Saturday.

I know the PCOS is not the end of the road when it comes to fertility stuff, and that it can definitely be treated in a variety of ways. But this is not the kind of news I want on the heels of BFF’s less-than-stellar semen analysis results. But, if it is in fact the case, we will just do the next best thing.

At least I don’t feel like I have a knife shoved up my cervix anymore. See, there is a bright side to everything!

Not the post I wanted to write

Ugh. I have really been wanting to post my experience from last Tuesday/Wednesday, when La and I went and got civil union #42 in the state of Colorado. It was magical and kind of overwhelming, and I really want to do it justice. I write the Spirituality and Religion feature for our local GLBT rag and will be putting my thoughts down for that in any case, and the blog seems like a good place to sort my thoughts. But I just can’t do it right now, y’all.

I am including some pictures (some which you could have also spied on NPR or the Denver Post (?!) because there was so much media. This is kind of fucking with my self esteem. But that’s another post, too. They follow the post!

My baby making anxiety is often quelled by writing about the experience, and reading about all of yours. So, in the interest of staying sane, I’m writing a brief TTC update instead of the lavish and lovely experience of finally having my relationship legally recognized in the state where I live and love. It’s a’comin!

  • Its CD19 and looking likely to also be 2DPO. We did inseminations on CD11, CD13, CD15, CD16, CD17. All this according to the Sperm Meets Egg plan. That seems like we ought to have fully covered our bases, so let’s up the mightiest swimmers have intercepted the most beautiful egg and are happily dividing in my fallopian tube right now.
  • The Advanced ClearBlue Easy Ovulation Prediction Kit SUCKS. I will be writing a more eloquent and comprehensive review on amazon.com, but for my readers who might feel inspired to go drop the $$ on one – don’t do it. Its confusing and doesn’t appear to line up with other fertility signs, including the regular CBE OPK.
  • We upped our game on the acupuncture, and I went in for three days in a row during inseminations. This is only possible because of community acupuncture clinics, so I wanna give a shout out to Meeting Point and all the other community acupuncture places that put this kind of treatment in the reach of those of us who don’t have a lot of money.
  • I’m on the post ovulation herbs and they are WAY more pungent than the pre O. It might be time to invest in some juice to chase that, because my hippie-woo ends when the herbs become nasty not just herby.
  • We had dinner with La’s sister-in-law last night, who was in town briefly. Over Xmas, when we talked about making babies, she was weirdly quiet – not at all typical for her. We brought it up a few times last night and she was still quiet and unengaging, only saying ‘all in due time’ over and over again. La’s family is way more conservative than mine. She has two brothers – one who is a big dude on campus at a super duper conservative mega church in Indiana – and another who is awesome. This sister-in-law is the awesome brother’s wife. She has always been kind to me, and we can laugh and joke. Her kids are amazing and they recognize me fully as their aunt. I hit the mother-in-law jackpot with La’s mom, and even her 87 year old granpa is good to me. But there are some real assholes in the mix, too. I mention all of this because its really breaking my heart and making me angry that K (the sister in law) is being weird and cold about this, when she has otherwise been great. It feels confusing. It feels like she is ok with us being gay but not with involving a child, or that she is changing her mind, or something. I’d like to think she’s just squicked out about the actual baby making but she isn’t even response to benign things. I was shaking with anger last night, so its clearly under my skin.
  • I head to Oakland next week for a training and I’m nervous about spending the second half of the wait alone. I’ll be busy and engaged, but I’ll also have some unstructured time without my usual support system around.

And now, some pictures! (with the new haircut, too – La’s in the bowtie)

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The Sweet Spot

Well, it’s CD12, try #4. Hope has bloomed again because how can it not? Another precipice of waiting – this is where the sweet spot is.

There are good things, here in this moment:

  • I got a really new, fabulous haircut. I have been rocking a modification of the same cut for a while now and feeling more like a soccer mom than I ever want to. I switched hairdressers (I have a lot of guilt about this) to La’s crazy alcoholic-but-super-creative hairdresser and got the femmpadour (femme + pompadour) that I have been longing for. Now its time to banish the glitter and get some color. Why is this so awesome? Because feeling like a stylish, hip, urban queer makes me feel like myself, and anything that pulls me out of the mustmakebabynow vacuum is a good thing.
  • I had the most awesome acupuncture appointment last Thursday! My coworker is in school for a degree in TCM and she recommended I go to the school clinic, which is inexpensive. Although I love the acupuncture clinic where I go, its a community space and they only do points in hands, feet and head and don’t do other treatments. At the school, I had  a crew of 4 students who spent a long time asking me questions, then did acupuncture points in my hands, feet, head and abdomen, and did a moxabustion treatment which is crazy and so great! The gist is that they use a mugwort herbal mix and light it on fire on acupoints! But it doesn’t hurt and it increases warmth and flow of chi. This was also on my belly. Finally, I got two big paper envelopes of herbs to make tea with. I have been drinking the pre-ovulation tea since then and I would swear my BBT temps have upticked just a little (which is good since mine are usually on the lower end throughout my cycle) So.excited.to.go.back!
  • I talked with my friend/pastor (she was my friend and classmate before we started a church together, or, I early adopted her church rather) and got some good spiritual perspective. Which OMFG I needed really badly.
  • We have decided to do a variation of the “Sperm Meets Egg” plan which we are lucky enough to be able to try because BFF is fucking amazing. I’ve adapted it because it assumes ovulation on day 14, and I usually O later than that (on day 17-20) So instead of started every other day inseminations on day 8, we started on day 11. This means last night was our first insem of this cycle. Crazy!
  • I am using the advanced CBE OPK which I am a little wary of (its super new and has very few reviews, but those that I’ve read say it flashes ‘high’ fertility for DAYS and then doesn’t register the ‘peak’ at all) and we got a flashing smiley face today (‘high’ but not ‘peak’ fertility) – so that’s a nice reinforcement of the plan. I am, of course, triple checking because peeing on things is just what I do now.
  • Tomorrow night (and into wednesday in the wee hours) La and I will, along with some friends, be among the first folks in Colorado to get a civil union! We are doing an insemination before we head out to wait in line, and I really like the idea that if this cycle works, it could very well be on that day. That’s the nice thing about so many chances and not knowing which one, exactly, will take.
  • Spring is here (at least until Tuesday night when we will get another  snow storm) and La and I spent all day in the yard, cleaning out the shed, planting trees, and getting things ready for chicken coops and garden beds. I have the influx of freckles and pinkish sunburn to prove it!

One more wave of hope . . .

An update. Not necessarily a lot of answers.

Hello gentle readers. Welcome to CD42, 26DPO.

I got the blood test results back:

HCG quantitative: less than 0

TSH: 3.55 (old normal, that most labs use = between 1 and 5; new clinical normal = .05-3, ideal conception range = under 2.5) Despite my asking multiple times, including while I was in the chair looking a needle in the facethey did not do a full thyroid panel, and so now I wait to see if #1 my doc will order the full panel like she claimed she already did and #2 if they will do the draw and lab without charging me. Ugh.

In other news: Today my temp jumped from 97.1 (its general above cover line range for this excessive luteal phase is about 97.1-97.4) to 97.6 – so, that’s weird. And, I have been getting very weird spotting for the last three days. This spotting is, literally, a drop of bright red blood in a dollop of clear cervical fluid. I have never had this before and its kind of weirdly unsettling. Today, I have also been experiencing pink tinged creamy cervical fluid.

I am hopeful that all of this menstrual madness is due to a cyst that is on its way to resolving itself. My ‘symptoms’ all point to a cyst of some kind – the nausea and cramping/pain quite soon after ovulation, the spotting, the delay in menses, the dizziness – all can be attributed to a cyst. It also might explain why my temperature shift was not as significant as usual, why my BBT temps have been lower than usual in the luteal phase, and why my OPKs never showed as clear a positive as they historically have.

The good thing about a cyst is that they are common, resolve on their own, and as long as they are fairly isolated, don’t indicate any ongoing problem. Our luck was shitty – to get this the first cycle trying to conceive. But, of all the possible issues to have, this is probably the best one.

That said, I still haven’t bled. And I imagine that until the blood comes gushing, I won’t be entirely free of my anxiety. I haven’t been this anxious to get my period since I was 11 and everyone except me was buying tampons and I was so jealous.

Tonight my acupuncturist did everything she could to get all my chi and blood flowing. I hope my uterus gets the message.

Thanks so much to all of you for keeping hope afloat and offering your words of wisdom, kindness and perspective. If you’ve got the time, put in some prayers that this never ending cycle is coming to a swift and speedy close.

When Science Needs Art

I’ve done well for the last month, approximately, of not getting bogged down in the tracking and temping and observing. Part of this is probably because, after a month under my belt, I was feeling decidedly awesome about having a handle on things: I got a clearly + OPK stick, had the appropriate ups and downs with temp, bled three days with less cramping and bright red blood, and felt awesome about my overall cycle length and my luteal phase length.

This month has undone my confidence, with things going from uneasy to sorta freaked out this morning. I have been peeing on OPKs since day 12 of my cycle, with nary a + in sight – just lots of inconclusively vaugely pink stripes. I have had copious amounts of fertile cervical fluid – which is awesome, and I attribute to the evening primrose oil supplement I’ve been taking – but I had it so many days that narrowing down ovulation by fluid observations seemed impossible. In the last two days my temperature has dropped to the levels it usually gets to when I bleed – although the bulldog has also had some sleeping issues so I can’t count out the fact that those temperatures might not be accurate. Final straw? Last night I found a tiny spot of brown blood in my cervical fluid, and this morning it was full on brownish tinged and has continued into this afternoon – on CD21, at least 8 days prior to what has been my ‘normal’ and 10 days prior to when I’ve bled the last two months. I’m having vaguely menstrualesque cramps too – although I’m not 100% convinced my cramps aren’t psychosomatic cause I only feel them when I see blood.

Basically, this means I have gone from having regular 29 day cycles in the summer, to a 34 day cycle in September, a 32 day cycle in October and now a potentially 21 day cycle in November. Fucking uterus, man. Can’t play along when shit gets real.

I lost it a little this morning talking to La. I don’t want to be anxious or worried about this – especially not yet. But anxiety is my M.O. Anxiety is what I do and while it definitely helps me get shit done it is not in the least bit helpful in a situation like this. Thankfully, the universe knows I can’t handle my shit alone and gave me this fabulous, calm, balanced partner who can simultaneously affirm my feelings while also putting them into perspective. 

Right after this, I went to my lovely Acupuncturist who also reminded me not to freak out quite yet. I started getting poked at the end of my October cycle and have been going every week since then. J told me that sometimes when things are getting rearranged energetically things get wacky. Then she stuck some needles in my head and told me to chill out. While I was drifting off, one of my buddies HillJoy appeared in the treatment room to get her weekly needles. HillJoy is about 22 weeks along in her pregnancy, and I felt like it was the best gift ever – some happy baby woo coming at me during acupuncture.

So I’m trying to calm down. I am going to nix the EPO for now, and really all of the other supplements except the herbs I scored from J the acupuncturist. I’ll keep up with the prenatal and herbal teas, but I think I need to be spending less time focused on making shit better when I don’t even have any evidence that anything is wrong. 

On the upside, if the big U is on some kind of reset process, my fertile period might be earlier than expected in January, which would at least mean getting to get (happy) freaked out about the arrangements with BFF and his spermies instead of just obsessively tracking what my body is doing.

On the legal front: Awkward Lesbian Doc (who will now be called AwkMD) is feeling a little unsure about signing the medical supervision piece of our contract – which I totally understand since who can read legalese anyway? but also, c’mon do we really need to make this any more complicated? Fingers crossed she’ll get the go-ahead from the hospital and, barring that, my friend S is willing to put us in touch with a doc friend to help us out. But I love AwkMD and would love to have her guidance. 

Medical news: pap and prolactin both normal. All clear on the vagina front.

Still hoping to find some other dykes-who-blog-who-want-babies to network with so if you are too, let’s be friends!