Bust.

Its been a helluva week.

Today is cycle day 22, still no positive OPK. After the almost-the-same test on Tuesday morning, I got almost no line at all on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning I got another dark-but-not-positive and then . . .of course, no line Wednesday night. My cervical fluid has followed a similar, although opposite, pattern – with creamy fluid in the morning and stretchier, clearer fluid in the evening. My temperatures have stayed solidly in the pre-ovulatory range. This morning’s pee stick ritual yielded another dark but not positive. In other words, nothing to speak of.

I sent an e-mail to the Texas Ranger on Tuesday asking for an ultrasound to see what was going on, and mentioning that I would also like to talk more in depth about fertility medications. She responded telling me to come in for a blood draw to check progesterone and to schedule an appointment to talk about further interventions.

I’m a little perturbed about the progesterone check instead of an ultrasound. The progesterone test will show that I have not ovulated. Which I know, because I track my temperatures.  I’m not sure why I had to drive half way across the metro area and get stuck in the hand to prove what I already know. But I did.

The next available appointment for The Texas Ranger wasn’t until Oct 1st. Aside from this feeling like a lifetime away, I was also concerned with how it might work in terms of timing for the next cycle (assuming I ovulate in the next, you know, few weeks) and I was not willing to be patient to talk about something that I’d wanted to talk about a month ago. So, I am going to see a doctor at the same practice this coming Monday.

After a week of grief, anxiety, busy-ness and just general too-much-ness, La and I made the decision to cancel this cycle. Between the havoc that’s been wrecked on our lives with friends leaving and lives exploding in work and ovulation not coming, and the fact that we were advised an IUI wouldn’t be recommended with ovulation any later than day 24 (at this rate, we are almost past that cut-off as is), it seems like the best, most reasonable plan to forgo the IUI, take some time to breathe, figure out our next steps, and then move forward in September/October.

I’m terribly sad and also decidedly relieved. I have been exhausted by this process, wrung out with waiting, and blame filled (from myself, always only myself) when the OPK shows up negative. again. and again. And while there is loss – not getting to try is a particular kind of heartache I think – it feels quieter and more peace-filled.

The one sticking point from our conversation last night was whether to have BFF’s sperm analysis repeated before or after the IUI. Following the previously decided upon ‘plan’ would mean getting it done prior to the Sept/Oct IUI. La doesn’t want to do this. She wants to go forward and have the SA repeated after the IUI.

I have a lot of complex feelings about this. First and foremost, if we are upping our game so significantly, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t test the semen. Its been more than 8 weeks since BFF started acupuncture and supplements, and that was time time frame we were given to see some improvement. I think La’s desire to try is more about sticking her head in the sand and hoping for the best – a tactic I have often gone with when the emotional stakes are high. After all, no news is good news, right?

But it feels hard that in this instance, The Plan is being put aside in the service of BFF/La’s desire to use BFF as our donor. The Plan has been the primary sticking point whenever I wanted to bump the timeline up. Whenever I wanted to make an appointment or ask questions about interventions or see a naturopath or or or . . .The Plan has been the reason I didn’t do any of that. When I’d come home worried or wanting to try something, La would say, but we have The Plan. We have to stick with The Plan. and The Plan says we don’t try that until _____ (after 6 tries, August, if we get a bad test result.)

So I’m a little resentful. And I feel shitty that I feel resentful, but I do. We tabled the conversation and made an agreement to revisit after doing some more thinking and talking and uncovering. I certainly don’t want to make a decision based on my resentful feelings; I also want to give ourselves the best possible chance, because this shit is fucking hard.

 

The Right to Choose, the Right to Want

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Pee Sticks be Ever in Your Favor

I’m a fast learner, which is good because I’m also impatient. Add to all of this that I tend to be a ruminator (not a ruminant, I do not chew my own cud or have multiple stomachs) who thinks and thinks and thinks and then BAM! does (much to the consternation of many people in my life, my super babe of a wife included) and perhaps my most recent barrage of anxiety ridden assumptions doesn’t seem so rash, although it is, at any rate, misguided. Basically this is what I’m trying to say: Once I decide I want to know something, I go out and learn it and, often, I can then apply it pretty readily to my life. The place where this otherwise awesome system goes awry is when, as with bodies, no amount of book learning will get you the results that careful observation over time will.

So, following my mini freak out about ovulation, I quit taking the evening primrose oil supplement, replaced it with some deep breaths, and tried to remind myself that we are not even trying to conceive yet. On a whim, I decided to take an ovulation prediction test and got a very clear positive.

How’s about that as a reward for positive behavior?

Or, you know, that whole mind body link; or, the EPO. Whatever. I’m choosing to believe the universe saw me calm down and said, “yeah, Andie, that’s how ya do it. Good job!”

For the good of the gaywo TTC community who may or may not be reading this blog and who may or may not have the same “OMG why are OPKs so hard to read!” feelings that I have, I’m sharing my exciting + and one of my more confusing -. May the pee stick odds be ever in our favor.

This is my positive OPK from my Nov-Dec cycle. Observe the pure darkness of the line on the left.

This is my positive OPK from my Nov-Dec cycle. Observe the pure darkness of the line on the left.

This is one of the many negative OPKs from my Nov-Dec cycle. But its dark enough that it kinda faked me out, for a minute.

This is one of the many negative OPKs from my Nov-Dec cycle. But its dark enough that it kinda faked me out, for a minute.

La is neither as invested in research as I am, nor as fascinated by the less than polite bodily functions that come along with all this mess. She has outright told me that when its her turn, I will have to coax her along – I plan to draw the line at dipping the OPKs in her pee, although I will happily check her cervical fluids. <oh my!> BUT . . .she has consented to let me show her my OPKs and ask for perspective.

Last night when I showed her this, she got excited and said “Is this when we would call BFF?!” I started getting into some complicated explanation that went something like “well yes although i would like to understand my cycle well enough to actually call him before the positive . . .” but stopped when I realized that La was thinking that if we just had a damned needleless syringe she would be on the horn with BFF that very second.

It was a flash of OMFGthisistotallygonnaberealsosoon and it was RAD.

Finally . . .we are having issues getting AwkMD to sign the paperwork saying she is supervising the procedure. It may be time to call in the friend of my also gay-and-pegnant co-worker who signed their contract. Sketchy? Sure. But when the law says you can’t just get free sperm from your BFF without getting all entangled in the law, I say fuck it we are doing the best we can.

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!