Category: TTC

Shock & Awe

I can’t believe it.

I mean, I really can’t believe it.

I wasn’t even going to test, but on Friday night I decided I had to know. I figured that though I wasn’t expecting my period until Sunday, Saturday was two weeks past the IUI, so that’d count. I’d been feeling so normal. The only strange thing was the burping: for two days I’d been having reflux, which isn’t typical. Also, on Wednesday my acupuncturist again noted that my pulse was different. “Fuller and more rapid,” he said. I *wanted* that to mean something, but I was so wary after last month. I guess, too, that I wasn’t feeling quite so PMS-y as I usually do. But they were small, small things.

I woke up at six a.m. on Saturday and woke Uno up. I had a couple of “early early” tests from my cousin, and since the digital had been so cruelly negative last time, I figured we’d try those. I was schooling myself to stay calm. “Any outcome is fine,” I was telling myself. I was envisioning the solid single line.

At first, it was just one line. “I knew it,” I thought. But Uno bent over and looked again. “There’s another line,” she said, grabbing my arm.

“There is?” I said. “No there isn’t.”

“There is!” And there it was. Faint, then rapidly more solid, until it was definitely, indisputably a second line.

“It’s kind of faint,” I said.

“No it isn’t! We did it!” Uno started hugging me, but I couldn’t relax until I took the second test, going for digital this time. When that one popped up with a clear “pregnant” in the little window, I exhaled and hugged her back and then freaked out.

I feel so lucky, relieved and shocked. Grateful, too. Frankly, I feel like we got away with something! I was convinced that the timing was off. I only had one follicle and it was smaller than the other two times. The sperm count, because it had been from an ICI-only vial and had to be washed, was pretty darn low. I mean, low: six million less than the bank’s minimum guarantee. Though I know it only takes one, I just didn’t think the deck was stacked in our favor.

Oh ye of little faith, right?

The clinic had me come in for the blood test that very morning, so we got the first beta by the afternoon, and it was a solid 79. I’ll go in for the second one after work today. My head is still spinning and it feels like such a fragile new reality that I’m a little nervous about it. I just hope it doubles and does what it’s supposed to do. Is there really a new, tiny bean in there? What is it doing? What should I be doing? Does life really go on as usual? Am I actually a pregnant person?

I continue to feel pretty much normal, with the exception of the continued reflux and an aversion to strong flavors. (Cinnamon toast is the most appealing food in the universe at the moment). A little crampy, off and on. Yesterday we had family visiting and all I wanted to do was curl up and think, or not think, or both. In moments I feel so happy, just a surge of giddiness, and in other moments I feel like I’m reeling and I need to spend a day by myself to clear my head.

Oh. My. God.

Also, we told Jaybird already – hard not to – and he grinned, then promptly changed the subject. Later he pushed on my stomach and said, “my baby likes to be mushed!”

The Middle of the Wait

I don’t feel pregnant. Last month I was so convinced, so I’m taking the lack of signs as a good sign. Here we are a week past the IUI and I’m doing a pretty good job of distracting myself. This time I have done very little Googling. I am tracking my temp and still going to acupuncture, but I am (mostly) not thinking about it constantly.

Funny how stubborn hope is, though. It latches onto little things, like the acupuncturist saying that my pulse felt different, or Jaybird announcing that I have “a baby in there.” I’m trying not to talk about it around him, so that he doesn’t get confused, though this morning it did come up. He came into our bed and asked for “nana,” which he calls nursing. We’re a few months post-weaning and he still sometimes asks. “Can I check please, Mommy? Can I check on both sides?” He said today. It was unbearably sweet. Anyway, Uno said it’d be Mama who had the nana next time, which made him laugh and brought on the baby conversation. I do look forward to nursing, I’ll admit. Our son had such an intense, long-lived nursing bond with Uno that I have admired, envied, felt confounded by and celebrated by turns. At points, I wished so badly that I could offer him that singular comfort. At other times, I was grateful that I didn’t have a child attached to my breast at all times.

I have another reading coming up this week – last one for the foreseeable future – and I’m working on a little piece about being a non-bio mom. It’s fun and hard, mainly because there’s just so much material and I don’t have an organizing principle for any of it yet. We’ll see. It’s an event featuring queer writers. I’m pretty sure that my fellow readers are all younger and more political than me, and I’m looking forward to bringing my own voice into the mix in all its banal, family-oriented, quasi-suburban glory. Well, just kidding about the banal (I hope!)

Working on this, I’m struck by how different it is to be entering bio-mom territory. The hope, the anticipation, is similar, but there is an intensity that wasn’t there before. I’m a little bit afraid of the difference, because I don’t want there to be something about this experience that dilutes what I have with my son. I’m a little afraid even to write about it, because I don’t want to privilege biology in a way that used to hurt me terribly as an NGP.

Of course, differences don’t have to be threatening. They can be empowering. They can be instructive.

On Try #3 & Feeling Powerless

I went in for my 13-day checkup/ultrasound, and everything is on track. So, I’m triggered – hmmm, double entendre – and scheduled for an IUI tomorrow morning. So far I’ve had nothing but weekend inseminations, funnily enough.

The same nurse from IUI #2 was getting trained on this ultrasound machine, so it involved some extra shifting around of the wand and trial-and-error and muttered conversation with the trainer tech, which was bizarre. They called my lining “fluffy” and exclaimed over its beauty. (Thank you. Thank you very much.) There’s one big 18+ mm follicle. Sadly, no other contenders, but one is all it takes, right?

I was hoping for a late afternoon IUI, to give the follicle a little more time, but all they had was a 9:45 am. For some reason, this made me want to cry, to the point that I had to hurry away from the front desk. I worry that they do everything too damn early. I suppose that in a controlled cycle like this it’s a moot point, but I keep thinking a day 16 IUI would be better, and now this will be a day 14. Granted, the Femara has shortened my cycle by 2 days. I’ve tried to track my ovulation and I swear it happens later. And how long will that sperm live? Not long enough, I fear.

I feel pessimistic. I don’t want to be discouraged already, but I am.

Happily, I’m having birthday drinks with close friends, Uno and my sister tonight. The actual day isn’t til Tues., but I figured now was the day to imbibe – moderately! I’ll go home and snuggle Jaybird right now and all will be well.

I just feel so powerless. I can’t do anything to make this happen; I can only wait and trust our little baby to know when he/she is ready. I want to be super mindful and calm about that but at the moment it’s hard. I suppose I’m used to the illusion of control.

A Little Farther Down the Road

Standing in a green gown at the moment, mostly naked, as I wait to have the HSG. Feeling so exposed. This fertility business. Whew. It’s like a second job. And the indignities! Hoping all is normal. Hoping the NSAIDs do their job. Trying to relax. It’s quick, they say.

Please, please let this make the difference.

__

Edited to add that it all went well; everything is normal. It was far, far less painful than the previous IUI. Turns out I have a tipped uterus (the things you learn), hence the need for a longer speculum etc. That will be helpful info next weekend, when hopefully I am getting insemmed once again. Just can’t think of a good verb for that one. “Inseminated” is awfully clinical and sort of…yucky.

Anyway, I am now commanding myself to relax. The acupuncturist talked to me a lot about anxiety and the reducing of it. I don’t think of myself as particularly anxious — I don’t worry about calamities, for instance — but I do operate at a higher octane level much of the time, I suppose. I am easily frustrated. My day isn’t complete without checking off the to-do list. Last night I sat down and had a cup of tea instead of finishing the dishes. It’s a start.

Acupuncture was a lovely, lovely, rather strange experience, by the way. More meditative than I had anticipated. He helped me think about my body as a whole system, rather than a pair of ovaries, and that was enlightening. I came home and rocked Jaybird to sleep afterwards, and when he fell asleep in my arms, I just clung to him and wept – wept! – and thought about how perfect he is, and how if he is the only child we ever have, he is more than enough. It was a relief, a little release, and surprising. I suppose those needles opened some channels? Or maybe it was the twenty-odd minutes of just lying there, breathing.

I am starting to understand better why this is often termed “a journey.”

Oh, and apparently at sharing time yesterday, when asked what he did over the weekend, Jaybird announced: “We were waiting for my baby.”

!

So, Testing

Was not such a great idea, because of course, as I should have known despite my ridiculous secret hoping, it was a solid negative. I have those digital kinds, so it wasn’t f’ing around, you know? Just a no-nonsense “Not Pregnant” that popped up on the little screen after a minute or two. During that minute or two I thought, maybe. Oooh, just maybe. When it came up, I felt like the world’s biggest idiot.

I am surprised at myself. Baffled. I should not have obsessed so much about my body and its various twinges and creaks. Why did I allow myself to get so hopeful? I know better! I think I repeated “stupid, stupid, stupid” to myself about twenty times.

(Self-flagellation on top of everything. Oy vey. I really do know better).

Also, it was four in the morning. Four! I’ve been waking up like this in the wee hours lately, unable to fall back asleep. Anxiety, obviously. If you were someone who read message boards about early pregnancy symptoms, which would not be me because why indulge in that kind of pointless symptom-spotting torture? Oh wait. Anyway, if you were that someone, you would think that waking up randomly like that was a symptom of pregnancy. So it was too late / early and I just sat there on the edge of the bathtub staring at my feet. And then Uno got up and I snapped at her to leave me alone. She went back to bed and I did too after a minute, apologizing and explaining. And then I just felt really, really sad.

And then I started thinking: the sample count was low. Only two more vials from J’s donor. What does Femara even do? Etcetera. Sigh.

Fortunately, I did fall back asleep. It’s now a more reasonable hour to be awake. Rain is falling hard outside and we are packing to go to the peninsula for a family wedding. I have to shake it off and bring my game face, not least because I’m officiating and I want to be gracious, expansive, happy, kind and everything and all that. At least I can have some wine.

TTC: The Second Time Around

I can’t believe it was four years ago that we were trying to get pregnant for the first time. I remember it so vividly (and chronicled it here): searching for the right donor, feeling so hopeful, getting more worried, switching donors, switching doctors. Deciding to pay for the HSG out of pocket. Dealing with the billing department. Too many blood draws. Too many “wandings” (Uno’s word!) The thrill of success. Still and all, it only took seven cycles, i.e. just seven months of our lives. For so many folks, it takes much longer, and in retrospect it wasn’t that arduous. At the time, of course, it felt endless.

I keep thinking about it and comparing it to this time. Obviously it’s my body, so I’m the one getting poked and prodded and measured and tested. But honestly, the emotional experience isn’t that different. If anything I feel calmer, somehow. I suppose that’s because we’re already parents. It could also be that I am less worried about myself. I felt protective of Uno during our last TTC era and wanted to shield her from the discomfort, emotional and otherwise. I was also edgier, then, about my role, feeling a bit defensive before any and all medical appointments. I don’t think Uno feels that way this time; again, maybe because she’s already been through it. Or maybe because we’re in a liberal mecca now, where being gay doesn’t warrant so much attention.

Uno, actually, is waiting somewhat gleefully for me to experience pregnancy, birth and nursing. She gets this wicked twinkle in her eye and says, “just you wait!” I’m amused by this dynamic. I was worried she’d be jealous, but she doesn’t seem to be.

I put Jaybird to bed last night, and after reading two books – just two! I must insist, or he asks for millions more – he curled up on me and fell asleep while I sang to him. It was remarkably peaceful, which it has not been many bedtimes of late. He was so sweet, and limp, and precious in only that way that sleeping babes are. I kissed him and stared at him and thought about a new baby, and had this moment, very brief but intense, of believing that this cycle was already the one.

My beloved cousin is newly pregnant with twins. One of my best friends in the world is newly pregnant with her second baby. Another of my best friends is actively trying. The world seems to be conspiring around me. But I’m plenty skeptical, too. I’m ten days post-IUI and not testing until this weekend, if I’m late. Meanwhile! Life.

Seven Down, Seven To Go

One week post-IUI over here and waiting semi-patiently. Despite knowing better, I’m hyper focused on my body. What is that twinge? I have to pee a lot, what could that mean? I’m so tired, is that a sign? Ugh. The wondering and worrying of TTC and the two-week wait is nothing new, but still it feels strange. I know it’s too early to feel any proper symptoms, so why keep obsessing? The good news: the medication definitely worked this cycle. My jacked-up ovaries caused a fair amount of pain and bloating the day of and two days after the IUI. I think the timing was good. Now I’m just on the bus, waiting to see where we end up. I’m not driving, so all I can do is sit back and watch the view.

This is only try number two. I expect it will take longer. But oh, how I wish it would work this time, because we used our last IUI-ready vial from Jaybird’s donor. He’s sold out. The vials we bought last fall, which had been released by other families, included two IUI-ready ones and three that are only ICI-ready. We were told the counts are lower for the latter three, and two are low enough that after washing, they’d likely have to be combined. In other words, we’ve probably just got two tries left.

My nurse, mild-mannered and pragmatic, said: “if you want a genetic sibling, your best chance is IVF.” She meant statistically; so far there’s nothing to indicate that eventually, an IUI won’t work. But we can’t afford IVF. There’s no way. So we just have to be okay with moving on to a new donor if this doesn’t take in two more tries. I used to feel like I was completely fine with that. Now, I’m much more attached to the idea of Jaybird sharing alleles with the new bean. Funny how that idea has snuck up and clung, even though I don’t share genes with Jaybird and bristle at the idea that biology is primary when it comes to family attachment. I’m obviously pretty invested in the nurture-trumps-nature side of things.

When friends and family have asked about our plans for #2, they are usually very excited to hear that we hope to use the same donor. Their comments sort of stack up to, “that will be so special.” Which, yes. But what if that’s not the case? Of course, it will still be special, but will anyone think something insidious about them not “really being siblings”? Uno’s parents and relatives, for instance?

Think of adoption, I tell myself. Think of your cousin, whose mom married into the family when she was a toddler. We share no genetics but we are so fiercely related to each other. Our lives so deeply intertwined.

Anyway, maybe it worked this time, right?

Good thing I’m giving a reading this week, for which I’m still working on a piece, so that distracts me (read: make me nervous as hell!). I’m also officiating at an old family friend’s wedding on Saturday. And there is plenty of toddler-wrangling to keep me busy. Jaybird told me yesterday that he would like a brother AND a sister. You just get one, kid, I told him. “No! I will put a baby in my belly too,” he announced. He’s sassy, defiant, stubborn and selectively deaf, but he is also so very, very adorable.

On the Road Again: IUI #2

We went camping last night in a nearby National Forest, woke up early, packed and drove through the mountains down to the city for an IUI. We stumbled into the posh downtown clinic unwashed and smelling of woodsmoke. I kept thinking, “c’mon, kiddo, look at your awesome family! Don’t you want to go camping with us?”

Everything seems promising. I did a Femara cycle same as last time, with a trigger shot yesterday and IUI this morning. My ovaries liked Femara better this time, with a solid two big follicles yesterday morning, one at 20mm and one at 17mm. Two eggs? Maybe? My lining is good, too, whereas last time it had been on the thin side.

Anyway: now we wait! I’ve been tracking my ovulation more, cut out caffeine (good lord, that was hard) and generally feel more ready. I am reminding myself that I’m not in control, trying to relax. The IUI was surprisingly painful this time. Whew. Let’s just say I feel a bit…manhandled. She kept adjusting, readjusting, went to get a longer speculum!, shoved it in again. When the little swimmers went in there was no mistaking it, because I was super crampy. Maybe all of that is a good thing. I know they’re in there. Millions of ’em. Surreal, no?

In With The New

So much to say, so little time, so I’m just going to go for a little bullet recap. And hope that I’m more articulate later.

Jaybird

  • Is in preschool! After some separation anxiety, he has taken to it like a champ. He constantly recites the names of his friends there and has magically acquired the ability to pick up after himself. I love his snazzy trick for putting on his backpack by flipping it over his head. Kid is charming and quite independent. I’m always trying to sneak in cuddles and kisses, but he likes to tell me he’s too busy.
  • Is not really potty-trained, but we’re trying. He’s in undies almost always (or naked, his preferred outfit) and some days are fantastically dry, others full of accidents. At least it’s summer and he’s usually game to pee on a tree.
  • Has two speeds: fast and crash. Last month he had to get stitches after jumping on the bed went awry. And then he fell off the step a week later and busted it open AGAIN. His moms are quite nervous now about tumbles.
  • Is almost weaned. Uno has no more milk as of recently. He still likes to check daily. “Mommy, I’m just going to check,” he’ll say. He still wants it to go to sleep and to wake up, even without the milk itself, and Uno is patiently letting him slowly adjust to not having it. It’s resulted in a spike of Mommy clinginess. We’re both tired of hearing “Mommy Mommy Mommy” all the time. I’m mostly, pretty much, not taking it personally, but I’ll admit I look forward to the day when he requests me for something. Uno says that he does sometimes when I’m not around and I believe her. But I think I might need video.
  • No longer naps. He’s done. It has freed up our evenings, given that he sleeps about 7:30 – 7:30 each night, and it has cured him of night wakings. Oh, lord, how I love it. Sometimes we feel guilty, though, when he gets fussy and droopy around 4 or 5 pm and we keep him awake (knowing he could probably use a nap). Also, evenings are a little rushed: dinner-bath-bed has to happen in short order.

Moms

  • We are two working women, now! Being financially solvent is definitely a relief. Uno’s job is emotionally draining, and sometimes we discuss her looking for a new one. Being a counselor for traumatized kids / families – you can imagine that some days are hard and hard to leave at work.
  • My job, on the other hand, requires almost no emotional investment. It’s a) low stress and b) full of twentysomethings who prefer pinging me via chat rather than talking to me even when we are TWO DESKS AWAY from each other (but are clever, fun and make me laugh). I still look around on occasion and can’t believe this is my life. It’s so different than adjuncting. I can’t even begin. There is a margarita machine in the break room. There is a break room. There is a 401K. It’s pretty soulless, though. I mean, it is. I am not using my powers for good. (It’s ad copy, did I say that?)
  • We continue to help take care of Uno’s grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. It is a lot of work, but very necessary. Uno has her power of attorney and is the one shouldering most of the planning, calling, finances, legal issues and so on. I worry about her and compassion fatigue, given this and her job.
  • That said, our summer has been full of good friends and beach time, berry picking and visiting. We have been careful with our time, trying to do things that nurture our family, and I’m proud of us for that.
  • Our garden is thriving like never before, just chock full of zucchini and tomatoes and beans and flowers, and it feels like a lovely corollary to our lives.
  • Oh, and I AM GETTING AN ESSAY PUBLISHED IN SALON. It’s a short memoir piece. I can’t believe it, am pretty excited, pretty nervous, grateful, in shock. I’ve had other publications but never so public, so visible.
  • Finally, baby #2 is still very much on our minds, but we put the process on hold until next month or September. I found out that I can have 16 – yes, 16 – weeks of paid leave, but I have to be at this job a calendar year before I qualify. Hence the waiting. It was hard to wait after just one try, but after the first cycle came and went I realized I was relieved, too. Juggling the new job and new childcare configurations and everything else is a balancing act, one that we’re getting better at, but I think TTC would have tipped the scales too much this particular month and last. I’m hopeful that when we start again, my body and I will be more relaxed.