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Hello, blog people! I am writing this from my aunt’s dining room table, which is notable mostly because it is located in Paris (the one in France, not Tennessee), and I am already, 5 hours after arriving, stuffed full of croissants, cheese, and paté. I will, of course, bore you to tears in subsequent posts with the same ten million pictures everyone else takes in Paris, only mine will be out of focus. Now, if that doesn’t keep you riveted until the next installment, I don’t know what will.
I alluded to it in my last post- we have made it to stage two of operation Get Me A Baby, namely, multiple visits to the neighborhood fertility clinic. Actually, it isn’t really in the neighborhood, but rather two towns over, as just about everything is in California- two, three, four towns over, accessible by a rapidly increasing number of highways and freeways, which always makes me sing that line from that Skee-Lo song in my head: “…I take the 110 to the 105, get off on Crenshaw…” Hello, 1995 called. It would like its barely topical reference back. In this way, Southern California reminds me of suburban New Jersey- going to the corner store might take you on three freeways, and you’ve only gone one mile.
This fertility clinic is quite nice- the nurses remember me, and haven’t batted an eyelash at J and I as a couple (I am starting to think I should just get over expecting an altercation at every interaction J and I have with professionals of any sort, since it takes a shit ton of energy for me to get all riled up IN ADVANCE, and then feel all deflated when they are nothing but nice at every turn), and the three doctors on staff are fine, if radically different in temperament.
Dr. C is an eternal optimist- when she did my first ultrasound, she noted with glee the presence of a nine millimeter follicle, which she was convinced would pop by the weekend, sending us into a flurry of excitement bordering on panic. “Have sperm here by Friday!” she tossed over her shoulder as we left the clinic. In order to meet this directive, we ended up calling our New York sperm bank from the PARKING LOT of the clinic so we could place our order before it closed, and if there’s something more hilariously ridiculous than ordering 6 vials of sperm over the phone while sitting in your sauna of a car, I am not sure what it is.
Dr. Y is exactly the opposite- the second ultrasound I had showed the same follicle, holding steady at nine millimeters, when apparently the doctor had expected it to blossom to 9 CENTIMETERS, or something enormous like that, judging by his deeply disappointed and concerned face. I think the problem was that I had erroneously indicated that my cycles were somewhat regular, when apparently they are working on their own system, one that defies online ovulation calculators (look, when you’re a lesbian, and your method of birth control is… err, BUILT-IN, you don’t give much of a flying fuck when your period comes, as long as it’s not during the Indigo Girls concert. I CANNOT stop with the dated references). Anyhoo, Dr. Y started talking about ovulation-stimulating drugs, and aggressive courses of treatment, and I left the clinic thinking I’d never get pregnant, mostly because my eggs would be too AFRAID of pessimistic Dr. Y.
Three days later, we met Dr. R (for those of you keeping track at home, that’s three doctors in 10 days taking a good long look at my insides via the dildocam, and I’m only sorry I didn’t come up with that particular nickname for the ultrasound wand), who is a lovely Jewish gay man who seemed to be well placed, in terms of temperament, between the other two doctors. He looked at my follicle, now measuring in at 17 millimeters, and told me to come back Monday. In the meantime, he took a vial of blood to check my progesterone levels, in order to make sure I hadn’t ovulated, WHILE NO ONE WAS LOOKING.
Meanwhile, at home, I’d been taking ovulation prediction kits at home, and consistently getting negative results. Secret Tip ClearBlue Easy Won’t Tell You: the hormone its testing for doesn’t make it into your urine for a while, so testing first thing in the morning isn’t gonna work- better you should test at 2 in the afternoon. It’s a good thing I am an excessive Googler, otherwise we might have missed this key bit of information. Of course, 2 in the afternoon of last Saturday happened to be smack in the middle of a BBQ we were hosting, so we totally indiscreetly locked ourselves in the only bathroom in the house for the four minutes the test took to develop.
You see where this is going, right? The positive sign on this test is a digital happy face, and J and I promptly freaked right the fuck out, dialing the clinic with one hand, jumping up and down while clutching the test stick in the other. I left a garbled message on the machine at the clinic, essentially asking them to come over and hold my hand, as I had absolutely no idea what the next step was- come in? wait? take two Xanax and chill? WHAT?? I spend the remainder of the day obsessively checking my phone, at a rate of approximately EVERY TWO MINUTES, which I am sure made me an absolutely charming hostess until about 6:30pm, when I finally convinced myself they weren’t going to call back tonight, FOR THE LOVE, PUT DOWN THE PHONE.
The clinic did call back, at 8am the next morning, indicating that I should, absolutely, come in. J and I made it from Long Beach to Westminster in 10 minutes, approximately 20 miles per hour over the speed limit and 10 minutes faster than any other, reasonable, person might make the same trip. After all that, we still had to do the traditional doctor’s office Hurry Up & Wait, getting more and more nervous, the sort of thing that is totally made worse for me because I didn’t really know what I was nervous ABOUT. Had we missed it? Was the egg still there? What the hell, exactly, were we there to do?
Answer, because we are bordering on the absolute limit one can request of others, in terms of attention: Dr. C checked me once more, looking for the follicle, which was no longer there. If all is working the way it should, this means my egg was floating around in the space of my fallopian tubes, and if the miracle of life was going to happen this month, we needed to get sperm up there, STAT.
After thirty minutes back in the waiting room (I had NO IDEA it takes that long to defrost a half teaspoon of sperm), we were called back again, where I was instructed to lay back and relax. Well, after I had confirmed that what they were about to send up my reproductive tract was, in fact, the donor we had ordered. And look, I am here to tell you, you don’t really know. Sure, the vial has the donor name on it, but SO MANY people have handled the sample before it gets to you that I am frankly surprised mix-ups don’t happen more often. Or maybe they do, and we JUST DON’T KNOW.
The insemination itself was no more painful than your run-of-the-mill Pap smear, and then I lay there for the next ten minutes, knees stitched tightly together. And I am not kidding about the ten minutes- the nurse had me on a timer. LEAST ROMANTIC INSEMINATION EVER.
And then… it was over. Door to door, the whole process took 90 minutes, which doesn’t seem like much, given the momentous-ness of what we are hoping actually happened. We went home, where I suppose I was to continue about my regular life, minus all the fun parts, while 5 million sperm danced around in my uterus. We won’t know if the insemination worked for 14 days, which seems like a short amount of time, when measuring vacation days, but like a giant, never-ending eternity when waiting to find out if your family might all of a sudden go from two members to three.
I know a positive pregnancy test is only the beginning of whatever comes next, and that there are a million ways the whole thing could go horribly wrong. But for once, just this once in my whole fucking life, I’m breathing life into my hope for the best.
Because you are all undoubtedly hanging on the edge of your seats with regards to the goings on in my life, I will update you on all the things.
Thing the first: Getting pregnant is not for the faint of heart, I will tell you what. I’ve had three ultrasounds, all looking at my wee ovaries, and more specifically, the follicles therein- which, for a time, were not growing as they should have been. And damn if that didn’t just completely throw me for a loop- I knew going in that we wouldn’t necessarily get preggo on the first try, but to not even have a first try because there wasn’t an egg- well. That wasn’t even on my radar. Just goes to show that worrying is worthless, because you end up spending all your energy worrying ABOUT THE WRONG THING. I then spent too much time googling random shit hoping to get a clear answer on when and if I was ovulating, as if it was something that quantifiable- you always ovulate on the third Tuesday of the month, just do the math!- and, on the other hand, sending positive, growing thoughts in the general direction of my midsection (look, no one knows if it works or not, so IT CAN’T HURT).
I doubt it was anything I consciously did, but this morning’s ultrasound revealed an enlarged follicle, so there is still a chance for this cycle, and I shed as many tears today as I did when the doctor told me the follicle wasn’t growing.
Aside Number One: I don’t think I had any real doubts about my desire to have a baby, but the up and down of this fucking follicle has made me feel it on a completely different level. I think I know now what people mean when they talk about wanting something so bad it hurts.
Aside Number Two: MOTHERFUCKER, is this thing getting expensive. Every time I so much as WALK INTO that clinic, it costs me $160, not to mention what it cost to get the raw material- purchased, shipped, and stored. I know it’s not going to get any less expensive from here on out, but I do admit I’m jealous of you straight people, with your at-home conception facilities.
Thing the second: I made a six day attempt at reducing the dose of my anti-depressant, taking three quarters of a pill instead of a whole one. Days 1-3 were pretty good, and, as I always do, I thought to myself that I totally had this in the bag (is anyone else sensing a theme in my life?). By day four though, things were starting to slide off the rails- even I could tell there was something amiss when I spotted myself in the mirror at yoga class and felt actual, physical repulsion. Apparently my anxiety manifests in major body issues- who knew?
Two days back on my regular dose and I feel more like a human being, and not a snarling, angry beast. As I mentioned on Twitter, I also tried to stay off caffeine for a couple days (during this same time period), as per the orders of the fertility doctor. Uh, NO. Not only no, but HELL NO. By the end of yesterday, I’d been dealing with a throbbing headache for two days, and I made the executive decision to hustle my ass to the Starbucks. Twenty minutes, problem solved.
Lesson learned: wean off ONLY ONE addictive substance at a time, for the love of GOD. Sometimes I don’t have the sense God gave a garden hose.
Thing the third: I have been quiet about my stupid fucking feet lately, mostly because there hasn’t been a damn thing to say about them, other than they still go numb/tingle/what have you, and they still prevent me from doing anything active save yoga, including WALKING AROUND THE FUCKING BLOCK.
HOWEVER. I have finally, FINALLY, secured a MRI of my lower back, thanks to a non-harried primary care physician and her referral pad. She sent me to the most Jewish of Jewish doctors, one David Rosenberg from New York, and GODDAMN, if stereotypes don’t exist for a reason. The fly-away hair, the glasses, the big honking schnozz- he had it all. He was also, of course, whip-smart and funny, and in possession of the almighty prescription pad, so I almost forgave him his (I shit you not) Hillary Clinton VOO-DOO DOLL. His nurse left me to sit in his office for a few minutes before he showed up, and that fucking voo-doo doll almost made me get up and walk out. Instead I stayed and BLESS HIM, Dr. Rosenberg agreed with me that the problem is not with my feet per se, as much as my back, and I finally think we are on the right track now.
GOOD GOD. Re-reading this you’d think I was a complete medical disaster area. I swear, I am a generally healthy specimen, I just play a mentally-deranged gimp on the innertubes.
To my darling J-
It has been a wee bit over a month since our shining weekend in Vancouver, where our friends and families gathered us up in a tight circle and we committed ourselves to each other while they watched, positively glowing with love and happiness.
I did not really think I’d feel that differently, before August 21st and after, but indeed, I do.
I did not think I could love you more, before August 21st and after, but I do.
I feel more grown-up: marriage is something grown-ups do, and having done it, I suppose that makes me one now, too. But more than that- I feel responsible- I helped create this partnership, crafted it into its own entity, and I have to now protect it and nurture it, and to not take if for granted. These are grown-up things, grown-up responsibilities.
As I said in my vows, being with you continues to be the easiest choice I make. I feel both safely tethered and impossibly free- home is where you are, even as you send me out on my own adventures.
A million more months like this could never be enough.