decisions

Friday, my temperature was still elevated, and I had been nauseated all day.  Saturday morning I woke up with the temperature a little lower than Friday, but still elevated.  I was still nauseated, and really, really thought I was pregnant.  But by late morning, spotting had started, and I knew I wasn’t pregnant, again.  Yesterday the real bleeding started.  It was heartbreaking.  It’s hard to explain, really, what it’s like to not be pregnant, month after month.  I wish I knew why.  I spent the better part of the weekend sobbing in the corner, yelling at my spouse over nothing, and painting my bedroom.

Maybe it’s the prolactin, I don’t know.  I didn’t get it checked last month, although now I wish I had.  Not that it would matter.  One thing that has been hard to accept is that no amount of information will get me pregnant.  Whether or not 28% of pregnancy charts show nausea at 11 days past ovulation, whether or not my prolactin levels are high or normal or slightly elevated, none of that information, alone, will get me pregnant.  None of it even matters.  Whenever I test, whatever symptoms I have, no matter what the correlation is with other people who are pregnant, none of it matters.  Because I’m not.  So this weekend I thought, I either want to take March off, or I want to do something more aggressive.  What I don’t want to do is the same damn thing I have been doing for the last seven months.

My wife really does not want to take a break, although she is willing to if it’s what I want.  So this morning I bit the bullet and called the doctor’s office for a consultation with my doctor.  I thought that if she could explain to me why she thought Clomid would help, and what the side effects (short and long term) really are, maybe I could get myself comfortable with taking it.  Except for how it turns out that my doctor is on vacation all week.  So I can’t ask her these things.

I decided to go the Manhattan office of our doctor’s practice to at least get the prolactin levels checked, and maybe get the prescription for Clomid from a different doctor.  If we have to make this decision on our own, I thought I would rather have the Rx in hand.  Long story short is that I got the run-around about if/how I could even get a prescription for the Clomid from some other doctor, and ended up loudly ugly-crying on a street corner on the upper east side while on the phone with my wife.  It seems that our chances of starting the Clomid this cycle are slim to none, so now we are down to the options of another natural cycle, or a month off.  While sobbing into the phone, my wife offered me the month off.  She held it out there for me, and I grabbed it.  Less than an hour later, I question that decision.  What if she’s right, and the right ovary is better?  Maybe I will do a natural cycle after all.  I have no idea what the right choice is.

What I do know is that I hate this.  I hate this so much.  Getting pregnant is not fun, like I thought it would be.  It is hard, and stressful.  It involves making uninformed decisions, and missing work, and having your blood taken for the fiftieth time, and talking about deeply personal things with loud-mouthed receptionists and crying in your office, in your bedroom, on street corners.  And extremely bitter disappointment.

Last night, our kids came home from their vacation with their father.  BC was telling some long, complicated story about what to do if you are being attacked by a German Shepherd, and I just thought, this could be it.  These three could be the only kids I will have.  And they are already so big.

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bangs

It turns out that I have been stressed out lately.  This, I think, is a combination of seven (SEVEN) months of trying to get knocked up, currently being in the two-week wait, an annoying work trip that was hanging over my head, and also, out of the last eight months, having overnight guests for what adds up to five of them.  Yes, five out of eight, as in more than 50%.  We had my mother in law for two months, my sister for two months, a cousin for a week, various family members for 10 days at Christmas, and the odd weekend guests here and there. For a total of 5 months’ worth of houseguests.  Geeze.  And in all that time, I am stealthily sneaking off to the doctor to try to get myself pregnant.

Anyway, I had a meltdown yesterday on my way to work, during which I decided that I should do something nice for myself, to distract me from obsessively staring at my chart and also to reward myself for so patiently (ha!) enduring the people that I love, but that have been treating my house like a bed and breakfast for the last 5 months.  So!  I will Do Something For Myself and get some kind of hair treatment, I decide.  This left me with two options.  One, to dye my hair MSCL red, like I did in college.  In case you are not familiar:

my-so-called-life-claire-danes-dvdbash-wordpress3Appropriate, because that expression sums up how I have been feeling for about 3 weeks.  Also, my hair is that length.   I am not 14, though.  The other thing I could do is to get bangs.  Or maybe, MSCL red and bangs?

During a particularly boring but somehow also stressful day at work, I had a phone conversation with my wife.  I told her that (1) if not pregnant, I wanted to take next month off, and (2) I was dying my hair MSCL red, or else getting bangs.  Just like that, one after another.  Of course, she was all (1) don’t I get a say in whether you take a month off? (no) and (2) red?  Well.  I made a hair appointment anyway, for the next day (i.e., today) at lunchtime.

Later, we went out to dinner. The kids are all on vacation with He Who Must Not Be Named (their father), so we are relatively fancy-free this week.  At dinner, we revisited both topics.  I should say that, although my wife has not recently (like in the last year) expressed reservations about having another baby, a constant fear of mine is that she doesn’t really want the not-yet-existing baby.  So actually, her indignation at me deciding I was taking next month off was kind of nice, in a weird way.  And ultimately, after talking it through, I have reconsidered, and probably won’t take next month off after all.  It’s just that it’s been so hard, and actually kind of isolating, this trying to get pregnant business.  Also, am sick of peeing on things.  I would like a month where I just don’t have to think about it.  I don’t have to pee anywhere other than the toilet, I don’t have to count days past ovulation, I don’t have to go to the doctor, I don’t have to wonder if that feeling is implantation, because it’s just not.  However.  She promised to be very “checked-in” if we try during March, and also daily massages to help me relax.  You would be a fool to pass up daily massages, I think, so I am in.  Plus, it turns out that she is actually rather anxious for our little bundle, but has been avoiding saying this because she doesn’t want me to feel bad. Aww.

Then, we talked about the hair.  She expressed serious concern over me dying my hair a color that has not been in style since 1996 (even though I pointed out actually already dyed my hair this color after it had been out of style for several years, circa 2002).  On second thought, it was actually kind of a disaster the last time I dyed my hair red.  I had to paste-bleach it all platinum blonde before I could dye it brown again, because the red just would not come out any other way.  I decided maybe bangs were the best bet.

So this morning, I came into work, and cancelled the business trip that has been hanging over my head, which was actually for a training seminar that seemed really boring and hard and would require three overnights away from home.  I also trekked off to the salon to get my hair trimmed, and get those bangs.

After I sat down in the chair, my stylist came over to me and said, “Hi beautiful. So, when are you going to get pregnant?  Oh gosh, are you pregnant right now?  You’re not pregnant right now, are you?”

WHAT THE HELL.

“No,” I told her, “I am not pregnant right now.  And what do you think about bangs?”

So much for the distraction.  My bangs are cute though.

fallopian tubes and other two week wait thoughts

Because I am a lawyer, today’s blog entry, which is mostly a list of random thoughts, will have headings.  You’re welcome.

Fallopian Tubes and Lazy Eggs

Today is the second day past ovulation and insemination. This is the day where I start to get annoyed at how long it takes the egg to bounce its way down the fallopian tube and implant.  The sperm can make their way up there in a matter of seconds, but the blastocyst that is hopefully making its slow, meandering way down the tube takes days.  Annoying, right?

But, I will say, this annoyance is partially a result of the cartoon images of the female reproductive system that I saw in fifth grade, which depict the fallopian tube as being about a quarter of an inch long and perfectly straight and wide.  Today I remembered that when I had the HSG test, I saw my actual fallopian tubes.  Not straight.  Not short.  Not wide.  Instead, they are skinny, long, meandering tubes.  I actually tried to put a picture of my fallopian tubes on here to enlighten everyone, but due to my limited computer skills, I am unable to pull my protected health information off the CD-rom they gave me at the hospital and post it on the internet.  Probably for the best, I guess!

So, you will have to take my word for it.  Those sperm are so small, and mobile, compared to a drifting little blastocyst that is just sort of floating along, and the fallopian tubes are extremely (relatively, you know, considering how small the blastocyst is) long and winding.

Another interesting thing I learned from the HSG test is how small the uterus is.  It’s like the size of a walnut or something. The metal speculum shows up on the x-rays, and it looks gigantic compared to the uterus.  For some reason I always pictured the uterus taking up the better part of my abdomen, but I guess that would be a little ridiculous, considering how little use it gets.  And also! How amazing that it can grow and stretch enough to accommodate a whole human.  Now, this is getting a little too “miracle of life” for me, so I will move on to another fascinating topic:

Basal Body Temperature and Mean Guy

Yesterday, I had a humungous basal body temperature up-tick.  My temperature has consistently been between 96.9 and 97.1 degrees for the entire first half of my cycle.  Then, yesterday, it shot was up to 97.7, just like that.  In case you are new to temperature charting, the follicle that releases the egg begins producing progesterone after ovulation, which causes your temperature to rise.  So the day that the temperature rises is the first day after you ovulated.  Thus, a temperature rise on day 18 means that I ovulated the day before, on day 17.  Although you technically need three days of sustained increased temperatures to confirm ovulation, this seemed like pretty good evidence to me.  Now, I have no idea why Mean Guy measured that follicle at 17mm. Maybe he wasn’t careful enough, because he was rushing. Maybe he didn’t notice that it was actually already collapsing from having just ovulated.  Maybe he just sucks, whatever.  But the important lesson I took away from this is that actually, I do know my body.  The eight months of charting and watching how my body looks and reacts around the time of ovulation taught me something.  I am the expert on my own fertility, not some guy who barely looked at my chart, even if he does happen to be a doctor.

I took my temperature again this morning, and it was off-the-charts high.  Maybe this is because I am sick (which I am – I have a horrible head cold) or maybe it’s because I was up every hour last night because of a combination of a stuffy head and an annoying cat.  I am sure it wasn’t the half bottle of wine I drank last night at my early Valentine’s Day dinner with my wife.  Anyhow, it was up well over 98 degrees at 6 am, but by 8 am, it was down to 97.8, which is the temp I actually ended up recording for my chart.

More on Charting

Also: My friend Emily told me to use Fertility Friend to record my BBT and other chart items, rather than the app that I had been using and only sort of liked.  Fertility Friend is like crack.  Do not click on that Fertility Friend link unless you are prepared to devote about 10 hours a day to poring over all the information they have and obsessively staring at your own chart. They also suck you in with this one month VIP membership trial thingy.  The VIP membership, which normally costs about $10 a month, is about the best thing I have ever seen.  They take your chart and statistically compare it to other people who got pregnant to tell you whether it’s likely that you are pregnant before your period is due.  They give you little information tidbits.  They draw lines and stuff all over your chart to show you it’s bi-phasic nature and other technical sounding things.  I LOVE IT.  I also love that they use a grainier version of Courier font on your chart to make it look like it was created circa 1996.

Time Travel

Which brings me to my final thought for the day.  The other night at dinner, I was upstairs working while my family at chicken and couscous.  My wife asked the kids if they could go back in time to any time period at all, what they would choose.  And BT said that she wanted to go back to 1985-1996.  Because “I could be an 80s chick, and then I could be like YO.”  Now, 1985-1996 were good years, in terms of fashion and otherwise, but I can’t believe that is her choice, because those are the years that I was my kids’ ages, and I am so glad to not be in middle school anymore that I can barely stand it.  BC wanted to go back to the big bang.  MO never really answered, because she got distracted by thinking about how if there was a shrink-ray, and she was shrunk to the size of a hamster, she wouldn’t want to go on top of someone’s head, because scalps are disgusting.  See what I miss by working? Kids are weird. I want another one.

Only 10 days to go…

seventeen

Today is cycle day seventeen.  I spent the weekend agonizing over my pee sticks, as I always do when ovulation is imminent, and finally decided after lining up four nearly-identical pee sticks in front of my wife and sister on Sunday night, that it was too early.  Yesterday, I got a true “light line” in the morning, scheduled my IUI for today, and then confirmed with a “dark line” last night.  I was still fretting that I had missed my ovulation, since I usually don’t get the dark line until I am practically ovulating, but my temp this morning was nearly identical to what it was yesterday, so I took that as a good sign.

[An aside about temping.  As annoying as it has been, I find it really useful. My temperature barely fluctuates from 97 degrees, and it was a relief this morning to find it at 96.99, so that I was pretty confident I had not missed the boat. I am hoping to see a good solid shift after ovulation.  All-in-all, useful, and not nearly as annoying as I thought I would find it. Also I get up to go to the bathroom, and I drink, and whatever, and it hasn’t fluctuated too much, so if you are on the fence, give it a try.]

Allllllright. So I go in this morning for my IUI at 8am. The first bad news is that the one doctor in the practice that I really don’t like will be doing my IUI.  He ignores my wife, he doesn’t tell me when he’s about to stick shit in my vagina, etc.  We refer to him informally as “the mean guy.”  He’s also the doctor who habitually keeps us waiting — once it was over an hour, with our little squiggles just sitting there in a test tube, losing vitality.

We pick up our sperm at apparently a really high-traffic time, because there is a guy leaving the masterbatorium (what is that jack-off room called? I don’t know) awkwardly standing there with a paper bag and two other guys waiting for use of the masterbatorium while we wait to pick up our sperm.  Classy.  Our numbers are good – upwards of 60% motility. I am feeling happy as we head into the room.

HOWEVER.  The Mean Guy enters, and as per usual, talks to the countertop while ignoring my wife.  He does not adjust the stirrups, so my heels are somewhere up my ass and it’s really uncomfortable — even after I joke that the bed is set up for a person much shorter than me.  Without a word, he sticks the biggest metal speculum I have ever seen up my dainty lesbian vagina, and does the insemination.  I jump when he touches me, because every other doctor that has shoved things in my vagina ever has said something along the lines of “I am about to shove something in your vagina” before they go ahead and do it.  In fact, every person who has shoved something in my vagina has given me some kind of a heads-up, doctor or otherwise.

After the insemination, he does the sonogram with the screen tilted away from both me and my wife.  When my wife stands up and asks to see, he says impatiently “I’m going to show you.”  Okay fine.  Only he doesn’t, not really. The other doctors all show us the whole thing: Here’s your uterus — this is your lining, looking good.  This white stuff is the sperm we just put in there.  This is your right ovary, no follicle.  This is your left, let’s measure that follicle, do you see it, etc.   Not so for Mean Guy. He is keeping all the info for himself, and only after he finds the follicle does he turn the screen.  He says “This is your follicle.  You haven’t ovulated, so you need to come back tomorrow,” and then turns the screen back to himself.  I ask how big it is, and Mean Guy says he’s about to measure. “Seventeen millimeters,” he says.  Then snap-snap off come the gloves, and he’s gone.

SEVENTEEN?  It just can’t be right.  I have never, ever in the 8 months I’ve been monitoring, ovulated after day 18, and almost always on day 16 or 17 — only once on day 18, ever.  The follicles grow about 2 mm a day, which I know from a different doctor who actually stuck around for questions. And I usually ovulate with that sucker around 25mm.  That would have me four days away from ovulation, which can’t be right given all the other signs.  I have never ovulated as late as day 21, and I would be shocked if I was about to start doing that now.

We then find out that there are no doctors available to do another insemination in the morning tomorrow, only in the afternoon.  So we make an appointment at 2:15, which I will have to cancel if my temp is up in the morning, as it will be far too late in the day to catch an egg that is released sometime today or overnight.

So I am sitting here worrying.  More, again.  There is so much of that in this process. Did Mean Guy mess up the measurements?  Is my follicle really only 17mm?  Is it possible I have already ovulated and that the follicle he was measuring was already collapsing? Shouldn’t he have been able to tell that, if he’s any good?  I wish he hadn’t even done the sonogram.  I wish I didn’t have to have Mean Guy anymore. He always seems to be the Tuesday morning doctor, though, and I’d rather have the timing right with an asshole doctor than miss the timing and have a nice doctor.

Also. What if sonograms kill sperm?