one

In 2009, my wife and I talked about having babies. Specifically, I informed my then-girlfriend, who was already the mother of three, that if she did not want to have more babies, that was it. It was a deal-breaker for me. “BABIES,” I said, “plural. Not BABY.”  I wanted, specifically, two babies.  Also, she had to want the babies, not just be willing to go through it for me. Because babies should be wanted, all of them, each of them. There is a big difference between wanting a baby and agreeing to have a baby because the person that you love wants one. She did not answer right away. She said she would think about it, and come back to me. And she did.  A day or so later, she said she was in. Whole-heartedly in.  Babies I wanted, and babies I would have.

And then, you know, life happened. For one reason or another, it wasn’t time to start trying to conceive until late in 2013. Then it took us nearly a year to get pregnant. So it wasn’t until six years after that original conversation that we had our first baby together.

By the time Bumby was born, the other kids were kind of… old. The next-youngest was 9, and the oldest was 14. Having another child when your next-youngest is 9 is very different from having another child when your next-youngest is 3.  To further complicate matters, the Big One was decidedly moody about the topic of adding a fourth child to our nest, and made those moods known throughout the entire experience of talking about a baby, getting pregnant with a baby, being pregnant with a baby, and having a baby. It was, frankly, rather miserable for my wife and me. Although Bumby and the Big One are fast friends now, it is far from clear that she in particular, or any of the older kids more generally, would welcome another addition with open arms.

Then there is my wife. She agreed to babies, this is true. She knows she agreed to babies. But she has reneged. She is happy with our family of six. She is not getting any younger, and although she loves our children fiercely, she also looks forward to our empty nest years (as do I!). She would like to have those empty nest years when she is still young enough to do fun empty nest things and does not have to take too many prescription medications. Before I ever got pregnant with Bumby, she made it clear. She wanted this one more child very much, but only this one more child.

So that leaves me.  I wanted babies. I have been quite clear on this, always. I did not want just one pregnancy, just one baby. But I agreed to stop after one, because I still feel just as I did in 2009, that each child should be wanted by its family. Knowing how the rest of the family felt, I almost hoped that being pregnant would not live up to my expectations. Maybe I would feel about it the way so many women do — it is acceptable as a means to an end, but not altogether a great experience in and of itself. I may even be miserable, or have complications. It is weird to almost hope for these things, but I wanted it to cure me so that I would not yearn to go through it again. So that I would be content with just one baby.  No such luck. I had an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy.  I was at home in my body for the first time since puberty. I felt beautiful. I marveled at the changes and adored having Bumby close to me and with me, always. I wasn’t even really uncomfortable until around 37 weeks, and slept well. Something about the pregnancy hormones agreed with me, and I was just happy the entire time. I can count on one hand the number of times I was angry or sad for the entire pregnancy. Then, I had an uncomplicated vaginal birth just one day past my due date.

After which, I met Bumby. I fell in love with him, hard and fast. Postpartum came with all the rawness and separation and plummeting hormones that it always does. Sometime in those early weeks, I became furious with my wife.  How could she, knowing how amazing it is to have a child, knowing how fast and fierce and primal the love is, how could she say I can’t do it again? When I agreed that maybe just one baby would be enough, I didn’t know what I was giving up. But she has been through this before. She knew what she was asking of me, and she asked it anyway.  How could she? She didn’t answer.

I cooled off, and my hormones balanced out.  I still wanted another child, but I stopped being mad at my wife for being done.  She could not make herself want another child any more than I could make myself not want another child.

My confidence as a parent grew, and I found I can actually manage four kids on my own, while my wife works or has a late dinner. I make decisions about the older kids that I previously would have deferred to my wife. I love them more, and have more patience with them.  Bumby started sleeping, and I started getting my life back. I went back to work part-time, and found a work/life balance that works for me.  Bumby started walking, and talking, and making jokes. I went from staring at him adoringly, to interacting with him. The love grew. I got my hair cut, without Bumby in my lap. I left Bumby with the sitter so I could go to the 5th grade science fair with his big brother. I started planning our spring garden, now that I have a fun toddler to plant it with, instead of a baby who won’t be set down long enough for me to plant even one tomato plant. I became me again. But now, me with Bumby.

And you know what?  I can’t imagine having another baby. I sometimes would like to have an afternoon of baby Bumby back, where we just nurse and nap and I eat strawberries in the sunshine while he stares at his own hand. My pregnancy and our first year as a family of six were the hardest and most wonderful months of my life, and I will remember them forever. But I don’t want to do them again, and I don’t want to do them with another baby.  I am done, with one.  I am sure that I will still have my moments of longing, but in the main I am, shockingly, at peace with this.

Before Bumby was born, we were a blended family. A family, yes, but there always seemed to be shifting alliances — me on the one side and my wife and the kids on the other, or the adults on one side, and the kids on the other.  Various divisions. Bumby has brought us all together. We have gone from a collection of people, to a whole family. One family. We are all brought together by loving this little guy more than we thought we ever could. We don’t need another baby, because we are complete now. I don’t need another baby, because I had the baby I was meant to have. Thanks, Bumbs.

Nathan

My wife has one very particular concern about having a baby:  Europe.  She wants to go to Europe.  And not “Europe with kids” — grownup Europe, of staying out late, riding around on a Vespa, doing a bike-riding wine-drinking tour, and the like.  “Don’t worry,” I tell her all the time, “we can still go to Europe after the baby!”  She has pointedly asked me how, and I usually just point out that it’s not like we’re constantly jetting off to Europe as it is. After all, we already do have those three existing kids.  But she is right, that they spend 30-40% of their time with their father, and they are old enough to be left with Grandma sometimes, and they will be out of the house (sniffle, tear) much sooner than the new one.  So Europe-without-kids is much more likely if there is no baby in the picture.

Over the weekend, we were going to go to the grocery store, but decided to swing by Home Goods on the way, just to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without.  But it didn’t open until 11, and it was only 10:40, so to kill the time, we stopped by PetSmart to get some dog food and kitty litter for Meg the Dog and Bella the Cat.  There were, as always, baby kitties who needed adopting, and I wanted to hold one.  I am decidedly the “cat person” in our relationship, whereas my wife is firmly the “dog person.”  Nonetheless, it was my wife, not me, who fell in love with a fat orange cat with half his tail missing from a stint living on the streets.  “What if they kill him?” she whispered in my ear.  “He needs us.”

“We’re a no-kill charity, but we do get the cats from high-kill shelters. So adopting one of these guys makes room for us to foster more cats from the kill shelters.”  Apparently the cat-lady volunteer also had feline-like hearing.

We laughed at ourselves, put the fat orange cat down, and headed to Home Goods.  My wife stood over with the large, weird wooden chest we decided to purchase, while I waited in line.  And this happened:

photo 1

photo 2

 

I guess you know what happened next.  We went back and got the cat.  We brought him home, and we named him Nathan.  As we were walking to the car, my wife said, “What the fuck is wrong with us?  We can barely handle our life as it is.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But he’s going to be so happy.  And so are we.”

“Yes.  I am already happy, in fact.  I don’t know why I always worry about Europe.  We’ll probably just freaking go. Life’s too short to worry about how we’re going to fit it all in.  We just will.”

So, meet Nathan.  Sorry that every picture he is eating and/or blurry and is never looking at the camera.  If you have ever tried to take a picture of a cat with your iPhone while an 8-year old harasses him, you understand.

photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1]

And that, my dear friends, is why don’t have to worry about the things you’ll miss out on if you have a baby.  If they’re really important, you’ll just do them.  As my uncle once famously said to his 22 year old son, “If you’re constantly worrying about the consequences of your actions, you’re never going to have any fun.”

(PS for the more observant folks:  Yes, he is in a room with bright pink carpeting.  That is because the girls’ picked it out when the Big Thing and Boo were about 7 and 5, respectively.)

 

the fog

This month, I am pretty sure we messed up the timing of our insemination (again). I was sure that my body had settled into a pattern, and that day 17 was the day. So on day 16, when the OPK line looked a little light, I assumed it was the OPK that was a little off, not my timing. I had decided we were going to step down to one insemination a month — mostly because of the money, honestly, but also because of the stress and missing work, and because I think inseminating the day after you ovulate is pointless. So when we only had one sperm vial left at our doctors’ office, I wasn’t worried. Do you see all of this ominous foreshadowing? We had our insemination on day 17, and they did the sonogram — my follicle was again on the left (apparently my ovaries don’t alternate) and it was at 21 mm. Not terrible, but not great. The next day, my temperature didn’t spike. I went up a little, but not a lot. Meh. Actually my temperature graph looks like a Picasso line drawing of the Rocky Mountains, so who know what it means anyway.

On day 18, my wife and I sat down to talk about the fact that I almost certainly wasn’t pregnant, again, and what this meant. If we try again next month, the baby would be due December 28. Not that that would be the worst thing that has ever happened, but we don’t really want a Christmas baby, if we get a say in the matter. Which, it turns out, we do. So, we decided to take April off. We are going to skip it, and relax, and not be pregnant, and then try again in May. And in May, it’s all-in. We’re going to ask for a trigger shot, to take some of the guesswork out of the timing, temp, pee on sticks, and do two inseminations. And if May doesn’t work with the trigger, it’s Clomid in June.

My wife is really disappointed, and for the first time, I think, realized how much of this is all. on. me. She didn’t agree with the decision not to bring more sperm over this month, but she didn’t even know about that decision because I just handle all of that.

It’s like a fog has been lifted, knowing I’m not pregnant, and not about to become pregnant. We decided to run a 10k at the end of April, so we’ll start training this weekend. I joined weight watchers, to try to shed some of the 15 or so pounds I’ve picked up over the past couple of years. We have spent more time being “intimate,” if you catch my drift, and less time bickering.

I knew that trying to get pregnant was stressing both of us out. But I guess I didn’t really realize the practical implications of a constant, low-level preoccupation on a marriage and a life. Deciding to take April off was the best choice we could make.

I didn’t realize how much I had been living my life in a holding pattern, circling in the air above all the things I wanted to do, waiting for that second pink line to tell me to land. It turns out, you can lose weight while trying to get pregnant, especially if its only 10-15 lbs and you do it slowly. You can run while trying to get pregnant. If you become too pregnant/exhausted to run the race, then you cancel, or you walk it, or whatever, but you can sign up. But knowing that I am not pregnant, and knowing that I have a break from pee sticks and thermometers and doctors appointments and cervical mucous is just such a relief, and it freed me to get back to living my life, rather than sitting around waiting for it to happen for me, or to me.

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…

the mermaid

I wrote the post below last Thursday, but have avoided publishing it. It seems so negative, so melodramatic. But honestly, trying to conceive is one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had, and quite frankly, I often feel pretty negative and melodramatic.  I will find out if I am pregnant over the weekend. I am sure, as this week draws to a close, I will have some hope, some optimism, and then, either some more disappointment or some elation. We shall see. But for now, I just feel overwhelmingly, decidedly not pregnant.  I don’t understand how I possibly could be pregnant, when I feel exactly the same as I always do.

***

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sunday night, we got the “light line” on our OPK. While we had agreed just a few days before with our RE that it was time to start reading our OPKs differently so that we did not miss ovulation each time we inseminated, I was nervous. I thought we’d see the light line in the morning, so we’d have plenty of time to get to “dark line” by the time we did our insemination. But getting the light line at night meant that Monday morning, when it was time to make the call, I still had just a light line. So, we hesitated. Should we ask for a sonogram before they thawed the sperm?

We finally decided to just go for it. We had two specimens left from our hot smart donor, which meant that if Monday was too soon, we could try again on Tuesday. We got in the car to head to the doctor’s office. Then, while my wife drove, I looked at our calendars.

“Okay. So you have an 8:30 meeting, a 10am meeting, and a 3pm meeting. I have a 10:30 conference call, a 1pm call, and a 4pm call. So…. Can you skip anything?”

“No. Not really. Can you?”

“Nope. What the hell.” It was 7:45. Even if they thawed the sperm right then, my wife would be late for her 8:30 meeting. “The only window we have is between 11:30 and 1.”

“Well,” said my wife, “I guess we’re doing it between 11:30 and 1.”

Our doctor’s office is basically across the street from where my wife works, but it’s a good hour and a half on mass transit from where I work. The way my meetings were spaced, there was no getting into the office if we did the insemination between 11:30 and 1.

So, I had to figure out what to tell my boss about why I suddenly wasn’t coming in. I had been out sick for a week over Halloween, I had just taken half a day off to meet with the RE on Thursday. I was rapidly running out of good excuses for not showing up to work. How much easier would it be on everyone if you could just say, “Hey, we’re trying to get pregnant here, so I am going to be missing a shitload of work. Okay great.” I only had one excuse I hadn’t exhausted. “I guess I have to say its a childcare issue. ”

“It is,” my wife said. “It’s just the child we don’t have yet.”

My wife set me up to work in a cubicle at her office, and we went our separate ways. I called the doctor’s office at 8:30, when their desk opened, and told the receptionist I needed to schedule an IUI. “Oh, well, hm. We’re really booked today. Could you do 11:30?”

I wanted to kiss her. “Yes! 11:30 is perfect. Thank you!” I could barely contain my excitement.

I will spare you the details, but the insemination was the best yet. My 10:30 call ended early, and we were actually on time for once in our lives. We didn’t have to wait. A female doctor was working, instead of the cranky man doctor who ignores my wife that had done the last 3 inseminations. When the doctor did the post-insemination sonogram, my follicle was over 24mm and irregularly shaped, indicating that I was about to ovulate at any second. The timing, for once, was dead-on. I went and got a salad with my wife in the bright fall sunshine, and then we both went back to work. It was surreal. It was like an hour out of time, when everything went right for us.

Something about the way everything lined up this time made me feel like there was a bit of magic in it all, and I want to believe this is the time we made our baby. We were both so present this time.

Then, yesterday, came the fear.

I’m afraid I’m setting myself up for disappointment if this isn’t the time. It felt so right, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t it. But sometimes I can’t help but feel like the baby has become a myth, like a mermaid. I’ve wanted this for so long. I want so badly to believe that flash in the water was something magical, but deep down, I know that mermaids aren’t real, and magic does not happen for ordinary people like me.

let’s do it anyway

This weekend, we did nothing but chores. Well, technically, we also sat outside in the freezing cold to watch one football and two soccer games. We went to Home Depot twice, since we are working on repainting the kids’ rooms. We switched out summer clothes for winter and went to Target. My wife did about 37 loads of laundry (she has a very particular system, and does not appreciate anyone messing with it, even if that someone has actually managed to do their own laundry without ruining anything for their entire adult life). I tried to go for a run (something for me! Something fun!) and tripped over a metal pipe buried in leaves on the edge of the sidewalk, twisting my ankle and skinning my knee. I limped home after only being gone for 10 minutes.

Yesterday, the kids were off from school, so we worked from home. Sometimes this means about 4 hours of work sprinkled with fun activities for the kids. This time, for me, it meant my ass at the desk from 9:30 in the morning until midnight, with breaks only to pick my son up from a birthday party, eat dinner, and clean up the kitchen afterward. To top it all off, my boss warned me at about 7 pm that I was “about to get really busy.”

To say that I resent the men I work with who have stay at home wives or part-time wives is an understatement. I promise you none of them were up at 6:45 to make dinner in the crockpot before they left for work. I promise you none of them were responsible for making sure their awkwardly-sized pre-teen daughter had long sleeved shirts. When I told my wife I was “about to get really busy,” she correctly observed that we were ALREADY really busy. And then the cat peed on the bed, which is her way of also observing that it has been a little too hectic for her liking.

As I sat at my desk, researching laws I don’t care about at 11:30 at night, I thought about busy, and our lives. I thought about adding the complication of a pregnancy and a baby to our already full plates. When I climbed into bed, I asked my wife if I would be happy soon. I don’t think anyone would be happy working a a job they don’t like for 16 hours a day, and spending their leisure time cleaning up cat piss, so she hopefully does not take these questions personally. I asked her whether we were stupid to add another complication to our already overbooked lives. “Well,” she said, “according to the New York Times, having more children is totally likely to make you even more miserable. But let’s do it anyway.”

I should note that this is how we approach most things in our lives.  Oh a dog, that sounds like a lot of work and something we don’t have time for. Let’s do it anyway.  What’s that, we never have a weekend with more than an hour of free time?  Let’s go ahead and re-decorate all three kids’ rooms anyway.  Etc.

No one would say that coercing your 10 year old daughter into a shirt that isn’t $55 is fun. No one wants to run around from practice to practice, packing snacks and dealing with messes and broken things and cat pee and dogs barking and teenagers stropping. On balance, it probably nets out to less overall happiness. But still, no one who has kids would really change it. As my wife said, they also add so much light to your life.

So no. Having another kid won’t make me happy. It will probably even make me less happy (on a net basis), if the New York Times is to be believed. Whatever, lets do it anyway.

outlook not so good

Ooooooh-kay.  So, last month, I was totally convinced I was not pregnant, until about 4 days before I was supposed to get my period, at which point I started having all the symptoms.  Sore boobs, nausea, etc.  So then I, of course, became completely convinced I was pregnant, after all.  Then the symptoms went away, and I became completely confused.  What was that nausea?  Hysterical pregnancy, real pregnancy, stomach virus, WHAT?  So I did what any rational person in the process of painting and re-organizing their kids rooms (with no-VOC paint, of course) would do.

I waited until everyone else had left the room, then I grabbed the middle kid’s magic 8-ball off the floor of her closet, and asked it.  “Magic 8 ball, AM I PREGNANT?  OR WHAT???”

 

(image from here)

Whaaaat?  “Outlook not so good”?  That is not at all what I wanted to see.  So, even though EVERYONE KNOWS that the reliability of Magic 8 ball readings drops after the first question, I asked again anyway, “Are you sure, Magic 8 ball?  Are you totally sure that it’s ‘Outlook not so good’?”

(image from here)

COME ON.  I walked dejectedly from the closet, and resumed painting the oldest kid’s new room a nice “grown-up pink.”  Two days later, I got the blood.  Boo hoo.

But. But, but, but! If there is one good thing that came of this, I can now be absolutely certain that the Magic 8 ball is the most reliable pregnancy-predictor to date.  More reliable than any list of “early pregnancy symptoms” that Google has to offer.  You can have psycho-somatic nausea, but you cannot have a psycho-somatic Magic 8 ball reading.  So, one night, when I was supposed to be supervising teeth-brushing even though our kids are totally too old to require this, I sneaked off into the closet, and asked the Magic 8 ball the question. “Will this be my month?”

I was too excited by the fact that it answered me with a yes-type response to remember exactly what it said.  Isn’t that life, that stupid “Outlook not so good” is seared into my memory, but I can’t remember whether it was Yes, or It is certain, or Signs point to Yes, or some other yes-type variation.  But it was DEFINITELY A YES-TYPE VARIATION.

I am afraid to ask it again. I also don’t know how reliable it is given that I have not yet inseminated, thanks to my totally long/weird cycles.  How certain does it have to be before the Magic 8 ball can make an accurate prediction?  Can the Magic 8 ball really see the future? Or does it just report things that have already happened that I don’t know yet?  WHY DIDN’T I WAIT TO ASK IT?  Why can’t I remember EXACTLY what it said, so that I can analyze it’s degree of certainty?

Also.  If I am pregnant this month, I am totally setting up some type of online account and selling pregnancy-prediction 8-ball readings for $5 apiece.  Until then, here is an online 8-ball link, for amusement only.  I cannot promise you this online Magic 8 ball is as accurate as my kid’s Magic 8 ball, which I can only assume must be the REAL Magic 8 ball.

month two, day one

Spoiler:  I got my period today, so I’m not pregnant.  That did not, however, stop me from thinking I was pregnant every day for the last roughly two weeks.  I should really have written a post about the “real” insemination, where I got the true positive on the ovulation kit, bullied and shoved my way into the doctor’s office for an insemination even though everyone was on vacation because it was the week they all take off to clean the IVF lab, and was told that the timing was basically perfect.   But, I didn’t have time, what with my cousin’s wedding out of state, getting trapped in said state due to a freak thunderstorm, and traveling for work.  Don’t worry, though, I did not miss writing a post about the moment our baby was conceived, because our baby was not conceived this month.

The thing is.  The timing can be perfect. You can do everything right, and drink an insane amount of club soda and cranberry juice, which it turns out is a nice substitute for a cocktail at your cousin’s wedding, and have a SUPER sensitive sense of smell (what was going on in that cab that made me want to retch?) and still not be pregnant.  Sometimes I don’t understand how that can happen.  How can the human race reproduce at all when a totally healthy person can get the timing just so perfect and be so careful, and it still doesn’t work?  And DAMN YOU UNPLANNED PREGNANCY PEOPLE.  I know you are out there, staring in horror at your positive pregnancy tests even now, head spinning, wondering what you are going to do.  And I hate you a little.

Now that that’s out of the way, I will say this.  I had, when we totally blew the timing of our first insemination, gotten my head around the fact that we would probably not be getting pregnant the first month.  Okay, fine.  There was a minuscule chance of that anyway.  And when we went in to start the process at our doctor’s office, they told us that we would probably be pregnant by the end of the year.  So that is really a more realistic timeframe.  Nonetheless, I had my hopes up.  I mean, someone has to get pregnant the first month, right?  So I was really secretly hopeful. Maybe it could be us, maybe we would be the lucky ones.  Also, a little smug.  Don’t tell anyone, but I was totally convinced that I could WILL MYSELF PREGNANT.

One of my friends is going through a similar process, only she is about a month ahead of me. She said she spent her first two week wait googling “early pregnancy symptoms” and such.  I thought to myself at the time that lots of people don’t get symptoms, and really the only important symptom is a late period, so I would just keep really busy and try to avoid making myself crazy over it.  WRONG.  Within days, I was googling “early pregnancy symptoms” myself and sort of ritualistically punching myself in the boob every time I went to the bathroom to see if they were sore.  Hint: if you punch yourself in the boob repeatedly, eventually they become sore.

Then, yesterday, when I started spotting (LIKE I DO EVERY MONTH ON THE DAY BEFORE I GET MY PERIOD) I googled whether this could be implantation bleeding, even though I totally knew that if it was, it was far too late for me to hold the pregnancy anyway, and since I was due for my period today, we all really knew what it was.  Nonetheless, there I was, taking a stupid online quiz full of information I already knew from previous obsessive searches.

The internet is evil, people.  For every person with some kind of symptom, there are three more with different symptoms, or different bleeding, or no symptoms at all.  CLOSE THE BROWSER.  STEP AWAY FROM THE IPHONE.  It is the only way to stay sane.  Also, do not use a possible pregnancy as an excuse to stop working out.  All that does is make you bloated, which you can tell yourself is another sign you are pregnant, when it’s not.  It’s because you haven’t gone running in 11 days.

So.  Here are the things I am going to do differently this month, for our second try:

1. I am going to take 50 mg of B6.  I have a short-ish luteal phase and all the websites say B6 is good for that. Plus it makes me feel like I am doing something proactive, which I like.  Note: If your drugstore only sells the 100mg tablets, trying to cut them in half with your letter opener at work just makes it look like you have cocaine all over your desk.

2. I am going to try VERY HARD not to spend so much time at the office.  I’ve had a wonky work schedule the last month (I was here until 1 am last night!) and it does nothing for bloating.  Also the sleep-deprivation is not so great for trying to conceive.  And the longer I sit in front of a computer, the more tempted I am to google things I should not be googling. Really, the only time I was not obsessed with whether or not I was pregnant was the time I was out there doing things – hanging with the kids, or celebrating one year and two weeks of marriage with my lovely wife (hey, when you have kids, you take these things when you can get them), or laughing my ass off with my sister when we read her middle school journal.

3. Exercise.  It felt really good to let it go and go for that run yesterday.  Maybe I could even get back on track with my Fully Fertile thing, which I abandoned a scant three weeks in, and do some yoga.

MRI

Weeeeeeeellllllll, the fasting prolactin test did not go well.  Neither did the third “checking for false positive” prolactin test.  In fact, none of the prolactin tests have gone well at all.  I have failed all 3 of them.  So, last week, I had my MRI.  My wife and I have nicknamed the (potential) tumor Tillie.  Any unnecessary growth on or in one’s body should have an alliterative name, I think.

MRI_brain_sagittal_section

(not my brain, but someone’s)

I was really afraid of the MRI itself.  I am a tad claustrophobic, so the thought of having my head in a cage for 45 minutes was not all that appealing.  My wife went with me to the appointment, and was permitted to hold my ankle during the test (I am not kidding – she stood there for 45 minutes and held my ankle so I would not be afraid.  What a trooper!).  I kept my eyes closed the entire time, because if I opened them, I could see the head-cage about ONE INCH IN FRONT OF MY FACE, which was a little terrifying.  So I kept them closed.  Now, I ask you, what happens if you make a person work until 1 am, then put them lying down on a comfortable pillow with their eyes shut for 45 minutes?  Oh yes, I fell asleep during the MRI.  Never mind the head cage, the frequent waves of fear, the incredibly loud noises, or the fact that I had forced my wife to stand for 45 minutes holding my ankle.  Within about 10 minutes, I had dropped off.  So all in all, the MRI wasn’t as bad as I had feared.

The most difficult part of this, actually, was not the MRI.  Instead, it has been the lack of communication from my doctor.  I had high hopes for this second reproductive endocrinologist, but I really don’t know at this point what’s going on or what to expect.  I don’t know whether I have a tumor, despite the fact that I had my MRI 6 days ago.  If Tillie exists, I don’t know whether she is something that will prevent me from getting pregnant.  I don’t know if we were supposed to move forward with selecting a donor and have our “sperm donor consultation” (whatever that is) while this was all getting sorted out.  I don’t know if my prolactin levels are high enough to cause any other symptoms.  I don’t really know what those other symptoms would be, what I should be looking for.  I don’t know anything at all.  The few friends and family that I have told about this have peppered me with questions, and all of my responses can be sourced back to Web MD.

The truth is, I haven’t spoken to my doctor in a month.  I have called about four times now, saying that I have questions, and either no one will call me back, or someone else will call me back, but never my doctor.  These various people who call me back, sometimes they are nurses, sometimes are secretaries, sometimes don’t tell what their job is.  Sometimes, they give me conflicting answers, sometimes they don’t give me any answers at all.  It’s so frustrating.

The one thing I do know is that the office only does the “sperm donor consultation” meetings on Tuesday mornings, and that without one, they won’t inseminate you.  I also know that I am going to ovulate this weekend.  So, since today is Tuesday, and I haven’t had a sperm donor consultation meeting (in fact, we have not even chosen our donor, because we DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW), we are going to miss this ovulation cycle.

I can’t even tell you how much this disappoints me.  Maybe we should be missing this month anyway, because I have some kind of massive brain tumor that needs to be dispensed with before we can start trying, I don’t know.  “Andie” from the doctor’s office yesterday informed me that I should have gone ahead with the sperm donor selection anyway, but I don’t know who Andie is, and anyway yesterday was a little late to be telling me this.

This morning, my doctor finally called me back, but, of course, I was on the train on my way to work, and by the time I got here to return her call, she was no longer available.  I am kind of at the end of my rope about this, but what am I supposed to do?  Find a third reproductive endocrinologist and start over?  I can’t stand the thought of starting from scratch and waiting another 3 months to get this all sorted.  I did decide to make an appointment with another doctor who specializes in pituitary tumors to move forward with treatment on that while my reproductive endocrinologist does whatever it is she does all day while she is busy not calling people back.  That appointment is tomorrow.  I just think it will be a relief to sit in a doctor’s office and ask all my questions to a captive audience who will be forced to actually answer them.

Meanwhile, of course, everyone has babies.  After I yelled at Andie yesterday about why the doctor hasn’t called me back, I went for a walk to clear my head.  As soon as I stepped out of the office, I nearly ran smack into a pregnant lady.  My friend from work heard her baby’s heartbeat for the first time on Friday. (Well, fetus really, but you know.  This is amazing to me – the thing is the size of a grain of rice, and yet its heart is beating.)  My friend from the west coast is ready to go with her at-home insemination, because nobody is fussing over her brain and what may or may not be growing inside it. And of course, the park that I sit in when I need to get away from the office was crawling with babies yesterday. An 18 month old chasing disgusting pigeons around, a newborn on her nanny’s lap reading a Land’s End catalog, etc. (gotta love Manhattan babies).  Just babies everywhere, for everyone, except for us.