the beach

It has been ages since I have written anything. Isn’t that one of the cruel ironies of blogging, that when you have time to write, nothing is going on and you have nothing to say. When ALL OF THE THINGS are happening and requiring much thought and analysis, you don’t have even a few minutes to write anything.

Accordingly, you are owed one of those omnibus update type posts.  This is not that.  This is the post where I write about one very bad thing that has happened.

The Bumby is very sick, again.

On Friday he started to seem out of sorts. No appetite, a desire for extra napping, that kind of thing. We had planned to go out to Fire Island, where we have a beach house, and so we did. Friday night, he felt warm.  This kid kind of gets fevers at the drop of a hat, so we gave him some Tylenol and went to dinner. He perked up and ate some bread, and charmed the waiter by saying Thank You every time he brought something to our table.  It was all very uneventful.

Saturday morning, he was still warm. We don’t have a thermometer at our beach house, so I don’t really know how warm is warm, but he was… you know. Warm.  We gave him some more Tylenol and discussed our plan.  We decided to take him down to the beach because it is actually cooler than the house, and he could play in the water. Even for having a fever he was behaving pretty normally. He was energetic, and happy.  Plus he kept saying “Walk, walk. Beach, beach.” So off to the beach we went, promising ourselves we would stay only an hour.  He played. He tried to eat small crustaceans. He filled a bucket with sand, dumped it out, and filled it again. He drank “wa-wa” the entire time.  Then he crawled up into my lap and asked for milk, so I nursed him. And he fell asleep, just as our designated beach time was up.

After much hemming and hawing, we decided he needed the sleep and it would be a disaster to take him home and risk waking him up and ruining his nap when he obviously needed one, because he was a bit sick. I put a towel over us to keep the sun off of him. It wasn’t hot under the towel, honestly. I swear.  I get hot very easily, and I was comfortable.  After 20 minutes or so, Bumby made a meowing sound and picked his head up.  He looked at me, and he was terrified.  His eyes were all wide and his mouth was open. Just then, his arms started shaking and he collapsed down onto my chest. “Something is wrong with Bumby!”

I was too afraid. I handed him to my wife so she could look at him, and he went totally limp. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he was completely non-responsive.  We started running to the boardwalk to take him to the clinic in our town.  As we got off the beach, he stopped breathing and started turning blue. I ran ahead to get the doctor, and our friend called 911 while my wife ran behind me, holding the limp and non-responsive Bumby.  I thought he was dying.  I was actually fairly sure that he was dying.

By the time she caught up with me at the doctor’s office, Bumby was responsive, the proper color for a baby, and wet.  My wife had a guy watering his plants hose down Bumby.  Apparently, what happened was a febrile seizure.  This is a harmless event and happens to some kids when their fever shoots up too fast.  Frankly, I don’t care if it’s not unusual, and I don’t care if it’s harmless.  I never, ever want to see it happen to my little guy again.  It was terrifying.  Regardless, we were med-evac’ed off the island and rushed to the ER.

Even though he was hot, and feverish, we were told not to give him water in case he had another seizure and threw it up and aspirated. After no less than five attempts, they decided they could not give Bumby an IV to re-hydrate him. He is too small, too fat, and his veins are too little.  Five times, I held down my screaming baby and let them stick him with needles for no reason.  Finally, hours later, I was allowed to nurse him and give him water and apple juice. It took several hours to collect urine from him because he was so dehydrated at this point. His fever hovered around 104. Which I know, because they shoved a thermometer up his ass on an hourly basis. He refused the Tylenol, so guess what they did?  Yep, they held him down and forced it.  He was choking and spluttering the whole time, and after they were done he promptly vomited up not only the Tylenol but the potato chips and 4 oz of water I had convinced him to eat and drink.  So then they gave him the Tylenol by suppository.  It was a total nightmare, and in the end they did nothing for him.  I hated the hospital, all of the nurses, and one of the doctors.  There was a PA that I liked, and she was the only thing that made the visit even remotely bearable (that, and the fact that the EMT liked Bumby’s real name so much that she and her wife are going to name their soon-to-be son after him).

He is still sick. He has had antibiotics for an ear infection, which maybe caused the super high fever, but maybe did not.  In addition to the ER visit, he got a trip to the pediatric urgent care and his regular pediatrician. They can’t find anything wrong other than the ear infection, but it’s been six days now and his fever is still in the 101 range (I have been calling him the Heatmeiser, because he’s Mr. Hundred-and-one).

So, what’s wrong with Bumby? No one knows.  Did this happen because we stupidly took a feverish baby to the beach? No one knows.  In any event, I am partly glad we made the decisions that we did, because if we had gone home or not gone to the beach in the first place, he would have been napping in his crib. Which means he in all likelihood he would have had the seizure anyway, only he would have been alone instead of in my arms. I might not have even known it happened, because the whole thing was basically silent. This realization has caused us to sleep with Bumby for each of the last five nights, so that we can be sure he is breathing and alive at all times.  So far, so good.

We are supposed to go back to the beach this weekend with some friends. Obviously, if Bumby has even the hint of a fever, we are not doing that. But if he doesn’t have a fever… I still don’t know. I am scared to have him someplace where we can’t easily get to a good hospital. I am just sort of scared in general.  I haven’t gone into work all week because I am afraid that he will take a turn for the worse and I will be an hour away. If I knew what was wrong with him I might be able to deal, but I don’t and I might not ever. He might just be a kid who gets scary-high fevers from nothing or anything.

Anyway, that’s it. That’s the very bad thing that has happened. Is happening, whatever.

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medicine free by May 3

About three weeks ago, we put Bumby on amoxicillin for an ear infection. He’s had the same nasty ear infection since about mid-February, and just can’t seem to completely kick it. We had suspected a mild penicillin allergy the last time he was on it, but ultimately decided it was a combo of the high fever, pneumonia, and two horrible viruses that he had — and not the amoxicillin after all. So I said sure, okay. If that’s the best for ear infections, let’s give it to him and hope it clears it up once and for all.

For a week, he seemed fine. Ear clearing up, no reaction to the amoxicillin.  We simultaneously decided it was a good time to try to wean him off his Prevacid. The problem with treating a chronic condition like acid reflux is that the only way to know if you still need the meds is to take the person off the meds and see how they do. Prevacid weaning is known to cause “rebound acid,” meaning reflux symptoms in a person that would otherwise be fine, so you kind of have to push through the discomfort and see how they do once they are completely med-free. We opted for a very slow wean, using an entire month to take him down step by step. We also started a probiotic regimen and a low-acid diet to try to get his gut healthy and comfortable.

Then, on day seven of the amoxicillin, this happened:

Bumby Rash

I was rather terrified, and rushed him in to the pediatrician. An allergic reaction, they said. Give him Benadryl to keep him comfortable and let us know how it goes. It should start to clear up within 24 hours. The following day, he was worse, so they prescribed a low-ish dose of prednisone (a steroid) to help him clear up what was now an “inflammatory” reaction, which I guess is worse than an allergic reaction.  The day after that, it was even worse. I will spare you the photos, because they are completely heartbreaking. He was miserable — itchy, hot, covered in red splotches. His eyes were starting to swell shut.  I was even more terrified, and rushed him back in to the pediatrician. They gave him a shot of steroids in his fat little arm because the inflammation had progressed to his mucous membranes. THIS POOR KID, you guys. Also, for the record, he still had the ear infection.

The steroid shot kicked his inflammatory reaction’s ass, though. Five hours later, his skin was completely clear, although it was a little bruised looking in certain places where the inflammation had been really bad. But now, we had to taper him off the steroids. Apparently you have to give the body time to adjust and take over the work that the steroids were doing. So we were on a 10-day wean from the steroids.

You want to know what’s worse than a toddler with an ear infection?  A toddler with an ear infection and roid rage.    He was so mad, all the time mad. No, you can’t go out that door, let’s go out this one. Head-slamming against the ground, tears, screaming, kicking tantrum.  It got worse and worse as the week progressed, because the steroids amped him up so much he couldn’t sleep. He was also literally eating as much as I was, which meant he was constantly hungry.  Always eating, always running, always crying, and never, ever, ever sleeping.

After a week of this, I was totally fried. On Saturday morning, my wife got out of the shower and I told her that in the hour we had been up, Bumby had seven tantrums. I tried to calm him and sit on the couch with him, and he slithered off my lap to the floor and started SLAMMING the side of his head against the ground. My wife sat down next to him, and stuck her finger in his ear. He immediately calmed. Oh yeah. The ear infection.

We went back to the pediatrician, where the receptionist greeted the lot of us by name. The ear was scary-infected still, so they gave him a z-pack after we refused an antibiotic that could cross-react with a penicillin allergy in about 10% of people. So starting on Saturday, he was on Prevacid (although down to a half-dose by then), steroids, and antibiotics. It’s going really great weaning him off the meds, we tell ourselves. Oh hey look! A molar! Awesome. Also, he has broken 30 lbs due to eating everything in sight while on the roids.  I guess that’s why people take them to “bulk up.”

It has, however, improved since then. He finished the steroids on Monday and I gleefully threw that shit in the garbage. Today, he had his last dose of antibiotics, and I gleefully threw THAT shit in the garbage. The ear does not seem to be bothering him, nor does the stomach. He is back to eating a normal-for-Bumby amount of food (which is to say, approximately as much as your average 10 year old). He’s down to 1/4 dose of Prevacid and doing great with weaning off of it — he only has half of his nighttime dose and nothing in the morning anymore. After about a month of frequent night-wakings, Bumby has slept through the night for two nights in a row. Honestly, the 2mL of Prevacid he is on probably does almost nothing to reduce his stomach acid, so I expect he has really and truly outgrown the reflux. We’re keeping on with the low-acid diet and the probiotics. We’re going to delay his 15 month booster vaccines, which are due on Friday, because HOLY SHIT this kid has had a lot of crap pumped into his body in the last month.

Now, he is happy and healthy. We had a laughing fit this morning after I told him “Nopity-nope-nope” could he open the drawer and eat Mommy’s earrings. A week ago this would have been 30 minutes of screaming. Instead, he pointed at the drawer and said “Nope nope” and cracked up, over and over.

On May 2, he will get his last-ever dose of Prevacid.  On May 3, our little boy will be completely medicine-free for the first time in about 10 months. Hallelujah.

the OB swap

Starting around 20 weeks pregnant, I became worried about finding a good birthing class. I really want to try to have a medication-free birth if possible, so I feel like to need a class that focuses more on natural pain management, rather than medication. All of the classes offered by my hospital are one part Lamaze, which I’m not crazy about, and one part medication focused, so they didn’t feel like a good fit to me. I thought about Bradley classes, but we just don’t have the time to commit (they seem to be 3-4 hours a week for 12 weeks). Plus, since we share custody of our kids, we really like to be home on the nights we have them. Suddenly, I thought to myself, “This is stupid. I’m sure my doctor’s office has a list of classes I can take home and pick from.”

So, at my 24 week appointment, which was really during my 25th week because of my crazy work schedule, I asked. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I was wondering if you had any information about childbirth classes. I really want to try to have a natural birth (I hate that phrase, by the way, because what exactly is an unnatural birth? But it was a short-hand). I looked at Bradley classes, but the time commitment is too much for us, so we were looking for something a little more low-key.
Dr. Condescending: I really don’t like Bradley method. Let me tell you why. They are very anti-doctor. I’m an excellent doctor. I know what to do. I’ve won (some random award I don’t give a shit about) for being so great. So I will tell you what you should do. I’ll tell you when to have the epidural, you don’t have to worry about that. I’ll tell you when to push. Etc. (I sort of stopped listening here because it was all just the same.)
Me: Okay. But I didn’t want to do Bradley classes. I was wondering if you had any information about other classes. And I really wanted to avoid an epidural if I can.

You can imagine how it proceeded from here. It was basically a monologue by Dr. C at this point because I was speechless. Some gems include:
“If you wanted a birth like that, you should have gone to a midwife or some kind of Chinese medicine, not come to a doctor’s office.”
“Just take the class at the hospital.”
“Stop worrying about this stuff so much and try to enjoy your pregnancy a little more.”
“You’re in the significant minority here.”
“Only 10% of women can give birth without some kind of medical assistance.”

He wrapped it all up with a delivery horror story about another doctor who did not force his patient to have an epidural against her wishes, and how she ended up in all kinds of pain. The story concluded with, “Maybe it’s true what they say about male OBs but I don’t like to see my patients in pain when I know I have the power to fix it.”

All in all, it seemed to me like he had some kind of God-complex. Like he was the bringer of life and I was some kind of extra, wandering around the set and getting in the way of the drama he was starring in. I left the office without saying anything, got in my car, and called my wife sobbing. I wanted to switch practices.

A couple of things about my wife. First, this was the first and only appointment she didn’t come to. It was supposed to be an easy one! Second, she has given birth three times, all of them with an epidural. So while she is supportive of my desires, I am more firmly in the trenches on this one. I’m not an idiot, however. I’d rather have an epidural if there is a chance of having a c-section, because then I am awake. I would have an epidural if my labor was really stalled and they thought it would help me progress. I don’t want to do these things, but I will. I want the baby to be healthy, right?

So we devised a plan. Rather than switching doctors at 25 weeks, we’d meet with one of the women in the practice. We would explain what was said to me, and what we wanted, and they would reassure me and everything would be fine. And Dr. C would not deliver our baby, no matter what. I could live with this, I thought. Also, I got the sense that my wife thought I might have been overstating things just a bit. So I was willing to give it a try with her there to help me out a little.

So at the 28 week appointment, with the one female doctor that was more senior than Dr. C, I launched into it. I didn’t repeat verbatim all the really nice offensive things that were said to me, but I did throw in the bit about Chinese medicine, because it was too good to leave out, and I think gives a good sense of the tone of the conversation.

She started out great, with some nice words about how that is horrible and of course it’s my body, so no one can make me have an epidural if I don’t want one. But then it shifted a little. She started lobbying me to change my mind. She told me that most people can’t handle the pain, even if they go into it thinking they can. She said that many labors stall, and the epidural is the only way to get them started again. She made a joke about a woman who brought a birthing ball. She said she didn’t like birth plans, especially if they requested no pitocin after the birth, because “most women need it to stop the bleeding.” I didn’t say anything, because my mind was pretty made up at this point that I wanted to change practices.

After all of this, my wife threw her a softball. “But she gets to consent to anything, right? So for example, you wouldn’t just do an episiotomy?”

“Oh, we do them all the time. Otherwise you tear. We don’t really ask about it, there isn’t time.”

And with that, we were done. We thanked her, and left the office without making my next appointment. It wasn’t so much what she said, but the whole attitude of the office. No one has ever mentioned nutrition to me, other than once when Dr. C said, around 12 weeks, “don’t get fat, and you’ll be fine.” No one has mentioned breastfeeding. No one suggested a flu shot, or any resources to educate myself about anything.

In the car, after the appointment, I think my wife was more surprised than I was.

So that is why we changed. I found an all female OB practice that uses the same hospital, since I really wanted to deliver there. They have a midwife on staff. I made an appointment and walked in 32 weeks pregnant to meet my new doctor, with a horrible feeling in the back of my mind hat it was totally possible that she would be just as bad as the practice I left, and I would still be searching for a doctor, four weeks more pregnant than the last time I did this.

When she called me back, my wife and I stood up. “I’m sorry,” she said. “We need to see the patient alone first. Then we’re happy to meet with both of you.” I was actually elated by this. Not because I had anything I didn’t want my wife to hear, but because what if I did? What if I was secretly eating laundry starch in the closet or something? I had a safe space to talk about it. I sat down in Dr. O’s office and said I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth.

“If you’re determined, we’ll do everything in our power to help you. I had an unmedicated birth for my two sons, so if I can do it, I know you can too.” The whole conversation basically went like this. She noted in my file that I wanted an unmedicated birth and asked me to bring in my birth plan so they could add it to my file and have it sent to the hospital. The next appointment, the doctor asked me to get a flu shot, talked to me about how to keep having a healthy pregnancy, and said she had also had an unmedicated birth. It was so nice to feel like my doctors supported me.

And you know what? I never brought in that birth plan. I thought through the issues, and talked about it with my wife, but I never brought it in. I guess I will, maybe at my next appointment, but it suddenly seems so much less important. I guess when you actually trust the care you are getting from your provider, it’s a little easier to let go and see what will happen. I would feel 100% ok having an epidural if one of these doctors thought it was the best thing for me. I would have felt bullied, and pressured, and like a failure having one at the recommendation of one of the doctors in my previous practice.

Changing providers late in my pregnancy was scary, but I would absolutely recommend it if you don’t trust that your doctor is giving you the kind of care you need and deserve. Oh also. The wait times at my new doctor’s office are less than half the wait times at the old office. Just another way they treat their patients respectfully.

twelve weeks, and also thirteen

I am a bit behind on the posting, not because nothing has been happening, but because so much has been happening.

1.  I hit 12 weeks, and had my ob appointment with the man doctor.  Surprisingly, I very much liked the man doctor.  He spent over an hour talking to my wife and me about our various genetic testing options, how the pregnancy was going, and who even knows what else.  So we have decided to stay at our current ob practice, and I am so grateful I can cross this stressor off the to-do list.  The sonogram portion of the nuchal translucency screening put us well into the normal range, which was a relief.  The man-doctor also noted that I have a “very prominent uterus.”  I think this means that it sticks out.  I knew this already, because I could feel it in my tummy, well above my pubic bone, and also, at 12 weeks, and only 4lbs of weight-gain, I looked like this:

12 weeks selfie

Normally I avoid the following: (1) selfies taken in a mirror with an iphone, (2) crappily lit pictures, and (3) pictures that show how messy my room is, but whatever. I look pregnant!  Also extremely tan.  I promise it’s all from an hour here and there on the beach, with sunscreen, and not from unnatural sources.  I just tan sort of naturally.  Anyway, that is the picture I have, so that is the picture you get. My mom tells me her belly was “prominent” early also, which is weird because when I asked her what she remembered about pregnancy, the only thing she could come up with was that her hair was very tangled.  Now that I am actually pregnant, and I mention symptoms or pregnancy goings-on, she always says, “Me too!”  I guess, given that 30 years have elapsed since her last pregnancy, things are a little fuzzy.

2.  On a high from the doctor’s appointment, we decided to break the news to the kids.  They were… not pleased.  Well, at least the Big One was not pleased.  I am sure you can imagine that this is a vast understatement, as thirteen year olds generally manifest displeasure in a rather dramatic fashion.  We’re trying our best to help her work through it, but if you have ever tried to communicate with a teenager about something they don’t. want. to. discuss. you will understand the difficulty we are having.  The Boo is generally silent on these topics anyway (“these topics” being her thoughts about things, or her feelings), and our Boy Child just wanted to know that we were going to ensure it was a boy so he could have a brother.  I am glad that the Boo is headed off to Denmark today, as it will give her some time and space to process how she really feels about the baby with someone she feels safe with, and without her sister trying to convince her it’s horrible and her parents trying to convince her it’s great.  Not that we have been anything but supportive of however she feels, but she’s not stupid. She knows we want her to be happy and excited about the baby, like we are.  Our little boy is just relieved that some of the tension in the house has dissipated, so that he can get back to what really matters:  going to the swimming pool.  It is summertime, after all.  Let’s not ruin it with a lot of stomping around.

I have to say, it’s disappointing that their reaction was so negative.  Pretty much everyone else has been happy-to-ecstatic about the baby, and obviously we are, too.  And yet really, when it comes down to it, the only people whose reaction I care about are these kids.  I hope that they can get used to the idea, and even become a little excited. At least my mother is over the moon. She is actually knitting booties. I didn’t even know babies wore booties anymore, but our little peach will have some, courtesy of grandma.

3.  Week 13 started yesterday, which means that I am officially in the second trimester.  I also got the full results of the nuchal scan from my doctor’s office – everything is fine, and I am considered very low-risk.  With this great news, and the fact that I have needed to wear maternity pants all week, I decided to tell my office that I was pregnant, even though we don’t get our full genetic test results back for a week at least.  My first boss asked a million questions, most of which I thought you weren’t allowed to ask.  Like, whether we used an anonymous donor.  Really!  I wanted to tell him that the donor was David Crosby, but I think he would have actually believed me, and then the joke would have been wasted.  I just answered with as little information as possible, saying that we used an anonymous donor through our doctor’s office, and then he proceeded with his list of questions you are not allowed to ask. Telling my other boss went fine – no inappropriate questions were asked, and the whole thing took about 2 minutes.  And now here I sit, officially Pregnant At Work.  In celebration, I bought a bunch of relatively ugly but work-appropriate maternity clothes at Target.  Okay, not that ugly, but, you know. Not really cute either.

9 weeks and the OB

Today I finally met with an OB.  I loved her.  Loved!  I did not expect to.  I really wanted to use a midwife, but was struggling to find one that could deliver at the hospital I wanted to deliver at.  After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to bite the bullet and schedule an appointment with an OB, thinking that I could always switch to a midwife if the OB didn’t feel right.  But did I mention that I actually loved her?  She gave us a lot of information, the spent time with us, she answered our questions, and she treated us like smart, competent people.  She didn’t stumble over the fact of my wife.

Except (you had to know this was coming) she is leaving the practice in a month, because she is moving.  So, I am back to square one, except that I know now that a friend of ours uses a doctor at this particular Ob/Gyn office as her gynecologist, and really likes her.  So I have hope I will like the other doctors in the group and can stay put.

While we were waiting for the physical part of the appointment (aka the legs in stirrups part), I got hungry. This is not surprising, since I am often hungry.  I ate pretzels.  Apparently, the baby likes pretzels, because a few minutes later, when I was having the sonogram, the baby was dancing up a storm.  Wiggling arms and legs so much that it was hard for the doctor to measure him or her.  And then finally, when she did, she said I measured at 9 weeks, 2 days. Which is exactly what I am.  Congrats, baby, for growing at the precisely average rate.  So far, the baby is all head, but here’s a typically horrible ultrasound picture of our little dancer.  Starting to look very baby-like, don’t you think?  Except proportioned like a gummy bear.

 photo (6)

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.

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?

if we wanted Chlamydia, we’d ask for it

I have spent a lot of time over the past few days fretting about how my doctor proposed maybe considering Clomid for the next cycle if this one doesn’t work.  I think this one will work, right? There are a lot of variables that have changed:  new donor, HSG test, two inseminations this month (one today, one tomorrow, yay!), and ever-lowering prolactin levels.  Good for pregnancy odds, not so good for a controlled study, I guess.  Nonetheless, I feel like “considering Clomid” is hanging over my head like a dark cloud.

Yesterday, I confessed to my wife that I was worried about this.  I don’t want to try medication, yet, I told her.  It made the already-awful HSG test worse to have it popped on me while I was still bleeding on the x-ray table that we had to start thinking about fertility meds.

“Well, honestly.  I don’t think she needs to keep bringing it up.  If we wanted Chlamydia, we’d ask for it, right?” my wife said.

“Clomid.”

“What? What’s that?  What’s Clomid?”

“That’s the medication.  The medication is Clomid.  Chlamydia is an STD.”

“Oh, right.  Clomid, then.  Whatever, the logic still stands.”  The woman has a good point.

the hsg test – ow, and nooooooo

Today, I had the HSG test.  I had to take a pregnancy test before I could have the HSG test, so I went to my ordinary doctor’s office about an hour and a half before my appointment to find out if I was knocked up already.  I failed one test, and passed the other — I’ll give you one guess which is which.

I had been advised by the nurse to take ibuprofen an hour or so before the test, but of course, because I was so insanely early for the HSG test, I instead sat in the sandwich shop, eating broccoli soup and reading my book until my frantic and late-as-usual wife showed up to hustle me down to radiology.

The test itself was painful.  More painful, actually, than I thought it would be.  I think this is because my doctor had some difficulty getting the catheter in deep enough, so she used some horrible sword-like device that “would cause considerable cramping.”  That’s an understatement, when someone is shoving a sword into your cervix.  The one upside is that it was fast — about 2 minutes, once they wrangled that catheter through my apparently maze-like cervix.

And, I guess the other up-side is that my tubes are clear.  Totally clear. So now there’s just some dye swimming around in my abdominal cavity and some residual bleeding from the sword fight to deal with.  And a free and clear path for this month’s lucky gentlemen (the sperm, I mean).

After the procedure, when the doctor told me my tubes are clear, she dropped the bomb — she thinks that if this cycle doesn’t work, I should consider Clomid for next time.  My desire to go on Clomid ranks somewhere between “root canal” and “brain removed through nasal passages using a hook.”  Not to mention the risk! of! multiples!  Maybe she wasn’t paying attention when we told her we already have a shit-ton of kids, and we would like to up the ante one at a time.  When she said this, I wanted to say to my wife “See!  It’s really abnormal that it’s taking this long!  And therefore breaking down the bedroom door was a totally normal reaction to the frustration and disappointment!”  Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed in the x-ray room with me, and I was still lying prostrate on an x-ray table with god only knows what on display for the rest of the room to see, so I just nodded and told her we would think about it.

I’m done thinking about it.  No.  No Clomid.  Maybe I’ll just go ahead and get pregnant this month, instead.

the hsg test and taking charge

Tomorrow, I am scheduled for an HSG Test, also known as the dye test.  This is where they squirt dye into your uterus and fallopian tubes, then look at it under some kind of machine (x-ray? MRI? something?) to make sure nothing is blocked, because it’s taking you a long-ass time to become pregnant.  My doctor recommended that I try this last month, but I didn’t want to because ew.  I don’t particularly want them poking around in there, squirting fluids where they don’t belong, and even though I occasionally (i.e., every month when I am not pregnant) am wracked with fear that there is something wrong with me, in general I have a hard time thinking that there could possibly be any real issue here.  I think, in most of my saner moments, that sometimes it just takes a while.  And that is heartbreaking, and annoying, and expensive, but it just is.

That said, I would rather have tests than medications.  In general, I am a root-cause medical person, not a symptom-treating medical person.  In other words, I am all about investigating, testing, monitoring, to find out if there is an actual issue somewhere, and what it is.  I am resistant, however, to medicating “unexplained infertility” with Clomid (especially when there is very good evidence that I am, in fact, ovulating), or even taking Advil for a headache before I have tried to rule out root causes, by drinking a glass of water, having a snack, or taking a nap.

So, when the options are Clomid or dye test, I went for dye test.  Nothing is also always an option, but I kind of want to feel like I am moving forward or escalating this in some way.  In reality, I think it will show nothing, but at least I will have a day off of work, and anecdotally I have heard that conception rates are higher the month of a dye-test — something about it washing out the uterus, or something.

One positive effect of all this annoying medical stuff is that I have learned much more effectively to advocate for myself when it comes to my own healthcare.  Last month, they recommended I do the dye test, and I said no thanks — we’ll try again without it, thankyouverymuch.  This month, I scheduled the test and took notes when they described the procedure, so that I realized earlier this week they had not prescribed the antibiotics they said I would be taking starting the day before the test.  So, I called and got the prescription.  All of this makes me feel like I am doing this, I am in charge.  Earlier in the process, it would have annoyed me that they didn’t think to call in my antibiotics when they scheduled the procedure, but whatever. No one is as concerned about my own body as I am, and that’s fine with me.  In fact, I generally prefer it that way — my body, my choice, right?  My dye test.

The other thing I have learned is the power of dealing with nurses.  They often know much more about how things work than the doctor does.  Now, every time I have a question, I call and ask to talk to a nurse.  At least nine times out of ten, they can answer it and handle whatever I need.

So, tomorrow, dye test.  I am nervous, because it’s supposed to hurt (like sudden, bad cramps) and also because any time I have to do a new medical procedure, it’s a little scary. But the wife will be there to hold my hand, and my regular doctor is going to be doing the test, so I think ultimately, it will be fine.