Thursday, June 30, 2005

Holy Cow!

TEN THOUSAND VISITS and counting....

My mind boggles. (Though an unfortunate number of them are hits for people presumably looking for porn when they Google "sperm shack" instead of our woeful tale of rodent-threatened Arctic insemination! Who knew that there was a porn series by that name?!)

Thanks so much for visiting, reading, and commenting. It's so great to know how many people care about us and/or are on similarly peril-fraught paths.

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A Rock and a Hard Place

The bank says: [We] have thoroughly researched this issue on our end - spending a great deal of time. [We have] provided you with the paperwork that indicates that we sent three vials.... The number of staff involved in your order makes the possibility of our error extremely unlikely. [W]e have done all we can do and feel that the resolution lies with your clinic rather than us. We are considering this case closed.

The RE's office says: [T]he issue is between the bank and our andrology Dr. with you in the middle.... The call needs to be set up between you and the bank and andrology.... I truly think that it is the bank’s error. We have never had this kind of thing happen before.


Seriously, does anyone have any advice on how to go forward from here? The bank refuses to take part in a conference call, and the RE's office doesn't want to talk with us about it anymore, nor do they seem likely to budge on their position.

Any advice about small claims court?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

And Now, Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Argh. The jolly photoblogging will now be put on hold (so you'll just have to wait for the Apostrophe Photorant, pics of knitting projects, and other amusements). We're facing yet another annoying roadblock. Actually, it's an old roadblock that just won't go away.

Our missing sperm is still missing, and we are utterly frustrated by the finger-pointing and he said/she said that is going on between the RE's office (let's call them "Completely Annoying") and the sperm bank ("Pretty Frustrating"). On the advice of a lawyer friend, I tried to set up a conference call involving all parties, and Completely Annoying was willing to give it a go. Unfortunately, Pretty Frustrating sent us an e-mail today declaring that they "consider this case closed" and blame the whole disaster on Completely Annoying. They're probably right -- Pretty Frustrating has MUCH better records than Completely Annoying -- but Completely Annoying is equally adamant that it's Pretty Frustrating's fault, and I'm not sure either of us are tough enough to talk them into ponying up the $500+ it will take to replace it (including shipping). I was afraid of this from the minute I found out the vial was missing.

In the end, $500 is not going to break us. But money is one of my major hangups, and losing money through no fault of my own is even more stressful. When you add in the factor that the lost money was spent in pursuit of the child we so desperately want... you can imagine the state of my psyche. It's not pretty at all.

I know life isn't fair (and that some people have much worse things to worry about). I know I'm not in control of this process. I know we'll get through all this. But I'm getting tired of the reminders.

Same Station, New Format

The next 8-10 days could bring a lot of tedium as I don't think we'll have much to say, particularly without temping, testing, or any other useful data to report. So AddProb is going to go off topic for a while and photoblog. For our first installment, we bring you a Public Service Announcement:

BURRITOS - NOT the Ultimate in Portable Nutrition!

Bad idea

1 - The culprit*
2 - Design flaw in the chest clip. While it may be an effective safety device, it's a lousy bib.
3 - We think more food ended up ON her than IN her (largely due to items #1 and #2)
4 - Wondering how it got all the way onto the armrest? You haven't spent much time with 3 year olds.
5 & 6 - What you cannot see is more burrito bits down in the corners of the seat. Thank god for removable covers is all I can say.

DC Area Residents: This post is brought to you in memory of the Adams Morgan Burrito Brothers. Please observe a moment of silence to honor its passing.

*The food source pictured above is NOT a BB Little Brother Burrito, ideal for feeding small children in vehicles (due to compact size and use of cheese as an adhesive). On account of the aforementioned demise of said establishment, this nutritive package was obtained at a competitor, and failed miserably to achieve the high standards set by our much loved BB.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Uncharted Territory

No temp rise yesterday either. We're not sure what's going on, but have decided to ditch the thermometer and ride out the next two weeks as calmly as possible. Yes, we recognize that calm is not a word typically associated with us, but we can hope, can't we?

Jen remains fairly Zen and hopeful. I'm trying to convince myself that the insem didn't happen so that I won't be crushed in the end. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the extra sleep.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Is There A Gene For Proofreading?

It seems that bad timing, communication problems, and a poor sense of direction run in my family. Let's just hope that the donor's family is better at all three.

Case Study #1: My father got married tonight. It was a beautiful celebration (and a study in culture clash as my dad's very Anglo family clumped together in corners while his wife's Puerto Rican family had a blast on the dance floor). However, it almost didn't happen at all, because the invitation had the wrong address. No one (including the owner of the house where the ceremony was held) noticed in the six weeks between receiving the invites and today. A circus ensued as guests kept arriving at the wrong location, finding each other and then muddling their way across town to the right house. The best part was when my uncles looked out the window of the limo and saw my brother walking from the subway. They picked him up and spent 30 minutes making static-y cell phone calls and laughing hysterically until they found the house. Cait and I, not so lucky, got routed (by my dad) onto a highway that might as well have been a parking lot. Eventually we made it.

Case Study #2: We are hosting a brunch for everyone who's still in town tomorrow morning. We've spent virtually every minute of the last 2 1/2 days getting ready for it... but I managed to convince myself that it was at noon tomorrow. My grandmother informed me (thank God!) that I had in fact written 11:00 am on the invitations. Oops....

Case Study #3: It looks like we might have missed the egg.* It's too early to tell, but my temp did not go up (ok, .1, but that's practically irrelevant) and my cervix was still open most of the day today. It's frustrating -- not just because it might mean another wasted month** but also because it means my body is getting less and less predictable. In all the months we've charted, I always ovulate the day after the positive OPK. There was only one other month (last month doesn't count because of the freezing room) where ovulation *may* have occured 2 days after the OPK, and that was the cycle one year ago to the DAY. This is getting a bit freaky....

If we're lucky, the donor's family is quite the opposite, and the sperm, imbued with such genes, will have no trouble with the directions from the uterus to the fallopian tubes. It will find the egg at JUST the right time, and it will be such a suave communicator that the egg will issue a properly timed and addressed invitation for it to come right on in. Here's hoping.

*However, I am remarkably calm and Zen about the whole thing. I just keep saying to myself, "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be." Hopefully I can maintain that. Cait is not as Zen.

**The MOST aggravating thing is that this cycle might have a better chance of success if only the bank/our doctor's office hadn't lost our vial. We could have done a second insem after we realized yesterday's was probably too early. No such luck.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Out, Out Damned Spot!

My Women's Studies professors would have had a field day with me today. This afternoon's insemination was a live action version of Our Bodies, Ourselves meets The Telltale Heart. Trusting our intuition and the research we'd done (with help from our awesome research crew!) I took control of my body and my reproductive health, finding a way to get an IUI even when Dr. Reserved wouldn't perform one. We'd consulted a variety of sources (including the major obstetrics textbook in the US) and got our IUI supplies and a tutorial from Nurse Cheery. The insemination was as simple and straightforward as we'd expected.* And as soon as the deed was done, I was consumed by guilt and terror.

Dr. Great had taken considerable care to insert the catheter slowly without going too far. I did feel pressure and a little cramping, but it was quite mild. However, by the time I got home from her office, I was convinced that the discomfort I'd felt was the tip of the catheter puncturing my uterus. A few minutes later, when I discovered that I was spotting -- and it went from brown tinged mucous to bright red blood -- I ran to the computer and began frantic Googling of "perforated uterus IUI symptoms" and the like**. Dread flooded my body as I envisioned surgery, possibly hysterectomy, uterine scarring and/or rupture, inability ever to conceive again... and ALL BECAUSE we were too foolish and arrogant to listen to doctors, who know better. As I read more, beads of sweat broke out on my forehead -- surely the result of the fever accompanying the infection! Dr. Reserved would ban us from setting foot in his door ever again, we'd never have kids, Dr. Great would lose her license, and we'd be held up as an example to everyone in the world as Why You Don't Do IUIs On Your Own. Oh, and I would have to wear a scarlet S for Stupid.

I got Cait caught up in my panic for a while, but eventually, we realized that the spotting had ceased (and had never been of great quantity to begin with). I wasn't in great pain, and I certainly did not have a fever. Furthermore, when Cait Googled the less panic-stricken "IUI side effects" she found much more useful information, indicating that spotting is relatively common after an IUI. So we've at least quieted the telltale uterus, and I am almost 100% convinced that everything's fine. :) I am excessively attentive to my underwear and any and all sensations below my ribs, but all seems quiet on the abdominal front. So keep your fingers crossed that we don't yet become the poster children for Rebellious Patients Who Got Their Due, but we're at least secure in the knowledge that we got those sperms in!

*I have to say it was the most entertaining insemination we've done yet. I lay on the table and listened as Cait and Dr. Great debated the mechanics of the syringe and catheter, and the three of us joked and laughed our way through the entire appointment.

**There is, by the way, an inordinately frustrating paucity of descriptions of the symptoms of perforated uteri available on the Internet. Oh, sure, a million and one sites will tell you that evil abortions are practically guaranteed to give you one. But no one will tell you what it FEELS like!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Best Laid Plans...

A is for Are You Kidding?: In an ideal world, we'd be inseminating in our RE's office, with full access to his experience, knowledge, equipment, and skill. Our sperm is stored there, we have a file set up, and they bill directly to our insurance. But of course, in our very real and frustrating world, he currently refuses to do insems until September, if/when I've had negative betas for 6 consecutive months. Thus, each month we're forced to come up with creative insemination plans. Last month we used up all our remaining ICI samples, leaving us with a single IUI-prepped vial (yes, that other damned vial is still missing!). Though some folks we know have done home IUI on their own, we're not comfortable with that, so we had to devise a Plan B.

B is for Bummer: Remember Dr. Easygoing? Well, turned out she's not. Or at least her receptionist isn't. I finally got a positive OPK this afternoon and called immediately to schedule an IUI for tomorrow afternoon. The receptionist said she was inducing a patient tomorrow and would be "tied up all day" but could do an IUI at 11:30 Friday. From our previous IUI cycles, we know that's too late, but the receptionist was utterly intractable. No, it couldn't be done at the hospital. No, the other doctor in the office can't do it. He just shares the space. And why hadn't I called sooner anyway? (Duh, because I hadn't surged yet?!?)

So there went Plan B down the drain. On to Plan C.

C is for Complex: is our GP, Dr. Great. She is great. In fact, I would marry her in a heartbeat (except A. I'm married. B. She's married. C. She's straight D. I only love her for her profession). She's friendly, knowledgeable, and treats us like equals. And she is REASONABLE and willing to help! When we first told her our woes and it occurred to me that perhaps she could do an IUI, I posed the question. She said she'd be a bit concerned, having never done one, but was willing to consider it. I told her I could talk her through it -- that in fact, we'd do them at home except we'd be worried about maintaining a sterile environment AND that whole speculum thing. (The speculum is NOT my friend.) So she agreed, but encouraged us to see if we could find someone with experience. But with Dr. Easygoing backing out, it was back to Dr. Great. Unfortunately, I couldn't get through to her, so I left a message but decided we needed a backup Plan D.

D is for Discomfit: We are lucky enough to have a midwife who used to work in a feminist AI clinic in Chicago. No shit. How cool is that? But she's our friend, and it's a little uncomfortable for me to think of her up close and personal with my crotch. (She did actually do an ultrasound on me at the clinic where she volunteers during the horrid two days of uncertainty about the status of my pregnancy, but at that point I would have let ANYONE have access to my parts if they could help us figure out what was going on. And it was trans-abdominal. And the donated u/s machine was so ancient we couldn't figure out anything. For all we knew, Sasquatch could have been in there. But I digress.) Anyway, having no other resources, I asked Neighbor Midwife if she'd do an IUI, and she said, sure, if we had all the supplies -- but she couldn't do it before 4 pm tomorrow, which was a bit late for our tastes. But we did at last have a confirmed plan, Plan D.

C's the Way! Luckily, Dr. Great ended up calling late this evening and agreeing to give it a whirl. Despite the last minute frenzy and plans gone kaflooey, I've stayed on a pretty even keel and still feel quite calm about this cycle. So about noon tomorrow, we're on for yet another wacky insem. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Uterus?

So much of this trying to have children business is about waiting. Rather than bore you to tears with the details of how we're waiting for the OPK lines, I'll fill in a missing link or two.

An astute reader asked a while back whether we'd considered Cait's uterus as an alternative to mine. The short answer is, yes, we considered it, but it's not a workable option at this time. The longer answer is, of course, much more complicated. The most important reason is that about 4 years ago, Cait worked in the woods all the time as an outdoor educator. One day, a nasty little tick no bigger than the periods in this text bit her and she got a big ole bull's-eye rash. If you're reading along and you have more than three brain cells, you're probably jumping to the correct conclusion: Lyme Disease. Unfortunately, the doctors who saw her a week or so later when she had a fever, chills, aches, and an excruciating headache were not so swift. In fact, they said (and I quote) "Oh, no. It's not Lyme. We don't have Lyme Disease around here." Recognizing that she was, in fact, ill, they did give her antibiotics, but not enough. She took them, the symptoms went away, and we stopped worrying since her family physician back in Detroit (where they most assuredly DO have Lyme and know something about it) said, "Even if it is Lyme, the drug she prescribed should take care of it."

Two years later, when the various symptoms that had reappeared and disappeared in the intervening time had worn her down to the point that she could sleep more than 15 hours at a stretch without feeling restored, a better doctor ran a Lyme test. Lo and behold, that nasty bite WAS the root of the mystery aches, dizziness, breathing problems and exhaustion that had made Cait miserable off and on for years.

It's been over a year and a half since then, and she's been under the treatment of a Lyme specialist for 20 months. Unfortunately, the brief course of antibiotics back in 2001 probably caused more harm than good, as the remaning critters have proved VERY resistant to antibiotics. Cait has taken just about every bacteria-killing drug available, and the only one that has done a damn thing is the one our insurance stopped paying for after three months. It's outrageously expensive, so we can't just get it anyway (though we are trying to get it free from the manufacturer on a compassionate basis, and will appeal to the insurance company if the manufacturer won't help out). In the interim, she takes handfuls of supplements and pills and I give her penicillin shots in the hiney three times a week. (If I ever need injectables, boy will she enjoy getting to be on the painless end of the needle for a while!)

There's debate about whether or not Lyme can be transmitted in utero and/or via breast milk. Her doctor is of the opinion that it CAN be if the disease is in an active state -- which Cait's is right now. Furthermore, Cait feels a lot like a pregnant woman already: tired, achey, moody, and a bit unsure of her stomach (from all the meds), so why would we want to add to that? Finally, I'm 6+ years older and would like to experience pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc., so it's preferable that I go first.

During the months of uncertainty and forced TTC hiatus, we did say from time to time that we wished Cait could just take over as starring womb for the time being. And she's definitely in line to have Offspring V2.0, once we get the bugs out of HER system. But for the time being, her uterus remains a sperm-free zone, and like it or not, the pressure and the privilege rest squarely on mine.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

No New Tale to Tell

Chances are we'll be inseminating within the next 48-72 hours. You'd never know it from my emotional state. I'm not excited, worried, frantic, obsessing about timing and logistics, or frankly even particularly interested. Ho hum, time to do an OPK. Oh, I drank too much water? No big deal. I'll do it anyway. Compared to last month's circus, this cycle seems boring. All we have to do is pick up the phone, call the doctor* and schedule an IUI after I get a positive OPK. I'll get spermed in the warm**, sterile, well-equipped doctor's office far, far away from any family members other than Cait. There's no drama, there's no pressure, there's ... nothing. It's just another thing on the to do list for the week, along with "pick up dry cleaning" and "clean out the study". I still desperately, achingly, consumingly want a baby as fast as possible, but I may have reached that half-Zen, half-numb place where I can mechanically go through the motions of inseminating, waiting, and finding out.***

After the second cycle we attempted last year, I was an emotional wreck and could not contemplate months or years of trying unsuccessfully. I kept asking my friends who had endured difficulty conceiving how they kept going, month after month. They all assured me that in a way, it becomes easier with time. You don't spend every living second obsessing. You just go on with your life. But that didn't happen for us. Each cycle of trying was as overwhelming and all-consuming as the first. The endless enforced months of not trying were different, but filled with grief and frustration.

When we started up again last month, I was upset to discover that I hadn't made any progress towards "just living" while TTCing. After the reality of the failed cycle hit home last weekend and I was wallowing in despair, I thought, "I'll never get to that place. How can I keep doing this if it dominates my whole existence like this?" However, over the course of this week, the emotional storm that has surrounded all of our attempts to get pregnant has slowly but surely been downgraded from a hurricane to a languid summer breeze. Suddenly, it seems, I am in "that place". I may be able to try to get pregnant and live my life, all at the same time.

It's also possible that last month's Spermtacular was so overwhelmingly complicated, dramatic, confusing, and emotional that we have no reserves available this month. But it feels like something really has changed. Since I've vowed not to chart temperatures or test during the TWW, I may be able to maintain some level of calm. I hope so. If I can stay in this drama-free zone, it will be a much more peaceful way to approach TTCing. My only fear is that if I get too detached, it could reduce our chances of success, both karmically and practically. Karmically because the powers that be might think I don't care or want it badly enough; practically because (as with the OPK example) I might get so laid back that I screw up the timing or do something stupid that reduces the possibility of conception.

If I have gotten to a semi-stable, detached, Zen-like approach to this roller coaster, I fear it will have negative implications for the blog. I mean, how many times can you write "Maybe I'm pregnant; maybe not. Leftovers for dinner again," and make it interesting or funny. (Zero, I think.) On the other hand, I may look back at this post from the vantage point of next Sunday night and laugh my ass off. Who knows? Only time will tell....

*Oh yes, there's a new doctor in town. Dr. Easygoing is willing to do an IUI as long as we sign a waiver saying we understand the risks of attempting to conceive before 6 months of successive negative betas.
**Yes, doctor's offices are often cold. But they're warmer than 50-some degrees in an unheated garage, to be sure!
***Of course, that's easy to say on this side of the syringe. Ask me at the end of the week and we'll find out the true answer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

You Never Forget Your First...

... meme, that is. And my first meme is with Emilin (and by extension, Frog. Whom I don't know. Memes *are* a lot like sex, aren't they. When you meme with someone, you meme with everyone they've memed before).

Anyway, enough foreplay.

List your 6 favorite songs and tag 6 others to do the same.
1. The Power of Two, Indigo Girls
2. Bridge over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel
3. Open Your Eyes, Angelique Kidjo
4. 500 Miles, The Proclaimers
5. Private Wars, Zrazy
6. You Are My Sunshine, traditional

I tag:
1. Cait, of Addition Problems :)
2. Bri, of Unwellness
3. Trayce, of Meet Us in Baggage
4. Shelli, of Hydrangeas Are Pretty
5. Ana, of Lisbon Mama
6. HD, of One Small Corner

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Reasons I Love My Job

1. Hugs (especially the kind where 2 or 3 four-year olds are clinging to your legs)
2. Getting to spend thousands of dollars of other people's money on children's books
3. That oh-so-elusive but oh-so-wonderful feeling when you see that a struggling child suddenly "gets it"
4. The kids, they crack me up
5. Crazy hair day
6. Getting to show kids how to learn with technology (and have fun!)
7. Chocolate on kids' birthdays :)
8. Lunch from California Tortilla (food and fun)*
9. Being REQUIRED to read children's books
10. Walking into a classroom and having 26 kids call out in unison, "Don't leave us!"**

*sadly, will not be an option at the new school
**kinda bittersweet, this one

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bag This

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
-The Graduate, 1967

Plastic did me in today. I hadn't cried about this cycle -- indeed, I'd never cried about any of our previous failed cycles-- until I went to the grocery store this afternoon.

When my period arrived on Friday, I was caught off guard by it. Even though every time I'd gone to the bathroom for days on end, I'd been expecting to see blood, it was somehow still a shock. So much so that an electric pulse ran through all the cells in my body. After that, I was sad, but it was a pretty numb sort of sad. And I did what I do when things don't go my way: I started planning and organizing. I got the number for a new OB who's rumored to do things other doctors are unwilling to do (i.e., IUIs after only a 4 month wait following a partial molar pregnancy), and made an appointment with her. Cait and I started discussing our sperm options, and I even told her I wanted to start thinking about how many times we try with me before moving on to other possibilities (more on that later).

But I never cried. Yes, we held each other and spent a lot of time on the couch. We were moody (me in particular). I was near tears Friday night at my assistant's retirement party because K was there with her baby, but I didn't actually fall apart. I've noted my lack of strong emotion these past few days, but thought, "Oh, well, people react differently." What I was forgetting is that it usually takes an unrelated event to trigger my utter disintegration. This time, it came in the form of a bitchy woman in the grocery store.

I am just that kind of crunchy granola lesbian who takes her canvas bags to go food shopping. Unfortunately, I'm also a stingy crunchy granola lesbian so I don't shop exclusively at the Co-op or Whole Lotta Money Foods, and the more mainstream grocery stores really only pay lip service to the idea that you can bring your own bags. In fact, they don't even ask, "Paper or plastic?" anymore, so on those occasions when I forget my bags I have work to convince the cashier that I really want "Paper, no plastic. Really, just paper. It's fine." As a result, I prefer the self-checkout lane in the snazzier of the two mainstream stores near our house. It suits the anal stingy crunchy granola lesbian in me to be able to scan and bag my groceries in exactly the order that I want them. However, I do have to keep an eye out for the employees, who, in an effort to be helpful, roam the self-checkout area to provide assistance and bag groceries when no one needs other help.

Today I stopped one checker just as he was starting to put my purchases into plastic sacks, but was a bit too slow on the uptake when another came by a few minutes later. She had already bagged about half of my order when I told her I had my own bags and would take care of it. I thought about just taking the items as they were, but I couldn't bear the thought of all that unnecessary plastic, so I moved the groceries into my own bags (except for the milk, which had already begun to sweat on the bag) and carefully hung the bags back on the rack hoping that they wouldn't be thrown away. The first checker came back and began bagging purchases for the woman behind me. "Is that a used bag?" she demanded in a hostile tone.

The cashier looked at her blankly as I said, "Only for about five seconds," and tried to explain about bringing my own bags, commenting that plastic bags are wasteful.

"You get your face out of my business," she interrupted. "Don't go putting your opinions on me. Don't you call me wasteful. You better just shut your mouth and get out of here," she continued, becoming more outraged and self-righteous by the second.

I made the mistake of trying to defend myself, prolonging the hideous interchange for two or three minutes longer. Finally recognizing that no good could come of lingering, I finished shoving my bags and loose items into my cart and left in a maelstrom of indignation, frustration, and grief.

I did NOT cry in front of her, which I consider to be a noteworthy accomplishment. But I cried in the parking lot. In the car. On the way home. Loading the groceries into the cart (really the stroller I keep in the car for Giggle Girl) to bring them in from the parking lot. Fumbling to unlock the door. As I tried to explain the encounter to Cait. The tears crescendoed into agonized, hiccuping wails when I realized that I had forgotten the toilet paper (the key reason for the shopping trip in the first place) in my hurried exodus from the store. And I dissolved into a limp puddle when Cait discovered that the hummus had exploded all over the interior of one of the bags and its contents. My soggy, sniffling state lasted for at least half an hour, and the post-crying sinus headache and general feeling of flatness persisted quite a while beyond that. I'm better now, and I know it was good to get it out of my system, but I kind of preferred the numbness. It's much easier, cheaper (stock tip: buy Kleenex) and neater!

In the end, it was plastic that broke this camel's tear ducts.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

New Cycle's Resolutions

1. I will not test until 14 DPO.
2. I will not temp once we have detected the thermal shift.
3. I will not use "possible pregnancy" or "TWW stress" as excuses to eat crap.
4. I will ask my friends in the computer to keep me honest.
(Edited, because I forgot the MOST IMPORTANT RESOLUTION!)
5. We will not consider anything to be a line unless we can see it from 3 feet away. No tilting, no squinting, no high-powered lighting. "A line is [not necessarily] a line" in this house anymore.

Yes, that's taking all the fun out of it, but every cycle that we are actually able to try really, really screws with our heads and lives. We're going to try an experiment this go-round and see if less data is better. I figure we'll be wondering/hoping/agonizing with or without the input, so perhaps with less to fuel the madness, it will be a bit more sane around here.

At least that's the theory.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Fat Lady...


Surprised? Not Us.


Temp went up .2.
2 more negative tests (we caved and even did the DIGITAL. Ugh!)
1 maybe maybe maybe faint second line (Cait sees ghosts)

Remember how we inseminated a year to the DAY after our first ever insem? Well, what we didn't explain was that that first cycle was very confusing. It ended up being my first-and-only 16 day LP and we did get, on 13DPO, a faint second line. Since it was the first time we'd ever used HPTs, we argued about whether it was a line or not. In retrospect, it was MUCH darker than the lines we've gotten this round, and we now know that cycle was a chemical. Anyway, now we're afraid that this cycle is going to be frighteningly identical to the one a year ago. It certainly is just as confusing.

And what I'm really scared of is that the next two cycles will be identical to the ones a year ago too....

But thank you for clapping -- you at least got my temperature to rise! And it's great to know so many people are pulling for us. We'll keep you posted.

(Note to the pants-wearing lesbians from MN who maybe want a kid - I saw your blog yesterday but lost the link. Can you sign in on the Guestmap so I can get back to your blog? Thanks! - Jen)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Tinkerbell Effect

How many of you out there still believe in Tinkerbell?

I'm not hearing a whole lot of clapping. But I just discovered today that I do still believe in Tink, and when the audience isn't clapping, Tink and I don't do so well.

You see, I went back to the fertility acupuncturist (hereafter known as Zen) today. On the way there I was still riding along on the wave of the generally positive vibe I've had ever since the inseminations, even despite the confusing HPTs and negative (but early) beta. Cait and I both hoped that when Zen treated me, she would have something encouraging to say as Cait's acu (whom we'll call Bliss) had done earlier in the week, when she told Cait, "You can start talking to that baby now."

Unfortunately, things didn't go exactly as desired (how shocking!). In our opening discussion, Zen chided me -- gently -- for the early HPTs. She seemed rather uninterested in my intuition that the insem had gone well (which I thought odd for a practitioner of Eastern medicine) but thought it was still quite possible for me to get a positive beta in a few days.

Once I got on the table, though, the outlook grew dimmer and dimmer. Zen took my pulses and dispassionately reported, "It's not totally clear, but yours don't feel like pregnant pulses. But you never know." At this, my spirits wavered, though I tried not to look dismayed. When she moved to my right side, she commented. "Sometimes the signs all seem right for pregnancy, or you have a feeling that you're pregnant but it just doesn't take." As she began to speak, I groaned mentally, thinking, "Oh god, now she's gving the consolation speech. That's not a good sign." She continued, "It's sort of like the body is doing a trial run and doesn't quite make it. But time and time again, the cycle after that is the one that works." My dismay took on a bitter edge as I thought to myself, "If this is a trial run, it's our THIRD trial run. I want the goddamn medal!"

Zen continued to follow her circuit from side to side around the table, checking and re-checking pulses, and administering needles. Several times she reported with enthusiasm that my pulses responded very well to treatment. At the end of the treatment, she felt my wrists one final time and said, "You could be pregnant, but I just don't think this is it."

Each of these pronouncements was delivered in a nearly expressionless, matter-of-fact tone which gave the impression that she had absolutely no idea how devastating her words might be. She wasn't patronizing, cold, or dismissive, but there was surprisingly little compassion in evidence. I find this utterly bizarre as Zen SPECIALIZES in acupuncture for fertility issues. Even Bliss, the non-specialist acupuncturist whom I used to see -- and who was scared to treat me when I might be or was pregnant (and perhaps she was right, as that was the ill-fated Pregnancy of Too Many Chromosomes) -- would have had the common sense to know that telling a fertility-challenged woman she might not be pregnant might just be a wee bit distressing. I have a feeling that even though Zen has treated many women desperate to be pregnant, she hasn't been on the other side of the needle, at least for this issue.

I left the office nearly despondent. Oddly, the treatment HAD been relaxing for my body, but my brain and my heart felt like wet tissue draped over my limp body. When I called Cait to report the distressing appointment, I realized as I spoke that her lack of faith was harder for me to take than the cold, scientific data of the negative beta, and it had nearly smothered the gentle glow of intuition and calm I've been holding inside for the past two weeks. "It's like Tinkerbell," I told Cait. "When nobody believes, it dies. And if it dies, somehow I will feel like it's my fault because I didn't believe enough. Like I could have been pregnant if I just trusted myself enough, but since I didn't, I wasn't."

Ironically, I don't think I'm upset because I'm not pregnant (though if that comes to pass, I surely will be). We still don't know for sure what the outcome of this cycle will be. No, I'm irritated and sad that my hopes were assaulted. And I know that I can choose to hang on to my hope; that I don't have to stop believing just because of what Zen said. Nor did I want her to lie to me or give me false hope. But part of why I seek out acupuncture is that it is holistic, and seeks to help my body AND my spirit. The same opinion, delivered with a bit more feeling and sensitivity, might not have been so hard to swallow.

At any rate, I am trying to believe, and hang on until we know for sure one way or another, but a lot of the calm hopefulness has slipped away. So clap if you believe. Clap for Tinkerbell. Clap for me. Clap for the baby that just might, might be.

Doot Doo Doo Doo Doot Doo Doo

Nothing to report here. Which is at this point, perhaps a good thing. Temp is still the same baffling exact temperature (now FOUR days running -- and no, I don't think the thermometer's broken, but I'll double check when I get home this evening). No sign of things we don't want to see. No dramatic new signs or symptoms. Everything's pretty much exactly the way it's been since Sunday.

Actually, there is something to report. We did try to distract ourselves last night by going to the Indigo Girls concert. But it kind of backfired. The concert was FABULOUS but not exactly distracting. We just lay there under the stars saying, "It doesn't make any sense, but I still have a good feeling about this cycle," back and forth to each other. And we really do. And my boobs have been even more sensitive yesterday and today (but that's not a NEW symptom).

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So, um, we tested when we got home last night. I know, I know. Just one line. No hint of a second. (Except when Cait pulled it back out of the trash this morning there was a faint faint line. But we REALLY KNOW that doesn't mean diddly.) But for some reason we're still hanging on to hope...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

No News Is...

...frustrating. On the good side: Cait and I have mustered our strength to resist the sticks. There has been no stick-peeing for over 48 hours, and we will hold strong until I am officially late (if that should happen, which we don't actually anticipate). On the confusing side: my temps have plateaued -- at exactly the same temperature three days running, which is SO weird for me --above the coverline, but way lower than they were over the weekend. This is a very unusual chart. Still no explanation for the positive HPTs followed by the totally negative beta. Oh, yeah, we got the number on the beta: <2, which indicates to me that the HPTs were NOT the last gasp of an extraordinarily short chemical.

*If* there is a proto-child in there -- and I do recognize the near-impossibility of that -- there's no doubt it's our stuborn, contrary, marching-to-the-beat-of-no-other-drummer child. If only it's true. :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Strike Two

Today's temp was low again, so we're pretty much considering it over. Yes, it's only 12 dpo and there is some faint chance that Jen is pregnant, but it's not looking as good as it was a few days ago. I googled FRER, and there are several reports of false positives (though peeonastick says if the line stays to consider it a true positive). Basically we're confused and cranky with ourselves for all the testing and insanity. If you're an optimist, keep sending us lucky vibes. We're trying to be realists today.

Posted by Cait

Monday, June 06, 2005

What, you wanted an ANSWER?!

So, the beta was negative. End of story, right? WRONG. "But," says Nurse Cheery, "your progesterone is high - 10.1 - so if you don't get your period in 4 or 5 days, take an HPT." Little does she know that telling me to take an HPT is like telling Elvis to eat fried food...

The scoresheet to date:
1 FRER with a faint line both Cait and Jen agree is there (yesterday AM)
3 FRERs with faint lines only Cait is sure about (yesterday AM, PM and this AM)
Occasionally twingey/sensitive breasts
1 cheapie with maybe a faint line according to Cait (last night)
A negative beta
1 cheapie with a faint line, but distinctly darker than all the other HPTs, that other people would agree exists and might even show up in a photograph (this morning)
A soupcon* of grumpiness
A bunch (we won't tell how many) of negative, negative, negative tests taken at various points in the past (ahem) several days.
Higher and more consistent temps than any other post-MC cycle (until the plummet today)
A trashcan full of empty HPT boxes and pee-fouled dinosaur cups
A "high" progesterone level

Oh, and I didn't exactly tell them when I got the beta that I am only, um, 11 DPO. So Nurse Cheery may be basing her interpretation of the progesterone as high on false assumptions. Sooo, it ain't over yet, but we're definitely not holding our breath.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Don't fuck around with testing early. And, no good can come from peeing on dinosaurs.

EDITED TO ADD: Where'd all the commenters go? You're welcome to jump in and tell me we're loons or we're seeing things. Or tell stories of friends who didn't get a positive HPT until the day they gave birth. Or report on your toenail fungus (ok, maybe not. But on the other hand, I tell you about my pee...). Anyway, I know you guys are out there - I've never had this many site visits in a day before!

*did I say soupcon? I don't speak that language, remember? Doesn't that mean "shitload" in French?

How to Make Yourself Crazy

1. Buy lots and lots of HPTs.
2. Test too early.
3. Test too often.*
4. Don't listen to friends who tell you to put down the crack pipe. (Sorry, Em.)

The only good thing is that the partial molar pregnancy pretty much gives me free access to betas on demand. Guess where I'll be this morning?

Blood has been drawn; waiting has commenced. (This ENTIRE process is nothing but waiting!!!) Now, by the way, I am nauseous. Not pregnant nauseous. Anxious nauseous. I can tell the difference.

And my eager friends, keep your pants on. :) I won't hear ANYTHING before 2:00, more likely 3:00. And I won't be posting until I've had a chance to talk with Cait, who has the great good fortune (not!) to be taking Praxis I today between 12:30-5:30. Hopefully, she'll finish early. I will share news as soon as we both know.

What was that Einstein said about time? Its speed decreases exponentially the closer you get to beta results? The last hour is killing me....

*No, we won't tell you how many. In the collection, however, there are more starkly negative and more recent tests than there are with veryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryveryvery faint lines.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The family that sprays together...

Being a lesbian and having a committed, interested partner who is directly involved with every aspect of attempting to conceive and carry a child is great. Whenever I read posts and blog entries by other women who say, "My husband (or partner, lots of non-carrying women are only interested in the end result) could care less about my cervical mucous (or temperatures, or OPKs or symptoms)," I am reminded of how glad I am to have Cait to share in my obsessions and help me sort through endless permutations and combinations of insemination timing and strategies. Hell, she even charted with me in solidarity for the first eight months!

But sometimes, to be honest, it sucks. Like right now. I have a brand new (ok, TWO brand new) packages of First Response Early Results HPTs sitting in the bathroom just BEGGING to be dipped in the waiting cup of pee. And I can't. Because I know that Cait wants to be there for any test (preferably any positive test) and that I want her to be there too. But I feel a little bit like an alcoholic must feel with an open bottle of her preferred hooch sitting on the table in front of her....

Thursday, June 02, 2005

When Two become One (or Perhaps, Three)

So last night I went to karate. While holding a target against my body for someone to kick, I experienced a degree of sensitivity in my breasts that doesn't generally happen for me at this point in my cycle. I started to get excited.
"Hey, maybe that's a good--
--oh, wait. wrong body."

guest post by Cait

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

5,000 and Counting!

(No, not my beta. Don't I wish?!)

Sometime in the next hour, someone will be the 5,000th visitor to Addition Problems. And I owe it all to Julie. Thanks, Zhu-lee!!

In honor of this momentous occasion, I've added a Site Map, since I don't know who most of you are. Please take a few seconds to sign in and let me know a little bit about you.

Speaking of taking a few seconds, no one has yet won the Name That Sperm Song contest. There really is a prize! Who will be the lucky winner?