Wednesday, October 31, 2007


(The above is Natalie's version of Trick or Treat.)

Here's how we're distracting ourselves from the TWW so far:

Saturday we hosted our annual festival of pumpkin carving. Kids and grownups both from our cohousing community and from other parts of our life join us (some as frequently as every year) in a celebration of pumpkin guts and cutting skill. Every year, it culminates with a grand lighting. Jen typically has primary carving duties. This year, she was the sole carver as I chased a particularly busy bee around the party.
Last night we finished Natalie's real costume (the bee being something that a neighbor handed down), and this cat joined Jen at school for the Halloween parade:

Her favorite items acquired tonight were a tiny box of raisins (yay-yins!) and a bag of animal crackers which she clutched fiercely for the rest of the night. The moms are happily eating all of the candy she's ignoring. I don't think we'll get off so easily next year!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sheela's In Da House; Swimmers Are Swimming

In the first two cycles pursuing a second child, we have employed a variety of fertility tools and a small amount of medical intervention: charting, OPKs (standard and digital), fertility monitor, ultrasound, and (home) IUI. The inseminations themselves are a far cry from our first ever attempt 3 1/2 years ago, in which it was only Cait, me, a syringe, and a hulking cryopreservation tank. However, that attempt didn't succeed, and by the time we did get pregnant with Natalie we had ramped up to almost the same level of technology and intervention we're using today (back in the dark ages of '05, they hadn't invented the smiley-face OPKs yet). But there was one key difference between Natalie's cycle and the two unsuccessful attempts this year: the touchy-feely, the spiritual, the intangible... hell, the voodoo. In our first two years of trying, we had a fertility altar, and each cycle we added a little something more. This year, the altar is still there, but we've all but forgotten about it.

Just before the cycle we conceived Natalie, we received a package from our good friends at NTM. It contained the aforementioned fertility monitor, but perhaps more importantly, it contained Sheela Na Gig. They in turn had acquired Sheela immediately prior to conceiving Sanna. Sheela took a place of honor on our altar and oversaw Natalie's conception, growth, and birth. Since then, she moved on to the fertility altar that J&E set up before their successful IVF. She was passed back to us this week, and has assumed the position, just as I did tonight.

Oh yes, despite the panic, we got another positive OPK and Peak on the monitor virtually out of nowhere. My cycles are very different postpartum, and it is freaking me out a little bit, but we'll hope that Sheela does her magic and I won't have to worry about it anymore.

Sheela has also been joined by Mary, who helped bring Natalie's buddy Quinn into this world, and also by a fertility necklace from another member of our due date gang. These items also came to us by way of J&E's fertility altar. The combined power of all that fertility mojo hopefully will bring us a little luck. Especially since this is our third third try. (No, that's not a typo. Coqui was conceived on the third attempt in the first round. Natalie was the third attempt of the second round. We're now on round three, try three.)

Maybe we should go check our horoscopes....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Subtraction (from the bank account ) Problems

After even more bureaucratic angst (turns out Cait and I had our bank accounts set up so we could transfer money INTO our join account but NOT out... making it impossible to amass the requisite three grand in any of the accounts) I wired the payment today. Because we are using the escrow company, we should be protected but it is an awfully stressful place to be... having all of our disposable cash out there in the ether with absolutely nothing to show for it. As my grandmother would have said, "This is making me nerval."

I will be a much happier person in a week or so when (God willing!) the sperm has been safely shipped to the RE's office AND I can verify that they have properly transferred it to my name and it's all accounted for. Until then I can distract myself with wondering when the hell/if I will ever ovulate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Details and More Complications. Of Course.

Grrr. I *thought* I was buying more sperm, but of course, nothing is simple.

First, a little background info. The donor we used is no longer "producing" and all of the samples that were for sale through the bank are long gone. The bank keeps a waiting list, but since we got the vials originally as a gift from a friend, we don't qualify for the waiting list. So we signed up with the Donor Sibling Registry and indicated we were interested in buying additional vials. I was not optimistic, but to our surprise we were contacted within a few months by another family who wanted to sell 12 (12!) vials they no longer needed.

We would buy all 12 if we could, by the way, but it's just not financially possible, particularly given that this entire transaction is meant ultimately to bring us another child which will ratchet up our expenses even further. And for those of you surprised at the cost of donor sperm, this is actually somewhat of a bargain, as we're buying it at the original price the other family paid several years back. The cost of similar vials today bought directly from the bank would be more than 10% higher - and they're not the most expensive vials out there by a considerable sum!

So we crunched our budget, settled on 7 vials, and began to work out the complex logistics of the sale. Again, because we aren't on record as purchasers with the bank, the bank won't just ship them to us. They wanted to charge somewhere between $300-$500 to open an account for us (every time we called we got a different number) so that they could put our name on a FedEx form and ship them to our RE. They'd also charge us for three months of storage even though they'd only be "stored" in our name for seconds (ok, maybe minutes or DAYS, tops). Me being me, I couldn't stomach that, and went through weeks of machinations trying to figure out a solution. The simplest answer was to have the bank ship them to our RE in the other family's name, but given our clinic's ability to mis-handle sperm with our name clearly on it, I was a bit hesitant. However, in the end, that was the best option we could come up with so we are giving it a try.

Then we get to the part where we are contemplating sending huge sums of money to people we have never met, on pure faith. While it seems a huge amount of effort to try and scam people out of money using the DSR, stranger things have happened. I was not comfortable sending a check to people I don't know (who happen to be in another country, just to make this even MORE complicated) on the assumption that they will follow through. A friend suggested using an escrow service, and that seemed like a fantastic solution.

And then I realized that I wasn't 100% sure that reselling sperm is legal, so I tried to be somewhat vague in my description of the "product" but the escrow company is refusing to process the payment without a more detailed description. I just bit the bullet and sent them a complete description, so cross your fingers that they will let it go through.

As to the finite nature of our conception process, no, sperm is not a limited resource (although in our circumstances it is rather a pricey one) and we don't have a problem with having kids with different donors. The issue is financial - if we haven't succeeded after 8 more attempts (the last one being IVF and god only knows how we'd pay for that) there won't be any more money to buy ANYBODY'S sperm. So who knows what or how we'd approach things at that point. I just hope we never have to find out.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I just clicked "Agree" to a transaction that is a few dollars short of $3 grand. That is A LOT of money in the house of AddProb these days, but when you're in the donor sperm game, it's par for the course. We are buying 7 more vials of Natalie's donor because it is a one-time opportunity and that is the most we could scrape up cash for. With the two vials we have left in storage after the most recent attempts, we've got a total of nine. We're not terribly concerned with having a full genetic sibling but we think Natalie is so awesome we might as well use the same genetic combo and hope for equally spectacular results. But that doesn't make it any less heartstopping to have pretty much all of our available cash tied up in a few teeny-tiny frosty cylinders downtown. It also means that we have eight tries left (we'd use the last two in an IVF if we got down to the wire) before we have to do a re-evaluation. The finiteness is sobering.

Effiity Effing Eff

I was going to write a whiny post about someone stealing our pumpkins but then got news of something that's really worth whining about. Our friend in the computer (and IRL!) Cali, who is generous, funny, kind, compassionate, talented, energetic, witty, giving, gentle and an all-around mensch just got word that her hopes, plans and dreams for a baby got a major setback in a way that is utterly cruel and heartbreaking. Details are on her (password protected) blog. She needs help. So if you can scrape up a little cash to help out a friend (or friend of a friend) click over to her block and find the Donate button and give her a little material as well as moral support.

We love you, Cali. You don't deserve this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


As of Monday, Natalie is 18 months old. As in a year and a half. I am astonished.

She's grown from this:

To this:

She's talking like crazy, repeating everything we say. She counts to seven. She knows when she's being silly, and cracks herself up. She climbs ladders. She greets random strangers on every outing, and chases dogs and cats. She requests her favorite songs over and over and over. She kicks balls and laughs with glee when she sees her beloved big kid neighbors. She signs "I love you" and gives spontaneous hugs and kisses. [for the record, she also still does not reliably sleep through the night, is perfecting her tantrum and fake crying skills, and is trying her hardest to find ways to manipulate her way out of going to bed] Not a day goes by without a reminder of just how lucky we are, and I am frequently awed that the universe somehow chose this child for us. Happy 18 months, my crazy wonderful monkey of a daughter.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Et Tu, Amazon?

In a fit of optimism last week, I included a copy of Siblings without Rivalry in my Amazon order (the remainder of which was books about potties, gentle parenting, and no biting... gone are the days of ordering books for FUN!). Then I completely forgot it was in the order.

Today was NOT the day I needed that Amazon box to arrive.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Natalie woke up with a fever this morning, although she seemed fine when she came into bed for her early morning nursing. Our weekend routine is to return Natalie to her crib after nursing to read books and chatter to herself while we steal a little more sleep, and she was willing to go along with the routine. However, by the time she started fussing for one of us to spring her from the pokey, her mood had deteriorated and she had become a sad, clingy mess.

I sat on the bed and rocked her in my arms for a few minutes, mentally composing my next post. My temperature had fallen even further this morning, pretty much dashing my hopes for this cycle. My thoughts were interrupted by Natalie's demand to sit on the potty. The potty process became prolonged when we discovered that she had already pooped in her diaper, necessitating the hunt for wipes. Eventually, everyone in the house was involved, as Cait dealt with wiping while I held Natalie as she wailed at the cold air on her feverish body. Natalie then turned down the potty, but of course we didn't have a new diaper ready, so I went in search of a new diaper.

As I walked past our bed, I was startled to see a large bloodstain on the sheets. "Was that you or me?" I asked Cait, in bafflement. She looked at me like I had two heads. "I never sat on that side of the bed. It must be you." With the chaos surrounding Natalie's fever and fussiness, I didn't get to investigate for a few more minutes, but it was indeed I who was bleeding. My two overwhelming emotions were confusion (how could I have bled that much without feeling it?!) and relief.

Yes, relief. Relief that the agony of waiting and wondering was over. I am still very eager to have another child, but this time around the two-week wait is KILLING me. It's the same all-consuming madness as it always was - a frenzy of rocketing between hope and despair, imagined pregnancy symptoms, daydreaming and self-flagellation, squinting and staring at peesticks, and schizophrenic simultaneous strategizing of sperm and stroller shopping - but now there is the added reality of trying also to juggle life with a child who needs moms who are present and functioning, instead of lost in the clouds or wallowing in misery.

At the beginning of the TWW, it actually helps us stay sane. We have too much going on in our lives to get caught up in agonizing over every decimal on the thermometer or twinge in the belly. But as the roller coaster picks up speed over the top of the hill, we can't escape the rush, and hurtle along over the mad twists and turns, breathless in fear and excitement. We manage to get the necessities covered, but not much more. So it really is a relief to get a final answer, even if it's the wrong one. I've gotten the majority of my sadness out in the despairing moments of the past week, so now I can get on with life and deal with the consequences of the insanity: mountains of laundry, a nearly empty refrigerator, and an overwhelming list of chores and tasks put off too long. And I know I have to do it NOW because the madness will be back in just a few weeks.

And the poor sick girl we already have needs us now.

[side note from Cait] As Jen sat on the toilet, figuring out that she was indeed bleeding, Natalie sat naked in my lap, feverishly thwarting my attempts to prep a new diaper. She announced "pee!" just as a warm, wet feeling spread across my leg. It's been a fun morning all around.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

WTF? Updated

I am cranky, confused, and frustrated. While this makes some bloggers hysterically funny (and I daresay made even me entertaining back in the day) right now it's taken all the creativity right out of me. So this is what you're getting.

Yesterday we went to the RE for a consult. It was a really uneventful meeting, in which we reviewed my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum cycles. We asked about my luteal phase, which is a little shorter than previous, but since it was over 10 days, he said he wasn't terribly concerned but we could check progesterone the next cycle. He doesn't care at all that I am nursing (yay!) and seemed at times more interested in Natalie* than the boring details of my seeming lack of fertility problems. The basic conclusion was keep on keeping on with IUIs, avoid fertility drugs, don't bother triggering... just wait a few more cycles and see what happens. Which, frankly, is legit since we have only tried two times this go-round.

So last night I was mildly grumpy, having irrationally hoped that either the magic of having an RE appointment would make me pregnant (we tested yesterday a.m. - nope, at least not as of 9 dpo) or that the RE would have some magic wand to offer us. But the logical part of my brain realized that there is no magic wand and we do just have to wait.

Aaaand then, when we were getting ready for bed, there it was. Blood. Ok, no big deal, game is over for this cycle. But this time it's 9 dpo, which seems to say that there may indeed be a luteal phase issue. A few seconds later, however, Cait realized that my temperature had gone UP that morning, which seemed odd to us both. And this morning, it went up AGAIN, but I am still bleeding. So we have tested with two different tests this morning, which of course smirk at us with big ole glaring whiteness.

I mean, I guess we can just chalk this up to postpartum weirdness. But it leaves us hanging about what to do next -- and the temp rise has us wondering if I might have conceived but implantation failed due to progesterone issues. Do we take a cycle off (even though the third insem has been the successful one each of our preceding attempts)? Do more testing? Try preemptive progesterone? Argh. Yesterday afternoon, the prospect of just slogging through a few more cycles and waiting until it worked seemed frustrating enough. Now that seems like a delightful course of action compared to all this uncertainty and the possibility of a problem. And of course, we are almost out of sperm, but that's a subject for another post.

UPDATE: Bleeding stopped early this morning and hasn't returned. Caught between stupid hope that it was implantation bleeding, and the pessimistic voice that says that surely temps will crash and full bleeding will start tomorrow. Nothing to do but wait.

*Yes, we were THOSE PEOPLE and brought N. to the RE's. That's actually what I planned to blog about but that will have to wait.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oct. 1

Yesterday was the 3 year anniversary of the bad ultrasound--the one where we found out Coqui had died. Yesterday at an ungodly hour of the morning, we inseminated. In approximately 13 days we'll find out if there's any hope of redeeming the month of October. Having just finished an extremely frustrating phone call about work, I'm not feeling optimistic at the moment. It's OK if you are though. Somebody should.