Identity Crisis of a Pre-Mother

May 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Lex Jacobson, Same Sex Parent

By: Lex Jacobson

 

I find out tomorrow if I’m pregnant. I don’t know how people do this again and again and again for more than the nine months that we’ve been at it. This nine-month mark marks the due date of the first child had we gotten pregnant the first month we did an IUI. It feels like forever, yet it’s flown by as well.

I am struggling a bit with my identity right now. I’m not yet a mother, but I don’t feel completely childless. I feel as though we have a son or daughter, because we dream about them and put energy into them daily. They are in my every thought and almost every decision I make is for them.

It sounds silly, but one of the hardest things is during the two-week wait to find out whether you’re pregnant or not and saying no to things like brie cheese or alcohol or medicated cough syrup, the latter of which I’ve really, really needed this month. While about half of women have the luxury of not realizing they’re pregnant until after they miss their period, I have this awkward two weeks of maybes and best-be-safes. It’s maddening. It’s two weeks full of hope and double guessing and doubts and fears and planning for this baby that you just hope to god is going to evolve this month.

While my partner, Devon, does get excited when we may be pregnant and sad when it doesn’t work out, she doesn’t get that strong urge of motherhood – that ridiculously powerful feeling that I imagine starts in the uterus and overtakes every single nook and cranny of my brain. It’s so hard to explain it to people, and though Devon does get it more and more, I imagine it’s tough when I can’t turn off and move on quickly. She’s been amazing though and puts up with my obsessive personality. I drive myself nuts, so I can’t imagine how she feels.

I don’t think you can talk sense into a woman who wants a baby so incredibly bad. While it’s comforting to know there are many others like me out there, it’s also disheartening to know that there is no way to turn this feeling off until we get a new life out of this whole experience. Here’s to hoping again…

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Journey to the Center of the Uterus

October 20, 2011 by  
Filed under In Vitro

By: Kathleen Puls Andrade

The first words of advice I received about ensuring conception were from a reporter who was reviewing a show I was doing at the time. We had hit it off over the phone and we started talking about fertility issues. Her advice? Put my legs over my head after having sex. Wow! Apparently it was pretty easy! So, off I went to have some sex and some “me time” with a pillow under my butt and my legs hiked up into the air. A half hour later, I put my legs down and hoped for the best. We had to do it again…and again…and yes, again. They say it’s fun trying, but honestly, it wasn’t. It became a chore and my poor husband. He was a trooper! I’d push him down and say, “Get it up! Right now!” Not as easy as it sounds.

Nothing.

So, I did it again…and again…and a few more times until we realized that this wasn’t exactly working. So, off to the gyne we went. Well, I went. There wasn’t a whole lot my husband could do…other than watch…which would be weird. Anyway! I went and my gyne ended up prescribing Clomid, which I took for about three months. Nada. It might have made me a little nutty but I really can’t remember. It’s been a while. I do remember wanting to lash out at various people but it might have been the progesterone suppositories. Meh. Same difference. And going to this particular gyne wasn’t fun. I don’t know what it was but the staff really made me feel like I was a pain. I really didn’t want to continue with that hospital so looked for somewhere else to go. It was time, anyway.

Actually, it was time to go to the big leagues…the show…the Majors. It was time to do the turkey baster. The first real IVF doctor we had was an enigma. She was nice enough but I couldn’t call her a people person. Still, she was the head of the program so we thought she’d be pretty good. The first order was for the hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. I’m sure that you’ve heard of that one. You know, when they insert a balloon into your uterus, inflate it, and listen to you swear…out loud…loudly. It was just a little uncomfortable. But she barely acknowledged that. I think I had more sympathy from the Intern. And don’t believe the hype. One or two Advil will not suffice.

But, there was good news! My fallopian tubes were not blocked! Although she did mention that I had a small uterus. I’ve since learned that I have an “infantile uterus”. The size of a baby’s, apparently. An outdated term but apt. But I guess it could still hold a baby. They do stretch after all.

So, on to the Intrauterine Insemination. I had three. My husband had the most important role in this step: masturbating into a cup. The nurse called him in for his first “session”. We were pretty new to this so I asked, “Should I come too?” She said, in her dry Chicago way, “You shouldn’t have to.” Ugh. How embarrassing! But, he was successful, albeit not entirely stimulated by the surroundings. I guess that’s what the copious amount of porn is for. That room is sterile! Ooh…bad choice of words?

The IUIs went smoothly, with the exception of one. The IVF nurse had a hard time getting the catheter with the sperm into my uterus. The doc breezed in, adjusted the speculum, slid the catheter in, and breezed out…with barely a word to me. I saw her in the hallway some time after the procedure. I waved, said “Hi Dr. So and So”…and she didn’t recognize me. I think she only recognizes her patients by their vaginas. I was one of those vaginas.

On to the Bigs.

The Clomid and the IUIs didn’t work. We had to move on to In Vitro Fertilization. By this time I’d been pretty well entrenched in Fertilityland and when one cycle ended, I couldn’t wait for the next one to begin. It began to feel like an addiction…an addiction to the process. I had had polyps removed, scar tissue removed, estrogen suppositories, Viagra suppositories, shots with giant needles, knots on my butt, and I couldn’t wait for it to begin again. And it was to a certain extent. There was always one more thing to try, one more procedure, one more chance. And the hormone roller coaster was starting to get to me too. But, all in the name of building a family! So, onward and upward.

My old IVF doc left the program. Seemed as though she had a little burnout going on. But the new guy was a pretty nice guy, all business, but a nice guy. I tried everything I could to get him to laugh at my silliness but he didn’t crack. He was professional to a fault, which bothered me and comforted me all at once. And he tried just about everything he could think of to get me pregnant. He finally showed his personal side to me while doing a water sonogram. (He put water in the uterus to find out what’s going on in there.) I mentioned to him that I had just gotten back from Mexico, where it was really humid…like I’m sure it was, down there. Ha! Not really. He starts talking about his own disastrous trip to Mexico…in my uterus! I just did not know how to take this! What do I say? What do I do? I was thrilled that he finally opened up to me. I felt we were bonding over my narrow cervix. I had had issues with the narrowness of my cervix before and it seemed to be worse this time. He ended up shaving it to make the insertion of the embryos go a lot smoother.

Oh yeah…that time with the embryos.

If I didn’t know any better I’d swear they were messing with me. I was going in for the embryo transfer. You know, after you do the egg extraction and they fertilize the eggs with your husband’s washed sperm? Again, his one and only job, a very important job, is to masturbate and give them sperm to wash. Nice! So, we went in and they got me all doped up on Valium and put me on the table with the stirrups and inserted the speculum (my favorite part!) and started with the catheter. He raised the table. He lowered the table. He asked me to move my hips up, down, and around. Nothing. That catheter wasn’t going in any further than it wanted to. Must have been a sign. He called in the ultrasound tech to help guide the catheter. Legs up, hips down, a little to the left, a little to the right…all of this through a Valium haze. The embryologist was giving me sympathetic looks while everyone else was trying to figure out why this wasn’t working. My husband was trying to comfort me by kissing my hand, wiping my forehead and telling me that it’ll be over soon. After a few more attempts, the embryologist pointed me out to Dr. S. Tears were silently running down my cheeks as I was trying not to say, “For the love of God, please stop poking my cervix!!”

He stopped…

…put the bed back to its original position

…and apologized.

And then somehow he managed to figure out how to get those potential babies into my uterus.

Oh yes, there was one time when I did get pregnant! I think it was the time after the cervix-poking incident. Or the time before…it’s been a while so I’m not entirely sure anymore.
We did the whole shebang and Donna, the flat-voiced IVF nurse, called me and told me that my numbers were up! The numbers are what we “IVFers” live by. They’re supposed to double every other day and mine had doubled! I had to go in for an ultrasound and a follow-up blood test to monitor my numbers and, of course, the worst part is the wait. It’s really interesting how you just know when there’s something happening in there and I could definitely sense that something was in there. So, I went to shop for new computer speakers and was at the customer service desk when Donna called with the results. And that’s when she told me that my numbers were down. “So, that means I’m not pregnant anymore?” She confirmed that this was indeed the case and how sorry she was and that I could call for a follow-up if I wanted to.

So, I got another pair of speakers. And then went out to my car and started it up to go home and broke down in tears. That, as they say, was that.

Eventually, after trying two donor egg cycles, I realized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to get some help to discover this. One of the most valuable things I learned is that no one will tell you when to stop. There’s always something else you can do to try and get pregnant but you have to figure out what you can and cannot take –physically, spiritually, and mentally.

It didn’t work out for us. And we decided we didn’t want to adopt. And, it’s ok with us. Not perfect, but it’s ok. We have several nieces and nephews and they’ve become our kids…that we can hand back. Ha!

I’ve mourned over and over and I just can’t mourn anymore. I have to move on and be happy with the way things are. I think my husband still has some mourning to do but we’re doing ok. We love each other. We appreciate each other and we laugh so much, which is so important. I believe that humor is the great healer and we’ve found so much to laugh about in our experiences.

Now we just have to convince our nieces and nephews to take care of us in our old age. Ha!
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To read more about Kathleen visit her site 

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Sex in Stirrups

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Lex Jacobson, Same Sex Parent

By: Lex Jacobson

There is a ton of literature out there on “gender selection”, which teaches how the timing of ovulation and sex can determine whether you are having a boy or a girl. If you want a girl, have sex two days before you are due to ovulate; for a boy, have sex the day before or the day of ovulation. Girl sperm have the patience to hang out and wait for the egg; boy sperm…not so much. But boy, can they swim hard.

From what I’ve read and heard, couples that get pregnant via intrauterine insemination with donor (frozen) sperm are more likely to have a boy. I suppose it makes sense – most IUIs are done the day before or the day you ovulate. Frozen sperm has a lot shorter life than fresh sperm, so I suppose the strongest swimmers are going to be the ones who make it.

But how much of this do I believe? Wouldn’t almost ALL couples doing IUI end up with boys?

Going into this first IUI this week, I feel like I’ve read way too much about fertility. Obviously, the whole process is going to be clinical, but I feel as though with the knowledge I have going in, there is no fun in this baby-making process. Which I want to change.

Although it won’t be as fun as having sex, I do want the conception of my child to be special. I want to be looking into the eyes of my 55-year-old male doctor. I want – somehow – for this to be Devon’s and my moment. Not like I expect it to be sexual or anything; I just want it to be more than staring at the ceiling with a speculum sticking out of me. But I don’t know what that looks like yet.

I do know I want to be holding Devon’s hand – and if possible, I’d like to be looking at her. I feel like it’s tough enough being inseminated with a complete stranger’s sperm, when this whole process is Devon’s and my journey. It’s our child. It’s our pregnancy. It’s our family.

We are both huge believers in energy and both recognize that we want to give off a very welcoming vibe for baby, but it’s hard to get over the clinical aspect. How do we keep this process special and intimate? One of my doctors (not associated with the clinic) said that it’s important to find the feeling that you feel when you’re making love, as it actually changes the chemical balance in your body, which enhances your chances at getting pregnant. While I know that people get knocked up every day without having that feeling, there is something to be said for the intimacy.

How did you do it? How would you do it?

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High Holy Days

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, In Vitro

By: Heather Somaini

Tere started on the Clomid and went back to the fertility monitor.  The tricky thing with Clomid is that they can’t really control the egg production with it.  It’s a low level fertility drug in pill form but women respond very differently to it.  The injectable drugs are much easier to manipulate and manage.  So sometimes when you hear stories of women having quadruplets or quintuplets and more – often it’s on Clomid.

Dr. C monitored Tere pretty closely and at the point right before insemination, she was showing two follicles.  I remember telling my boss later that day about it and discussing the possibility of twins.  I really didn’t understand how it all worked, clearly.  It was strictly theory for me and in my highly structured mind, two follicles equaled twins.  Of course, any fertility drug can produce follicles but a pregnancy isn’t going to happen if there aren’t any viable eggs in those follicles.  But I was oblivious and went on my merry way, daydreaming of our soon-to-be twins.

Insemination day was fast approaching and if our guesstimate was right, it was going to fall right in the middle of the Jewish High Holy days.  Not good for us as both of our doctors would not be in the office.  As a back-up contingency plan, they told us about another doctor who would not be celebrating the Jewish holiday and would be happy to help.

Dr. S was a fertility specialist in Beverly Hills and if our regular OB/GYN was a normal doctor’s office, his office was like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  There were these perfectly groomed and well-mannered nurses who were incredibly sweet and nice – not an unpleasant word would they ever speak.  They were open seven days a week from something like 6:00a until very late at night.  We could have our donor vials sent over whenever we wanted because they had the freezers to keep them frozen indefinitely.  They had gadgets and machines in every room – super fancy ultrasounds everywhere.

As we expected, Tere peaked during the Jewish holiday and off to Dr. S we went.  The funny thing was, we never even saw him.  The nurses do most of the simple procedures over there and a lovely woman named Suzanne handled the insemination.  We went back the next day and they did it again.  Yes, that’s how it works.  2 vials, 2 days, 2 inseminations.  They get you coming and going.

We went back to waiting and daydreaming.  Two weeks is a lot of time.  It starts out stressful and you can’t imagine how you’re going to make it through.  Then about half-way through, you start to realize that you’d forgotten about it but now you remember and start stressing out again.  By the time the two weeks pass, you’re completely exhausted.  You have huge highs and terrible lows.  Thinking about the future becomes constant and then you clear it from your memory and then you think about the future again.  You hope and then hate yourself for hoping.  I was convinced that if I wanted it too much, I would never get it – that it would be withheld from me.  That I wasn’t worthy of this thing I so desperately wanted.  That my life was not charmed and just wanting something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.  In actuality, wanting something makes it go away.  It’s amazing the mental games and emotional tricks I played torturing myself through two weeks of waiting.

Two weeks passed.  We were pregnant.

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One- Part 2

April 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Family, In Vitro

By: Rosy Barren

I came home after my miserable cocktail party and the house was dark.  I slipped off my heels and peered around the corner to see a slit of light coming from the bathroom. I pushed open the door and my wife lay silently in the bath.  She was sad; it was all over her face.  I sat on the toilet and adjusted my harsh bitterness to a softer me, a person that could receive what was happening to her separate from my own troubles.  She talked about the one beautiful egg and began to cry.

“I just wonder if that one is…”

I knew what she was going to say.  I had thought it many times before but this time it was her body, not mine.  The bitterness slipped back in and blood rushed to my face.  I was no longer rational and all that I have worked for in the last 2 ½ years began to slip away and someone else was about to take over my maternal duties.  The role that I had worked so hard to perfect, the healthy, fertile, strong, copious mother-to-be was swirling away right before my eyes.

“the one” she continued.

I swallowed hard.  What if she was right?  What if despite the fact that she has no interest in birthing a child –let alone breastfeeding –she is the one that is meant to do this?  My heart snapped in half; I was torn between letting it all go and haphazardly suggesting an IUI (turkey baster style try performed by the doctor) for this one egg, knowing that there was a distinct chance that she would now be the one to reap all the benefits that I have wanted so badly. Or, to quietly sit and wait for her to be the one to request this of me, knowing how it would make me ache inside. Or would she know?  Did she know what it meant to me?  I chose silence and anger, emotions that are often conjured up on the topic of infertility.  I spent the night awake staring into darkness moving farther and farther away from the person closest to me.  I thought about why it is so important to me to get pregnant and why it would be so hard for me to watch her do it if I couldn’t.  It isn’t the genes; I know that for sure.  It’s the feeling of being pregnant, the childhood dream that I’ve had, the miracle of creating a baby in my body that I know I want more than anything.  Tears streamed down my face as I pictured her birthing our baby, her being the lifeline for our child and me sitting idly by helplessly watching all the while knowing she never desired any of those things.  I tossed and turned angrily for being so selfish in my thoughts. “For fuck’s sake Rosy, just one of you get pregnant already.” I resigned to discuss it in the morning.

The conversation was tight and short between us and it felt as if we were sucking each other’s air in our morning drive to coffee.  I kept starting to speak my mind and stopping myself. I knew once it was out there, it was gone, the thoughts would fly themselves high up in the air and wherever they land was no longer up to me, everything was on her turf.  She pulled between the white lines to park and I interrupted myself.

“Do you want to try it with the one egg?”

“Do you?”

I was being tortured with the conversation; we were testing the water inch by inch.

“Should we?” I continued.

“I don’t know, I was emotional last night, I just couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth a try but it seems pretty silly doesn’t it to waste money on just that one after all this.”

I breathed a silent sigh of relief and punished myself again for my shameful thoughts.  Kicking the floor of her car much like the moment I almost “out-ed” myself to my father I begin psychically shivering at the notion of what I had almost done.

“I don’t think it’s silly if you want to be pregnant.”

“I don’t. I don’t know,” she said, opening the car door.  I was shocked at the cavalier attitude; I had played out an hour-long conversation ending in tears and possibly screaming followed by door slams and a brisk walk back home but she dropped it.

I darted around the topic a few more times throughout the day. “Are you sure? I want you to know I’d be OK with it.” Truthfully, I wasn’t that stoic. I laced many of these questions with quick “It would be tough” or “I would be sad to carry the baby” follow-ups.  They were brief jabs that a naked eye might miss, or so I thought.  She has stayed true to her story; it was a night of emotion that she needed and a chance to feel something that she hadn’t been in touch with before.  She explained that she only really considered the option of IUI for a brief instant and as the ultimate sacrifice to me, she had no need or desire to be pregnant. It’s really quite romantic what she was offering although given all that I’ve been through it’s tough for me to see it that way.

Now, time has passed, we did not do an IUI and I can’t help but wonder if that was our one chance and we passed it by.

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