Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Failure Looks Like: Exhibit A

BFN pregnancy tests

My period officially started with great obviousness not long after I took more tests Saturday morning (the above pic is actually from negative results in December; it's still on my to-do list to take pics of the evaporation line I referred to recently).

Six months ago seeing blood in my panties felt like failure, at least it did at first glance. I even shot some pictures to exhibit What Failure Looks Like. But as mentioned in that post, I can't really cling to feeling that morose and broken over it since I *do* really like having my period and it feels really wrong to me to view its occurrence as a failure. Women's bodies are really dual-natured, I think, doing so much to prevent pregnancy and so much to encourage it. The balance is achieved by the opposing forces. For my body and maybe for part of the rest of me, not getting pregnant is perhaps a very significant triumph.

There has been no hostile takeover. I am still potently singular. My body has thus far *resisted* pregnancy. Resistance is not what I want right now nor is it what I've been trying to will, but in a way it does make me feel that I'm inhabiting a powerful body, one that disobeys orders and mutinies with blood.

My body is like a sister I fight and love dearly. Nobody is closer to me. Maybe she just doesn't want to share me with anyone else. It's unfair and dishonest for me to betray her with words like "failure" or "disappointment". I should celebrate her stubbornness and hug her for her loyalty in defending me against intruders.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Ambiguous Results

Evaporation lines, barely-there periods, and much left unsaid (with fingers still crossed):

I know, I should take a picture of the probably-an-evaporation-line-but-looks-like-a-positive test for you, but as you may have noticed from the video I'M A LITTLE OUT OF IT.

It's on days like today I don't know if the internet is a help or a colossal fucking hindrance. Do I really need to know that sometimes implantation doesn't take place until AFTER your period is due (so you wouldn't have a positive result on a test anyway)? It's tiring, the waiting.

We're going to take an almost-midnight walk; if my period is going to start, that should get things going. Either way it will make me feel better.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Conflicting Information

I know it sounds almost prehistorically paranoid, but I and a lot of other women having difficulty conceiving worry that having orgasms, fucking, using super-powerful vibrators, etc. could somehow be exacerbating our problems AFTER fertilization (but before implantation). I *know* it sounds crazy, but if you have never been infertile when you wanted to be fertile, you are in no position to judge the possibilities a woman will entertain to explain her problems or the lengths she will go to to avoid ANYTHING that could possibly threaten her chances to conceive. You can read this and think that I'm ignorant or not well read, but I doubt many people can offer knowledgeable, researched, documented information accessible to the masses that adequately explains away my concerns.

We've been trying to get pregnant for over a year. As we got negative after negative pee test results, I searched (and found) handfuls of tips and rumours on the internet about all kinds of things that are good or bad for fertility. Example: maybe my massive soy consumption was part of the problem. When you read information that's unclear or not well-researched or speaks of potential problems or you can only find one mention of how much is TOO much (and that amount is less than what you're consuming) then you go ahead and err on the side of caution. So I decreased my soy intake to almost nothing after I read that just over a month ago. Note: the only difference I noticed is that I almost totally stopped farting stinky farts once I stopped chug-a-lugging soy milk.

Back to the original question, though; in my layman's mind I cannot help wondering how orgasm or strong vibrations could possibly effect implantation. I *know* orgasm helps with fertilization; you can read about the mechanics of it and it makes complete sense! But no one has provided and I have not found an explanation for the mechanics of orgasm and impending implantation: if you've got a fertilized egg hanging out in your uterus getting ready to burrow in, what will orgasm do to it (if anything)?

I was told that the reason semen is "washed" before an intrauterine insemination is to get rid of the prostaglandins that can make women cramp up:
"Raw semen cannot be inserted directly into a woman’s uterus. This is because semen contains chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause muscular contractions and are responsible for cramps during menstruation and pregnancy. If raw semen is inserted directly into your uterus, rather than going through the cervix first, it could cause severe pain and cramping. It could also cause your uterus to collapse, causing severe complications."
From that information, I assumed that contractions will fuck shit up if you're trying to get pregnant. From there I couldn't help wondering what the difference is between a crampy contraction and a contraction from an orgasm. No one has answered this question for me except a person in a chatroom who claimed to have a ob/gyn for a wife who told him to tell me that "one is drawing in and one is pushing out." It sounds almost sensible, but obviously isn't information I can count on or would repeat to anyone else as the proven, gospel truth.

Of course I googled the hell out of my paranoia, and found buttloads of other women struggling with infertility expressing the same worries AND (get this) saying that they were told by their doctors to abstain from sex (and some said orgasms too) after their fertility treatments (IUI and IVF mostly). I know you can't trust everything you read on the internet (and I DON'T), but I think it's kind of natural to worry when you hear this kind of information being passed around. Or when doctors or experts answer the question but don't adequately explain WHY or WHY NOT you should/shouldn't do this or that. For example, when you find people answering the sex toy question, they invariably have one type of sex toy in mind that is quite different from other sex toys. A hitachi magic wand with its jackhammer-strong vibrations is not the same as a dildo is not the same as a tiny watch-battery powered clit vibe, so if you tell me "your uterus is well cushioned from the vibrations" but you don't say "even from a hitachi magic wand's thrumming for a half hour because you place yours ABOVE your clit because it's too much stimulation directly on your unit" then I'm not going to be certain your answer applies to me and my toy(s).

Factor in that even if you can pin a doctor down on these things you can't help suspecting they're making an educated GUESS because you doubt there's any real research on these things. And that doctors are still going around asking how big your "clots" are during your period to figure out if you're normal or not, which shows they really don't know everything (a topic for yet another blog entry I've procrastinated on detailing the time I asked a doctor about the clots question on her office's intake form and her answer/non-answer and the WAY she answered it were so disturbing to me I'm still in shock over it years later).

If there's a Nova video somewhere out there that shows one of those cool internal views of a fertilized egg and shows it not being disrupted or shooshed out during the implantation process by a bunch of orgasms, I will happily set aside my fears. Actually, I have already set them aside, but not happily. I did ask the doctor during my IUI and of course he reassured me that research either shows no impact OR it shows that conception rates are slightly higher for people having sex and orgasms during their two week wait.

So what about all those women crying on internet forums because they disobeyed doctor's orders and had an orgasm in their sleep when they supposedly weren't supposed to? I'm not sure, but the only thing I can figure out is that some women are told to abstain if they have an "incompetent cervix" or a history of miscarriages. That still doesn't make sense, though, if they're being told to abstain so early on. Maybe they're lying and their doctors didn't really tell them that. Maybe there really are doctors saying that but they're crazy or stupid themselves. Maybe *everyone* is relying on their own intuition and not real research and that's why everyone's information is different. Maybe it's just not politically correct to say that an orgasm could be anything but healthy and harmless.

So. There have been a number of times the past six months where I've said I was going to abstain during our two week wait, but none where I actually succeeded. There were a few times I canceled my webcam shows or didn't masturbate to orgasm (I *need* the wand for my shows -- finger-fiddling does NOT work on cam for me, mostly because of all the distractions), but other than that it's mostly been business as usual, especially during the two week wait following my first Clomid: I was way WAY too fucking horny to entertain the idea of not getting off many times.

I know that orgasm is a magical, wonderful thing. That should be obvious to anyone who knows me. I know about increased blood flow and oxygen and I know that implantation is something that happens on a microscopically small level and it's silly(!)(?) to think a wonderful, magical, natural event like orgasm could POSSIBLY disrupt any of the naturally perfect wonderful processes involved in getting pregnant. I know that most people would think anyone who imagines otherwise must be a misogynistic, religious nut who thinks all women are dirty whores who should have their clits excised and shrunken and hung as trophies from the rearview mirror of the popemobile. I know other people think, "now, now, young lady! You just let the DOCTORS worry about all that complicated business between your legs -- they know what's best for you! TRUST them when they say it couldn't possibly be a problem! Run along home now and feel good about yourself!" I know still other people would say, "it's just the stress, honey, from you getting all worked up and formulating all these hypotheses! As soon as you stop thinking about it so hard it'll happen for you!"

I also know that nature is full of contradictions and that there are tons of things women's bodies do to make getting pregnant HARD. Harder than you think. From our acidic cunts to our immune systems and all sorts of other things. How do I know this isn't another of nature's little contradictions? I also know that many women's bodies are DIFFERENT from many OTHER women's bodies, so something that has no impact on one woman can have a real impact on another, or something can impact one women one way and another woman another way.

When the doctor was stabbing at my cervix with catheter after catheter and I was CRAMPING (that's what happens when you try to stick shit into a woman's cervix: look it up if you don't believe me), I asked him if those cramps would be a problem (I mean, if they wash the sperm to PREVENT cramps, isn't a procedure like that totally fucking counterproductive? His answer: "it shouldn't be".

It shouldn't be. But that doesn't mean it won't be/wasn't. It doesn't mean they've researched it. It's not an explanation of why it's not. So why should I believe it? I actually might have been more prone to trusting it completely if he'd have explained that there are OTHER reasons why they wash the semen (to get rid of duds, leave only the awesome sperm, etc.) not just to prevent cramping or if he'd said that those cramps are minor compared to the cramps I would have gotten from a load of raw cum shot straight into my uterus, but he didn't (maybe because that's not true/I'm only guessing or maybe because he didn't want to insult me by saying the cramps I was having at that moment weren't bad enough to be a problem). Anyway, it was the Fourth of July and he had a lot of women to attend to and he needed to concentrate to get those bad boys inside me. We paid our $400 for the procedures that day, not for complex answers.

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Two Week Wait Almost Over

My period is due tomorrow which means another two week wait is almost over. Although I could have tested by now, I haven't. Aside from only having one test left and not wanting to waste it, I just don't want to see any more negatives if I don't have to. So if my period doesn't come tomorrow, I will test on Saturday morning.

I have been having cramps, but they feel different than my usual pre-period cramps. Pretty much everything feels different throughout my cycle after taking Clomid at its beginning. This is only the 2nd time I've taken it so it's hard to draw any conclusions from that, but still. The cramps I've experienced and the places I've experienced them have all been so varied and so different (more intense around ovulation, less like contractions/waves before my period) from "normal" that I don't know what any of them mean (except last month I'm pretty sure a lot of them meant that my left ovary was overstimulated and swollen). This month I didn't have any issues with that ovary and have had far fewer cramps that have felt more centered near my tailbone through to my pubic bone. I don't know if it's from my cervix crying about the intrauterine insemination or what.

Anyway, I'll post right away on my Twitter microblog when I know something, and here as soon as possible after that.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Not So Bad

Our early morning trip to the fertility clinic for our intrauterine insemination wasn't so bad. In fact, it was kind of nice the way it worked out even if I did only get two hours of sleep. We left home at 5:30 which I know is normal for many people with regular jobs, but for me it's like entering an alternate reality. I had so little sleep I was punchy and delighted by the birds' activity and the clean smelling air. It seems like I've ovulated on a number of holidays this past year of trying to conceive: I know Thanksgiving and Christmas for sure off the top of my head, and I think a few more if I were to check back through my calendar. Every time this happens we think how nice it would be to say our baby was conceived on Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or Independence Day, with fireworks (even if it did happen in a doctor's office).

Because it's the 4th of July there were no workday commuters on the road so we breezed onto the 7:05 ferry and Delia shot her load for the lab early. While we were waiting for them to prep and analyze it, my brother-in-law brought our nephew Mr. Squishypants down to meet us for breakfast at McDonald's. Seeing his two year old self running with a huge grin down the sidewalk to meet us and listening to him giggle and pronounce all of his new words with so much babyish concentration and accomplishment was bliss, and of course a huge reminder of why we're going through all of this to try to get pregnant. Seeing my family on his face and in his expressions, seeing my sister and my grandpa and my grandma and my mom and even myself radiating from him is like being reborn into a world with more love.

The only medical office open in the entire many-floored building was the fertility clinic so we knew that everyone we saw coming in and going out was there for the same reason we were, and there were A LOT of people which was both reassuring and depressing. In my typical asshole fashion I couldn't help judging the people I saw and comparing myself to them. The first people I really took notice of were a somewhat unattractive couple with an overweight lady in high water track pants. I couldn't help feeling like "here we are: all of nature's duds who aren't supposed to breed." I prayed that our cup 'o cum wouldn't get mixed up with theirs.

We had a couple of hours to observe the other "duds". While I assessed them from a distance, trying to pinpoint their problems I promised Delia that I wouldn't allow myself to say shitty things like this once we have a kid, but look at her, the one in the designer camo sweatpants and glossy black bag: that dud is anorexic. No wonder she can't get pregnant! And listen to this other one with the smoker's cough sucking down the coffee; her man looks healthy enough but they don't stand a chance with what that girl's doing to her body. The duds by the window? She's clearly over forty.

I knew I should be ashamed of myself; do I want my child to be a judgmental ass the way I am, looking at total strangers and rejecting them them as "duds" in my head to make myself feel better about my own inadequacies?

Then we saw a beautiful couple, younger than we are, the picture of all-American vitality. I felt so much better after I saw them. They looked like the kind of people who never have anything go wrong for them. It made me feel better having them in our pool of duds, knowing that not all of us are so easy to point at and diagnose as being infertile because of natural selection. Maybe we're just impatient. Maybe we're "special". Maybe the things that are right with us are more important than whatever is wrong. Or maybe nothing was "wrong" with the perfect breeder couple. Maybe they're only in the big city for the holiday weekend before he heads off to war and is just banking some sperm for the love of his life to use in case he dies or gets his nuts blown off in Iraq. Who knows?

Last night after my nervous, bitchy anxiety mini-attack over stupid things (worrying about being late, worrying about driving, grinding my teeth with resentment over the shitty timing of things and the potential of missing one of the few things I love doing with a large group of strangers: watching fireworks) I had another attack, this one of self-loathing. Am I ready to be a parent when I deal so poorly with such tiny monkey wrenches being thrown into my plans? How would I feel if I had a kid who acted as ridiculously as I act? I'm going to screw my kid up by being a tense little asshole! No wonder I can't get pregnant!! BECAUSE I'M A FUCKING SHITHEAD!!! I should stop now before I create new life just to ruin it with my craziness!

But then it was morning and I didn't feel like an asshole anymore and good songs came on the radio while we were driving. Cowboy Junkies version of "Sweet Jane" off the Trinity Session at 5:53 am was surely a sign as was "Closer to Fine" on the way home. I can't believe there was a huge time in my life where I could sing along to that entire song without choking up and crying.


The doctor stood there with the sealed envelope and told us it contained our report with Delia's sperm analysis. Even though we know her sperm is good, it was like fucking Oscar night or something waiting for him to rip it open and tell us if we were winners, especially since she shot a big load just day before yesterday: 36 million and some other numbers I didn't catch. They never tell you what is average or what would be considered superstud strength, they only tell you they're looking for a number over 10 million.

It was the same doctor who did my HSG (I thought I blogged about that, but I guess I didn't -- oops) so I felt comfortable that I was in good hands. He showed me the catheter and explained what he'd be doing. Of course I expected cramps, especially since I couldn't take any anti-inflammatory meds this time, but things started getting tense when he had to throw the catheter into the sink and get another one. More poking and cramping that felt like it HAD to be penetration and another catheter thrown in the sink as he explained that it had no bearing on my ability to get pregnant, but that my cervix is angled, ACUTELY angled (because of my tipped uterus), in such a way that it just makes his job a wee bit harder. Before he threw the third catheter in the sink he showed me how the soft tip simply bent over when being confronted with my cervix. Finally with the fourth catheter he got it threaded in all the way and shot me up with Delia's specially washed sperm. We stayed in the exam room with me lying on my back for the recommended fifteen minutes to allow the sperm to swim up my tubes and I wished we'd brought our cameras because we could have shot some gyn porn or at least behind the scenes footage all that time. I was tempted to steal one of the catheters and our syringe, but worried we'd get "caught" and be thought of as freaks even though it's all just garbage and we PAID for that garbage. Oh well.

I'm feeling mildly crampy and uncomfortable tonight, but I don't know if that's the after-effects of the IUI or general ovulation crampiness heightened by the Clomid which can get bad enough that it wakes me up at night. Anyway, it's not exactly painful right now, just vaguely sore, tender and tight-feeling.

Now we've got another two week wait.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Nice" Timing

We decided to get an intrauterine insemination (IUI) this cycle, which means Delia will jack off into a cup at the doctor's office, they'll "wash and specially prepare" her semen then they'll "place it" into my uterus "through the cervix using a small catheter."

I detected my LH surge tonight, so we have to go do this tomorrow. Since it's the 4th of July, they are only open until noon so our appointment has to be before then, way before because they have to prep the sperm first. I'm pretty stressed out about the whole thing because of the long drive (2.5 hours minimum) on a drunk driving holiday with all the traffic and potential for missing ferries. I'm very anxious about driving anyway AND I fucking HATE mornings, especially nasty early mornings where I'm getting up to have someone penetrate my cervix. I wish I could feel celebratory about this, but I'm feeling really tense about the whole thing.

On the bright side, the moon will be waxing and, as Delia pointed out, it will be cool to say our baby was conceived on the 4th of July.

I'm not sure if we're going to stay the night at my sister's house in Seattle to avoid having to drive home on the 4th, so I've canceled my webcam shows for Saturday the 5th since we might not be home, and even if we are I wouldn't be able to do shows with penetration or orgasms (read about the conflicting information I've heard/read on this HERE). There probably won't be much of an audience anyway since most Americans are off partying this weekend.

Keep your fingers crossed for us, or whatever you'd like to do to wish us well!

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