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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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, June 19, 2008

Again with the Not Pregnant!

Even with all our machinations I am NOT PREGNANT.

Took a test this morning: NEGATIVE. Period started a few hours later. It's disappointing, but a lot less stressful than some cycles simply because we knew when I ovulated which means we knew when my period was due and it came exactly on time so there wasn't any guessing or unusually lengthy, drawn-out wait.

Our plan for this fresh cycle is to do another round of Clomid (starting on Saturday, assuming the doctor calls my prescription in on time) and try an intrauterine insemination (IUI) this time. We may or may not do a few other things, too (more tests, more drugs, etc.). We'll see what happens . . .

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

(IN)Fertile (?) Trixie

Some loosely connected thoughts and reflection on how it feels to stake out a space on the internet that you might not qualify for, and what it means to be fertile or infertile (or something in between):

I knew when I started this blog and bought the domain FertileTrixie.com that it could be a misnomer; while the majority of sex I've had in my life has been protected, I have also had a lot of UNprotected sex with a number of men (plus one busted condom) when I was not on hormonal birth control over the years and never once gotten pregnant (that I know of); at thirty-four years of age when we started trying last year, I knew that there could be a reason I've never had an unplanned pregnancy and that the reason could be infertility. I'm not trying to brag about having unsafe sex, just sharing the information so it can be applied to our attempts to conceive now.

Anyway, by putting myself out on the internet as "Fertile" Trixie, I didn't assume that I actually was/am fertile; I just hoped for the best. I also considered other names, like PregnantTrixie, FecundTrixie, TrixieGrows, TrixieBreeds, BreederTrixie, etc. I dismissed all of those for one reason or another and chose FertileTrixie because I like the idea of exploring fertility both as a sexual fetish and in a broader way. I like the idea of thinking of myself as fertile, whether I'm able to get pregnant or not, naturally or not.

While I knew there was a chance getting pregnant could be a challenge, I didn't dwell on it or plan ahead for what I/we would do if it wasn't easy, except to agree that it wouldn't be the end of the world. I did know I might feel awkward about calling myself something I might not be, but not so worried about it that I'd avoid it by waiting to develop this site until after I'd gotten pregnant or after the first trimester or whatever. It's not my style to *wait* (which is part of what makes this so hard) or to keep secrets just to avoid fallout.

Our ongoing experience of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant is teaching me a lot and making me reconsider many of my opinions and positions on fertility issues, parenthood, myself, my spiritual beliefs (and disbeliefs), privacy, human nature, and the in/fertility industry(ies). I plan to blog about those things in more detail.

One major expansion that's widened in my mind is between the definitions of "fertility" and "infertility"; fertility (like sexuality and so many other things) is more of a spectrum or a collection of many attributes (not just one: fertility or infertility), especially with where medicine and science are at. There are so many *small* things that can interfere with getting pregnant that don't really mean a person or couple is INfertile: hostile cervical mucous, being out of shape or overweight, ejaculating too often, residual effects of hormonal birth control, having debris in fallopian tubes that can often be easily unblocked through testing, etc. These are hurdles that can be overcome with time or exercise or a relatively simple procedure that's far less of a big deal and expense than getting your wisdom teeth pulled. In other words, you can be hugely fertile in the most necessary ways (popping healthy eggs, producing healthy sperm) but just struggling with some interference.

I like that. It makes sense to me; I'm not INfertile; something is just INTERFERING with my FERTILITY.

I can't stop thinking about when my dad was intubated; his lungs were so bad he started hallucinating and the doctors had to traumatize his body further by hooking him to a machine to breathe for him ("hooking up" is such a misleading way to describe intubation, but anyway). He was on death's doorstep. The doctor asked us if he had a living will or had ever instructed us what to do if he were on life support. My dad had been very specific all our lives that he wasn't to be kept alive artificially, but we knew that THIS WAS DIFFERENT! The doctor made me feel like I was defying his wishes by insisting he stay hooked up to the respirator, but I'd just had normal conversations with my dad twelve hours earlier! It wasn't like he'd been in a car accident and had his brain bashed in and would be rendered a vegetable. Even though my dad would have died without the machines, there was a whole lot more grey area than I'd been prepared for when thinking about "life support" on a theoretical level. It wasn't a decision my dad or any of us could have prepared for in advance. My dad was glad we didn't pull the plug on him; even though the few years he lived after that were hard and his quality of life was severely diminished, he was unequivocally thankful to be alive.

It used to be easy for me to say I would never do anything artificial to have a baby, just like it used to be easy for my dad to say he didn't want to be kept alive by life support machines. Now I recognize that there are lots of medical and natural methods of boosting fertility, and obviously not all of them involve fertility drugs and test tubes. Of course, I must have known that on an intellectual level before, but didn't bother to think that hard about it when I developed my harshly judgmental positions on fertility treatments and the people who use them. And now that *I* am in the position where the most artificial methods of conception might be our only options? You bet we are considering them, even the test tubes and Clomid. And I can't help feeling that if there is a God or Karma or a threefold law, that I am GETTING WHAT I DESERVE right now. That I have brought this tribulation upon myself by being a snotty, judgmental, know-it-all little bitch.

In some ways I'm grateful for this experience, even though it's hard. It's an opportunity to grow that I couldn't have planned for and wouldn't have chosen so it feels valuable to me. It's also become an opportunity to blog about something that is/has been a struggle for a whole lot of people. Many women can relate to this, whereas fewer women can relate to what I usually blog about (being a webwhore). It could be something that bridges the porn gap, which will be interesting (and potentially challenging) to see develop.

*****

After the past six periods or so we've gone through the same thing, We'll try it one more time the natural way. Because every cycle we learn something new or do something different or have different interruptions. We know Delia's sperm is good, and now we know that my tubes are not blocked, my hormones levels are right, and there's nothing obviously wrong with my uterus or ovaries. We know more tricks than we knew before and have only been really consistent with testing for ovulation in the past three or four cycles. We now know we really shouldn't jump the gun just because my hormone levels are rising, but need to WAIT UNTIL AFTER IT'S FOR SURE.

And we know we can't be trying to shoot tons of porn content and doing a bunch of webcam shows where Delia's spilling her precious goddamn seed so this month? We've got a more stringent cut-off date on our calendar for all of that.

So. We're not going to take any fertility drugs or try to inseminate me in a doctor's office . . . not, THIS month, anyway.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

My First Appointment with a Fertility Expert

We made the trek to the fertility clinic on Tuesday for me to be seen this time instead of Delia going to the lab area to bank sperm.

For my first appointment we chatted, of course, and the doctor performed a transvaginal ultrasound (she slid a long, lubed-up, dildo-like transducer into my vag, rather than rolling one over my abdomen because of the placement of my non-pregnant uterus). The good news is that my uterus and ovaries look healthy and normal (though she did exclaim that my uterus is "tipped WAY back", but I already knew that and it isn't supposed to have any bearing on whether or not I'm fertile). She angled the transducer to one side to show me one ovary and then the other (with lots of black dots on each showing the competing egg sacs/follicles). I meant to ask for a picture (to scan and post here), but I forgot; the procedure didn't take long at all, but it was a relief to see that at least there's nothing obviously wrong with my ovaries or uterus. The doctor did a great job of gracefully inserting her tool into me, but no -- having a woman doctor penetrate me with her big long wand wasn't a sexy experience for me (though I could certainly concoct a fantasy based on the experience that COULD be sexy).

Of course she reassured us that trying for six months is not a very long time at all so not to worry; I'm still young (relative to the women she usually treats) but she understood that part of our hurry is that Delia's transition is on hold while she puts off starting hormones to maintain her own fertility so we can get pregnant. The doctor was really cool about that and asked (in a casual, personal, "I'm fascinated" way) to know more about when she decided to transition, expressing her admiration for the strength it must have taken to resolve to do that. This probably sounds like a cheesy after school special scene, but it wasn't.

She explained the steps they would usually take during my next cycle if we don't get pregnant this month; long story short, they'll test whether or not my tubes are blocked and depending on whether they are or they're not, they'll put me on hormones then we can also come back and get intrauterine insemination so that they inject the sperm right into my uterus. Apparently the chance of having twins is 5-8% with the hormones and 1% for triplets. Personally I think that is more of a risk than I want to take right now, but it's not quite as bad as I thought it would be.

We haven't really had time to decide whether or not (or when) we'll go that route, and my thoughts on that are grist for other blog entries when I'm not so pressed for time.

*****

I'm hopeful that this cycle will be THE ONE where we do it naturally; we've only been using the ovulation predictor test strips for two cycles, and may have been overdoing it with the fucking, reducing our chances of conception by screwing four of five days in a row and too early. This time we will wait until my LH surge happens and fuck the next day (there are a couple of reasons we weren't doing it this way before; again, grist for a different blog entry).

My LH levels seem to be picking up, so I won't be surprised if we get our chance tomorrow or within a few days. Delia hasn't shot a load since Monday so the sperm should be hearty and numerous.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Charting for the Fertility Experts

Still not pregnant, but we'll give it another shot sometime within the next week and a half.

I'm getting all my period-started and LH-surge dates written down to take to the fertility clinic tomorrow; it will be my first appointment there (though I've been there plenty with Delia for her sperm banking).

The last birth control pill I took was in June, and Delia decided to transition in May so it's time for us to get the show on the road or at least find out if that's even possible for us/me.

I have a lot of blog entries to write about this process we've been going through, but have been overwhelmed by the dailiness of life and other projects so haven't gotten around to it. I do intend to go back and detail some of what's been happening, how I've been feeling, and more of my thoughts regarding the intersection of fertility, infertility and pornography.

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