Archive for November, 2008

that familiar compromising position

awaiting my audience

So I decided to go to fertility clinic, which is a place where you just have to get used to the idea that everyone’s going to refer to your (actually unproven) in fertility and ask with some degree of expectation where your partner is, anyway. I don’t fault the doctor, he was amazing actually. But I earned my Patience And Grace badge for the day in this exchange:

receptionist: “and will your partner be joining you today?”

me: “No, I don’t have a partner.”

receptionist looks up, forgets herself: “You don’t?!”

me with shiny new badge: “No, I don’t”

Sorry I can’t provide facial expressions. It was fun, actually.

So then I went into the office feeling pretty okay because this wasn’t going to hurt and it was like Easter, with the egg hunt and everything. So I was in a cheery holiday mood, although apparently nervous, according to the doctor with his stealthy stethoscope (woah, try saying that 3x fast!) No one I know likes the stirrups. At least, not in mixed company. Um, definitely not under fluorescent light? Well anyway, I don’t.

map for spelunking sperm

map for spelunking sperm

Long story short, he put the ultrasound dildo where it goes (ahem) and started showing me my uterus, using fruit metaphors to describe this grey organ mashed between all the other ones in the sonogram. See? It’s like a pear. Well he’s been doing this for thirty years, so he’s the expert. He drew a white line to show the path his little probe will take if he does an IUI (intrauterine insemination) for me, which would minimize the amount of frozen sperm juggling I get to do. I still have mixed feelings about that. But anyway, there it is. A healthy uterus with a couple of little endometrial polyps that are Normal and Might Bleed Someday but whatever.

Okay, next we counted eggs. I thought we were going to count the thousands that are left and I thought they’d be white. Or maybe light blue.

They’re black. Everything filled with fluid is in this UltraSonic world (can you hear me, Major Tom?), so it’s only make believe. And there are roughly 8 or 12 or thereabouts in each ovary. Again, a food metaphor: we’re counting chocolate chips in the cookie (is my doctor hungry?). So he moves the dildo around and different layers show up and they’re BIG. Especially the One That Won The Race this month, which I’m not even going to show you it’s so big and weird. But I thought a couple of chocolate chips wouldn’t be so bad:

i wanna lick the spoon!

i wanna lick the spoon!

Those two black dots are eggs. They’re hanging out in my ovaries doing nothing because only one egg gets to develop a follicle around it – or something like that. So I’ll be seeing those in a couple of weeks. Not as children. I’m still a little confused. When I asked my doctor why there are so many eggs hanging around in my ovaries for this one cycle, he actually said: “Because Mother Nature is a man.” Uh… “Inefficient?” I asked. He nodded. He was kind of busy with the probing and whatnot, and honestly he was very good about following up with genuine interest over whether I had questions. I didn’t. I was still mired in metaphors.


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I sit here with a cat draped affectionately over my shoulders pondering the things I learned today…

It feels like months, but really it’s only been 3 and so only 2 definitive cycles and I’m so ready to get on with it and start inseminating! Of course my supply is dear and although I don’t have a deep or even manufactured fondness for Mr. Van Michigan, I still want to make the most of the massive group of decisions that got me to the point of reserving a carefully screened portion of his genetics.

So today I talked with a doctor at the local fertility clinic, because I found out at a Choice Mom event last weekend that I really ought to have had an ultrasound by now – along with a bunch of other things my gynecologist wasn’t even vaguely inclined to tell me (scratch her off the List of Helpful People). So there’s a bit of affirming news: if people aren’t giving you the amount of advice you think they should, something’s wrong. With them.

Okay, so now I’m finding out that I need to go in just before ovulating to have my (hopefully perched at the diving board of my fallopian tube) follicle looked at and my eggs counted. Neat-o! Almost exciting as the prospect of lugging a frozen tank up three flights of stairs and thawing a couple of tiny vials while attempting yet again to locate my cervix. That is, maybe it’ll distract me enough to make this a fun month of reporting on the Absurdity of my Fascinating Journey.

Meanwhile, in case you aren’t familiar, here are those ovulation predictor sticks that I was considering collecting in a huge damning art project. Then my mom said with rare conviction that I needed to throw them away because that’s really not in the category of Stuff Worth Keeping.opk1

Moms know these things. So I’ll just show you a picture and you can see how conscientiously I was documenting for posterity…

It’s like reading glyphs from that crazy Laurie Anderson moon project. Not quite universal, but really trying. Anyway, I’ve still got my cervix, that Number One Communicator, and we’re getting friendlier all the time.

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I found a NYTimes article today about inherited mental illness and genes… the hypotheses are general and mostly leading to more intriguing research, but I gotta say, it’s fun to be in this moment… on one hand, gripping the tradition of shooting blind into the genetic barrel, while pulling open the first pinhole view into a new universe of genetic transparency with the other.

Which reminds me to say something about Van. That’s the Michigander who ended up at the top of my list of Guys Whose Sperm I’m Into and whose itty bitty vials I bought to the tune of “not an apple laptop but nearly as pricey.” I’ve been saying how odd this seems, considering how much sperm goes to “waste,” but it seems irrelevant considering all the information and lack of potential legal conflict I get in exchange.

The journey began with a sperm bank. I chose the one with the most obvious name. And based on meeting people from both of the local banks this past weekend, I’m sure I chose the right one. That would be the one without the flashy sperm pens and glossy fliers. I like the low-key look, emphasis on resources. And the website with lots of profile info before you cough up yet another gob of $20s to get deeper information on these guys. So that was an intuitive pick, and so far in my life, those are always the best kind.

Then I read the profiles. I wasn’t totally convinced one way or another whether the guy needed to be Donor Release or not until I started reading. Donor Release means “I’m available to be contacted by my multiple spawn once they’re big enough to vote.” And I decided this is indeed critical once I read a couple of profiles. Release guys said “It’s a person’s right to know his/her biological roots” and “if they’re as curious as me, they’ll want to know” … meanwhile, non-Release guys said “my girlfriend won’t let me” and “I have no idea what I’ll be doing in 18 years”, which sounded reasonable but more selfish and maybe I don’t want that guy’s sperm.

Ok, so Donor Release only. That cuts out about 50% of the listed candidates. And then you go through the database and look at them… family medical history is the next thing. All 5 senses in working order? Not allergic to air? No hint of Mommy dearest or close relatives locked in the dungeon? Emphasize “close” relatives with that one, because the family histories are looking-through-your-diary comprehensive, including stuff about distant uncles and cousins – things you’d never ask a potential lover/spouse/domestic partner during those initial Qualification Discussions – so it doesn’t really seem fair to worry about them too much.

Health covered, that leaves less than a dozen to think seriously about. And I had to ask, would I sleep with this person? Or even sit through an entire conversation? Because there’s a qualitative part too. Yes, the essay section. And an interviewer’s thoughts too (more creepy coverage on that later). Much to read and keep in order, which is why I started naming them, because it hardly seems fair to keep referring to someone as #9946 once I’m intimate with his second cousin’s health history and his most intimate experiences with algebra.

I got it down to four. Then I ordered their Even More Comprehensive Forms. Just to see what else might be there. Handwriting, more parental history, disturbing conjecture about why he writes that way (is he careless? is he too anal?) and substance abuse history in detail. My guy? He doesn’t drink or smoke ever. Which could make him rather boring to cavort with at a drag show, but is optimal for a guy whose zygote making machinery I’m after. So Van it is. His little guys wait in their tiny vials in the bank’s deep freeze until I figure out when I ovulate. Looks like it’s gonna be Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, folks, and banks don’t open on holidays. Yes, as Obama steps into his first week of presidency, I may be in a remote living room fumbling with a nitrus tank the size of Rhode Island and thawing sperm in my bra.

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