Posts Tagged 'period'

The Post Post Post

[Warning: This blog post contains personal body related information; not for the squeamish or uninterested.)

I realized yesterday, when I got what seems to be my period, that I used to blog about it every time I got it for over a year. Many, many cycles of trying to conceive were ended with me writing about the onset of my menses. Without looking back, I am sure that each of those posts were full of woe. I remember trying to convince myself that the cramping or spotting was really a result of implantation; despite its recurrence, I’d stay up late pleading with Dr. Google so I could retain the possibility of being pregnant—even one more day—until the real blood flowed.

Now, I feel truly ambivalent. It’s been 2 years since my last period, and I don’t know how to associate with it anymore. Am I technically post postpartum? I know the period will most likely change over the coming months and when I eventually stop nursing, but the onset has left me befuddled—kind of how I feel about a lot of things these days. The result of continued interrupted sleep? Probably.

I'm baack!

I’m baack!

Speaking of nursing. I always thought I’d want to nurse as long as my child would want to and let her wean as she lost interest. But lately, the constant whiny demand for “nuh-thEEEng!” has me wanting out. Getting grabbed by the shirt collar and yelled at in the face for something that is actually starting to hurt again (sore nipples) is nothing like the soulful connection Josie and I used to share. Especially now that I have to go back to cramps and bleeding, it seems like we should make a trade. I shed my uterine lining every month and she finds comfort from me in other ways.

One feeling that is mightily clear and present is that of shame. I have not figured out what to do for an income and when and how to do it. I try telling myself that being with Josie every minute of the day and getting household things done is a job, though unpaid. But my older more persistent voice says that I am lazy and entitled and “not enough.” The shame of not being a working mom is surprising to me. I have often thought the hetero-normative working mom gets a raw deal having to work and be main caretaker, cook, maid, etc. So why be so self-punishing for being a stay-at-home mom for now? Added to this shame is guilt for actually yearning to work outside the home if only to get away from Josie sometimes. I fought hard to get her into our lives; how can I now want to be away from her? Many moms have told me to just get some small job, that it’ll be worth it for the separation, yet I’m having a hard time believing that bagging groceries would make sense in the context of my new life with a pre-preschool toddler. On the other hand, the universe has been slow to deliver unto me a new and highly satisfying career idea. The thoughtful present “me” definitely feels like I have my hands full most every second of the day, but the nagging inside my head “me” is apparently a masochist.

Instead of the usual Moment of FoG (Funny or Gross), I thought I’d share some of my GaS (Gross and Sad): If you go back about 9 or 10 months of posts, you’ll see that I had some work done on my anus to relieve the incredible postpartum hemorrhoids no one tells you about. It helped a lot. But something I’m starting to come to grips with (no pun intended) is that certain functions “down there” will never come back online—not the way they were before the birth. In spite of the many months of physical therapy, I have only regained a portion of the feeling in my muscles around the episiotomy and internal (forceps and other) tearing. What this means, combined with a healthy dose of Eastern European IBS, is a constant struggle with shit. Most of the time, I can’t completely eliminate and can’t feel what has come out. The wiping is never ending, and when I try to get it all, I end up with hemorrhoids again! I know people have it a lot worse. People with broken backs who lose all feeling spend much more effort on this every day. But because I am mostly functional and only uncomfortable and inconvenienced, the time it takes from my life, as well as the pain and frustration, do not afford me any kind of disability pay; I just need to suck it up (no pun intended) and get on with life as usual. Bending over to walk Josie pushes on my gut which pushes other things, and I do this all day long. I can’t imagine getting work done in the short time Josie naps when I need that time to clean up around the house and in my caboose! The most frustrating thing for me is that, again, no one talks about this stuff. I know one other person who has similar issues, but I’ve heard of so many more from my health care providers. I wish I knew why women don’t talk about the nasty parts of pregnancy and postpartum life. Is it shame? Do we truly think our bodies are that original that no other woman has experienced something similar? I hope, at least, that sharing my GaS (don’t get me started on gas) will reach some blog reader out there and that she will feel less freaky and alone.

Such Sweet Sorrow

One of the most unexpected (and tender) experiences of my life was saying goodbye to our sperm donor Friday morning. Unlike college, dating, marriage, death, etc., it’s just not one of the things you expect to do when you grow up. We’ve known for months that E2 is leaving to travel Europe and who knows what afterward. It was still really sad, but also sweet, embracing him one last time.

K took him to make his final deposit at the clinic. We want to be sure we have enough of “him” to fertilize K’s eggs if mine don’t cut it. The two of them decided to mark the last hurrah with a ride on the tram that goes from the clinic at sea level up to the fancy university hospital on the hill. A lover of the earth and not moving, I opt out of said joyride at every opportunity because heights are also not my thing.

Up, up, and AWAY

So after he donated, they went up and then enjoyed the view from the top. They’ve bonded on many other occasions as well, usually while I was upstairs with my hips in the air. I love that they had these special times together. In the end, it may be their genetics that, through my body, thrive and take on the future.

They picked me up, and we hung out for a bit before taking E2 home. When we got to his house, I sat frozen in the driver’s seat. K had to make the chin sign that says, “Honey, get out of the car and say a proper good-bye.” We met this wonderful dude about a year ago. I went through all kinds of crazy trust issues at the beginning. I’ve come to love him, and he is the guy I want to be the biological other half of our future child/ren. All of this was swimming in my brain when I got out of the car and bum-rushed the poor bastard. When K hugged him, she said, “We want to have your baby!” to which he replied, “I hope I never hear that again!” It was good to end on a big laugh. I really hope that in a couple months he is somewhere in Spain, at an internet cafe, reading an email about his life-making sperm.

In the meantime, I’m finally getting my period. I was beginning to fret because I usually get it on day 24 or 25. But now that the lady hath announced her arrival, look out! I’ve already had one cry this morning, and that’s on my own, self-produced hormones. I’m drinking of the raspberry leaf like there’s no tomorrow, hoping to delay the need for painkillers. As I said to K out of my pathetic wet face, “Here we go.”

World Gone Wild

While it’s easy for me to get so very wrapped up in my own story, I’d like to take a moment to note that the world is going crazy. Egypt, Bahrain, Wisconsin (ooh, did I just put those in the same list?)… Usually, crazy carries a negative connotation, and for sure the violence people are facing (have been facing) in certain Middle Eastern countries is negative to the tenth. But I’m a little prickly from the positive crazy that all the recent action brings too.

I’m in the middle of the down cycle before we start IVF. That means I’m on my own natural hormones, I’m not waking up to an early alarm to take my temperature every morning, and, barring the one kinda painful fibroid check and practice transfer I endured last week, my insides are closed for business. During this downtime, I am reading the news, caring about issues outside of my ovaries, rarely crying, seeing friends, and remembering what it’s like to be me and favor life. I’ve remarked to K on this and the one or two other occasions we’ve had to skip a cycle how very long these months seem. I mean, February’s the shortest month and it’s going on forever! I love it.

But even as I distract myself with passive participation in world events, I maintain a chest tightening that is a constant reminder of the March madness to come. Soon after I get my period, I start taking birth control to suppress ovulation and encourage the follicles to grow at a similar rate to a similar size. Then I get to have a few days of withdrawal bleeding. Then I start with the self-administered twice-daily shots of ovulation stimulation. Through all of this, from what I understand (which changes all the time), I will be going to the clinic for blood tests and inside scopes to follow the progress of the follicles. At the magical time, we’ll go in, I’ll go slightly under (I get an anesthesia and antibiotics!), they’ll stick my ovaries with a needle from the inside and suck out the eggs (hopefully lots of ripe ones). The eggs will be injected with our donor’s sperm and left to do their thing in a petri dish for a few days. The eggs will then take to the catwalk while the fertility technician judges vote on their strut, curves, and talents. The best two will be put back in me, I begin taking my ol’ frenemy progesterone (injections this time), and, once again, fingers (holding much less money) will be crossed. And all with a 10% of success!!!

Wow, impressive list of travails, right? “Try demonstrating for democracy in the face of whip-wielding, horse-riding maniacs!” says the inner voice addicted to Huffington Post.

Well Trained, But No Bone

One of the weirdest parts of this whole process is seeing signs in everything. Not faces in toast, but “see, because of that, I must be pregnant.” It’s constant during the two waiting weeks of each cycle. This time the sign was brought to us by our dog… in her mouth.

Last weekend, we had an unusual weather day in the Northwest and decided to walk to our nearest dog park to let the pooch run and for us to enjoy the strange, warmth-giving orb in the sky. The park was filled, and our anti-social girl takes off to the tree-shaded area where she likes to hunt but never catch squirrels. We usually follow a pace or two behind to keep an eye so she doesn’t decide to run out of the park altogether. This one time, we were so D deprived that we decided as long as we could see her tail, we could stay way on the opposite hill and enjoy the sun. Well, after a minute or two, we see her tail making strange spazzy movements. K said it looked like she was doing the crouch-n’-pounce with a small dog; this seemed likely because, if she’s gonna deign to play with any dog, she’ll do so with small dogs. But then we decided to start walking toward her and see what was what. At the same time, she starts trotting toward us, in sight of all the dogs and people and god, lifting her legs like a show pony, proudly displaying the fattest squirrel I’ve ever seen hanging limply in her mouth. We were horrified (I have a strong aversion to rodents bordering on a phobia). We got her to drop it, and I grabbed a big stick to keep her away from it while we panicked about what to do. A very unhelpful male human informed us that we’d better get rid of the very fresh kill before other dogs start messing with it. Well, we only had the plastic newspaper sleeve we brought along for Killer’s poop, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to use my hand to lift that thing and try to shove it through the 6-inch diameter hole of the trash can. I asked a stranger to use her cell and called the Park dept., but of course they were closed. We had no choice but to suck it up, put the leash on, and take that park-length walk of shame in front of all the judging eyes — leaving the carcass right where it was. After getting home and calling around, we realized no one was going to clean that thing up but us. So we drove back this time, with a shovel, garbage bag, and no dog. Having to do a disgusting thing, having been horrified and humiliated by the action of our dog, I was sure that we passed some huge universe parenting test. I saw the big, furry, glassy-eyed sign that I had to be pregnant this time.

Alas.

A couple days ago, the PMS signs started rolling in. And as much as everyone tells me they are the same symptoms as pregnancy, I say that I have come to this point in so many cycles, in my own body, thank you very much, that I know what these signs were saying. I won’t go into them here, but once my temperature dropped, I knew. The negative pregnancy tests were just the verification I needed to stop taking the twice-a-day progesterone pills that have been fueling this latest loop of my hormone roller coaster.

With all my crying, poor K had to ask my mom, who was here a couple weeks ago, to come back and take care of her baby. I feel 12, but I have to say I am really looking forward to some more sympathy cuddles. In the meantime, I’ve decided that I’m emotionally and mentally nearing my limit. I want to move directly to IVF. If that doesn’t work, then I feel we’re done. I’m only 35 for fuck’s sake. And I’ll be done trying to have a baby?!

Is this really my life?

I’ve been seeing and hearing physicist Brian Greene making the NPR and Colbert Report rounds this week about his new book on parallel universes. I totally buy it, even if it’s just based on math at this point. Because somewhere along the way, my life switched with another “my life” that I am less familiar with. In that other life I’ve been leading, we are all at the park: me, K, our kid, and both my parents, and we are enjoying the sun while our dog chases squirrels from tree to tree — and, as always, failing to catch any.

One Way or Another

I’m sitting in my teashop, hoping none of the other patrons can read the agony on my face—aglow in MacBook sheen. Another period and another day o’ pain. Really bad pain. Is it wrong to want to get pregnant just to take a 9 month break from the cramps? I’m here because I am taking baby steps to Walgreen’s. I have my first prescription of Clomid waiting to be picked up at the pharmacy, and I just can’t get myself there yet. The teashop isn’t technically on the way, but it’s out of the house, which I haven’t been since our return from the Christmas, er, I mean, the Midwest.

Probably on the plane to Chicago, I inhaled a happy virus floating on the Southwest flight’s recycled, cabin-pressurized air. I hacked my way through four nights at a suburban hotel; literally all coughs and no ZZZs. The heaters in every room, plane, and car helped to further dry my irritated throat. Please add to this unpleasantness nonstop Christmas music and my personal discomfort with all things crossy and christy. Ooh, and don’t forget the food allergies!

I’ve set up quite an ugly scene, but the truth is that everything went pretty darn well on our trip to family land. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of Catholics when we arrived at K’s grandparents house in Indiana. But all were very decent (no horn checks!). Some folks spoke with us a bit, but mostly it was an opportunity for me to put faces to names and support my lovely K, who definitely needed to be there. It was the last Christmas Eve celebration that her grandmother and grandfather would be hosting as they will be moving into a small, more manageable place this year. I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for her to see full-grown humans where she last saw babies, and full-fledged parents where she last saw younger cousins.

We spent Christmas day with the other side of her family, who have known me for almost 9 years and who, as it turns out, may struggle more with my un-Christianness than with my being another lady. But, with the genuine affection I’ve developed for them over the years, I gave it my all (Well, not sign-of-the-cross-before-dinner all, but I did see The Chronicles of Narnia in 3D. Funniest thing about this is that I had to inform K that it’s a big ol’ Christian allegory—why do American Jews know these things?!).

Is that Aslan or me on Clomid?

Anyway, I brought my virus home with me, tried to give it to K, and only recently, finally, started taking the Western meds. I love me some Chinese herbs and such, but ‘nough’s enough. On the health front, I’m happy to report, unsurprised, that I am STD free! I am all set to proceed with the fertility treatment as planned.

So I’ll finish this post and run right over to… the pet store across the street to get our pup some treats. Then I’ll go to… the library to pick up a CD on hold. But right after that, I’m heading to… the grocery store. Shit. Walgreen’s shares a parking lot with the grocery store. I will have put it off to the final errand.

Why the trepidation? If you’ve read any other posts in this blog you’ll know the general answer to that question. But the specific one is that I fear the monster inside me and what hormone play will do to my otherwise carefree demeanor. And I fear a gotcha universe that will mess with my life, as follows: you want to be pregnant? here, have multiples! how did that Clomid treat ya?

BUT, I will do whatever it takes. I will have me a baby to love and teach and be in awe of and nibble. It’s been suggested to me that, in the face of infertility and the poor odds, it’s good to have (or at least discuss) a plan B. Adoption? Really? Do people really let lesbians adopt? What countries would we need to exploit? What funds beyond funds would we need to procure? Finally, are we up for the challenges of raising a kid that will not only have two mommies but have two very white mommies? I read this article last night that looks at the growing prevalence of non-white Jewbies. Of course, the article discusses the phenomenon in terms of heterosexuals, but I took the message to heart: I waited too long. I got an education. My infertility… is all my fault. Check it out here. What do you think?

I Am Woman

This means I have the right to change my mind. Over and over.

What factors into a mind change, you ask? Information and experience.

We had E2 over for dinner earlier this week (our first attempt at African peanut stew was de-frickin’-licious). We wanted to discuss this break we’re taking and his upcoming month-long travel plans. Well, we got a lot of information. For instance, we learned that the month-long trip is only the tip of the we’re-gonna-be-spermless iceberg. E2 is tired of living in a city (who knew Portland was a city?!). He wants to go work on farms. And then travel around Europe. Who knows? Well… I know! Holy crap, he can’t leave! He said there may be a couple weeks between the month-long and the forever trips, but otherwise he’s Audi 5000!

You’re thinking one of the following:
1. They’re gonna try now because he’s leaving.
2. They’re gonna wait and hope he decides to leave in March rather than January.
3. They’re gonna buy Euro wear to camouflage themselves and stalk him through the Continent.

Because I was feeling reasonable, but not so reasonable to give up on having Xanax for my upcoming trips of intensity, I took the news quite well and asked him to please let us know as soon as possible when he has decided on his departure date.

But then my Aunt Flo came to town. She came angry, and she knocked me off my feet. Literally.

So, if you keep up with this blog, you are familiar with my whining about cramps that “just seem to get worse & worse each month. It’s uncanny!” Well, I mean it this time. The day before yesterday I had the worst cramps I’ve ever had. How bad were they? They were so bad that I had to rush home and yell commands at K for a hot water bottle, a barf bucket, and pain killers (which I’d already taken—prescription level, mind you) as I hobbled upstairs, panting. I literally was out of my mind in pain. K had to go pick up her mother at the airport and I had hours of work left to do that day. So, I laid in bed and tried to focus on breathing and not dying. A couple hours passed and so did that extreme pain. What came out of it, besides me in a much better mood, was the thought that something just ain’t right downstairs and I need to get a look-see.

This experience let to my mind changing about the HsG. No waiting ’til January. It’s happening this week. I wanna see what the hell is in there causing me so much pain. And, if it turns out there’s nothing (after all, we’re talking about the uterus, which makes its owner, by definition, hysterical), we are going to inseminate again. As in next weekend. As in no Xanax for me when I fly home for Dad’s unveiling since I won’t know if I’m pregnant. But, oh, my flight home… If I get another negatory pee stick, I’ll be flying higher than the plane.

I sent an email to E2 with the same subject line as this post, to which he replied, “I always suspected.” Cute.
He’s up for it (heck, it’s more moolah for the Eurail Pass), and, assuming the HsG doesn’t show a hairy nodule of tissue holding a big stop sign, we’ll be try-trying again.

Just a parting note on how scared I am about pain all of a sudden. I used to think I could handle it pretty well. But with this period, I’m beginning to doubt the power of my own “roar.” I’ve heard the HsG can be quite, let’s say, uncomfortable… especially afterward. Did I mention the fear of finding something that requires surgery? How about flying without my little friend? Maybe I should’ve titled this post: I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper.

The Value of Hope

Hope is a topic my mother and I have been discussing lately. Maybe hope is not the right word exactly; maybe it’s positive thinking (or wishful thinking).

For a week I have been experiencing premenstrual cramping and (you gotta love it) facial out-breakage. There’s also been an increase in mood. I know from doing this 7 times that these signs mean my period is coming and that there ain’t no baby. My mom encouraged me not to conclude anything about no-baby until I actually bleed. I see her point. I do. It’s just that holding out “hope” (and rubbing on the progesterone cream every night) once I know deep, deep inside me where things are headed is almost more damning than the barrenness itself. (By the way, using the word barren just then is an example of anti-hope that my mom discourages.)

So you tell me, lovely followers of my blog (soon to be comment makers, I hope), how does hope play into your experience with trying to conceive?


(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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