Monday, January 31, 2005

Choice

This moving post from Akeeyu, though only very peripherally related, got me to thinking about something I don't think about often, hidden away in the thick folds of a very different life. I haven't written much about it--a passing reference once, I think--but now that I have been thinking about it again, I want to get it written down. I would like to ask you a favor, though: This is a very personal post, and I made a decision that some readers might find wrong or immoral. I believe I made the right decision. You are welcome to disagree with me, but you will not change my mind, so please don't leave hurtful comments.

. . .


Eighteen years ago today, I was pregnant. I was seventeen, and I was scared. But the story is a long one, if common, and begins a year before, in early 1986.

With the boundaries of my mother's Undoing bleeding, I found myself at loose ends--unsupervised, disillusioned, depressed. My father lived nearby, but we had not spoken much in a couple of years: he was rigid and judgmental; I was fearless and opinionated. Incompatible. We were, as families go, less dysfunctional than simply disparate. Where friends had close family ties of love and hate and shared experiences, we were a loose web with little interaction and no collective identity.

After a rebellious 1984 and a hazy, stoned early 1985, I did what many people do and tried to build a family out of friends and lovers. At sixteen, I was utterly (foolishly, foolishly) certain of my own maturity and common sense, and the family I built was surprisingly good, considering. I spent most of my time at a crash pad rented by older friends, developed intense platonic relationships with unstable, interesting girls, and romantic relationships with troubled but passionate guys. In some strange way, I felt strong and stable in their presence: they relied on me to be the rational one, the one who could be trusted to know, to fix, to understand. It was peculiarly satisfying. And I was doing OK; I had a job most of the time and was going to the local community college, even thriving in some ways.

I would come home to my mother's big house on the hill sometimes to do laundry after class, or to eat when we were low on money, and spend an hour in my nominal room. But this wasn't my domain, and I wanted out.

One night I went to an after-hours club with my friends, a place that called itself Plastic Passion--the kind of underground club that popped up all over downtown L.A. in the mid-eighties, moving from warehouse to warehouse each week, drugs dispensed at the hat-check station if you had the money or connections. A glam band played in one cavernous room, a dance floor pulsed in another, the smell of alkyl nitrites permeated one of the ante-rooms. I was never quite comfortable in these clubs, some small, protective instinct telling me that I didn't quite belong. But it was never enough to keep me from going. And my friends, for the most part, did belong--and I wanted to be part of their world.

When I walked in that night--or morning, I guess it was--I had my usual mixed feelings of anticipation and dread, a dread of stepping over some line, and the anticipation of doing something exciting, meeting someone exciting.

About an hour in, after a couple of drinks, I saw that I was being watched. More than that, really--I was being stared at, unblinkingly, hungrily. He was unusually handsome--beautiful, even. Tall, slender, with broad shoulders, long black hair, high cheekbones and a generous mouth, and large eyes that shimmered in the low light. I was flattered, and frightened, and interested.

Within a minute, he had made his way to where I was standing, grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me to a quieter room. Looked in my eyes, as corny as it sounds, and told me he was going to be with me, whether I knew it yet or not. That fear of stepping over the line coursed through me, an adrenaline rush, but I told myself it was foolish to retreat--I wanted this--wanted him--didn't I? Why wouldn't I? So I shook it off, and smiled.

And that's how it happened. That's how I met Vile. He was charming, articulate, publicly polite in a private-school manner, but with a hint of mystery and a whiff of danger. Hard to resist. He mentioned that he was on a medication to treat his "problem". I never asked what the "problem" was.

Within two weeks, Vile, claiming to be the voice of reason, had decided that I shouldn't be spending so much time with my friends, that they were a bad influence on me. And what was wrong with living at my mother's, after all? He had heard enough about her to know that there were no real restrictions, no supervision, so why not live in the enormous house on the hill, everything paid for? So what if she's unstable and shooting animal tranquilizers; why would it matter? I'd better move back in, he said. After all, he needed a place to live when he dropped out of university. At twenty-two, it was his third, after self-destructing at Cal and an interim private college. The age difference should have set off an alarm somewhere, for someone, but it didn't.

So, that's what happened. We moved into my mother's house. Vile insinuated himself into all aspects of our lives, and began supplying my mother with cheaper drugs; I didn't want to know where he got them. He also started working for her business. And his temper began to show. It appeared in little ways at first--raising his voice to waitresses when his steak was too rare, following drivers who had cut him off on the freeway, that sort of thing. Within a few months, it had escalated: threatening, bullying, intimidating. And there was the jealousy, his irrational certainty that I had snuck out in the night to meet someone, that I was carrying on with some nameless guy in my literature class. Predictably, he began to beat me, very carefully so as not to damage anything visible. Initially, it would happen when I had done something wrong; when I had forgotten something, said something he didn't like, made a minor decision he didn't agree with. Soon, he moved on to beatings that he called "preventatives"--like when he had to go away for a couple of days to see his family and wanted to make sure I didn't fuck around while he was gone.

I was very young, yes, but I was not entirely stupid. I knew that this was wrong, that I should get out, but there was this foolishly stubborn part of me that believed things would get better and didn't want to admit to my failure. I thought of it that way, too--my failure. One night, in a fit of repentance, he agreed that it needed to stop and that he thought living with my mother was the problem--that she had become a bad influence on both of us, made him crazy. So in late 1986 we moved out, to a cheap apartment nearby in East L.A. He gave me an engagement ring that he had bought for his last girlfriend and said he was going to be different.

Of course, moving out did not stop the beatings. He was now even less fettered--I could make all the noise in the world and no mother or stepfather would come to my rescue from another wing of the house. And he stopped taking his meds.

My main reaction to his violence was to close myself off as much as possible from him, to protect some tiny pebble of self-respect. I would sleep with him rarely, and only when I thought it would prevent a beating. Since he had taken up crystal meth, he was, fortunately, rarely sexual--the one silver lining. But at this point, his tactics changed. One night, instead of bruising or biting or shaking, he dragged me out of bed and dumped a pitcher of ice water over me, then stood and watched while I cleaned it up. He told me that I was stupid, lazy, that I'd never amount to anything in life if it weren't for him. Perfectly ordinary abuser tactics, not that I knew it then.

One night, there was another abrupt behavior shift. I was asleep, and woke up to Vile sitting on me with his hands around my throat. Not pressing, just holding, quite gently. When I looked at him, he gave a small squeeze, and said, "Just remember." Then he laid down next to me and began to cry. His crying scared me. He said he didn't want to do it, but he knew I didn't love him and that he couldn't accept that. So I did what I thought I ought to do and, swallowing my bile, tried to comfort him, told him I loved him. When he made to undress me, I didn't resist. It was a small price to pay, I remember thinking, to get through the night safely.

The next day, I began thinking of escape. Since Vile was still working for my mother and still supplying her with drugs, I knew I couldn't go to her. He was closer to her now than I was, and she trusted him. He had driven away all of my friends--another textbook abuser tactic--and I was embarrassed to go to them anyway. My father was absolutely not an option, my sister was spending her junior year abroad in Florence and my brother was living in London.

There was one person I considered asking for help. She was a teacher at the college, and I had been taking aerobics and ballet from her for a year. Once, she noticed bruises on my legs that were showing through the white leggings. I laughed it off, blamed them on clumsiness. When I came in after that with a bite mark on my upper arm, ill-concealed by a loose tee shirt, she took me aside after class and insisted that I tell her what was going on. I said I'd been babysitting a ten-year-old who got mad at me for turning off the television. At the time, I was just too ashamed, I couldn't face up to it, and she didn't press. But now I wanted to tell her, hoping she could help me find a way out. I counted down the days till our next class--three weeks, it was Christmas break--and decided to tell her then, ask her advice, her help.

By then, however, I knew I was pregnant. And I thought it was too late.

I realized it a week or so after my period was due. As I had never been perfectly regular, it didn't worry me at first. Initially, I thought I had the flu, throwing up uncontrollably. When it didn't go away after a few days, the truth settled on me like thick fog. I went to a clinic in mid-January and got the test. When the result was in, the nurse took me into a back room and told me. I asked how quickly I could get an abortion; she said, if I had enough money, I could get one within two weeks. If I didn't have the money, it would take a while. I would need to apply for MediCal and wait for them to process the paperwork, then wait for an appointment at the clinic they worked with.

Being overwhelmed with shame at having gotten myself into this position, I did not want to tell anyone, even if there was someone to tell, much less hit them up for money. Vile said he didn't have the $350 it would cost, so I started the MediCal process. It took six weeks to get the paperwork approved and the appointment made. By now it was March. I had been violently sick the whole time, unable to eat, unable to return to school, unable to work. I had lost nearly twenty pounds off my already skinny frame and had a hard time standing for long. All I could think about was getting this over with, getting back to normal, so I could find a way to leave Vile and work my way back to some sort of acceptable life.

On the day of the procedure, I was in a prep room with six other girls, most younger than me, and some with worse stories. We had a long wait, these girls and I, and I heard things from them that horrified me. One said she'd been raped by her stepfather's brother while her mother was in the next room. Her mother had thrown her out of the house when she found out she was pregnant. One was thirteen, her body still half-developed; she was pregnant from her first sexual encounter, the result of a gang initiation.

Later, as the anesthesia started to pump into my hand, when most women might take a soul-searching moment to ask themselves, Is this really what I should do?, I thought of nothing but oblivion, and relief.

In the end, Vile used the abortion to keep me tied to him for the next two years, threatening to tell everyone that I had "killed his child" as well as threatening to implicate me in his illicit drug business and more recent petty thievery if I tried to leave him. We moved a couple of times, he made half-hearted attempts at reforming his abusive nature once or twice, and with each month I felt less and less connected to everything around me. Vile's morals and his sanity continued to degrade, till he lost it in the office one day and smashed the place up, threatening the eighty-two-year-old bookkeeper with a letter opener after raking my face with a brutal punch, his ring tearing a line through my cheek. I called 911, and before they arrived Vile said he would kill me if I pressed charges. I didn't, and the cops didn't insist, pretended not to notice the swelling and blood. But a week later, on his birthday, I said I was going to pick up his cake, grabbed my purse and left for good. It was less a decision than an impulse.

. . .


The story with Vile doesn't end there, but much of the rest can be summarized quickly. The day I left, I headed to a childhood friend's house and begged her to take me in. I told her everything. She was shocked and forgiving of my longtime negligence and understood. One day, Vile--who had been trying to hunt me down for several weeks--finally spotted my car in Pasadena, then followed me when I drove to her house. My friend and her mother refused to let him in; he threatened to kill himself on their porch if they didn't. They held firm, and a part of me wished he would do it. A big part.

A few weeks later, I learned that an acquaintance of mine had moved in with him, and while I warned her (uselessly) and felt awful for her, I was fundamentally relieved. He had someone new to focus on, and he stopped following me. A few months after that, I heard that she was pregnant. When she was five months along, he beat her in front of her friends one night, kicking her in the stomach and telling her he didn't believe the child was his. He spit on her. She was hospitalized, but eventually gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Two years later, he abducted his daughter, was caught and served time in jail.

I moved back into my mother's house for a few months--couldn't stay on my friend's couch forever--and started dating again, but I was still in a bad place. I stopped eating, in what I now realize was an attempt at control. One morning, after being dumped by a nice guy who said I was too intense, I woke up and knew I had to take some sort of drastic action. I packed the car and moved to San Francisco that night, and have been in the Bay Area ever since.

Once in a while, like today, I think about what my life would have been if I'd had the baby in those circumstances. What the baby's life would have been. Would I have been able to love Vile's child when Vile himself so sickened me, terrified me? How would I have kept him away from my little boy, my little girl? I don't know; I just don't know. And then I imagine being seventeen and pregnant in a different reality, with a normal boyfriend and a supportive family. Would I have made the same choice? I still don't know. Pointless to wonder about this, and self-indulgent, but the imaginings sneak in uninvited.

All these years later, as I sit here in Oakland leading this staid and happy life, full of gardening and crossword puzzles, birdwatching and J. and infertility, I have a hard time believing that this stuff ever happened to me, that I ever had this relationship, that I was ever so helpless or so frightened. Or that I was ever pregnant. As though I tried on someone else's life for size one time, and it didn't really fit.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

On magazines and mobiles

The waiting around during yesterday's IUI--the forty-five minutes for the sperm to be whirled and prepped, the fifteen for Dr. Meow to return to the exam room after the order to strip from the waist down, the half hour after the IUI in which I was left to remain supine, knees up--left me with plenty of time to consider the pros and cons of my RE, his staff, his office and his decor. What with all the waiting, and so little to do during it, small things become important--good-important and bad-important.

The good:

Considering that the office is in San Francisco, parking could be a lot worse. Usually only have a three- or four-block walk from a metered two-hour street spot. Lot parking in his building is $6 per hour, so it's nice to have the street option.

One of the two receptionists is a veteran, both as a receptionist and apparently as an ART patient, who asks questions like, "You used both the Gonal-F and the Follistim, right? I liked the Gonal-F myself but some of our patients prefer the Folli. How about you?"

There is not a single child-related or even child-friendly magazine in the waiting room. Not one. No Parenting, no Highlights. Just Business Week and Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly and People. Also, no golf magazines. Definite plus.

With the exception of a twenty-something who I would like to think may have been there to donate her spring-chicken eggs, every patient in the place so far looks to be my age or older.

There is a full-scale lab on premises--sperm prep, bloodwork, ultrasounds, everything is done right there, most of it by Meow himself.

The IVF Coordinator is supremely nice and friendly and, more importantly, has a direct line that she actually answers promptly. And she told me to just replace the sample Gonal-F that they "advanced" me with the Follistim that my insurance covered, no need to tell the pharmaceutical sales rep.

Dr. Meow only takes a few patients at a time--around fifteen, if his literature is to be believed--so he doesn't seem overextended or impatient. He even takes patient calls without a hassle--the receptionists just say, "Hold a moment" and put them through, no aggravating third-degree.

Dr. Meow has a surprisingly calm, caring, interested demeanor that is soothing, if occasionally soporific. He listens well and doesn't treat my questions (not typed and bullet-pointed anymore, sadly) like they're looney, even when they are a direct result of excessive Googling.

The main exam room--the one with the ultrasound machine that also serves as the spot for IUI's--is blessedly warm to one's waist-down nakedness.

There is an odd but pleasing little aluminum-and-wood hummingbird mobile above the table. It is hung in the path of the HVAC intake vent, which keeps it in a state of constant, fluid motion. It is nice to have something to look at while lying on the table.

The bad:


The sterile semen collection cups his office provided are enormous. How, exactly, to nestle this giant faux-Tupperware container in my A-cup bralette? I ended up with a marsupial approach involving layered sweaters, one of which had a sort of chest pouch. Had to walk several Civic Center blocks from car to Meow's office in said sweaters, giant knit-covered lump preceding me by several inches.

There is a hideous silk ficus in the waiting room, badly in need of a dusting.

The other receptionist is young and green and, while enthusiastic, speaks too loudly, inadvertently informing everyone in the waiting room of another's cancelled IVF cycle. ("Did you hear about Julie? None of her eggs were viable. I guess Dr. Meow is going to call her in a minute to let her know." First receptionist made urgent shushing sounds and looked at us apologetically.)

Dr. Meow, when giving instructions for the Prometrium, said the word "vagina" too many times, enunciating it carefully and clearly for me as if I might be unfamiliar with the term: "You'll put one pill in your VA-GI-NA each evening. The pharmacist may tell you to take them orally, but that's not right--they're for you to put in your VA-GI-NA. So, again, each night around the same time, place one in your VA-GI-NA. OK? (You mean my coochie, Dr. Meow? My hoo-ha? The hole? Is that the VA-GI-NA you're talking about?) He also over-enunciates "intercourse" when instructing us to get busy the morning after the IUI. IN-TER-COURSE, complete with pauses between the syllables.

The stirrups on the main exam table are excruciating. The angle at which they attach to the table is all wrong, requiring hyperextension of the achilles when assuming the standard No, scoot down further toward me position. And the covers are blue terrycloth dishcloths, completely unpadded and boring. Not even cheerful potholders.

After I asked how long it would take for the trigger shot to clear my system, he looked at me suspiciously and asked me to promise him that I wouldn't test till the beta. I grudgingly assented, though I will not feel bad about reneging about, say, Day 12. And, really, what business is it of his when I test?

Oh, yeah--there's also the little issue with Meow's medical license being reviewed in a few months because of a bad mistake a few years ago by a colleague, compounded exponentially by questionable judgment on his part. Some of you may know what I'm talking about, having seen stories in the Northern California papers, but I don't really want to say more about it because I'm torn about whether he did something very wrong, something very stupid or just had to choose the lesser of two godawful options. And I'm comfortable with the fact that, once bitten, he will be twice shy, so to speak. Plus, with IVF numbers as good as his, it probably wouldn't pay for me to be too high-and-mighty.



Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Giddyup, Trigger

First up tonight, I want to give my warm and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been commenting. I have been feeling pretty low lately--tired, unwell, gloomy, Shallot-esque and all--but every comment brightens me up just a little bit, and your responses to my latest post made me feel as shiny as a halogen bulb. Thank you. You make such a difference.

Second on the bill, I thought I'd fill you in on this month's medicated IUI adventure. So...

Tonight's the trigger night. Already. I am a little freaked out by it--not the shot itself, which is just another subcutaneous abdominal shot with a smallish needle--but by the whole stimulation process, by how it does what it does and what it means to be not just brewing but actually releasing multiple eggs that will, if all goes as planned, be courted fervently by the most attractive members of J's swim team on Friday morning. I suppose it's very presumptious to even worry about multiples, since the odds of any of them fertilizing--much less more than one--are Calista Flockhart-slim, at least if a year and a half of failure are sufficient evidence. I guess if the dish runs away with the spoon, donkeys fly and I do end up with twins this cycle, at least I won't have to struggle for names: Ovidrel and Gonal F. Bugs should do nicely, don't you think? Ovidrel in particular has a sort of Shakespearean ring to it. (Shouldn't rule out Panama so cavalierly, I suppose. Maybe as a kicky middle name?)

As an aside, I feel a little achy, tired, nauseated and am off my feed--even oats, sugar cubes and carrots spanikopita and babaghanouj. I also have oddly tender nips and trouble remembering important things, like last night when I was about to go to bed and J. reminded me that I hadn't had my shot. My question is, Are these normal side-effects of the Gonal-F and/or Follistim (I've been on both in the last week and a half, due to formulary restrictions at BCBS), or should I just blame my cold? If these are side-effects, gods help me when I'm on the big girl doses for the IVF in April.

Any and all ideas appreciated.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Contraband

There's a Rubbermaid storage container that lives in the back our closet. Clear with a blue lid and about two feet square, it serves as a repository for future gifts for friends and family--the mid-century green ceramic vase set aside for B.'s birthday; the comical Portuguese guide to English grammar and usage I picked up for my father, the O.W.; the emergency presents--candles, mostly--for acquaintances' housewarming or holiday parties.

The container has also housed baby presents--cute too-big items that I picked up in July for dispersal in December, when size 9-12 months would fit my friends' baby girls, all born in a spring batch. And there are the onesies and little tee shirts that J. loves to personalize--silly pictures of Eric Gagne for the tyke of a Dodger fanatic, iron-on Parliament photos and lyrics for the toddler of a funk aficionado. When I bought The Contraband, I figured this would be a good place to store it, since it could be easily camouflaged as gifts.

The purchase of The Contraband didn't raise any eyebrows at the time. I was just sale shopping, after all, and though J. thought it slightly odd that I would buy so far in advance, he accepted my explanation--"They're for our niece's birthday next year," I said with conviction, hoping he couldn't see my blushing face. The face of an impostor--an impostor pretending to her husband to be buying for a real, live baby belonging to others; an impostor pretending to herself that she was not infertile.

But, you see, I couldn't do otherwise: the dresses belong to our baby--our baby girl, who will have an old-fashioned name and brown hair and brown eyes and be allergic to cats, just like us. She will wear the yellow sundress with applique leaves at her first birthday party, where we'll take her picture as she smears herself liberally with whipped cream from a lumpy strawberry cake. When she's a little bit older, babbling and burbling and pointing at things she wants us to see, we will take her to the Children's Fairyland at Lake Merritt in her steel-blue polished cotton dress, the one with little pearlized buttons up the side and a pleated skirt, and she will giggle and be warm in her soft-white knitted sweater.

I seldom daydream about a real, live child. I keep myself focused on the next goal, and maybe the goal after that: a pink line, perhaps a doubling beta. But when I touched the dresses that day, the pictures were so vivid that I had to close my eyes and shake my head to dislodge them. For a moment, I had seen the ultimate goal, and she was real to me.

. . .


The Contraband has been in the container for more than a year now, nearly past the point of usefulness for our niece and most of the other baby girls we know. I hid it at the bottom all those months, taking the dresses out surreptitiously, even shamefully, during the two week wait on particularly hopeful cycles. I would run my fingers lightly over the pliant fabrics--smell them, sometimes--and the images would come back, fully-formed. I could even hear her tiny, high voice in a cry of excitement or a wail of displeasure.

J. mentioned The Contraband recently, when he pawed through the container looking for an errant Christmas gift--"Oh, look, weren't we going to give these to Niece for her birthday?"

I turned away to compose myself, not wanting him to see the subterfuge in my transparent face. Said, "Oh, well, we'll have to wait for the next one--I'm sure someone we know will have another baby girl soon." J. said, yeah, he was sure that would happen...in fact, he forgot to tell me, KathFromCollege is pregnant again. Maybe she'll have a girl this time.

But my composure crumpled, and I told him that I had lied, that these were for us, and that KathFromCollege would never get her hands on them--never!--because they were going to be for our brown-eyed daughter. Our daughter.

. . .


We went to Ikea a week or so ago in the middle of a workday to buy some shelves for J.'s office. Normally, he cannot stand Ikea because he gets vaguely claustrophobic and can't abide lines, but it was relatively empty and we made our way up the escalator. We strolled past Dalselvs and Karviks and Lacks and Snigs--set of three for four dollars!--and I asked if we could slow down and take things in a bit, since there was no rush and no crowd. So we slowed, and started to wander off path, going against the usual pattern and zig-zagging drunkenly. When we came through an entryway that we thought would take us to office furniture, we found ourselves in a world of bunkbeds instead. Thinking J. would get irritated, I started to pull him back through but he asked me to stop--he wanted to take a look. At bunkbeds?

"Well," he said, pointing to an inventive model with a sturdy ladder and a cunning little bureau and wardrobe built in underneath, "I like this one."

I stared at him, confused, and wondered if he meant to use it in his office somehow. But his office ceilings are only seven feet high; it would never fit. Eyebrows drawn together, I let out a quizzical, "Hunh?"

"For the baby. When he's not a baby anymore. When he's old enough to sleep on a bunkbed. In the TV room. Which would be the nursery then. I can picture it. I like this one," he said, his voice cracking slightly. "I like it a lot."

It was real to him--he could see his tousle-headed son clambering up the ladder in a pair of flannel pyjamas. This was his Contraband--this pine-and-laminate bunkbed made up in blue striped sheets and turtle-green pillows.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sig un dired

I hab a code. A bad code. Also I am bery dired. Can't blame code on Gonal-F, but would lige to blame diredness on id. Ogay? Udderwise hab to blame own laziness.

I go toborrow to visid Wand Mongee and check on sdimuladed folligles. Was going to marj for wibbin's rights after but do not want to be Typhoid Bary.

Perhaps will post toborrow after bisit with Dr. Beow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Personalized greeting card?


Apologies to Joanne for copping the general idea from your recent comments. Apologies also to Serono for misappropriating the image, but it's really hard to get a decent shot of your own abs, unless maybe you have arms as long as Tertia's legs Posted by Hello

Monday, January 17, 2005

Shoot me up, Scotty

This is not what I expected.

The day started off with a bang: neighbor hammering in garage, awakening us from our unemployed slumber at the crack of 10 a.m. It will almost surely end with a whimper. The whimper, however, will not be coming from the neighbor in his garage. No. Those little mewling sounds will also not be emanating from a kitten, or from Archimedes imitating a kitten. They will be coming directly from me--head turned, face pinched and eyes closed, as J. tries to hit the little ballpoint X with the bright, shiny needle. My first injection of Gonal-F.

My oft-cancelled consultation with Dr. Meow finally went off today and I feel like I've been knocked senseless. I was sure he'd say, Try a couple more unmedicated IUI's; or, Let's put you on Clomid this month and see what happens. Didn't quite work that way. Instead, he said, Hmmm, that unmedicated IUI didn't work, so let's go ahead and do the IUI with meds this month. And if it doesn't work this cycle--God forbid--we can do IVF with ICSI in April. Sound good?

Sound good? Sound good? How the hell am I supposed to know? Don't you realize that my brain stopped working when you said "IVF"? And already? We're already having this discussion?

Holy. Shit.

Holyshit.

Ho-ly shit.

All of this before I'd even asked one single question from my list. My beautiful list, typed up and double-spaced, with fourteen bullet points. Which are all now moot. We are no longer to care about temperatures, cervical fluid or OPKs. We no longer care about J's high PH or my varying luteal phase, nor the cramps and vagaries of my menstrual flow. And we most certainly don't care about sex, except that we're not to have it for three days before trigger.

I am having a hard time grasping this. Yes, I wanted to be aggressive with treatment: I am thirty-five and my miraculous COBRA fertility coverage will run out in January of next year. So, as Dr. Meow so succinctly put it, I "have to be pregnant by then." Yes, I hoped against hope that I could move on to the meds this month, feeling in my heart and soul that another plain vanilla IUI would be as useless as...as...what's something uselsss?...oh, I've got it! SEX! As useless as sex!

But I had no idea that I'd be walking out of his office with a Gonal-F pen and a plan to move on to my last line of treatment as the very next step.

So that's the bottom line: If this cycle fails, that's it--I will be on to my last, best hope. And that scares me cold.

. . .




Yep, there it is...do you hear it? The whimpering has started already.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

When's Easter again?




This is the latest in the Naked Belly Woman greeting card/seasonal dartboard covering line I'm starting up as a result of your suggestions. Any thoughts on a good product name?

Never knew petty vindictiveness could be so...so...satisfying.

Especially on another CD1.

 Posted by Hello

Friday, January 14, 2005

Are the hats too much?*



I wasn't quite sure, but what's not to love about accessories?

Thank you for the suggestions. So many wonderful ideas; so little Photoshop proficiency. I might just pursue the Easter card idea--soooo Martha.

*Disclaimer: I still love these people, even Naked Belly Woman. Truly I do. But, c'mon. Would she send a picture of her naked leg to an amputee?  Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

What to get for the childless couple

Now that mid-January is here, I am clearing up the holiday detritus--putting away J's very silly Christmas tree candle, which he has kept, unburned, since junior high school; the white lights and the few ornaments are going back in a bottom drawer that won't be opened again till next November. The wrapping paper is mostly put away. Our Christmas gift haul from family--the Punch Out the President paper doll book, the Falcon Guide to Birding in Northern California, the Cunning Linguist paperback, the Hopper calendar, the new cotton sheets--all are appropriately stowed in their allotted locations.

And now I survey our mantel, ready to plow through the rest of the holiday reminders. There are cards--a dozen or so. Most of them are photocards with pictures of happy families, mom and dad and baby Joe, smiling gleefully for the camera. One is a picture of a man and his enormously pregnant wife; a terrible picture, really, that I believe to have been sent for the specific purpose of proving her fecundity. Which is unfair, doubtless, but still. So, these are not cards that I want to display on our mantel forever, much as I may like and respect the photographees. Personally, I think the right course of action is to feed them into our roaring fireplace and watch their perky little edges curl up like the Wicked Witch of the East's be-slippered dead peds. But then I feel mean and petty and also J. would think I had lost what's left of my loose infertile grip. Instead, I will place them in a tin box full of last year's holiday photocards--the kind I thought that I might, myself, be sending this Christmas--and vow not to think of them again till next year.

There is one particular item on our mantel, however, that is the height of egregious thoughtlessness, and I don't know what to do with it at all. You see, I have this friend, an extremely fertile friend, who has two children, pregnant with number three. I love her, love her children and value her friendship immensely. She is beautiful and smart and observant and thoughtful and funny and independent and again with the beautiful. I do not normally resent her good fortune because of the smart, observant, thoughtful, funny and independent. The extremely fertile and mind-blowingly beautiful are a little harder to love without reserve (read: "jealousy"), but that's not exactly her fault.

And she was very understanding when I told her about the infertility struggles back in early December. Wanted to know what it was like, whether I was on any fertility drugs, what exactly was an IUI. She has another friend who had terrible struggles with infertility--a third-trimester loss followed by two years of negatives followed by a difficult pregnancy that resulted in a tiny (but healthy) preemie. So, I figured, she'll really get it, even though she's so fertile. She'll be sensitive.

Umm....yeah.

Every year she sends one of those family photos--her blonde hair gleaming, the two kids scrubbed and perfect, the weimaraner sitting patiently, the handsome husband in his dapper suit. And there's always a newsletter detailing the trips they've taken, how the little ones have been excelling at gymnastics or karate or soccer, the medal she won in a triathlon, the promotion hubby received. The usual self-congratulatory drivel. But I don't normally give it much thought, so when this year's eight-by-ten envelope arrived back in mid-December, I stuffed it in the pile and let it sit. Figured I knew what was in it, so what's the hurry?

A few days ago, I thought I'd send her an email to check in. She's due later this month, and as it's not entirely her fault that I am infertile, I figured I owed her a base-touching. So, I pulled out the envelope in hopes of having something un-baby-related to refer to in my email--a "Sounds like you had a great time in London!" or a "Congratulations on hitting the seven-minute-mile mark in your last race!" Something innocuous and friendly.

So the envelope? Surprisingly, no newsletter this year. Nah. Just pictures. A photo collage, to be precise.

OF HER BELLY.

Her naked belly framed by her naked self wrapped strategically in a diaphanous white scarf. Her daughter's pretty blonde head RESTING ON HER NAKED BELLY. Her son with his upturned nose ON HER NAKED BELLY. Her husband glancing lovingly AT HER ENORMOUS, NAKED BELLY. A close-up of her own hands CRADLING HER HUMONGOUS, NAKED BELLY. Professional shots, studio lighting, black and white.

And there was a little note attached: "A gift to you from Mom, Dad, Kids, Dog and Baby New Year!"

I think she expects us to frame it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Hair Curtain Lives Again



Thought I'd add a visual, since this post is generating so much enthusiasm. (What, does my blog have garlic breath today?)

Yes, I do still have the Hair Curtain. And it still smells like Pantene.

I am probably going to donate it to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes wigs for children suffering the effects of chemotherapy as well as alopecia areata. (I've always wanted a child with my hair, though I can't say this was how I pictured it happening.) Or, I might save it as a fluffy pet for the Imaginary Baby. Sew on buttons for eyes, add a collar and a leash...  Posted by Hello

That mirror is sooooo crack'd

Once upon a time, in a land across The Bay, I had extremely long hair. Rapunzel hair. Godiva hair. Sit-down-upon hair. Ma Ingalls. Cousin Itt. Long, long, long hair.

Light brown, wavy and as thick as a camellia bush, my locks were usually to be found in a sleek bun (which I liked to think of as "sexy librarian"), as it was impractical to walk around every day with a full-length hair curtain. Especially when one's boyfriend rode a motorcycle, and the resulting wind-induced snarls had enough tensile strength to suspend the Bay Bridge's future eastern span. No, the hair could not be at liberty--bus doors and heavy machinery were enough of a challenge to preclude setting it loose on a regular basis, not to mention the cautionary tale of Isadora Duncan, her scarf and the convertible. So, a bun it was, though I mixed it up on weekends with a looped-up ponytail.

But, on some rare days--those infrequent sunny, placid days that do not seem like San Francisco--I would feel physically compelled to let it down to breathe in the warm city air. I would just let it hang, a sort of commando coiffure. Those days felt glorious, and I would revel in the freedom. And, to be honest, I thought that I looked as good as I felt, my mane cascading and pooling around me.

With my hair down, however, I noticed an odd thing: men, young and old, and the occasional woman, would come up and say, "Why do you look so sad?" I would be minding my own business, enjoying myself, drinking a cider and working a crossword, and strangers would feel moved to ask if I was lonely, unhappy, troubled, having a bad day. One woman asked "if he beat me."

It didn't make much sense to me till one fine September day when I went--hair a-flapping--to buy a picture frame at Z Gallerie on Haight Street. While I was digging through the piles, I happened upon a print of Waterhouse's "The Lady of Shallot." (You know the one, right? The painfully romanticized girl in the white tunic, looking forlorn as she gides in a little boat toward her doom, which she brought about by looking upon Lancelot instead of sticking to her weaving, or some such rot? The mirror crack'd from side to side and all that?)

Anyway, I realized that, with my hair at liberty, I looked remarkably like this maudlin, helpless Shallot character. And if there was one thing I did not want to be thought, on the eve of my twenty-sixth birthday, it was helpless. Or maudlin, for that matter.

It was a shock, realizing that I might look this way to the world, and, after immediately tying my hair up in a self-supported knot, I did what any girl would do: called some friends and asked for advice.

Since giving advice about a friend's personal appearance can be a bit dicey, and I was getting nothing but polite drivel about how what was important was whether I liked my hair, I figured my best bet was to get them shitfaced and then revisit the subject. (Vodka, my friend the legal truth serum!)

After a few hours at a bar drinking pitchers and then a couple of Absolut greyhounds at one friend's apartment, I tried again. This time, I got what I came for. From my most meek and gentle friend, I heard that I had so much hair, it took over my whole small person and made me look like The Little Match Girl or one of the waifs from a Zola novel. From my most brazen and straightforward friend, I was told that I could keep the hair, but only if I joined Fleetwood Mac, and they'd probably demand at least a trim. (She said the Allman Brothers might have me, but only if I added a beard.)

Oh. God. I had no idea. What was I to do? As I lay in bed, unable to sleep despite the abundant alcohol consumption, I thought it over and came up with two options:

1) Never again leave the house without the librarian bun
2) Cut it off and be free

Next morning, around 6:30 a.m., I rolled gingerly out of bed and got out the phone book. I looked at every salon listing, trying as best my throbbing, fuzzy head could muster to intuit which one might be the place for me. Eventually, I settled on one of the most upscale-looking ads--simple, elegant, tasteful: these people were too good to fuck up my hair, weren't they?--and bided my time till they opened. At 9:00 a.m., I called and begged--not asked, not pleaded, but truly begged--the receptionist to slip me in. Looking for sympathy, I even told her that I had been ignominiously compared to Stevie Nicks the night before, and that I was profoundly, utterly desperate.

This may be a good time to fill you in on why my hair had gotten so long in the first place. To start with, in the late 1980's, I had a great little bob, in ever-changing hues, masterfully cut by an L.A. stylist who had the patience and foresight to recognize the problematic nature of my hair. First, there's the vast, heavy, dense thickness of it. Second, there's the hair's deep desire to spring forth in all directions, a la Robert Smith but without the Aquanet. Third, it's that kind of wavy that's not curly enough to look good without a daily thirty minute tussle with the blow dryer. Fourth, there are the cowlicks: one on each side of my small, pointy face, right at the hairline. So, when I moved to the Bay Area and lost the stylist's services, I didn't know where to go to find someone who could fight and tame The Hair Beast.

Within a couple of months of my arrival in the Bay Area, my hair was long enough to put up in a ponytail, and since I was working a 7:00 a.m. shift at a mail order catalog, couldn't afford to go out and was sleeping on a friend's couch, my excuses for not doing anything about it were myriad. Every morning, into the ponytail it went. Eventually, when the ponytail got long enough to start slapping its just-washed wetness against my back, I moved on to the bun. And that's how it stood for about six years, with the occasional three-inch trim.

So, back to the understanding salon receptionist. Though she still couldn't find an opening for me, she agreed to put me at the top of the cancellation list, and not ten minutes later, she called back and asked if I could be there at 9:45. Could I? Could! I! Ever!

I threw on clothes, wound up my bun, dashed to the bus and made it downtown without a minute to spare. I ran down Pine Street, found the address, and tore in the door at 9:45 exactly, just as the stylist was bidding his previous client goodbye.

The stylist, a very hip man but with a thick, long mane of his own (WARNING! WARNING! DANGER! DANGER!), was very kind to me, asked if I was sure about cutting it off, and then, after taking down the bun and putting it in a loose ponytail, told me to close my eyes. I did, and took a deep, steeling breath, trying not to hear the little cutting noises. When I looked up, my eighteen-inch-long ponytail, corralled by the ponytail band, was dangling loosely in his hand.

Gulp. Breathe. Gulp.

Before I could completely freak the fuck out, I was whisked off for the requisite shampoo, conditioner and neck massage; when I was returned to the chair, little rivulets dripping down my exposed neck, I saw my bedraggled head--wet hair hanging unevenly to my nape--and decided that I might as well go all the way. I asked him to take it "really short." He demurred. I insisted.

As the stylist was clearly not a lover of short hair himself, I should probably have realized that he was not the man for the job, but the WARNING!, WARNING! sirens in my grossly hungover head were malfunctioning. So the scissors snicked around my head, and I tried not to watch, staring instead at my lap. When the blowdryer started up, I just closed my eyes entirely, and hoped he was making it look good. And when all was done, I opened them again and saw...

A pompadour.

A puffy, parted-in-the-middle, duck-tailed pompadour.

I began to tear up, but as I didn't want to insult the stylist, I said I liked it and quickly thanked him, before my voice started to crack and choke. I silently paid the $100 to the receptionist, and strode briskly out the door.

I continued my purposeful pace up Pine Street, but the tears began to stream. And I began to cuss.

Fucking. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

One for each step.

Fucking. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

(Repeat.)

The sidewalks were full of busy pedestrians, most of whom took me to be another San Francisco lunatic--they are legion--and so ignored me completely. I wasn't nearly as exciting as, say, the tranny prostitute crackhead picking invisible lint off his/her purple fishnets while singing God Bless America in a rich baritone. Some onlookers, I would imagine, simply thought I had Tourette's. One or two glanced up in sympathy, though I'm not sure they immediately identified the problem as stemming from my GODDAMNED POMPADOUR.

What in the fucking fuck had I done to myself?! Before, maybe I had looked like the forlorn Lady of Shallot; now, I was weeping, miserable and felt utterly doomed--I was, in fact, behaving like her. Over a haircut. This was clearly a step in the wrong direction.

Filled with wretchedness and self-loathing for both my haircut and my vanity, I cuss-walked to a friend's house--one who had been there providing opinions the night before--and cried on her sofa for a few minutes. She, still sleeping off the hangover, introduced me to hair gel, gave me a comb and several incoherent compliments on my "courage", then sent me out to face the world again.

I ended up in a shoe store on Hayes, trying to drown my sorrows with the magic elixir of shopping. As I was browsing some kick-ass boots that I couldn't afford, and imagining how ridiculous I would look in them with my motherfucking haircut, I was approached by a tall, well-dressed man of about thirty, and he handed me his card: Mr. Fabulous Man, Stylist!

It is not pleasing to the ego to have such a bad haircut that a strange stylist is impelled to give you his card that very day. But when you're handed the possibility of fixing a glaring error on top of your head, who would turn it down? Plus, the haircut would be free--he wanted to use me as a hair model, to demonstrate a new, all-the-rage ultra-ultra-short cut. I figured it couldn't possibly be worse than what I was currently sporting, so, with indelicate haste, I answered a resounding, Yes! and signed on immediately

A few days later, Mr. Fabulous lived up to his billing, turning my pompadour into a chic, feline thing that hugged my head without looking butch. (Mr. Fab later said he chose me because I had the three things he needed: 1) thick, short hair, 2) a bad existing haircut, and 3) very small ears.)

After the Fab Cut, I felt I'd been given a reprieve. I liked it, I liked it! And my head felt so light! And it was so new, and current, and hip! I looked better! I felt better! And I felt I owed a large measure of this new confidence and peace of mind to Mr. Fab. I booked appointments with him every six weeks, joined his gay literature book club, canned applesauce for him. He cut out hairstyle pictures for me, called on my birthday, sent witty emails. We would talk of the future, our desires--he wanted a Deco condo in the city, a new Saab and a nice boyfriend; I wanted a Craftsman bungalow, a new Honda and a nice boyfriend. We talked politics and philosophy, modern art and Baroque music. And after every appointment, I would feel a little cuter, a little more confident.

Eventually, when preparing for the wedding, I decided to let the cut grow out somewhat, but Mr. Fab and I kept in touch, and he would clean up the neck for me or trim bits here and there during the awkward transition. Later, he gave me a London Pageboy, a work of art and artifice involving the wholesale thinning of my exuberant mop for that slick, clean look I had always envied, and I kept coming back like an addict--those crisp lines, the way it fell just right!

Recently, though, my cuts have been more infrequent, as being unemployed removes much of the urgency in maintaining my appearance, and being unemployed also makes me more conscious of the $90 plus tip and product--reduced rate!--that I spend with each visit.

So I was unprepared a few weeks ago when, after four or five months away, I gleefully went in to see him, got a new cut for the holidays, touched briefly on our TTC situation (in response to, "Are you thinking of having babies soon?") and heard the following words come out of his mouth: "You know, you should really think hard about it. I've heard that if you wait too long--you're, what, thirty-five now? God, I can't believe it's been nine years already!--the babies are usually troubled, and a lot of them have to be in special ed, especially those IVF babies."

I looked up, aghast, on the verge of speaking words of anger to him for the first time ever, loudly and in front of clients, when I saw that I didn't have to: the woman in the next chair, clearly over forty and at least six months pregnant, gave him a look that stopped him cold. I just sat there, mute, and wondered how this person I've known and liked and respected all these years--the man who saved my pompadoured dignity--could be such a fucking asshole.

Guess the next question is, Anybody out there have a good stylist? If not, I guess the Lady of Shallot isn't quite the end of the world; who knows, maybe J. would kinda like that whole damsel in distress thing. No weaving, though; nix on the weaving.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

What, this again?

We are watching TiVo; J. has just finished writing for the night, and we have a plate of sliced pears in front of us.

We're watching an easy show--Monk--and settling into our normal routine, where he tries to lay claim to two-thirds of the futon by pushing me to the far end with his feet. His feet are icky and cracked and have plantar warts, so I usually retreat in haste, before he threatens to rub them on any exposed skin. I'm giggling, as I always do, and in return threaten retaliation--cold hands down the pants, tickling under the chin. J. is laughing at my ineffectual tickling attempts, where he holds me at the length of one of his long swimmer's arms and my shorter ones can grab nothing but air or occasional billowing shirt.

I give in and let him swoop me to him for an arm-pinning hug. We laugh some more. I tell him that he'd better treat me gently, what with the imaginary baby and all.

I don't know if he actually moves, but his hug seems to stiffen, and I turn to look at him. The face that had been lit up a moment before is suddenly opaque. I turn off the TV.

What's going on with you? I ask this carefully, neutrally, hoping he'll say he's just remembered an important email or that he forgot to clear out the rain gutters before the latest storm. But I know that's not the case.

Nothing, he says. Really. Nothing.

Nothing?, I ask, incredulous.

Yup, nothing.

Right. Can I tell you what I think?

I guess, he says, getting a little defensive. J. is rarely defensive.

I think the thought of a baby is still scaring you, scaring you silly.

Maybe. I guess.

The tickle of anger and dread starts to spread.

Why? Why is it still scaring you? We've gone through this over and over, and you said you were ready. You said you'd gotten to the point where you wanted a baby for you, not just for me. Why do you only think about the negatives? And why are we going through this if you're still undecided? I am trying to keep calm, but I'm failing. The lilt of hysteria has crept into my voice, my eyes.

Dunno, he says, clearly uncomfortable. Maybe because I have so much fun with you and I don't want that to change. And babies are so much work.

Here, predictably, I start to lose it. This is the same conversation we had eighteen months ago, when we agreed to start trying, and again a year ago, after we'd already been trying for months. Aspects of this conversation have cropped up every now and again since then, but not for a long while. Not since we decided to pursue treatment.

I am out of reassurances for him--the "we'll figure out how to make it work" and "you know I'll always love you more than anything" and the "I think you'll be an amazing father" stanbys--and I have lost the ambition or energy to go through it again.

I get up, take the pear plate to the kitchen. Move the wash to the dryer, bang the dryer door. I am not crying, don't want to give in. I don't cry much, every couple of months, maybe. I bottle it now. Do the dishes, check email, download photos from the camera. It's been an hour, and J. has not turned the TV back on; he's just lying there in the semidarkness. I'm starting to feel like I've been a jerk.

He calls my name; it's his conciliatory voice, loving and hurt and repentant. I am completely powerless against it, which I'm sure he knows. I go back in.

I've been thinking about it, he says, and I'm sorry I reacted that way. Can I tell you what I've been imagining?

Yeah, I guess so.

I am thinking of when the baby's eight or nine months and starts making those nonsensical mumbly sentences, the ones that have no real words in them and sound like when Archimedes is imitating us talking from the other room. And I'm thinking about when he's two, and wants to play with trains. Or when she's four and we take her to tumbling class. And then we'll have fun for a few years, till twelve or thirteen, and then we'll have more good years after the rebellion and stuff. And when we're old, we'll probably like talking to him, or her, or them--whatever--and sending postcards from our trips to Yellowstone in an RV. But could we not buy a lot of big plastic toys for the baby? We don't have enough space. Speaking of space, how about if we turn this room into the nursery, and build a room in the garage, and move the TV and futon in there, and get rid of the junk, and then maybe we'd have room for some big plastic toys if you really want...

And then I cried, and hugged him, and remembered why I wanted this particular, peculiar, wonderful man's child.

And then I resumed my customary spot on the other end of the futon, before the feet could get me.

Friday, January 07, 2005

What a beautiful day in blogland

Charlie goes home; Adam and Kate are born. 
 
Beautiful.  Just beautiful.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Turkey Bastard, My Old Friend



And the people bowed and prayed
To the plastic God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said,

"Beware, 10% is the best I can do."



...



I participate in a TTC message board with a small group of nice, not-overly-baby-dusty, realistic women who are mostly in a similar boat--trying over a year but not yet doing IVF. A few months ago, one of the board participants was heading in for an IUI--the first one of us to do so. We were all intensely curious about the process, and asked dozens of questions, which she was accommodating enough to answer. When referring to the proverbial turkey baster, she called it--whether by typo or intent I can't remember--the Turkey Bastard. And the name stuck.

This nice woman, who had been trying the old-fashioned way for two years, had instant IUI results: first try HPT+, and now an uneventful second-trimester pregnancy. We all thanked the Turkey Bastard and wished for our own Bastard encounters in the future. One by one, several of us have gotten there, though as yet without the Bastardesque luck.

I promised myself before the IUI that I would not get my hopes up too much. The odds are slim, especially unmedicated. But as Dr. Meow was squirting J.'s shiny-clean sperm from the Bastard into my well-lined uterus (to which J. did not have a front row seat, and thanks everybody for letting me know I'm not some uptight freak for prohibiting it), I started to imagine that smallish 18MM follicle bursting forth, the egg beginning her graceful progression down my all-clear left tube, and being mobbed upon her swim-suited grand entrance to the pool party, like Esther Williams in one of those movies where she's gently handed from gorgeous, adoring man to gorgeous, adoring man, till the gorgeousest and most adoring starts crooning to her and she gives him a kiss.

When I got home, I immediately started re-Googling IUI odds, just so I could bring myself back to reality. And while there were some studies--confusingly written--that seemed to give more optimistic numbers, the one I saw most often was that 10%.

When I told J. the odds, he said, Well, I guess that means you can't be too upset if it doesn't work. Just like that: can't.

And I said, Yes, I can.

He countered with, No, you can't.

And I said, Yes, I can.

And he said, Here, I'll prove it to you: pick a number between one and ten.

Two, I say.

See? The number I was thinking of was seven.

And your point is?

It's really hard to guess right, he says.

But I'm not guessing I'm pregnant: I'm hoping I'm pregnant.

But why would you bother hoping for something that's so unlikely?

And, though I wanted to kick him in the nuts for saying it--and he would have deserved it for the insensitivity alone--I had no good answer. Except that I do hope. This cycle, I do. Try as I might not to, I do. Maybe it's the novelty of the Turkey Bastard, maybe it's the homey smell of firewood on this cold night, maybe it's the little cooing sounds Archimedes is making from the other room. And maybe it's just that unpredictable Pollyanna optimism that likes to creep in when the door's unlocked. I just don't know.

When my period shows up around the 17th, I'll probably be crushed, and maybe I'll go back to my near-constant, self-protective pessimism. And maybe I'll break out the Simon and Garfunkel again. But I'm not ready to give up that little voice of hope and listen to the sound of (pessimistic) silence. Not just yet, anyway.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

IU-Ire

With my compulsive stick-peeing, I knew that I had not surged at 1:04 a.m. Saturday morning, but by 9:36 that second line was as fuchsia as a...fuchsia. I leave my page-message for Dr. Meow, as instructed by Nurse Nice and Dr. Action. Yeehaw, yippee, yay! It's time for the first installment of my double-dip IUI!

Dr. Meow calls back promptly. I see his name on caller ID and hurry to pick it up. And what do you think he says? C'mon, guess! It'll be fun!

Does he say:

"Great! Please have your husband ejaculate into the sterile container, place it in your brassiere and come on in!"

Or does he say:

"I'm sorry, I'm closing the office early so I can spend time with my family. Plus, you're only on CD12, so I'm sure you're not ovulating just yet."

Which, in all fairness, proved to be the case. But how the fuck could he have known? I ovulated last month, and the month before, on CD12, and got my OPK+ the same day each time. Ratbastard.

The other thing he said, which sounds more ominous and callous each time I think of it, is this: "If you really ovulated on Day 12 the last two cycles, that's something to be concerned about in a woman of your age. Really, I'm glad you're going to be my patient soon so we can get to the bottom of it."

What the fuck? Since when is having a slightly earlier ovulation something to be concerned about? I asked Dr. Action about it just a few weeks ago, and she said that, so long as I'm ovulating, the cycle day is unimportant, unless it gets back to, say, day 8 or 9. And what was that crack about my age, huh? (Yeah, I know, I'm old enough to remember Nixon resigning, but c'mon--you just don't say things like that to people, especially emotionally fragile infertile people, and especially when you're a veteran reproductive endocrinologist, right?)

At any rate, the IUI itself was uneventful. I saw the follicle--on the left, 18 millimeters--and the sperm wash went well. In fact, he reported that J.'s sperm looked, and I quote, "excellent." Which is surprising, unless perhaps the wash doesn't include any kind of check of morphology? Sadly, as it was still two hours before my normal wake-up time--he likes to do his IUI's at sunrise and I like to do my sleeping till 9:00--I did not have the brainpower to ask. (Next time, next time; there will doubtless be a next time.)

The insemination part was a little uncomfortable, but mostly just the same kind of uncomfortable as any other exam when I have to "scooch down to the end of the table and open your knees wide...no, wider."

An aside: Dr. Meow kept inviting J. into the room and offering him a front-row seat at the foot of the table, both during the trans-vag ultrasound and for the IUI itself. When I said I wasn't quite comfortable with that--what with being a bit on the shy side and wanting to preserve any shreds of association J. may have between arousal and my vagina--Meow seemed quite taken aback but acquiesced. Which made me think, Am I really such a prude that he's never had this request before? So I thought I'd bring it to you, kind readers, and ask: are you comfortable with having your husbands/partners staring up your be-gadgeted hoo-ha in a clinical setting? Just curious.

So, that's it for now. Not much else to tell; just meandering through the Wait and eating too much cheese.