Archive | June, 2011

Poked and prodded

30 Jun

When I first got to work, I was sure that today’s post would be titled Gay Day at the Fertility Clinic. We spotted two other lesbian couples at the clinic this morning at 7:30 am. I was in for another round of blood work and an ultrasound. But by the time my day was over, all I could think about it how I am sick and tired of being poked and prodded.

This morning started with a nurse taking a vial of blood from my arm and then a technician sticking a probe up my vagina and pressing on my now-enlarged ovaries in an effort to get an accurate follicle count. At 4pm I left work early to go to my acupuncture appointment, where I was pierced with multiple needles in areas that made me jump (this is supposed to relax my system and help with fertility … I am not so sure). Then I got to top all of that off with a two-needles-in-the-belly chaser. By the time this week is over I will have had blood taken three times, had three vaginal ultrasounds, been poked by needles in two acupuncture sessions and self-injected medication into my belly fat 14 times. I also had a massage yesterday where the male therapist worked on my stiff hips and spent most of the time manipulating my ass muscles. Fun times.

No wonder I feel so sore and drained. I am keeping up with a marathon of appointments (thanks to my darling wife and her chauffeuring), most of which involve sticking needles or other foreign objects into my body. Even though everyone I have dealt with has been entirely professional, I am starting to feel somewhat violated. It seems so patently unfair that (many) het couples can get pregnant after a hot session of shagging. My sweetie and I are reliant on a team of doctors, nurses, ultrasound technicians and embryologists.

Still, we are certainly not alone. The clinic was like Grand Central Station this morning. There were a lot of nervous and expectant people there, including a couple of men who were dropping off “samples,” a well-coiffed woman who seemed almost frighteningly composed, a cute genderqueer dyke couple and another sporty lesbian duo. Let’s hope all of us make the journey to parenthood soon.

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Sore

28 Jun

Wow. I forgot what it feels like to wake up sore for several days in a row. You see, before I developed a healthy gym and yoga habit, I spent 26 years as rather sedentary. I was always an artsy kid and my family wasn’t into sports, so each attempt to get active kind of fell flat. I didn’t have great habits and the thought of entering a gym was mildly psychologically triggering. Then I threw out my back when I was 25 years old. I actually managed to shift a disc while hoisting myself off of a massage table. I could barely walk for days. When I went to see a physiotherapist (a frighteningly muscular German ex-ballet dancer), I realized that I had little core strength and that it was time to get active. Back pain is as good a wake-up call as anything.

I joined the Y with a friend and quickly became accustomed and addicted to the endorphin rush and muscular development that a regular gym habit provided. I even stopped going to therapy. The physical release of exercising seems to re-wire my depression-prone brain. I also lost about 25 pounds. I did this while rarely getting on a scale, eating intuitively and maintaining a body positive attitude. I also noticed something rather astonishing: I was rarely sore or stiff. My back and neck problems went away. After I added yoga to the mix, I found that my anxiety symptoms virtually disappeared and my seasonal depression rarely returned.

Which brings me to now. A combination of a rather sedentary last grad school push, a wicked cold that knocked me off my feet for a week and the doctor-ordered ban on exercise has left me feeling stiff and sore all over again. You see my ovaries are in the process of being artificially inflated to the size of oranges. I have been told not to do anything other than walking, lest I jostle or twist one of my newly swollen organs. It’s a small price to pay, but it hasn’t been super fun to wake up hobbled in the morning. I have a massage booked for tonight, Hopefully this will help loosen things up.

And if you follow IVF lingo, here’s the update: 13 small follicles on one side, 16 on the other. It’s to early to measure their size, but I will be back at the clinic tomorrow for an ultrasound and more blood work. Looks like I am on target for an egg retrieval and embryo transfer in early July. So far my hormone levels are normal. My belly is full of puncture wounds as are my arms (from recent blood work). Again, it’s a small price to pay. I just hope I am not too emotionally invested in this first round of IVF. The statistics are in my favour, but anything could happen. Here’s hoping!

The bloat

26 Jun

I don’t know how much you know about IVF. It’s kind of a freaky process. It involves throwing my body into temporary menopause and then turbo charging my ovaries and blowing them up to the size of oranges. The goal is to get me to produce lots of eggs, so the doctor can then extract them with a giant needle (yes, through my vagina). Then the fancy lab staff will inject an individual sperm into an individual egg – the process is called ICSI, but it sounds a lot like CSI. Then the embryologists babysit the embryos for between three and five days.

Depending on how the little suckers are doing, we will have to decide whether to implant one or two embryos. If we have a number of embryos to put on ice and a top quality one to implant, we will only put one back in. We are not romanticizing the possibility of having twins. The chances of a high risk pregnancy, premature babies and the insanity of having two infants at once — none of this is lost on me. Still, I can see why some couples are more wiling to take the risk. This process is grueling — and expensive. For women who have gone through years of fertility treatments and heartbreak, it’s tempting to go for broke and hope for a 2 for 1 family. But I’m still relatively young and hoping we won’t have to take the same risk.

Which brings me to the bloating. Today is my fifth day on a drug called P.uregon. This is the daily injection that blows up my ovaries. I’m already starting to feel the bloat. I can basically expect to look pregnant before I actually get pregnant. And given that I am carrying around 15 pounds of post-grad school weight right now, this is not going to be a pretty picture. I am also banned from doing any exercise other than gentle walking right now (lest I twist an ovary). So I am trying to be okay with myself at the size I’m at. My stomach is bruised from multiple needle punctures. But the additional belly padding has helped numb the sting of all of those injections. This will all be worth it in the end. But I’m not loving the sore lower back from inactivity and the additional stomach roll. Hopefully that will soon transform into a firm and round pregnant belly. Fingers crossed.

Back to blogging

26 Jun

It feels  strange to be blogging anonymously, but I am inching my way back into this world and there’s a lot that I need to keep in the cone of silence right now. But it’s my writerly nature to overshare, so this seemed like the best alternative — for now. I will eventually add my name to this blog, but the pseudonym will allow me to write freely in the coming weeks.

See, I am a queer woman trying to conceive. Before my wife and I started this process a year ago, pregnancy blogs seemed so banal. I wondered why women with babies suddenly subsumed their identities, replacing their own Face.book profile photo with pictures of their smiling progeny. But now I kind of get it. It takes a lot of work to create a human from scratch!

Given that I am a loud mouthed dyke who works in politics, it’s hard for me to imagine that this blog won’t get political. As a married queer living in a large Canadian city in the midst of a right-wing political swing at the federal, provincial level — you can bet that I’ll have a few things to say.

But I have been rather inwardly focused lately. I am in the midst of my first cycle of IVF, after spending several months trying to conceive using frozen sperm. I just finished my MA and I have a demanding full-time job. Riding this wave has consumed most of my physical and emotional energy. I sincerely hope that our journey toward parenthood starts soon. Our egg retrieval / embryo transfer is scheduled for early July. Given the intensity of the IVF process (money! needles! hormones! more needles!), I hope this one sticks.