A Prayer for Insemination

Pregnant Praying-Stock PhotoYesterday, Ritualwell, one of my favorite sources for all things Jewish sent me this fabulous prayer for insemination.

A Prayer for Insemination

By Rabbi Melissa Klein

Dear God,
We ask for your presence with us
As we go to the doctor’s office
And the doctor inserts donor semen
Into _______’s uterus.

We ask for You to be present in the process,
Present in the semen,
Present in ________’s egg for the month
Present in our hearts,
That she may conceive
And bear a healthy child
A child who will be a source of joy and learning
A child who will surprise us and delight us
And challenge us.

Keep reading.

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Fertility Monitoring – Any Pointers Welcome!

basal_body_temp_sample_410x317According to the two lesbian conception books I’m reading, tracking my cycle and being familiar with it knowing precisely when I’m ovulating is very important the most important thing in the WORLD. As a result, I’ve been trying to be very diligent at taking my temperature every morning and checking my underwear for mucus. I’m not going to lie, I think I’m doing it wrong – or my cycle is weird.

For instance, my temperature spiked really high in the first week of my cycle (during my period) and has been all over the place, but at lower temps since then. According to the fertility apps I’ve downloaded I’m fertile today…but I have no mucus and my temperature stayed the same. My partner things I have a quick cycle-about 21 days. I think I’m more around 23, but my apps all start with 28-day cycles and since I have no clue…I’m just going with the flow. No pun intended.

Since the fibroids have pushed actual insemination back a bit further than I originally planned, I’m thinking of only tracking for one more month simply to see if there is a pattern, to figure out how long my cycle is, and to get a better handle on my ovulation before laying off of the early morning temperature taking.

Another thing? I don’t think I make mucus…or at least not any that I can see in my drawers. I was doing some ultra sexy -aka boner killing- reading about mucus and cervical openings with my partner two nights ago. I looked over to her after reading that a partner can feel more “involved” in a pregnancy by helping to look at the cervical opening each month to help analyse the amounts of mucus. She was less than thrilled about this and truthfully, I’m sort of not into looking at my cervix either! I’ve seen a lot online and can’t help but see a penis tip.

I’ve also been reading about analyzing saliva, ovulation watches and ovulation pee sticks. I really don’t want to throw a bunch of money at everything, so any pointers you Immas out there have would be great. But, if I have to look at my cervix, I will.

Coming Out of the Dark

yes, just like that Gloria Estefan song 🙂

I finally got a call from my doctor today, three days and four phone calls later. I have realized a few things:

1-Ultrasound techs (and the internet) can make you crazy

2-NYC doctors are busy

3-I really want a midwife

4-The power of diet, exercise and relaxation.

When I got the ultrasound the tech was sort of nonchalant, yet matter-of-fact … while remaining incredibly unhelpful. She simply told me that I had “lots” of “large” fibroids and that my uterus was “misshapen” but wasn’t able to tell me what any of it meant.

Was my desire to have a natural pregnancy and birth a mere dream? How many is lots? How large is large? WHY WON’T YOU GIVE ME ANSWERS!?

Oh yeah, because you’re not the doctor.

I called my doctor on Wednesday twice then on Thursday (twice) anxiously waiting for her phone call. I peed and pooped with my cell phone in my hand (lots of antibacterial gel used this week) worried that I’d miss her call. I went into meetings at the office with my cell phone on, checking it every minute or so worried I’d missed the call that came this morning.

While waiting for her call I spent my time on the internet finding as much information as possible about fibroids and how they can effect pregnancy. I was relieved to read that for the large majority of women fibroids have no ill-effect on getting pregnant or giving birth (though miscarriage and pre-term birth rates are slightly elevated). When I Googled things like “fibroids and food“, “holistic fibroid management“, or “natural fibroid care” I felt more relieved and hopeful that I could manage my fibroids without surgery, which is the common treatment for fibroids when you simply Google “fibroid treatment”.

At first it felt like a lot of cannots-I cannot have red met, I cannot have soy, I cannot drink alcohol, I cannot have milk or cheese. I cannot have a natural birth, I cannot give birth at home, I cannot have a midwife…then I remembered that the awesome power the mind can have over the body, a realization I found to be the most amazing and most awesome  force in Ina May Gaskin’s books on natural child birth. I can’t think of the cannots, I have to focus on the cans and they all help make my body ready for baby.

Speaking to my doctor today confirmed fibroids, though I only have three-which I think is far from “a lot”. Two are located outside of my uterus, one sort of on the front and the other near the back. They’re both approximately 6cm, about the size of a small lemon or lime. The third is located in my uterus and I have decided, after speaking with her about my options, that having that one removed would be best. Her concern is that the fibroid occupies space in the uterus, which could give problems for an embryo trying  to implant as well as possible growth restriction for a baby. I have to get one more test during my next cycle and hopefully can schedule the out-patient procedure in the next few months. The outer fibroids aren’t a concern for her and she doesn’t think surgery is necessary for them, which makes me happy. I’m glad to be able to “manage” them in a holistic way and am trying to do everything to eat properly and get enough exercise. I’ve been re-thinking a lot of things-first and foremost my job which has become increasingly stressful because stress and fibroids do not mix. Of course, thinking about finding a new job is also stressful so finding ways to manage stress is top on my list of priorities. The food and exercise will take time, I’m sure. For now, I’m feeling incredibly blessed, grounded and grateful that the fibroids I thought were surely a giant ocean to swim across is just a little puddle to hop over.

Blessings and Love to all of you Immas and Immas-to-be out there!

Shabbat Shalom!

Bump in the Road

Today I went to get an ultrasound of my uterus to confirm whether or not I have fibroids and I do.

Laying in the dark examination room getting a guided tour of my “misshapen” uterus was a bit surreal and I was completely unprepared for the news. Somehow I imagined that my gynecologist was wrong, how could I all of a sudden have fibroids? How does this just happen? Why haven’t other doctors realized this? Could they really have grown this large and numerous in five years?

Yes, it’s been almost five years since I’ve been to the gyno. When R and I started dating we went to the doctor to get checked out. We were both fine, there was no risk of getting knocked up so I didn’t think much of it. Turns out, you have to go to the doctor every year for a reason. 

After the appointment has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I felt extremely anxious when the tech showed me the many fibroids on my uterus. “Fibroid, fibroid, fibroid,” she remarked hovering the ultrasound wand over the many globular-looking grey blobs on the screen in front of me.

“Your uterus is shaped oddly.” she said. I asked what it all meant and, of course, she couldn’t tell me much because she’s not the doctor. Next she looked at my left ovary-a glimmer of hope. Four or Five dark masses showed up on the screen.

“What’s that?” I asked expecting the worst.

“Your ovaries with eggs inside.” she answered.

“Do they look okay?”

“Yup, looks good. Normal”

Slight relief until she looked for the right and deemed it slightly abnormal-looking, but told me to “check with the doctor.”

I successfully left the office without crying which lasted exactly one half block. The tears continued while I told my mother, when I text messaged R and onto the subway. I thought I’d be able to go into work and decided to lock myself in my office to survive the day until the tech’s words to echoed in my ears. Instead of going into work I called in, through tears, and came home to obsessively Google everything I could about fibroids and pregnancy.

There are a lot of questions going through my mind. How many is a lot? Are they really 6-10 cm or was the tech wrong? Where are they located? And most important-can I still try to have a baby? I didn’t have the strength to call my doctor today, I’m not quite prepared for the answers to these questions, but it seems to me that while having fibroids isn’t ideal, it’s not a deal breaker. It changes a lot of things I want for my pregnancy; I wanted a home birth, I wanted a natural birth, I wanted to spend very little time in a doctor’s office. I wanted a midwife attended birth, I wanted to be in my home, or at most in a birth center and the more I read the more I realize that most likely I’ll be delivering in a hospital. Having fibroids puts me into the “high-risk” category with greater chance of cesarean section and/or pre-term labor, or miscarriage. It’s heavy-hence the tears all day.

Is it the end of the world? No, it’s a road block and now comes figuring out a way around it.

 

Everything but a D@ck

I love my mother.

She wasn’t super excited when I told her that I was a lesbian. In fact, she didn’t want to talk about it at all and definitely didn’t want me to tell my father. Almost six years later, and she considers R a part of the family and regularly says “I love you” to her when we hang up the phone.

When my sister told my father that we were talking about getting pregnant my dad asked, “How?” My mom’s response? “Same way as everyone else, minus the dick.”

Now that’s love.

Operation Baby Body Prep: Books Galore and More!

Stock PhotoI’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, like a lot a lot. I’m powering through books two and three at a time highlighting and bookmarking all the way and anxiously waiting for more books to arrive. I know it seems silly, especially when the donor situation is still very much up in the air, but I feel the more I’m prepared and knowledgeable about pregnancy, labor, and birth the better.

I’ve recently finished Rachel Pepper’s The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians, though I’m re-reading the donor chapter AND Ina May Gaskin’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I’m reading Labor of Love-A Midwife’s Memoir by Cara Muhlhahn. I’m patiently waiting for Spiritual Midwifery, also by Ina May, as well as a Natural Pregnancy book. While I do feel quite full of information, my head’s not spinning. I’m not feeling anxious, scared or worried that something will go “wrong” with the process either. I’m fascinated.

I’m finally on the road to baby-really this time!

Since I started my period I had the exciting (I’m sure soon to be annoying) experience of waking up, trying not to move to take my temperature. I logged it into all three of the fertility/ovulation apps I downloaded onto my phone. I took my vitamins this morning knowing that in 3-4 months we’ll be starting and couldn’t help but feel a flutter of excitement-otherwise known as mind-numbing cramps.

For my entire life I only vaguely understood how and why women get pregnant. With all of the unplanned pregnancies and “surprise” additions to a family, you’d think getting knocked up is easy. For healthy straight couples I suppose it is, but the complexity of pregnancy is really remarkable. When you learn that conception can usually only happen on 1 or maybe 2 days out of a month it’s truly mind-boggling and something of a miracle. The sheer magnitude of that fact is enough to make any sane woman slightly insane and I’m grateful to have spoken to another friend today who’s gone through the process with her wife. Their son is almost three and they’re trying for baby number two. This friend suggested relaxation and meditation downloads-especially in the TTC process. She felt that doing relaxation and visualization techniques helped her to get out of her head and focus on her body. At this point I’m up for trying everything. Holistic website says no red meat or caffeine if you have fibroids? Goodbye morning latte!  See you later, steak! Raspberry leaf tea can help with fertility? I’ll try that! Vitamin K? OK!

With all of the vitamins, teas, and diet adjustments it may seem like I’m completely in control, yet I know that much of this is out of my hands. That said, I’m doing everything in my power to make my body and mind ready for a baby. If that means listening to a woman telling me that my body is ready to receive a child (or whatever the meditation will say) I’m going to listen. If that means no more caffeine, well check ya later, coffee! Wine? That will have to wait until I’m actually knocked up;)

Sending lots of love to you all.

Shabbat Shalom

Yay, My Period!

For the next 3-4 months my period will be the “norm” as we start tracking my BBT. This one is particularly exciting because it means I can finally get an answer on the possibility of fibroids. My appointment is on Tuesday morning and I’m hoping that by the end of the appointment we have the green light to start the pre-TTC process, which means that, Gd willing, I’ll be saying “No Period, YAY!”

The Wonderful World of Jewish Baby Traditions: Mazel tov?

R&BA baby is amazing news. It’s exciting, it’s a bit scary, it’s incredibly wonderful. Everything from planning the pregnancy (in the cases of LGBTQ couples especially) to finding out you’ve conceived, to spreading the news, to the birth is an exciting period. I’ve watched friends and co-workers go through all of the steps towards mamahood and can’t wait for my turn.

One of the things I find interesting about Judaism in relation to pregnancy is the actual pregnancy itself. There are many fun (and odd) traditions and superstitions that I’ll be exploring as a time goes on and many that R and I have decided don’t work for us. Of course, I’ll share my thoughts about them here. The one I’m interested in today is a common Jewish phrase of congratulations-mazel tov-in relation to pregnancy.

Got a new job? Mazel tov!

Quit the job you hated? Mazel tov!

Got a promotion? Mazel tov!

Became bat mitzvah? Mazel tov!

Just got engaged? Mazel tov!

Just got married? Mazel tov!

You’re pregnant? Not Mazel tov.

The website My Jewish Learning says that it’s considered bad luck to wish a pregnant woman mazel tov because “something might happen to the baby.” I’ve not heard that it was bad luck or superstitious, rather that being pregnant is sort of transitional period of waiting (which it is) and only at the birth is a mazel tov warranted.

Chabad.org says, “Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilled.” It goes on to say:

Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea. A new idea is very exciting, but until it has been brought into the concrete world and actualized, it is too early to celebrate. So too with pregnancy.

Becoming pregnant is an awesome and wonderful event. The miracle of conception is the most natural supernatural occurrence, the most normal paranormal experience in the universe. But as exciting as becoming pregnant is, nothing has really happened. Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilled, a prelude to something yet to arrive, a step towards a new life that is yet to come, a spark of an idea that is yet to be implemented. We would not throw a party for someone who had a good idea but has not yet followed it through. So we don’t celebrate a pregnancy as we would other happy occasions, and we do not wish Mazal Tov to a pregnant woman. Mazal Tov is only appropriate when referring to something that has already occurred, while pregnancy is the expectation of something yet to come.

A bit gloomy, no?

That’s what I thought too when I first read this explanation, but the more that I think about it the more I find it apropos, especially in the TTC, Pre-TTC stages of lesbian conception. Right now this whole thing is simply an idea, it’s something I want with my entire being, but it’s not yet happened yet. I got my first B’sha’ah Tovah,all should proceed at the right timefrom a coworker. As cheeseball as it sounds, I felt comforted. This will happen-at the right time.

Back to Square One: Known Donor vs. Sperm Bank

stock-photo-11255400-biracial-baby-sucking-his-toes-isolated-on-whiteIt’s been over two weeks and our potential known donors haven’t gotten back to us. R and I decided that instead of sending them a follow-up e-mail that it’s time to move on. I have to say, I’m pretty bummed out.

We’d been hopeful that these guys would work out long time. They’re a bi-racial couple like us and Jewish which sort of makes them the holy grail of potential donors. When I’d asked them months ago they seemed genuinely interested. They even suggested we go out for wine to discuss. But with the hustle-bustle of the holiday season and traveling we both did we never got around to having wine. I suppose I could’ve picked up the phone, but saying “hey remember when we talked about your sperm” is more comfortable to say via email rather than out loud. Which could be a problem in and of itself.

So I sent out a note to see when they were available to meet to further discuss the possibility of them being our donors and nothin’ but crickets. Am I asking too much to expect a “sorry, no thanks” e-mail?

My straight friends and co-workers (who I’m sure are already sick of hearing about this) have suggested that I just find another donor-Like it’s that easy! Another suggested we use a sperm bank and as I explained the cost of sperm banks and the quick life span of frozen swimmers vs fresh swimmers I could tell that she was completely overwhelmed. I stopped short and simply said, “we’d like known donor. ” And just like a good Yenta she tried to think of some guys…but couldn’t. Maybe using frozen goods would be “easier” but we’ve (I’ve) got my heart set on a known donor.

Some friends of ours recently had a baby girl who’s about 4 mos old now. When I spoke to the mamma who carried her about donors and pregnancy she told me that she and her partner tried for months with frozen sperm-both in the clinic and in their home. While they did conceive, they miscarried a month later. As their money started to run thinner and thinner they considered using the non-carrying mom’s brother’s sperm and got pregnant on the first try. She told me, in her 8th month, that she wished they’d just gone with the brother all along. She felt like they’d wasted lots of money and perfectly good eggs.

It was this conversation that pushed known donors farther ahead than bank donors. I realize that their story isn’t the norm, I know two many other couples who got pregnant with frozen sperm and have beautiful children and perhaps it would make more sense to throw all of our money at a sperm bank insemination done at a clinic-get a bigger bang for our buck.

After browsing through a few known donor websites I can’t help but get the heebejeebees: Bios that say things like: “Want Help Getting Pregnant?” “Let me help you get pregnant!” “Awesome, educated man to help you get pregnant!” Maybe frozen is better? As I peer at the pictures of these men willing to donate their sperm through IA or sex I feel myself judging their appearance and can’t help but feel slightly nauseous thinking about using fresh sperm from any of these people.

I suppose this is the benefit of having a known donor who is a friend or acquaintance. I also more fully understand why many women use frozen sperm from a bank. Not only do you forgo all of the legal riga-murah you also just have what you need-sperm, no messy strings attached.

I can’t help but feel a bit deflated, and we’ve not even started yet! So what to do?

Do we go the L-Word-Route and have our friend recruit nice guys willing to donate?

Do we send an e-mail to all of the cute, smart, funny gay and/or straight men we know to ask if they want to donate?

Do we throw a party and invite a bunch of cute, smarty funny gay and/or straight men?

Do we ask them again?

 

Two Immas is Shomer Shabbat

shabbat shalom2…then why is this post up on Shabbat?

Because it’s a scheduled post 🙂

Shomer Shabbat (or Shomer Shabbos) usually indicates a Jewish person who fully observes Shabbat. That means from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday the person will abstain for certain activities, 39 to be exact. This is why you may often see a Jewish family walking in any type weather on Saturday. In New York there are special Shabbat elevators and doors, entire neighborhoods shut down before sundown and buying challah is something of a spectator sport.

I am not Shomer Shabbat. I turn on the television, I cook food, I turn lights on and off. I observe the Sabbath in my own way. We sometimes attend Friday evening services (though we’ll be avoiding that tonight in preparation for the storm) we light candles, we make kiddish and I try not to get online and turn off my phone. When we have children, we hope to take on a more full observation of Shabbat. We’ll still most likely cook and turn lights on and off, but we want to use this special Gd-given time as family time.

For now, R and I enjoy spending undistributed time with one another during Shabbat. And perhaps, one day in the next few months, we’ll be observing the highest Shabbat mitzvot (commandments/obligations), making love.

Shabbat Shalom.