Another Curve Ball

One of the great things about writing under a pen name is that I can share things that the world isn’t privy to without any of my friends or colleagues knowing. Which is why I can say the thing I’m about to say.

I work for a small non-profit that’s going through some growing pains. Today I learned that they were terminating my position.

My boss told me through tears and our ED blinked back tears as well. Of course I cried like a crazy person and needed to take a long walk after I received the news to collect my thoughts. I am, of course, incredibly shocked and scared shitless. I mean, how can we TTC when I’ll be out of health insurance in two months!? I am also, strangely rather calm.

The organization is a small one with some serious money issues. My boss and I have had many conversations about budget and the staff knows that we’re incredibly strapped for cash, it’s just hard when it hits this close to home. The plus side is that I have two months notice, which gives me time to try to find something else. The insurance issue is the biggest headache, but for the sake of TTC and for my sanity I’m trying to not let it bother me.

It sounds incredibly simple and I know it’s not, but I’m really leaving it up to G-d (and a kick-ass resume). Just like TTC, worrying about it won’t make it better, it actually can make it worse. And I know that fretting over this new, HUGE curve ball will make TTC even harder. So I’m taking a day off tomorrow to process and plan, which roles into Shabbat which gives me more time to process and rest.

Any and all prayers, positive thoughts, meditations, booga-wooga, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Everything I Know About Infertility I Learned from Charlotte York Goldenblatt

charlotte and harryLast month I wrote about my frustration with the portrayal of lesbian conception on the L-Word. In case you’re a dyke who never watched the L Word (what’s wrong with you!?)or just someone who didn’t watch the show,  it went a little something like this:

Tina and Bette decide to have a baby.

Tina and Bette immediately find sperm from a donor who’s “using color more” in his paintings.

Tina and Bette get sperm analyzed and the smart, artist’s sperm don’t swim for shit.

Bette finds the perfect sperm-Marcus Allenwood, he’s black. Tina freaks out and sits in the Planet to sulk.

Bette and Tina use Marcus’ jizz and voila! They’re pregnant.

Tina miscarries and it’s fucking horrible.

Tina inseminates again without Bette because Bette “can’t handle another miscarriage”

Season 2 opens with Bette banging Carmen and Tina about 6 months pregnant. Ta-da! She got pregnant on the second try!

While it’s great to see a couple of dykes and their adorable (really adorable) multiracial baby on mainstream television, it’s not exactly an accurate portrayal of the ups and downs that women go through when TTC. Enter Charlotte York McDougal  Goldenblatt:

Charlotte finally decides she’s going to get married.

Charlotte meets Trey McDougal when she falls in front of his cab.

They fall madly in love, kind of.

Charlotte proposes to Trey and freaks out because he didn’t get down on one knee.

Trey takes Charlotte to Tiffany on 5th Ave to buy her a pretty (giant) ring.

Trey can’t get it up, but they get married anyway and never have sex.

Trey and Charlotte break up and then get back together and then get on the same page about having babies.

They have a lot of sex.

Charlotte gets her period (again) when Miranda gets accidentally pregnant because Steve only has one ball and she’s got a lazy ovary, how can it work!? It does and she needs to dish, she spills and Charlotte storms off so they can have the “abortion talk”.  Of course Miranda keeps the baby and all is well with the ladies.

Charlotte calls for fertility help and after testing Trey’s sperm they discover that Charlotte’s vagina is attacking the sperm (which doesn’t seem like an infertility issue to me, but whateves.) Stay with me.

They keep trying and it doesn’t work. They divorce because Charlotte wants a baby and Trey doesn’t.

A few seasons later she falls in love with her divorce attorney, Harry Goldenblatt.

Charlotte converts to Judaism because Harry understands that children don’t have to be biological to be yours.

Charlotte and Harry go through rounds of IVF, lots of acupuncture, lots of sex. Her embryos are never viable. She starts running more and adopts a cute dog she names Elizabeth Taylor.

Charlotte gets pregnant!

Charlotte loses the baby and it’s horrible and probably the best acting the Kristen Davis does on the series.

Charlotte and Harry start the adoption process and meet a great couple who end up deciding to keep their child. Harry is crushed, Charlotte has somehow found some serious strength.

The series ends with a picture of a beautiful Chinese girl, Lilly, their new daughter.

In the second movie Charlotte gets pregnant and gives birth to a little girl they name Rose, after Harry’s bubbe.

It takes Charlotte TEN YEARS to give birth. TEN YEARS! I know that SATC and the L-Word are shows, but there is some truth in Charlotte’s struggle.

I pray to G-d that it doesn’t take us (or you and your family) ten years to get pregnant, but the truth of the matter is that couples, gay and straight, go through months and sometimes years TTC. It’s heart breaking, devastating, frustrating, infuriating, and incredibly hard on a relationship. And it seems that when you’re TTC everyone around you is able to get pregnant and you start to believe that getting pregnant is easy.

I found out this weekend that some friends of ours (not good friends, mind you) are in their 5th IUI cycle, our closer friends are taking a break after 4 failed IUIs and couple is starting the process on the DL in the next two cycles. This is what TTC looks like for most women. Of course, there are a few of you out there who got pregnant on the first try and all I can only say, WOW! For the rest of us, it’s a long process that can be really tough.

I have an appointment at another clinic today to check out other options and have reached out to some CNM who do IUIs. Fingers crossed that Third Time is a charm for us.

Sending you all lots of love, strength, prayers and of course baby dust!

IUI Round 2 Stats

BFNJanuary 28th AF came, IUI #1 failed.

January 29th called sperm bank to order two more vials

February 9th Ovidrel around 9:30 PM (delivery was late)

February 10th IUI Cycle 2, 1st insemination around 10AM 10 mil, 45% motility

February 11th IUI Cycle 2, 2nd insemination around 10 AM, 65 mil, don’t remember motility

TWW

AF Due on Friday, February 21, 24th day of cycle

Saturday, February 22 pregnancy test, BFN 5:45 AM

Saturday, February 22 AF 3PM

Next Steps

On Wednesday last week I met with my fertility doctor and I’ve gotta say, it was more frustrating than it was empowering. So much so, I think Leah and I are going to try to switch clinics.

We’re currently with a place called Genesis Fertility that has tons of locations in Brooklyn and Staten Island and while my doctor is pleasant enough, the care that we get every time we do an IUI, the dismissive tone of the billing department I’ve written about before, and my last visit makes us think that we should switch.

Here are my issues:

  • When my insurance company denied my insurance I got a fairly hefty package explaining why I’m not infertile (no boy and girl sex). They noted that my diagnosis of fibroids wasn’t sufficient for pages and then on the back page it said that I could have my doctor do a “peer to peer” consultation with the insurance company’s doctor. I called the clinic, got a laugh from the billing department and she said, “they never reverse these”. I told her that her tone and her dismissive manor wasn’t appreciated and frankly quite rude and she made some B.S excuse that she had a cold. Since then the interactions with billing have been less than pleasant. Charges for storage when we aren’t storing sperm, random charges and whenever I call there is always a tone.
  • When we initially found out that we’d have to pay out of pocket I asked if there was a payment plan that we could go on to help with the cost and she said, “It’s not that expensive of a procedure, ma’am.” To which I responded, “what’s expensive and what’s inexpensive is relative. “
  • On my Wednesday visit I asked my doctor about going on Clomid and her response was, “We should make sure your fibroids aren’t blocking your fallopian tubes before we do that. But we’ll start doing blood work after your IUI to make sure your progesterone levels are sufficient.

What.The.Fuck.

Are you serious? Are you fucking serious!?

If my fibroids are blocking my fallopian tubes and we’ve spent nearly $5000 for to negatives and a possible ectopic pregnancy I’m seriously going to lose my marbles. AND if the fibroids are blocking my fallopian tubes insurance may have covered us to begin with!

Not to mention the fact that we think they’re doing the IUI at the wrong time. For our last two cycles we’ve been doing taking the Ovidrel trigger between 7-9PM (depending on when it gets delivered) and then going in the next two days at 9:15AM for our IUI. The more I research on Google (my friend, my foe) the more I’m reading that ovulation with Ovidrel generally takes 24-36 hours after the injection. If an egg lives between 12-24 hours after it’s released and frozen sperm lives on average only 6-24 hours it feels like we’re doing it wrong, no? Based on those calculations we should be going in the IUI on the second and third day after the trigger, not the first and second, no?

I am aware that fertility clinics are busy places and that they see countless couples and single women on a daily basis all trying to have a baby, but is it too much to ask that they have a little more compassion? That they think things through thoroughly for each patient? That they realize that no two women are exactly the same and that we don’t live and breath in the world of “perfect” 28 day cycles and day 14 ovulations?

I can’t help but wonder if it’s because we’re dykes or because I’m a black and Leah’s not. These are, perhaps, irrational thoughts but I can’t help them from going through my mind.

So we’re thinking about switching to Columbia Fertility Clinic, which we’ve heard is a really amazing clinic that has really great success rates for lesbians. The only problem is that to pay out of pocket there is going to be almost $500 more expensive a month than what we’re paying now. Of course, after I do the procedure to check my tubes in the next few days they could be wide open.

I need some help! Is this normal behavior at a fertility clinic? What’s have you other TTC mama’s experiences been like at clinics? If you’re in NYC, which clinic are you at?

Sending love and blessing and baby dust to all of you.

 

 

AF and an Argument

cuppics0309_all2She came this morning and I’m really upset.

Leah and I got into a pretty big fight while I was cooking breakfast about the process, how I’m communicating (how I’m not communicating) her expectations and feelings vs. my expectations and feelings and it basically came down to this: TTC is an irrational, illogical, insanity-inducing, stressful, devastating and elating process, all at the same time. Sometimes I need her close and sometimes I push her away. Sometimes she gets it and sometimes it feels like I’m talking to a doctor (she is in medicine, which could be why I feel like this sometimes). I told her, through tears of anger, frustration, sadness and hopelessness that she’d never understand what it feels like in my body and that her words and embrace and touches all do wonders to comfort me, but the things that fly through my mind on any given day, in any given moment are so numerously and spastic at the same time that I do, at times, turn inward.

Which I know hurts her.

Here’s what happened.

Our clinic told us that Ovidrel tends to stay in your body for 14 days, which would be on Monday for us. They advised us to refrain from taking a pregnancy test until after those 14 days-the infamous TWW (or as I like to refer to it, Two Weeks of Hell-TWH), which is about a 28 day cycle. Which I’ve never had. Ever.

So on Friday morning I told Leah that I would be taking a test the next day if AF hadn’t showed up and she was confused. She asked why I was doing it and, of course, I had no logical answer. I knew what the clinic told us, but it didn’t matter. According to my chart, I told her, AF would show up on Friday. If she didn’t, I’d test on Saturday. She again asked why, reminding me of the 14 days and I sort of blew up at her.

I knew it didn’t make sense (to her especially)

I knew it could be a false positive

I knew it could be negative

I just wanted to know. I needed to know.

So this morning I tested at 5:45 AM, (I tossed at turned all night) and got a BFN

I got in bed and told her it was negative and she didn’t say anything.

A few hours later she got up and went for a run and I laid in bed thinking about our next steps, oh and I Googled.  ( I know, I know)

When she came back is when things got worse before they got better, which they are now.

She said something to the affect of not letting each failed cycle be a devastation to us and I really lost my shit. I may have said cruel things, and we probably cried. (Those two things happened.)

In the end we’re in a better place. I promised to tell her what I’m thinking, even when the thoughts I think are illogical and she promised to do whatever I want and need no matter how crazy or illogical she thinks my needs are. I also reminded her that when she starts TTC (which we’re planning for in the next few months) she’ll have a better understanding of what I’m going through.

The thing is, it really is making me a little crazy.

Shavua Tov, have a good week, everyone.

“Be Fruitful & Multiply”

Jewish FamilyCommon belief is that G-d gave us 10 Commandments. As evident in movies like “The Ten Commandments” and “Prince of Egypt.”  All of the “Thou Shalt Nots”-Murder, Coveting, Stealing… 10 seems like a pretty good number of things to keep in check unless you’re Jewish. For Jews there are 613 mitzvot, or commandments, given to us by G-d. There are, of course, all of the “Thou Shalt Nots” but there are a lot of things that we should (and should not) do. One of those 613 is to “be fruitful and multiply.”

In fact, the first mitzvah in the Torah is just this. I’ll say now that Chabad.org isn’t my Judaic North star, but I do tend to go to them for the very basics of Torah teaching. Chabad has this to say:

The first mitzvah in the Torah is “to be fruitful and multiply.” As the verse in Genesis1 states: “And G‑d said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…'” After the Flood, G‑d repeated this commandment to Noah: “And G‑d blessed Noah and his sons, and He said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.'”
This mitzvah is considered a “great mitzvah” and in some cases even overrides certain other laws.

The minimum requirement of this mitzvah is to have a son and a daughter.
But if possible one should try to have as many children as possible. In the words of Isaiah: “He did not create [the world] for a waste, He formed it to be inhabited.” From this verse we learn that gentiles too have a mitzvah to have children.

Read More

For religious Jews, this mitzvah is an important one and there is no questioning it. Of course, many couples make the decision not to have children, which is a choice that I support for families who make that decision. The areas of grey come with Jews like Leah and I. We don’t feel an obligation to have children because of our Judaism, we have a desire to have children.

Many of my Jewish friends fall into this spectrum of Jewish parenting, it’s something we want, a basic pull towards motherhood that we all strive for.

Naomi Less, an accomplished Jewish musician and educator, is a friend of mine. She recently shared her very personal struggle with this particular mitzvah. She and her partner have been trying to have a child for years and are going to tremendous lengths to do so. Naomi’s post first appeared on the Sh’ma blog and Naomi’s story of infertility is not an uncommon one. In fact, through the TTC journey I’ve had many conversations with friends, colleagues and strangers who have shared their own journeys and struggles to Mamahood. Some of these stories are “successes” meaning that they got pregnant and had children or adopted children, though I don’t consider a woman who’s infertility journey ends without a child to be a “failure.”

During a social hour at my office yesterday one of my colleagues asked if I was praying more and I immediately answered that I have, and it’s true. It’s easy for humans to seek a “higher power” in times of distress and TTC is one of those times where many women turn to faith in its many forms for answers. My prayer for Naomi and her partner is that they are able to have the child they have been praying for.

“In the Meanwhile” by Naomi Less

In the meanwhile…

I am happily married – I settled down in 2009 – living an unsettled/settled life. Settled in that I nest in our apartment, not feeling the need to go out all the time anymore. Unsettled in that as a touring musician, I’m moving around to different communities a lot.

But there’s a deep feeling of unsettled-ness within me.  I’m coming out–not that it’s been a secret, but as much of my life is public domain as an artist and educator, NOT blasting something is almost like concealing it.

I can’t seem to get pregnant and have a baby.

There, it’s out.

I have been struggling with my partner for over 3 1/2 years – trying all kinds of fertility treatments. With 4 ivfs, 4 iui’s, 2 clomid rounds, 2 pregnancies – 2 miscarriages, 2 D and C’s and over $35,000 spent of my and others money, I’m at my financial and emotional end.

I’m starting to feel desperate.

(Not to be corny but the annoying song by Extreme “hole-hearted keeps playing in my mind. “There’s a hole in my heart that can only be filled by you”.)

It’s insane.

And it’s really getting me down. It never once bothered me working with families with young children and just lately within the last month I find I sometimes have sad moments in that space.

Keep Reading.

Sending prayers of fertility, happiness and blessings to all of you.

Shabbat Shalom.

PMS or Pregnant!?

Cravings (I’m ordering a pizza right after I post this.)

Weeping (Everything makes me ugly cry. Last night I ugly cried while watching X-Men 2 and right now My Best Friend’s Wedding is on Lifetime and I’m sobbing)

Tender Nipples.

Do I have PMS or am I pregnant!?

My cycle is usually between 21-28 days long which means that I should get my period at any moment.

Just in case I made an appointment with my doctor to talk about Clomid and Progesterone for next cycle.

Two Week Hell

So this week I enter the second week of the TWW or what I like to call Two Weeks of Hell.

This time around I haven’t been focusing as much on the sensations of my body and I’m feeling a lot less crazy. Though, going into week two is a little nerve-wracking. Because my cycle is never the same number of days in a row I could basically start my period at any moment. As everyone TTC knows PMS symptoms are very similar to early pregnancy symptoms so only time can tell.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but the way that my fertility clinic works, I need to take a Clomid Class (has anyone else had to do this nonsense!?) before I can go on it, so I feel like I need to schedule the appointment with my doctor tomorrow just in case. It can always be cancelled if I’m pregnant.

It feels weird though, like I don’t have faith that it didn’t work. But I also want to go into a possible third cycle with guns blazing. Our plan is to do Clomid, trigger shot and Progesterone along with every natural fertility stuff we can manage. And then, G-d help us, we need to do more cycles, we may only do one IUI a month the lineup of drugs.

So, as I said last time all I can do is breath and pray and hope.

IUI Obsessions/Questions

I have some obsessions questions.

So yesterday and today make for Round 2 of IUI. Because of some work responsibilities I was able to take of Tuesday, but have to go in after the procedure on Wednesday. To help me get through the dreaded Two Week Wait, I’m trying to be positive, but I obviously have some questions and could use some help from you Mamas out there.

How many cycles of IUI did you do before you took Clomid or Progesterone?
Does the sperm come out after an IUI? Did you use a soft cup or anything to keep ’em up there?
Do you take any tests (pregnancy) after your IUIs? How soon after?
Did anyone eat pineapple core after IUI to help with implantation?

And the last, which I almost can’t bear to ask…how many cycles before you got your babe?