Category Archives: The Long Break

the meeting

We met our midwife yesterday. J and I are still floating a bit from the experience. It was wonderful. She was wonderful.

It took forever to get to her place. She lives about an hour from us in this beautiful rural location amidst rolling hills covered wtih vineyards, and her office is in a building on her property. When we turned into her driveway and got out of our car, she was walking out of her garden holding a handful of spearmint. She came up to both of us, reached out to shake my hand, and held it with both of her hands as she looked into my eyes telling me how lovely it was to meet me. She did the same with J, then introduced us to her apprentice, her client who was just leaving, and her client’s little girl.

As they left, her apprentice asked us to take off our shoes and invited us in. The “office” is a big living room with pillows and comfy chairs and sofas and pregnancy and birth art everywhere. We were surrounded in goddesses, casts of pregnant bellies, paintings of mother goddesses giving birth. It was cozy and beautiful and empowering. Her apprentice asked us to sit wherever we liked and offered us tea and spearmint water. We gladly accepted. C came in and snuggled up on one of the sofas and invited her apprentice over to sit and cuddle with her.

I should take a moment to describe the midwife: C. C is 62 but honestly looks about ten years younger. She has long silver wavy hair, which she ties back on the top. She is somewhat short, and thin, and she wears long skirts and flowing clothes.  When she smiles, her eyes twinkle, and when she looks at people, she seems to look beyond any guards they might have up; she looks straight at people’s beings.  She is a crone, and she looks like the crone archetype.

After everyone was settled, we sat in each other’s presence for a moment drinking our tea and making small talk. C would ask us questions about our lives, and then asked us if we had questions. I looked to J to ask the majority of the questions. I wanted her to feel more part of this than she did in the past. The whole coversation was easy, organic. J asked how the IUI would work, and C explained the process. At one point she asked if either of us had ever looked at our cervix. When we both replied that we hadn’t, she pulled out a speculum for each of us to take home so that we could cervix-gaze at our leisure. (J later told me that she has no interest in her cervix and does not intend to look at it. I told her that was fine as long as she had some interest in mine. She does, so all is well in cervix land.)

We knew before that C had only done one insemination in the past, but she has wanted for quite some time to be able to provide IUI for those who ask. She has for ages been involved in feminist and gay rights activism (she told us she and her husband only got married when it looked like marriage would be legalized for gay folk in California, and they toasted Gavin Newsome at their wedding), and she wanted to be able to help out women like us. C has a midwife friend who will be training her to do IUIs, so she talked about her for a bit and let us know that if we wanted to work with her instead we could. J said, “No, we want to work with you!”

A smile broadened across C’s face, and she said, “Good! Because I really want to do this for you! I’m so excited about this.” I think I teared up a little when this happened. I proceeded to tell C that when I found her website that I knew we had to work with her, that we needed to know her, and I told her I dreamt of meeting her. She smiled knowingly and said, “It’s so important to listen to your dreams. We can learn a lot from them.”

We discussed a few more details. C had finally researched what she would charge us, which was one of our hugest concerns (as you all know). The final answer: $150. If that’s not a bargain–a downright gift–I don’t know what is.

We continued meandering through conversation. C and J talked about their parents’ deaths. We discovered that she too was an English major in college (her poetry about birth is stunning), that she’s an ordained minister. We talked about our dreams to have children. C even asked if we had names picked out (we do) and asked if we would share them (we did), and it was utterly beautiful. C talked a little about her philosophies about pregnancy and birth too: she discourages unnecessary ultrasounds, promotes home birth, and, well, my foggy brain can’t remember the rest right now. We did tell her that should we get pregnant, we would like to talk with her about being our midwife, and again that beautiful soft smile crept across her face. “Of course,” she said. She’s a lovely woman.

An hour zipped by, and it was soon time to leave (I still had to teach my final class of the day), and she told us to take some apples (from her trees), and offered to get us some spearmint, which we unfortunately had to decline because we weren’t going home for a few hours. She gave us both a warm hug, told us again how excited she was to be working with us, and sent us on our way. J and I left full of hope and peace and eagerness to get all of this started. We were lifted up in a way we have never been through all of this.

J took me out for sushi after I taught my class, and we reflected on the appointment, how her home reminded us of Humboldt, how she reminded us of the best of that place, of home. We kept talking about it all when we came home, dreaming about our child, knowing that somehow this woman was going to help us bring him/her into the world.

We feel like this marks the beginning of the end of our break, the restoration of hope in a new and reassuring form, the beginning of Reproducing Genius Phase 2.

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Filed under insemination, J, midwife, new beginnings, The Long Break, ttc

how did i get here?

Last night I had a minor meltdown of sorts. We had sent off our paperwork to the spermbank, and J was feeling quite hopeful and excited. In fact, she’s been getting really excited that we’re nearing the end of our break. I had to tell her that I was having a hard time getting there. The last year and a half have worn me down so much, and I’m frankly a bit scared to jump back in, spend a bunch of money, get our hopes up, and be disappointed time and time again.

Of course, she was disappointed to find out how negative I was feeling about it all. I’ve gone to some ugly places in my mind lately, and one ought not share those ugly places with one’s hopeful partner. Such sharing has a way of squashing one’s partner’s enthusiasm. I felt like shit about that. I still do.

So today I’m trying to turn myself around. I heard back from our midwife, and we’re arranging pre-IUI meeting with her in the coming weeks. This is good. Perhaps once we meet with her, I’ll feel more hopeful.

Yet, there’s this big part of me that says, “Yeah, right.” I want to be excited for my break to be over. I want to be eager to start this again. And I see all of your lovely comments about how excited you are for us, and I stare at them wondering how this can possibly be exciting anymore. I wonder how we could possibly ever be one of those couples who sees a second line on a pregnancy test or has to think about where their birth will take place.

But I have to find a way to get back to a place where I can at least look forward to this, even if the “h” word isn’t attainable just yet.

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Filed under fear, The Long Break, ttc

over–of the hung variety

J and I received the settlement for her car debacle. As you may recall, her car’s computer was fried as a result of our previous mechanic’s shoddy work (major wires were pinched, shorts occurred, the car died). It was a big surprise, but the previous mechanic’s insurance company paid up quite quickly.

And so it came that we saw this as an opportunity to celebrate. We’ve not had extra money for going to bars, and we’ve been cleaning out our bodies of toxins, so we thought it might be fun to treat ourselves and go to our favorite local pub for some drinks. Unfortunately, it turns out I enjoy pear vodka a little too much (add some club soda, and it’s the most refreshing summer drink). Today, I am not enjoying the vodka or its effects. Today, I feel like utter shite. I thought vodka was supposed to be less likely to create a hangover, although it may have been the wine we had as a nightcap once we got home that threw me over the edge. All I know is that as we ate dinner, I could no longer keep myself upright. I needed to sleep, and so I did. And now I’m paying the piper, as J’s mom used to say.

While I can deal with a hangover–I’ve had plenty–it’s not so easy to deal with a hangover when one must do things. Today is not the day to have one. My mom, my sister, and my niece are coming for a visit. We are supposed to be going to farmer’s market tonight. I am supposed to be finishing up the cleaning of the house. I am supposed to feel alive and energetic. Instead, I feel like I’m sitting in mud. Ugh.

Anyone have any sure-fire hangover cures? I’ve got the water under control, but what else works for you?

In other news, I popped my first prenatal vitamin in months this morning. I purchased some good ones at our little market yesterday. We’re almost exactly three months out from the beginning of Operation Baby 2008.

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Filed under car, celebrations, drinking, family, The Long Break

my summer in purgatory

I know, I know. This blog isn’t what it should be right now. If you’ve noticed my tendency to move quickly from drama and emotion to boring as hell, you’re not alone. I see it. I know. The problem comes from nothing new to say about wanting to have a baby. I can say over and over how bad it hurts, how much I want it, how much this break sucks, how insensitive people are, how difficult it is to be an aunt before a mom. You’ve seen me go on and on about any combination of those subjects many a time. But at what point does it just get dull? I’ll tell you when: when I post pictures of the animals I see from my balcony. Sure, they’re beautiful and majestic and all, but damn.

The problem is that I have nothing new to discuss on the subject of trying to build our family. J and I are quite settled into our summer routine of doing nearly nothing. We’re hoping like hell for October to come quickly (October is when we finally begin to get paid for teaching our fall classes) and for that first insemination to be magical and for me to be pregnant. At this point in time, when we’re so far away from it, it’s hard to feel positive about any of this. I mean, how many months will we have to throw money down the toilet once we start paying for sperm? Bleh. But I’m not really in the mood to complain or to go to that hopeless place. It is summer after all.

I feel like my whole life is on hold right now. I feel like I’m waiting to teach, waiting to get pregnant and start our family, waiting for my real life to begin. Fuck, I’m even waiting for my hair to grow to a length that isn’t hideous. My life is a big wait right now. Yet I have no choice but to continue waiting in this weird baby-less, ugly-haired purgatory where I’m tempted to drink too much wine, eat too much food, and indulge my unhealthy side far too much. For that, we have farmer’s market this evening, which I wouldn’t exactly call unhealthy, but it does encourage the consumption of good wine, decadent cheese, and even more decadent chocolate. Considering J and I have been on salads for lunch and dinner all week, I don’t think I need to feel guilty about a little indulgence. And at least it will help pass the time. That’s just the thing, though. I’m tired of just passing time until real life begins. I want now to feel like my real life, but until our baby is at least on its way, I don’t think now is going to feel any more real.

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Filed under Ramblings, The Long Break

wasted again

Today, I have had the worst ovulation pains–or mittelschmertz, rather. It’s like my body is taunting me. I hate wasting my eggs. I hate it. I’ve done this before; in fact, last summer I was in this same position, and it pissed me off then too.

It’s hot here. J and I went for a swim this afternoon and ran into our neighbors, whom I have mentioned here before. The woman informed us that she and her husband had discussed helping us out. J didn’t quite understand what she had said. She thought the husband was thinking about being a sperm donor in general, but it was fairly clear that they wanted to help us. Their hangup is that he was adopted, so they know nothing about his family medical history, and she said they couldn’t do it as a result. In retrospect, it was a little weird. Nevertheless, I thought it was sweet that they thought of us.

We’re leaning much more heavily now toward spermsicles. We want the leisure of having sperm on hand for up to a week should my body decide to be unpredictable. If something else happens (like the abovementioned story), we might reconsider, but at the moment, this feels good. The one thing holding us up is our lack of a spermsicle fund, which we probably won’t have until October.

More waiting for now. Today, there is nothing I can do about wasting yet another egg.

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Filed under ovulation, sperm, The Long Break, ttc

this and that: disjointed ramblings of a newlywed with PMS

First things first: There is a new baby in the world, born to the lovely ohchicken. Welcome to the world, Sparky, and congratulations, Moms!

Thank you so much for all of your congratulatory comments. J and I have been overwhelmed with pride as we have watched and read news story after news story about couples being married and communities celebrating with them. This has been a great moment to be a part of, and we feel really lucky.

For the past couple of days, we have been putting together a scrapbook, cutting out articles from the paper, and sending out announcements. This weekend we’re going to my parents’ house to celebrate with them. It’s quite possible the celebration will be interrupted by the birth of my niece. I certainly won’t complain if that’s the case.

Otherwise, there isn’t much going on with us. I’m looking for a new donor, but I’m increasingly convinced that we just need to save up for frozen sperm. I’m just so tired of trying to sort out weird men.

For now, I’m going to tackle tasks that I can actually do something about:

1. I’m trying to find a new hairstyle that will ease me through this really awkward transition from short to longer-short hair. It was just my luck that I had tons of photos taken and appeared on the front page of a moderately significant newspaper with the hair from hell. Ack.

2. I’m working to find my motivation to lose weight again. Yes, I know, I’ve got all the motivation in the world if I think of having a baby. Blah, blah, blah. I used that in the months leading up to our first insemination, and it worked out well. For some reason, that doesn’t work anymore though, and maybe this is because it’s becoming harder and harder to imagine a baby in our future. I was having a hell of a time even remembering to take prenatal vitamins for the past few months. Anyway, this is something I’ll be working at again, and I’ll write more about this life-long struggle when it’s not triggering some crazy, cranky PMS hormones.

3. I’m going to plan my class for the fall. This can be a fun task, especially with the break I’ve had from teaching and with the prospects of new students, new colleagues, and new experiences. I may actually be prepared when the fall semester begins. That would be impressive.

I’m sure there’s more, but I think I’m done jumping from topic to topic for now. I’m confusing myself–one minute I’m joyous, another I’m bitter. Oh how I hate my hormones, especially when there’s not a chance in hell that these “symptoms” have anything to do with pregnancy. Ugh.

But I don’t want to end on a negative note, damnit. I started off talking about new babies and weddings and wonderful readers, so I’ll end with one of my favorite photographs from this week. It appeared in the SF Chronicle:

And if you’re interested in seeing more photos–and there are lots of tear jerkers–take a look here. Don’t miss the wedding album on the right of that page. I guarantee wet eyes all around.

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Filed under celebrations, craftiness, dear readers, diversions, family, Hair, health, marriage, Ramblings, The Great Sperm Search, The Long Break

Saying Goodbye to Mr. G

We’re hanging in there after this weekend’s blow. I told J Saturday evening that I wanted to drink, so she gathered me up and took me out for margaritas. We then bought beer, sat on our balcony, and drank late into the night. We even had sex, after which I sobbed. (If you’ve never broken into tears after an orgasm, I recommend it–it’s a pretty incredible, though bizarre, release.) The whole night was therapeutic, and we woke up yesterday morning feeling like shit, but making plans and looking forward.

Over the past day, Mr. G and I have exchanged emails. I let him know that we wouldn’t be going through with this cycle, and I thanked him for helping us out throughout the past year. He hasn’t been perfect, by any means, but I’m grateful to him nevertheless. He told me that he’s sorry he can’t keep helping us (for reasons mentioned below), that he hopes we’re looking for a new donor and hopes this happens for us soon. He says he knows we’ll make good parents. The exchanges have been good and even a little healing. But I’m also reflecting quite a bit on the events that have brought us here.

Nearly two years ago, a friend of ours offered to be our donor through another friend. We had never asked him, but he thought he might like to help us out. We finally sat down and talked with him about a year and a half ago, and we let him know that if the offer still stood, we were interested. We simply asked that he get back to us within a month to let us know what is decision was. At that point, he told us he was 99% sure. We never heard from him again. He even stopped talking with one of our mutual best friends. It was devastating.

At that point, I decided we were not going to be relying on people we know to build our family. It was too painful. At that point, I started researching sperm banks, and when that proved to be financially intimidating, I started finding online donor groups, like those some of you have mentioned. I held my breath and posted an ad with a few of these groups. I had plenty of responses: men who wanted to have as many offspring as possible because it was their “religious responsibility” as Jewish men; men who insisted that they could get me pregnant on the first try because that’s what happened with their wives (only their wives didn’t know about their offers); men who insisted they could help us start a family if only we would have sex with them; men who couldn’t spell or string a complete sentence together to save their lives; men who wanted reports from doctors on my weight as well as copies of pay stubs from our employers and evaluations of our mental health. There were so many “winners” that I began to think, Okay, this was a mistake.

Then came an email from “helpful donor,” that started out, “I think we might be a good match. I’m also working to teach at the college level. Here’s an ad I posted elsewhere. Let me know if you’re interested.” And so, J and I read on, and we liked what we heard. I started a correspondence with this man, and it continued for a few months. He sent us photos, filled out donor profile forms, gave us confirmation that he was disease-free, and even applied and was accepted to be a donor at a sperm bank. And so began our arrangment with Mr. G.

We’ve had a rough go of things. Despite Mr. G’s generosity and insistence on paying for everything, he’s not always been reliable. This stems primarily from our decision to use email to preserve his anonymity. Unfortunately, we’ve missed two cycles as a result of this. He always felt bad, even tried to make up for it once or twice by sending extra sperm, not that this would have worked, but he tried. I’ll give him that.

But now we’re moving on. Mr. G is leaving the country for a year or more within the next few weeks (before I ovulate next), and we’re still not pregnant. Now we’re not pregnant and don’t have a donor. I have a weird sadness about saying goodbye to Mr. G. He’s become a friend through this process, and even though he hasn’t always been reliable, he’s been kind, agreeable, helpful, and generous, and I’m amazed that we found that with a total stranger. J and I had grown accustomed to talking about what this guy would contribute to our child in the way of appearance and other traits. He’s one of the reasons we named our blog what we did (he’s a smarty pants with too much education just like me and J). It’s weird to get used to the fact that his DNA won’t have anything to do with our offspring.

So now we move on. We may start looking for a new donor through that same message board where we found Mr. G, but I don’t know yet. We’re also considering saving up to buy sperm. Either way, we’re going to try to get back on the horse again in August, and I hope we’re able to stick to that goal. In the meantime, I’ll be here to write about all sorts of other subjects. I may not talk about peeing on sticks or BBT, but I’ll still be here rambling away, sharing little slices of my life with all of those willing to listen.

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Filed under goodbyes, missed cycles, Mr. G, our history, The Long Break, ttc

worst case scenario

I got a positive OPK today. I’m certain I’ll ovulate tomorrow, and there will be no sperm. He did finally check his email, and he offered to send us a shipment on Monday (for Tuesday). This would have been nice had my body cooperated. But that is not what happened, now is it?

This was to have been our last try with Mr. G before The Long Break. Little did we know we were already in The Long Break when this last cycle ended. In fact, we are currently in The Long Break. Fuck.

So what now? Well, we can’t afford frozen sperm right now, and we don’t want to deal with shipping of fresh sperm. On top of that, we have no male friends–no friends in our new hometown at all–so we’re stuck for awhile until we have more income and can afford frozen sperm. Again, fuck.

Bring on the scotch.

11 Comments

Filed under Mr. G, ovulation, The Long Break