Category Archives: ttc
One year ago today, my wife and I were finishing up grades. We submitted them online, and we were free of the semester, free of any further duties related to the students we had over the fall. We were ready for our winter holiday. In our dining room, a tank from the sperm bank had been sitting for a few days, but I couldn’t think about it. The last month’s failed cycle had devastated me in a new way. I had turned off all hope and completely disconnected from the process. I kind of dreaded starting another cycle because I felt like we were flushing our money down the toilet. On the other hand, the semester was over, and I didn’t have to teach, and it was time to relax. At least there was that.
I don’t remember much of the day. We may have done some shopping; we might have simply lounged around the house. I do know that we had a little wine in the evening, and that my wife was eager to inseminate, and I was fairly ambivalent about it. I remember telling her that I didn’t want to yet because I didn’t feel like lying around in bed. And then, around nine, my wife said, “I think we need to do this, and I think we need to do it now.” So I polished off my wine, and she left hers on the table, and off we went. We used a speculum for the first time, and it was uncomfortable and pinchy. My wife saw my cervix immediately, placed the catheter right on the cervix, depressed the plunger on the syringe, and sent the genetic material on its way. This was the most no-nonsense, least intimate of our eleven attempts, but it was the one that worked.
I never imagined that evening that a year later, I would be typing a post one-handed while feeding my baby boy. It never occurred to me that this might just be the one, but here we are. I am so unbelievably grateful.
What a difference a year makes.
J here–finally! I don’t know why I haven’t written sooner except that the immediacy of each moment seems to take precedence. First off, let me just say how thrilled, how absolutely over-the-moon happy I am that after all this time, we are finally pregnant!
Sure, there are many challenges that face us as we take this journey together. I’m aware that T and I have together challenges and individual challenges. I’m working very hard to understand hers and help her to get through them. But despite the moodiness, the hormones, the financial struggles, etc. I can’t help but feel peaceful about most of it.
See, before the positive result on Dec 31st, T and I had hit a crisis point, not with each other necessarily, but a crisis point nonetheless. T was particularly difficult. She picked fights with me, complained about everything, and had a generally negative attitude. Add to this that she was completely uninterested in my own stress and worries, and we were not doing well heading into the Christmas holidays and the lengthy stay at her mom’s. Some of it was the stress of finals and impending holidays, but we had weathered these tense times before. There was something very different–and scary–about the last TWW.
I realize this is like airing our dirty laundry, but I find it so significant, so bear with me.
I told her during one argument that she was losing it. I told her she was out of control, and she did not deny it.
We weathered the holidays and put our angst on hold for a week, but mostly out of necessity rather than any normalizing force. When we returned home after Christmas, the stress returned. T was just so. . . . unpredictable? negative? whiny? all of the above? We had this one particular day, the 29th I think, where it all came to a head. I told her that I was so worn out, so torn down, that I didn’t think that I could take another negative result, that it would just do me in and sink me into a depression. I had never said or felt that before in our long journey, but something was just dragging me down, and I didn’t think I could take all the disappointment and despair that comes with a negative test. T must have also been at her wit’s end because she was worse than usual–overreacting to every little thing, misinterpreting my words, and despairing about everything. When I called her on it, she told me it was likely PMS.
That statement ran me over like a freight train. It was not what I needed to hear, whether true or not. I stopped speaking. What was there to say? She went silent too. This went on for a few hours until I couldn’t take it anymore. It all hurt too much. I went into our bedroom and cried. Big, heaving sobs spilled out of me, and I had to hold on to the bed just to keep from falling to the floor. It hurt so bad. When will something, anything, go our way? We work so hard, but for what? What a lonely, godforsaken process TTC had become for us. I couldn’t take it. I wept until I was completely wrung out. Eventually, after an hour or so, T came into the bedroom and found me sitting on the floor staring at nothing in particular, my eyes swollen and red. She felt terrible for blaming her mood on PMS, and we decided to get out of the house and go to our favorite Irish pub. We drowned our sorrows. We paid the price the next day. The following morning T tested positive.
And there you have it. Just as we were spiraling into a dark place born out of the frustration, emptiness, and panic that comes with trying to get pregnant, we got our heart’s desire.
T’s disposition was the result of early pregnancy, not PMS. I could not have known, nor could she. We got used to disappointment over this long process. This is perhaps the most maddening thing about TTC, in my opinion. While we must brace ourselves and even expect a measure of disappointment, our efforts are also steeped in hope. They must be. Why try to get pregnant month after month if we have no hope that it will eventually happen? Why would we want to bring a baby into the world if we lack hope? Hope is our fuel, our thrust, the very thing that moves us through this process no matter how painful it gets. Necessarily it must be so. Without it, we would never continue the process because it feels so bloody awful at times. Weeks of hope followed by crashing disappointment, only to have to find a way to start all over again with hope.
But for me, hope was about the future. Something was going to go our way soon, just around the bend. We’d get around that bend only to find our surroundings just as littered with complications and disappointments. Hope. At the moments when the universe seemed to strip us of all hope, we dug a little deeper, and hoped a little harder. When we had no reason to hope, we did so anyway. To do anything less was to give up, and giving up wasn’t an option. To give up on being a parent was never an option; there was always another plan, another approach. We could not and would not consider the “what if.” You know, the what-if-I-can’t-get-pregnant thought. Hope wouldn’t allow it.
I used to think hope was for fools who hadn’t suffered enough to know better. I was too smart, too enlightened to ever stake my future on such a naive emotion, and yet it saved us. It saved us from our worst inclinations. It saved me from myself, from my tendencies to engage in self-destructive behavior; it helped me to not give in to anger and despair, which is my nature. It helped me prop T up when she was low and being negative.
Hope, for most of this long process, was all we had, but I’m sure as hell glad we found it.
I cling to it today, hoping I’ll be able to find a good job that will provide healthcare for my wife and baby. I hope I’ll be able to be a stabilizing force in my wife’s life during her pregnancy. I hope I’ll be a good mom and pass on good behaviors rather than the ones passed on to me by my mother. I hope, I hope, I hope.
Early this morning, I had a dream that I was taking this digital pregnancy test, and the “not” kept flashing on and off. Eventually, it leveled out and stayed off, and I left the bathroom to tell J. At that point I awoke, and I was so utterly bummed. This seems to happen nearly every test morning. I have a dream that it’s positive, and I awake to test negative.
So, I trudged to the bathroom, cracked open the test, and went about my business. I set the test on my leg, waiting for an answer, and suddenly, it was there. Just one word:
I bounded out of the bathroom, and started turning on lights, saying, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” J shot up from bed and said, “What’s wrong? What’s going on?” She was utterly confused. Until I showed her the test (after fumbling with more lights). I collapsed on the bed with her crying and laughing. Needless to say, we have not gone back to sleep. We’re so excited, and yet I’m also nervous as hell that the next test I take will have that dreaded word “not” in it. I took the test apart, though, and the test line was nice and dark.
I’ll take another test this evening since I need to use the other one up anyway, and I’ll make some sort of doctor’s appointment today, and, and, and…
The list of symptoms for those interested:
- sore boobs, but a more through-and-through soreness than usual
- hints of nausea
I also had some weird sort of hot flash the other day in the grocery store, after which I was shaky and weak. That would have been 10dpo, and I would say it was my first sign.
Holy shit. I’m pregnant.
Well, the OPK was the tiniest shade away from being positive last night (and may have been positive in the right light). It was as positive as could be this morning. My guess is the surge started in the middle of the night. We’ll sperm up tonight. I’m oddly nonchalant about it. What’s with that?
In case you were wondering, the coughing has subsided significantly. I am relieved. My abdominal and chest and back muscles are relieved. But most of all, J is relieved that I won’t be keeping her awake all night again.
I need a nap before teaching. The next time I write, I’ll be in the midst of the TWW again. Our tenth TWW. Please let ten be lucky.
Why is it that for the entire six months we weren’t trying to get me knocked up that my breasts were only mildly sore before my period, and now that we’re trying, they’re like orbs of molten lava? Why is that?
I don’t think it has anything to do with pregnancy. The whole time we were trying to get pregnant before, the same lava boob phenomenon was in place. Can one really make one’s own breasts feel like blobs of fire with one’s brain? I think not. Surely there must be a scientific explanation. Surely.
We were dumb this morning. We decided I should take a pregnancy test. Bad idea. It was negative–starkly so. I’m 10 dpo, so it’s possibly a little early, but I’m fairly convinced that this will be the outcome on election day as well.
But we have a plan for the next cycle. We’ll likely buy two vials and attempt IUI or ICI at home. I think we can do it. I’d rather spend the money on sperm and an extra insemination than hope that the midwife will come through for us. We were a little too burned last time to take that chance again. J is asking me to consider finding a doctor to do this after we try it two more times. I admittedly had a hard time thinking about that this morning, but that’s probably where we will need to go if these next two tries don’t work. Ugh. I hate thinking about that.
I think I’ll go strap ice packs to my chest.
I don’t know how I could possibly forget how hypersensitive one becomes during the TWW, but it’s happened again. I keep trying to trick myself into ignoring my body. There’s not much to report, primarily just some sore nipples from just a couple of days past ovulation and killer headaches. The headaches are easily explained by my endless hours of grading. And the nipples? Well, J swears she hasn’t recently purchased any nipple clamps lately, but I don’t know if I believe her. In all of the months of our break, I have to say that I didn’t pay attention to one damn sign. I was actually surprised a couple of times when my period showed up! I miss those carefree days already.
Our neighbor’s baby is coming for a visit again tomorrow morning. We get haircuts tomorrow (we both have waited FAR too long.) We will hand out high fructose corn syrup in colorful wrappers to the kiddies tomorrow night. We’ll have a weekend, and then a day of work, and then we’ll have election day and a pregnancy test, and all will be right with the world. (<–That’s me trying to stay positive.)
Oh, where do I begin?
After yesterday’s post, we waited throughout the day, our anticipation building. I was distracted as I taught. J couldn’t get any work done at home. It was just one of those days when we had a singular focus and it didn’t have anything to do with our students. We were both so excited and hopeful that our new plan was finally going into action.
Our midwife, C, told us in the morning that she would call after her last appointment of the night to let us know what she was able to find as far as catheters go. We waited and waited. I had a beer. We had dinner. We watched some television. I started to fall asleep on the sofa with a cat or two. Then the phone finally rang. At 9:45. C was on the other end, and she was telling me in my groggy state that there was no catheter.
She then related to me advice from her OB friend:
1. We just needed to get the sperm on the cervix.
2. We could use a turkey baster.
I nearly dropped the phone. C was going to come to our house with some kind of modified turkey baster to do an IVI–and too late at that. As any TTCer knows, turkey basters are wasteful and problematic even when you’re working with fresh sperm, but when you’ve got half a teaspoon of frozen that cost hundreds of dollars? Let’s just say it would have been laughable had tears not been streaming down my face. I thanked her for her efforts, let her know that with the frozen sperm and IVI, we needed to act much more quickly, and worked on stifling my tears. She wished us well, told us she would have the supplies should we need her next time, but that she hoped our baby spirit was on its way to us. She’s lovely; she really is. She’s just not prepared.
When I got off the phone, J was furious, and I was starting to cry. Because we weren’t doing IUI anymore, we needed to get this done now, and we were completely unprepared. We both calmed down, and I began rummaging through our bathroom trying to find a needle-less syringe that didn’t exist. By now, it was after 10:00pm. No pharmacies/drug stores were open. Think, T. Think! I remembered Safe.way had a pharmacy, so we piled into the car and wandered the aisles of the grocery store until finally we found the syringe. We also found a bottle of wine.
It took awhile for me to get into a place where we could do this. I just wasn’t prepared mentally or emotionally for the old fashioned inseminations. This time was supposed to be so much better; we were supposed to be increasing our chances. Oh, I was in a bad space. I wavered between crying and thinking–trying to figure out if there was anything else we could do to up our odds.
Finally, we got out some gloves, snipped the zip tie holding the top on the dewar, and pulled out our vial of sperm. I knew there wouldn’t be nearly as much as we had in the past, but neither of us was prepared for the teeny-tiny amount. J was particularly surprised and forlorn.
We went to bed with our glasses of wine, tried to get the syringe as close to my cervix as possible and depressed the plunger the centimeter it needed to go to get the stuff where it needed to go. In the past, we always made sure that this was done amidst some intimacy so that I could have an orgasm. Last night that wasn’t working though, even with our very best vibrator. All I could do was cry and lie there with my hips propped up while J tried to comfort me. And I rotated (rotisserie chicken style). I was able to rotate. But the orgasm eluded me.
And that is how our long, long break ended. Today we both woke up feeling like it didn’t even happen. It was all so weird and surreal and so unlike what we had planned. But we did do it, and we had two really great things going for us: viable sperm and timing. During Reproducing Genius Phase 1, one of those crucial items was always missing, and more often than not, both were (hence the lack of baby after a year of trying). I’d say our chances have increased dramatically, despite our loss of plans, despite our disappointments and the strangely sad insemination. Still, I’m not sure where that giddiness and hope went.
But here we are, rubbing our eyes and stumbling into our first two week wait in half a year. I’m sure it will hit me soon, right?
As I suspected, my LH surge arrived today complete with a party hat, noisemakers, and ample EWCM. Before the surge was confirmed, I received an email from our midwife stating that she normally works at a women’s clinic in another city tomorrow. Crap. Before we called her to discuss timing, J and I were already trying to figure out where we were going to get the supplies to do this at home on our own tomorrow.
We called C (the midwife), and she was scrambling to find a catheter. Her order hasn’t come in yet, and she is determined to do this for us. Tomorrow, given that she can find a catheter (and I’m convinced she will), she will come to our place before she goes to the other city. We’re talking early–maybe 6:30 or 7:00 early. If an IUI in one’s own bed first thing in the morning on ovulation day isn’t the perfect way for a TTCer to start the day, I don’t know what is (okay, there is something better than that, but we’ve got a couple of weeks to go before that comes).
Ah, yes. Almost there.
I’ve been taking ovulation tests this week. Nothing yet, but I think I’ll get my surge tomorrow, and I think our IUI will be on Thursday. This is my prediction thus far based on the beginnings of EWCM.
J and I are having trouble focusing on much of anything but the insemination and the upcoming election. We have stacks of essays to grade that we don’t want to look at, class observations to prepare for that we don’t want to think about. We’re not bad teachers, just a tad unmotivated for the moment. Now is the time when a secret twin would be very useful.
I have to say, I’m surprised at the amount of hope I have about this cycle. I’m obviously excited to be ending this break, but I do have a little nervousness about what is to come. I’m trying not to entertain too many of those thoughts that take me months into the future without a pregnancy. I’ve been mostly successful, but it’s tough to break old thought patterns. It’s tough not to think about having our hopes dashed. Still, I’m pushing those thoughts to the side as much as I can because for now, they aren’t useful.
J is helping to combat any of those thought directions. I catch her looking wistfully at me, and I’ll ask her what she’s thinking. She’ll say, “How great it’s going to be to cook for you and walk with you when you’re pregnant,” or “How beautiful you’re going to be with our baby.” I can’t help but feel hopeful when she’s thinking these things.
Last night as we were getting ready for bed, she asked if we could look at our baby box. It’s a box of baby items we have been collecting since we started all of this over a year ago. Some of the items we have purchased; others friends have bought for us as good luck charms. Looking at these items and holding them help us feel closer to our future baby and keep us thinking forward toward what will be.
There is that part of me that thinks I’m heading into dangerous territory, and then I remember that it’s all dangerous territory, but I would gladly walk through it time and again to get to our baby.