We’re on day one of a cold, rainy “wintry mix”, and we’re apparently getting off easy. Boston and New York look like they’re going to get dumped on. Would I prefer the snow? Yes, yes I would. We’ve gotten a complete crap level of snow this year. Naturally, the shitty weather has put me in a delightful mood, so I thought I’d go ahead and have a good whine today.

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On the Cusp

The month off ended up not being as bad as I thought it might be. It was nice to not have to think about what I was eating, and what I was drinking (or not drinking, as the case may be). We were travelling and visiting family over Christmas, and I wasn’t obsessing over symptoms or freaking out about my cycle day. I was just being. Which, after 8 straight IUI cycles, was a refreshing change.

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All Suffering is Relative

Fun Fact:

“80 percent of people trying to conceive get pregnant within six cycles.”

Excuse me while I wipe away tears of laughter.


Everyone is, of course, talking and thinking about the school shooting in Connecticut. I’m definitely not immune to the voyeuristic consumption of media, which I don’t feel honors the dead in any way. But for some reason, this shooting hasn’t hit me as hard as shootings in the past. At first I thought it may have been because it was too abstract, and there was no connection to me, the way there was with the Virginia Tech shooting. But then I remembered my reactions to Columbine and to 9/11 (not a shooting, but a mass killing/disaster event) and I realized that couldn’t be it – I wasn’t connected to Columbine in any way, or to 9/11 (except for having family live in Washington, DC) and those events threw me for a serious loop.

There’s part of me that wants to say it’s my own selfishness that’s holding me back from fully feeling sadness and horror, but I don’t think that’s fair or accurate. My heart seems to be full of its own sorrow about my miscarriage and infertility, and it just doesn’t have room for more. My body has simply rejected additional anguish.

Now, you might be thinking that it’s incredibly self-centered to be comparing my experience to the fact that parents have lost their children. And you’re right, it is selfish. But I’ve recently come to the understanding that grief and suffering are all relative. Just as we don’t grieve the same way, we cannot tell each other that one person’s suffering is worse than another’s. I was reading a blog the other day that a friend from college writes, and the entry was about how she had recently been laid off at work. Obviously, she was devastated, and she called it the worst week of her life. When I read that, my initial reaction wasn’t one of sympathy (am terrible person, obviously). But when I stopped sucking for a second, I realized that it probably WAS the worst week of her life. Her job was very central to her identity, and losing it was like losing part of herself.

Just as it’s wrong for me to say that somehow her suffering isn’t real or her experience isn’t “bad enough”, I also need to be gentle with myself. My suffering isn’t any better or worse than anyone elses. It’s genuine, and it’s painful.

The Negative, and the IVF Talk

My blood test came back, and it was, as we thought, negative.*

My RE doesn’t know this, but we’re leaving her. I’m incredibly conflicted about that decision, but it’s something Tammy’s been advocating for, and it’s not like a second opinion is ever a bad thing.**

The reason that’s relevant is that after giving me the bad news, the doctor asked what we were thinking in terms of next steps, and that was awkward, because, again, very shortly I will no longer be her patient. So, I acted all cagey (and I’m sure weird) and  asked what her recommendations were. She said we have the following options:

  1. Continue with 1 or 2 more Clomid IUIs
  2. Upgrade to IUI with injectables
  3. IVF

There are pros and cons to all of them, everything from the cost (which is obviously a huge factor) to the success rates. What we’re doing now costs in the ballpark of $2,000, – $2,500 a try. IUI with stims would be in the range of 5k, and IVF is around 15k. BUT, IVF would give us the greatest success rate (close to a 50% chance per try) while our current method is only in the 15-20% chance of success range, and clearly it’s not working all that well. The doctor wasn’t sure that doing IUI with stims would increase our chances all that much, but would almost double the cost.

Is it worth it to try a few more rounds on our current level, or should we take the plunge and move toward IVF? I’m hoping that the new doctor will either be able to tell us something new, or have other options/suggestions for us. After 8 rounds, 25 thousand dollars, and no baby, I think we need a re-set.

In other, non-lack-of-baby news, my parents were visiting for the past few days. They’ve been out of the country for the past few months, and it was incredibly good to see them.

*Weirdly to me, my HCG wasn’t 0, but 1.1. Maybe that explains the eeevvver so faint positive (like, almost not there positive) that I got 12 days past ovulation? Does this mean that I was briefly pregnant? I wish I could have asked the doctor some questions, but I work in a cubicle, and she always calls when I’m at work. Obviously, this means I either need a pay (and office) upgrade, or I need to quit working and be a housewife. The housewife option is extremely tempting, but then how would we afford all those delightful injections?

**Unrelated but annoying note: they’re charging us to make a copy of my medical file, which we need for the the new clinic. It’s a $25 fee, plus 50 cents a page. What the actual fuck. You’ve already gotten 25k out of us, you don’t think you could throw in some free copies? C’mon now.

Getting started

Hi there, I’m Sarah. For some inexplicable, biological reason, I’ve always wanted to have kids – and by have kids I meant the whole shebang, conceive, gestate, birth, raise, try not to screw up too badly. It’s very weirdly animalistic, this urge. That fact that I’m a lesbian seemed (and still seems) like an insignificant detail.

When Tammy and I started dating 4 years ago, I was pretty clear from the beginning that I wanted to have kids. Tammy also wanted to have kids, but had absolutely no interest in giving birth, and she also wanted to be married first. I truly did not mind the idea of birthing a couple of bastard children, but Tammy didn’t find that idea as funny as I did. So we did the square, conventional thing and got married, then bought a house (although we did live in sin for a few years before the marriage).

For my birthday this year, Tammy bought me a vial of sperm and a date with a piece of cold medical equipment (cue the doctor saying “relax your knees. You’re going to feel cold and pressure”). And then…nothing happened. We did four rounds of unmedicated IUI (Intrauterine Insemination, where the doctor runs a catheter through your cervix and deposits washed sperm directly into your uterus), and then two rounds of IUI with clomid and triggered ovulation. Clomid is a drug used to make you ovulate (if you don’t on your own) or produce more eggs (if you do). It comes with some charming menopausal side effects (hot flashes, night sweats, bloating…)

At first, all of those negatives, while disappointing, didn’t seem that worrisome. We would chant to ourselves about how young I am (mid twenties) how healthy, how all of the tests (including the excruciatingly painful HSG) came back with the all clear. But that shit just wasn’t working. And the doctor didn’t know why, except to ever so helpfully point out that maybe I wasn’t “the most fertile person” she’d ever seen.

Then we came to try number 7 (the third medicated cycle), and during the two week wait I did my ritualistic christening of the pee stick, obsessive message board and blog reading, and careful (hysterical) interpretation of every twinge and burble. This symptom interpretation was harder this round, as I was on progesterone supplements for the first time. Progesterone supplements (or naughty pills as they are known around these parts) are either intramuscular injections or vaginal suppositories. Guess which kind I had? Progesterone supplements will drive you out of your damn mind, because they give you every pregnancy symptom in the book – exhaustion, nausea, cramping, tender breasts, etc.

And then, the day before I was supposed to go in for my pregnancy test at the doctor’s office, I got a positive one at home. I almost didn’t believe it. But sure enough, my blood work at the doctor’s the next day was positive. Seeing that beautiful second line was one of the best moments of my life.

…until I started to google my HCG number and saw that it was low. Really low. And subsequent beta testing showed that my HCG wasn’t rising at all. My doctor called it a biochemical pregnancy, but I hate that term. It sounds like it wasn’t a real pregnancy, but it was goddammit, it WAS. I’ve chosen to call it what it is, without any qualifiers: a miscarriage.

It may seem strange to you to mourn something that wasn’t even a baby yet, and something (what?) that was only a few weeks old. But I grieved like someone I had known all my life had died. I’m still grieving, in fact, even though we tried again right away. I’m grieving for my baby that never was, I’m grieving for the toll this has taken on Tammy and my relationship, I’m grieving for the stress the drugs and crippling anxiety have put on my body. And I’m grieving for myself, for this idea of myself as a healthy and complete woman, whose body had never let her down before. I’m grieving because of the questions that pop up in my head at particularly bad moments; questions like “am I really a woman if I can’t even perform a basic goddamn biological function?” Questions like “are the haters right? Is there a god, and is s/he punishing me for being a lesbian?” Questions like “All those stupid things I did in high school and college – did I somehow damage my eggs and they’re all shit quality now?”

I wish I knew. I get the results of our eighth attempt tomorrow (fourth medicated), but it doesn’t look good. If it’s negative, Tammy will call for my file from the doctor’s office (I’m too much of a wimp) and we’ll make the switch to a new doctor (which is a discussion worthy of a post in and of itself).

This is where our story starts.