It’s Been Awhile!

Wow.  I don’t even know where to start.  So many fantastic and wonderful things have been happening!

I am now 19 weeks pregnant…

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Quite the belly, eh?  =)

This week I started being able to feel the baby move.  It is so amazing to be at a point where I’m getting constant reassurance that everything’s still alright down there.  Besides a few near-fainting episodes at the hospital I’m interning at, I have been feeling great.

We have been exploring cloth diapering options, and feeling more than a little overwhelmed.  It seems everyone has different preferences; my head is spinning with the choices: all-in-ones, hybrids, all-in-twos, pocket diapers, covers, inserts, and on and on.  I am such a planner, it makes me crazy that I might have to buy a bunch and “wait-and-see” what works!

We just came back from our big vacation (for Michelle’s 40th) to Puerto Rico!  We had many adventures and misadventures…  We had an awful seven hour layover on the way there, Michelle’s suitcase got lost (for only a day, luckily), everything was closed for Father’s Day, and we were there during torrential downpours, but we saw some amazing historical spots and architecture, the rainforest, and had one beautiful (and hot!) day at the beach.  And I got to try stand-up paddleboarding (I have been waiting years for that)!

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Everything has been really great, albeit super busy.  In an attempt to get the majority of my classes out of the way before baby arrives, this term and next I have full time internships (40 hrs a week) and 2-3 classes.  It makes the time fly by though!

We find out the sex of our baby in one week!  We had been considering having a private ultrasound done so that we could find out sooner, but the sonographer (a parent of a past student) convinced me to wait.  She said, “Would you open your Christmas presents three weeks early?”  No, I would never do that!  So we’ve toughed it out.  We planned a BBQ where we will find out with our friends and family, but I will post details and pictures of that next week!

I have finally started the process to have my name changed.  When we signed our domestic partnership papers four years ago, I had the option to have my name changed, but it would have been for Oregon only.  I still would have needed to go through the court process to have it changed federally, and at the time that wasn’t practical.  I have always felt strongly, though, that sharing a last name is one way to help us be recognized as a family.  I had to file paperwork, pay a fairly large fee, post a notice in the courthouse for a two week waiting period, and I will appear in court tomorrow for the judge to sign off on the change.  Then I believe there is another two week waiting period before it’s official. And then of course, the change of names on every card, loan, title, deed, et cetera!  Quite the process you have to go through when you can’t be legally married.

Finally, I’d like to say a bit about the Supreme Court decisions this week.  Obviously, this week was a momentous step in this movement towards marriage equality, but I feel like the media is leaving out some major details.  Not all of DOMA was struck down.  So, that means that only the couples living in states with legal gay marriage will now receive federal benefits.  Thirteen states only.  We and many others like us are still waiting.  This week is cause for serious celebration, but I don’t want people to forget that there are still battles to be fought.  Our state will be voting on gay marriage again next November, and it would be a tragedy for people to not realize how much their participation is needed.

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My dyeing day

Friday I went in for an HSG.  Good news is they found nothing wrong.  Bad news is they found nothing wrong, so we are still in no-man’s-land (literally too!), not knowing what the solution might be for us.

We went into the hospital, and after the general awkwardness during registration that often occurs regarding my marital status (married!), husband’s name (“Wife actually, and her name is Michelle.”), etc., we headed back to radiology.  In the room (with me on the very uncomfortable table, in my birthday suit, spread-eagle) were: Michelle, my OB-GYN, the nurse, the nurse’s student, and the Radiologist.  Living in a small town where my wife grew up, I should be used to these situations, but this one caught me a little off-guard.  When the radiologist came in and introduced himself (you might recall I am on the table, birthday suit, spread eagle) and lo and behold, he is an old friend of Michelle’s!  “Nice to meet you, can’t wait to have you see my uterus!”  =)

The Table

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And here is a lovely picture of my uterus and fallopian tubes!

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I was happy that not too much pain was involved, just some cramping when my doctor inflated the balloon in my uterus.  There were a few tense moments, as my right tube filled with the dye right away, and the left didn’t.  Finally, though, the left cleared as well, and we were good to go!  My doctor said sometimes this procedure, with the “cleaning out” that occurs, can actually increase your chances in the next cycle!  (We’re going to go with that theory.)  The dye coming back afterward was unpleasant, but I wonder what happens to the dye that leaks out of your fallopian tubes into your abdomen?  And, if there is an opening in the tubes, how do the eggs not fall out?  Hmmm…

The rest of our Friday was filled with kiddos.  We have learned that things like carving pumpkins and dyeing eggs are more fun with kids, and not having any (yet!), we have our friends and their munchkins over to celebrate with us.  We dyed eggs and staged an egg hunt, our house was chaotic, and it was perfect.  With kids playing and laughing and running laps through our house, I couldn’t stop smiling at them.  It is what our house was meant for.

The results are in

The results are in.  Yet another Big Fat Negative.  I’ve decided I don’t mind the early pregnancy testing as much as I thought I did, though.  I pee on the stick, feel sure it will say I’m not pregnant, see that I was right, and deal with my crazy grief emotions before I ever reach my period.  So today when good ole’ aunt flo arrived, it was just another, “Yep, not pregnant” and I could move on to the planning stages for the next cycle.  I can’t believe how quickly you go from thinking you could be pregnant, to taking Clomid for trying again.  Three days.  It’s such a quick turn-around! At least I started my period early enough that I can keep my scheduled HSG.  If I had been late even a day, I would have had to reschedule for who knows when.  Of course, it would have been nicer to get to cancel it altogether, but oh well.

On the brighter side of life, I had a wonderful visit with my nana (grandma) last week.  A little background is in order, so that you can fully appreciate the situation: My nana is 85, incredibly conservative, incredibly Republican, and incredibly stuck in her ways.  So, the last few years I have been fully in the closet with her.  Not to say that I ever lied to her, I simply let her continue to believe that Michelle was my roommate.  I was afraid she would disown me, and I would lose her in my life.  This wasn’t a totally unfounded belief, as she (and my papa when he was alive) temporarily disowned my brother for not living up to their standards, and disowned my aunt for a time for dating a black man (I know, right???).  However, knowing that we wanted to start a family, we started pushing the envelope a little bit.  I refuse to be in the closet with anyone when we have a kid, because I won’t have our child think we are ashamed for who we are.  So, after telling Nana that Michelle and I bought a house together, I sent her a Christmas card with our pictures and “The F______ Family” printed on it (which isn’t officially my last name yet) and our “Meg and Michelle” address label on the envelope.

She figured it out, finally.  And you know what?  She was amazing about it.  She asked my aunt and my mom how they had handled it, and they both said, “You know, when you love someone, you love them no matter what” and my nana adopted this mantra too.  When I was there, she asked about Michelle, and simple things like who does the cooking, she complimented our house, and was just generally wonderful.  I have never felt more loved.

She ended up giving me her wedding china while I was there, and when I left, talking about when I would use it, she said “Maybe you and Michelle can celebrate each other.”

I finally feel like our future baby will be born into a huge, loving, complete family.

Our Story…

My wife and I began trying to get pregnant in June of 2011, although our journey began long before that.  When we first got married, the joke was that I was going to want a baby soon, and it was Michelle’s job to be strong and make us wait what we deemed was the necessary amount of time- 5 years.

A year and a half later, she reneged on her duty and we started planning.  =)  There was so much to consider and learn!  Did we want a known or unknown donor?  Anonymous or open?  A local or distant sperm bank?  Did we want to do the insemination at home or in a clinic? IUI or ICI?  And so much lingo to learn… IUI, ICI, CMV, RH, TTC, CM, OPK, etc. etc.

We were armed with our copies of “what to expect before you’re expecting” and “The ultimate guide to pregnancy for lesbians”, and after months of planning and saving, we were finally ready to begin.  We decided on a sperm bank an adequate distance away (we were a little freaked out by the local donor pool being perhaps too incestuous for our area), a donor who agreed to be contacted by the child once they turned 18, an at-home insemination, and ICI – intra-cervical insemination.  We bought four vials, two months worth; the buy-one-get-one “donor of the month”.  =)  We figured two months would be enough.  I didn’t expect to get pregnant the first try, but definitely by the second…  Ha.  So we ordered our sperm and had it delivered.

At the time, my mother-in-law was living with us, and since the “package” was being delivered during the day, she was the one who would be there to sign for it.  We tried to warn her that a package was coming without telling her the contents, but when the giant mushroom (I’ll post a picture later) showed up, and the UPS guy asked her if it was for her, the gig was up.  Eeek!

We had just bought a house, and were in the process of renovating and moving in when the first “smiley face” showed up.  Over and over we tried to solve the twisted arithmetic problem… “If the positive ovulation test result showed up at ___ (insert time here), and ovulation is supposed to occur 12-36 hours afterwards, the frozen sperm live for about 24 hours, and it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours to swim to the egg, what time do we inseminate?”  We tossed around every possible scenario to try to pinpoint the best timing, but every insemination we’re still a little unsure.

The plan was perfect.  If we got pregnant in June or July, I would have enough maternity leave to take me from birth to the end of the school year, have the summer off, and then I would return to school myself online and be able to stay home with a baby for two years.  However, the best laid plans…

After our two months’ supply ran out, we considered whether we would want to continue with the same donor or even the same bank, since the BOGO offer on our donor had expired.  =)  But when my mom broke her leg and needed surgery, we headed straight out of town before the decision had been made.  I wasn’t supposed to ovulate until after we would be back home, but we would need to order the sperm soon so that it would ship and be there in plenty of time.  We made our decision on a new donor at a different bank, and placed our order just under the wire.  My body, however, had other plans.

The next morning, much sooner than expected and the first day of ovulation testing for that cycle, I had a positive result.  We had no idea what to do.  I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to try, but the sperm was being shipped to our house (we were still at my mom’s) and wouldn’t arrive for a couple days, and we didn’t have any of our supplies.  We called the sperm bank we had used previously, which was in the area, and they were able to process an order for us the same day.  They had to sell us a vial of our donor that was prepared for sale in Canada (apparently they have much more stringent requirements!), as the BOGO offer had cleared them out.  We drove the hour to pick it up, leaving my parents under the impression that they would be doing the insemination at the clinic, and brought it back, smuggled it up to the guest room, and did our best with no catheter, speculum, or any of our usual tools.  Then when we got home, we had to deal with sending back the unused sperm that we had ordered.  So complicated!

And now, here we are, 9 cycles later with two or three inseminations and $1000 per cycle, in yet another two-week-wait, with a room full of baby furniture (silly, I know now), and still not pregnant.  It gets harder and harder to see that negative every month, and I feel more and more hopeless.  I wanted to create this blog in order to connect to those of you in a similar position – to share your journey and ours.