For a variety of reasons, I'm feeling moved to update here.

We are no longer trying to conceive. But, after all this time, I have learned how to spell conceive. When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window...

No, I'll stop being a jerk. Seriously, we tried. And it was very very very difficult and emotionally taxing for us to keep trying to conceive without success and without, when it all came down to it, very likely odds. We backed off to concentrate on our wedding(s) and realized how much better, calmer and happier we felt. We got married in July of 2011, first with a big traditional wedding Maine, and then in a smaller legal ceremony in Central Park (we're the ones in white about halfway down the page) and it was all lovely and amazing and I'm thrilled to be Jen's lawfully wedded wife (in some states).

Once the wedding was done, we started talking about kids again, and we concluded that we were indeed happier without the stress of TTC in our lives, and that we would look toward adoption and foster care and foster-adoption.

For people who don't know much about fostering, and I was one of them until recently, a little primer on the distinctions:

Adoption: When people say this, they probably mean private adoption of infants. Most people who are adopting infants are adopting a child who is legally freed from their parents and available to adopt, straight off. In the US, you mostly have open adoptions, where birth parents are choosing their child's family and may still have visits or other contact. Overseas adoptions, you usually have a child coming from an orphanage or other kind of agency. Once a match is made and the family is approved, papers are signed and the child is yours, legally.

Fostering: You are caring for a child who is still legally the child of their biological family. You do not have legal rights over the child, and you cannot make decisions for them without the consent of their parents (anything from an out of state vacation to a haircut). Social workers and agencies are involved, and play a role in determining what services the child receives, how often they see their bio family and under what conditions. The ideal goal of foster care is reunification with the birth family, or a permanent placement with a relative (grandmother, aunt, etc.)

Foster-adoption: Basically, adopting a child that has been in foster care, once it is determined that they are not able to reunite with their family and become available for adoption.

It's all COMPLICATED. Lawyers, families, judges, social workers, therapists, children. But then, it's also simple. Children need safe and loving homes. Maybe for a month, maybe for a lifetime.

After a lot of thought, we've decided to apply to become foster parents. We know we have a safe and loving home for a child who needs one NOW. We would also like to one day adopt, probably a foster-adoption. Agencies are walking a fine line, trying to reunify families, but also find an outcome that is in the best interest of the child. Right now, we have told our agency that we are open to the idea of a permanent placement. (Some people aren't, some people only want to foster.)

We have a lot to do before we get certified - paperwork, training, home study... But we're excited to see what this new endeavor will bring. Most likely it will bring a fascinating, confused, angry, excited, terrified, complicated, terrific little person into our home ere long. I've been reading a lot of fosterblogs, especially fosterhood and fosterwee and trying to learn more about how it all works, what level of crazy we're really opening ourselves up to here.

In the end I think opening up is really the takeaway - opening up my definition of family; opening myself up to new feelings, both positive and negative; opening our home and our lives; opening up to experiences that will be unlike any I've had before. That means I'm learning, that means I'm seeing new sides of myself and of my wife, that means my understanding of the world and of myself is developing. That means I'm happy.


We're all ensconced at the new clinic. I was just there this morning, for an insemination. Its not as touchy-feely as CL was, not as gay. But they know how to get it done, and I'm happy to have their expertise on our side.

The doctor I'm working thinks I'm hilarious. The first time we met, she read my chart, went over my records from previous doctors...and cracked up.

"Sorry. It's just...here where it asks for method of birth control, you wrote 'being a lesbian'"

A failsafe method.

They took about a gallon of my blood, and the doctor examined the results. My LH level was super high, round about where someone would be at age 40 or after, not at age 31. So the recommendation was for me to get my shit together and hit it hard. No guarantees, of course, but clearly there was no point in wasting time.

But there were still a few more tests to run, some dye to shoot through my fallopian tubes, all kinds of fun stuff that involved poking instruments into my body. Honestly at this point it's weird for me to be in a room with a medical professional and NOT be pantsless. Awkward at the dentist.

We started inseminating again last month. I had cysts present at the start of that cycle, nothing to worry about, the doctor said they'd shrink and go away and they did. But that meant I couldn't have hormones to help me along that time. I ovulated normally, we inseminated, nothing came of it.

We're in the midst of a second cycle now. This time the cysts were gone, so I was allowed to use Clomid. I developed two follicles, both pretty hefty. We all would have liked to see more, with the Clomid, but still, I was glad that they were there, at the right time in the cycle. They gave me a prescription for a trigger shot, but I ovulated on my own, and I had an IUI this morning.

Does anyone even want to read this? Its boring, but it's true.

This process is pretty...repetitive after a while. If this doesn't work, they'll tinker with the drugs, I'll work on the timing. And again. And again. Time goes on, and the whole thing's not nearly as fraught as it used to be. I just can't keep up that level of drama, and it would be counterproductive to do so anyway. I have other things to worry about - the wedding, the fact that I don't have a job right now (that's another fun story for another time), the insurance headaches that come from going to the doctor multiple times a month. And other things to make me happy - Jen, the wedding, my family, my friends, working out like a mofo, the YA fiction I'm obsessed with reading and writing. Trying to make a baby is part of my life, but not my whole life. And if it doesn't work, then...we'll work on other plans.

We did see a lawyer, get the basics on adoption. The wedding comes first, and moving out of this apartment. But that's a possibility, on the horizon, one that I'm sure will bring its own joy and heartache and bureaucracy. So. We'll see.


I wouldn't call it *popular* demand...

A few people have expressed interest in continuing to read my story here on babycraft. Or at least reading a thrilling conclusion. And I realize I do feel interested in sharing these experiences again. So. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The last post I made here was in May of 2009. More than a year ago. Let's catch up. In the intervening year...

I spent a lot of time and energy professionalizing myself as a librarian. I completed my first clumsy forays into the profession, as an intern, as an underpaid student worker. I graduated from my MLS program, I went to the ALA Annual Conference and enjoyed the nerdfest. (Librarians aren't really sexy hot like all the fantasies say, but the girls working at the Penguin Publishing pavillion on the expo floor were.) I am on an ALA book award committee now, and that means I read gay books like its my job. Its amazing to have found a profession that is this organic to my real interests and talents. I found a job, its only part time for now, but I dig it. I work at a small college in Brooklyn, I do reference and library instruction, and am trying to wrestle their college archive into an intellectual arrangement that makes any sense. Its literally the best job I've ever had. I understand now the difference between having a job and having a career.

Jen and I decided to get married, for real, like, you know married with the cake and everything. We've been saying we were going to get married for almost as long as we've been together, and we were starting to plan earlier in the year. But when Jen put an engagement ring on my finger last February, it was like we had translated ourselves into English. They were all like..."Ohhh...MARRRIED!" My mom threw us an engagment party. We began to receive lovely and completely unrequired gifts - may I brew you some coffee in my french press? Or perhaps pack a picnic for us in my tricked out wicker picnic basket? No? Ok. I'll just be over here, powering through mixing cake batter with infathomable speed in my Kitchenaid mixer if you need me.

Now that other people think we're getting married, we really have to plan the wedding. This summer we got a lot done. Picked a venue, reserved hotels, picked a baker for the cake, picked a sort of theme (creepy line drawings of birds), and generally got the ball rolling so fast in one particular direction that we certainly can't stop or change course now. Not that I want to, I'm just trying to convey the...velocity of our intention. We're getting married in Ogunquit, Maine in July 2011. I like the "Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style" feeling of uprooting everyone from their lives here in NYC and CT and piling them all together in an unfamiliar place. It's a very special two part episode of Rose and Jen and while I'm nervous and concerned about money, I am also thrilling with anticipation.

In this process of announcing an engagement and planning for the wedding, we've come out all over again to our families. Which I now realize is the point of a marriage, and why marriage equality is such an important issue. Grandparents can't really rationalize to themselves that you're just friends. Aunts and uncles can't pass you off to young cousins as just roommates. You're relationship is out and present every time you walk into a room with a ring on. So many times now, we've gone to an event, a tangential family event, a cousin's baby shower for example, where non-relatives are there, and "This is Rose, and her fiance Jen". Smiles and friendly chat. And after I leave my mom gets a little grilling. "So you're comfortable with that?" And my mom, because she loves me and she loves Jen and she loves justice and because she's a great lady, sticks up for us and asks why anyone would ever think she'd be uncomfortable with her daughter finding love that seems lasting and honest, with someone who is so smart and sweet and successful. Before we didn't have to deal with that. People could misrecognize the word girlfriend, or we could just gloss over our connection. But choosing to get married means we're choosing to be always introducing ourselves as out, socially.

We did all this. And we also did the every day things. Fed the dogs approximately nine hundred and ninety times. Painted the hallway. Bought new shelves. Visited our families. Went outlet shopping. Kept trying to have a baby.

At this point, that's not a special event. Its a regular part of our life, and every day we do it or plan to do it in some way.

This doesn't mean we inseminated every month for the past year. Far from it. I did go through 5 insemination cycles at Callen Lorde. But there were a variety of issues. First the sperms weren't swimmy. Then my cycle turned bizarre. And between the two things, we ended up with a well timed, likely insemination maybe one time out of five. So, probability being what it is, that would be a .2 chance of having a good insemination multiplied by the .2 chance that any IUI insemination will work (and that's VERY generous) which gives me a .04 chance of being pregnant or having a gorgeous mewling infant in the next room.

I'm not. I don't.

It all got a little frustrating and a little expensive. People that weren't even married when we started thinking about this started lapping us, having kid after kid, through the simple joy of having sex with each other. I wouldn't call myself jealous, what they have doesn't negate the possibility of what I can have. But I will say that my wanting is keener and more directed. I hypothetically wanted to have a child before. Now, I want to have a child.

All of those things that we did in the last year and half - professionally, in our relationship, with our families - these things have helped us to be ready. We are more mature and more financially stable and more in love. There is more of us every day. And I guess, to put it poetically, I do trust that this more, this excess will ripen and grow into a child for us.

But biology and poetry are two different things. So I have an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist next month. My cycle has been uncooperative, to say the least. I experienced a 96 day gap between cycles. I didn't get my period all summer. All the tests I've done so far have shown nothing but healthy, normal outcomes. Hopefully the RE can help explain and rectify the situation. I expect there will be more tests and then we'll start inseminating again in a few months.

People always wonder why I would do that with the wedding coming up. "Don't you want to be able to drink at your wedding?" I can't explain how drunk I'd be on joy if I were pregnant when Jen and I get married.


I have thoughts, I swear, I'm just keeping them private for the moment.

No news in particular though.


Where've I been?

I've been getting a physical and taking prenatal vitamins and proving that I don't have AIDS or syphilis or toxoplasmosis. There was a lot of blood letting and several doctors and everyone says with surprise in their voice "There's nothing wrong with you!?" I don't think they're surprised that it's *me*, I think they just rarely see people with no problems at all.

Anyway, all that and two weeks ago I trotted back to Callen Lorde with my documentation in hand and got cleared to inseminate. A few days after that, we bought our sperminos and had them shipped over to CL. The shipping was a slightly stressful part, the bank shipped FedEx and for some strange reason that meant they had to be shipped from lower manhattan to Jersey before turning around and being delivered in Chelsea. That made no sense at all and pissed me off. But they got there in a timely fashion, and right when I asked them to, so it doesn't really matter. It was just nonsensical.

So now the sperms are there. Waiting for me to inseminate. We are doing my next cycle. Which is good, because this current cycle turned out to be a major weirdo. Which very rarely happened to me, over the 7 months I've been charting in earnest. Its slightly freaking me out, but then again, I did have the swine flu...or at least a bad flu earlier in the cycle. I'm just trying to stay calm and focus on being healthy and ready for next cycle. Which will be textbook. Right?

We've been telling more people that we're trying for a kid...namely our families. We've both mentioned it to them before, and they were all at least somewhat enthusiastic, but it's been so long, that we kind of had to be like, no really, really seriously, we mean like, soon (hopefully). My dad called up the other day and councilled me that this might not be the best time, with the economy as it is, with me working on finishing my MLS, with a lot of stuff, that's all true but doesn't change my mind. I listened to him. But it was sort of frustrating, especially coming hot on the heels of (literally minutes after) a male friend of mine saying some of the exact same things. I politely tried to explain to both of the that Jen and I did think about our own financial security, that we had a plan we were satisfied with and happy about, that no time is ever perfect for having a child, and that I'm 29, almost 30, and I don't really fucking feel like waiting another 10 years to have a kid, nor do I think that would be an efficient way to accomplish the goals that I have for myself and my family. AND that starting to try now doesn't mean the same thing as getting pregnant right now, it could take 6 months, it could take years if we uncover some secret issue, and so I might as well get started now, and if it works, count myself lucky.

I know they were both trying to look out for me, and no one forced an opinion on me, they just said their peice and I was like, yeah, no, and we left it at that. But it was irritating. I sort of vented about it to the midwife at CL, embarrassingly. A week later, my mom was like, your dad told me what he said, you're not listening to him right? She was totally behind us. I feel like I'm sort of getting beckoned over to join some mom club, because sure, lots of people are being supportive and are excited about this potential baby, but moms especially are like, YES, join us! Now, I don't know what they do in the moms' club, it seems like there's a lot of discussion of vaginal tearing, at least at the beginning, but there must be some cooler stuff too right?

Anyway moms, future moms, potential moms, hypothetical moms - Happy Mother's Day.


I've been charting my fertility using temperatures and opks *and* a fertility monitor along with observation of my fertile mucous, of course. Everything's been pretty normal, generally I ovulate on day 12/13, and have a 12-14 day luteal phase.

Right now I'm on day 7 and I've been crazy with lust for the past 2 days. I have no idea what's going on. I wondered if maybe I was ovulating earlier than expected and did an OPK, even though I normally wouldn't think they'd be positive til day 11 at least. One yesterday afternoon and one last night and they both came out positive, hardcore. Fertile mucous abounds. But my temperature hasnt risen yet, and my monitor gave a low reading this morning. Maybe I'm ovulating today? I have some cramps and my body is basically just raging to fuck. I am struggling through the day with the help of youtube lword videos and fanfiction and pouncing on poor Jen at night. I have new sympathy for middle school boys with uncontrollable urges.
I dreamt the other night that Jen and I had a baby boy. We were out at dinner, talking happily about the baby when we realized that we each thought the other had arranged a sitter but neither of us had and we had left our newborn son alone, outside, and starving.

We freaked out and raced to the rooftop cafe where we had left him. He was in an infant seat, covered by a sort of baby cocoon/blanket. I saw him wave his arm and heard him cry and we laughed in relief because he wasn't dead. A waitress at the cafe saw us and snidely remarked "Yeah, laugh because your son didn't die of thirst. Hilarious."

We took him inside then, and I had to breastfeed him, he was so hungry. But I had never breastfed him before, I realized they hadn't explained how to do it at the hospital or anything. I was really worried, but I just put him to my breast and everything was fine, he got milk, he calmed down, he fell asleep.

Even asleep, I reminded myself that Jen and I would never do something a ridiculous as leaving a newborn unattended and exposed to the elements. It was a horrible dream, but somewhat reassuring.

Really too, I think it was about my fish. I hadn't changed his water in a while, it was freaking me out.


Beginning again. In earnest

Last night Jen and I went to that orientation for Callen Lorde's Alternative Insemination program. A lot of the information given was stuff we knew, since we've been around the babycrafting block a few times. But it was great to get all our knowledge confirmed, by a medical staff who is extremely enthusiatic about helping lesbians procreate. Honestly, I've never heard anyone say the word "mucous" with such joy in their voice before.

There were a few other couples at the orientation. I often wonder why it is that Jen and I don't hang out with too many other lesbians, and I always come to the conclusion that we just don't move in the same circles. Plus, the few times I did try hanging out with lesbians, some of them told me I wasn't lesbian enough and hit on my girlfriend when I was in the bathroom. Those were grad school bitches, so I'll put it down to the competitive spirit of theory, but it didn't lead to any lasting connections, that's for sure. Once in a while i think it would be nice to have some lesbians to talk about lesbianiac stuff with - but I muddle through. You can dissect the L word with gay boys, you can talk about OPKs with straight people who are trying to have babies. It all works out. Point being, its very rare that jen and I are in a room with other lesbian couples, at least a room that doesn't have happy hour specials posted somewhere.

I tried not to pay too much attention to the others, because I know me. Any time I'm supposed to be doing something serious and quiet, like church or a lecture, then all I want to do is alternately stare at everyone around me and giggle to my companion. Jen's very Mary Ingalls about it and hates it when I misbehave like this. Plus there were only like, 12 people in that room. Everyone would have known I was the total creep. So I tried to be good. But I still managed to break the zipper on my coat and mix up the papers from my packet and Jen's and get Jen to footsie me at least one time.

Some of the others were more nervous than we were. The information was newer to them, and its alot of information, and daunting. When I said I had been charting for 2 months already they were all quite impressed, which of course, I loved. It is always my goal to be the premiere lesbian.

After the presentation we signed up for our enrollment visit with Jennifer, the head of the AI program. The chick who loves mucous so much. We meet with her Feb 20 to go over my medical records, our plans for a donor, all the basics.

As we walked out into the night I turned to Jen, "My favorite thing was knowing that after it was over, we were going to talk about everything together."

She squeezed my arm.

I hesitated. I knew it was wrong, but it was important. "Plus, we were totally the cutest couple in there."

"Oh, yeah, definitely the cutest."


Callen Lorde

I've been tracking my fertility signs, things *seem* to be going normally for me, although I haven't really gotten on top of every aspect of my cycle yet. But I do ovulate, somewhere in days 8-12. I just have to get better at predicting exactly when.

AND I'm going to have help! Today I called the Callen Lorde center. Its a medical center for queers, and they rock. I had heard a while ago that they were starting up a fertility/insemination clinic, and we were psyched, but it didn't get off the ground in time for our first tries with Jen as birth mom. A stranger's blog post reminded me of the idea today, and I called to see if they had finally started up the program. And they have! And it sounds awesome! It starts with an orientation that covers everything from fertility tracking to legal issues and then they offer assistance with finding donors, storing sperm, and they'll either do the inseminations there or teach you to do home insemination. I am SO happy to find that these services are available in once place, where I feel comfortable, where I know its cool that I'm queer, where they're attuned to the ways that Jen and my pregnancy planning is different than straight people's. I feel like I just made a new best friend.

Of course, we'll see how it all shakes out. If I've learned anything from this process its that you have no fucking clue what is going to happen next and you can never assume that things will go as planned. But at least I feel like there's some structure to work with now, and medical assistance really targeted to my needs, which is honestly, just thrilling.


So I'm it now. I am to be the birth mother of our child.

I was ambivalent, we've been over that. But I got psyched. Its fun to think about.
Its not fun to go to the gynecologist.

I went for a "pregnancy planning" appointment. The doctor asked me how old I am and whether we planned to do this at home or what. I said I am 29 and that I wanted to start right up with iui, no messing around. As efficient as possible. She looked at me and was like, well, I'd think this should happen pretty quickly then, once you get started.

Awesome. Scary.

I had to go back for the pelvic exam, cause I was on day 1 of my cycle for the first visit. Second visit, I waited forrrrrever, and eventually a very nice PA came in to pinch my nipples and put things in my vagina. I realized the iui will be at least as uncomfortable as a pap, if not more. Ugh. Jen said I can take some of her valium.

The other thing they did was take blood for a variety of tests including what they term the "jewish panel." Since I have some jewish ancestry, they run these tests to make sure that I'm not carrying genetic mutations known to occur in jews. I thought they only did this for Ashkenazi jews, and that's not my ancestry, but apparently they've expanded. Anyway, I found out yesterday don't have any mutated jewish genes.

Still waiting for the other bloods, the rest of the tests they ran. I've been tracking my cycle, I'm quite regular in my ovulation. So assuming all else is well, we hope to inseminate early next year. I wish is could be sooner, but money rears its ugly, necessary head.


Jen went to the genetic counselor today. The advice was: because of the SMA and other undesirable traits or indicators on Jen's chart, she's probably not the best birth mother for our children. So... tag, I'm it!

I called and made an appointment with the same ob/gyn that Jen's been seeing. She's apparently awesome and nice, so I"m glad we're able to stick with her.

The genetic counselor suggested that I get genetically tested too...which I was sort of like, why...but then I thought about it and there's some things that yes, I probably should check for. But now, thinking about it further, its sort of freaking me out. What's inside me? Do I want to know?


Jen got a call from her doctor on Thursday. He left a message on her cell saying he wanted to talk to her about some test results. That's never good. At his office they only call if the results are bad news. Jen got the message late on Thursday, so she wasn't able to try to get back in touch until the next day.

I was ready for an anxious evening on Thursday night, but we actually had a great time. Jen went to tango class, and then we walked down to 14th street for tapas and sangria. The subway ride home was interminable, but overall everything was relaxed and happy and we enjoyed our impromptu date.

The doctor finally called Jen back late Friday afternoon. The news was unexpected and bizarre.

Jen carries a gene for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. SMA is a term for a family of disorders that manifest as muscle weakness due to the loss of motor neurons in the spine. People who have SMA can't move or breathe or do anything that requires muscles very well, with varying levels along a spectrum. For example, for someone with adult onset SMA life expectancy is normal, but its still a degenerative disease that leaves the person wheelchair bound eventually (and at risk for many complications, including deadly respiratory infection). For someone with type I SMA, life expectancy is 7 months.

Most of the literature focuses on types I and II SMA, the kinds where your baby is extremely debilitated and dies before they're 2. I'm not sure if this is because these types are most common or because they are most terrible. Or both.


The doctor advised genetic counseling, which we're pursuing. For now, we know the basics. If Jen has a child with a donor who is also an SMS carrier, we have a 1 in 4 chance of the child having the disease, with some variety in there for gender bias and other statistical variants. Jen is firmly against the possibility of terminating any pregnancy she conceives. So we really don't have the option of just trying any old donor and then testing for the disease later. If we could get a donor that we KNEW was not a carrier, that would be ok, so we're trying to figure out which banks, if any, might have this information, or can get it for us.

And frankly, I'm feeling sort of lucky that we are in this situation and COULD find out through testing about Jen's being a carrier. Most people find out when they have a kid and it becomes apparent that their child has a horrible and deadly disease.

In the meantime, we've had some more discussions about me possibly being the biological mother of our children...which I must admit, is a rather daunting prospect for me, but I'm getting more enthusiastic. Its just...

I had envisioned this whole role for myself. This whole road to motherhood that didn't involve me as the birth mother. And now the role might shift and just as I know Jen will be disappointed if she has to give up the thought of being the bio mom, I'll be disappointed to give up the version of motherhood we were inventing for me.

We'll see.


Where were we with this sordid tale?

April and May. A lot happened. Lets start at the beginning. Jen is seeing a new doctor. Someone who deals in fertility, not just ob/gyn. At the new doctor's, they did some tests. The results were...not what we wanted to see. Levels that should be low were high.

We sort of freaked out about that. Maybe it meant that Jen didn't have a lot of eggs left. Or the ones she did have weren't good eggs. That news came on the same day that I got a job offer that I was very interested in, a job offer that would radically change what had become a familiar schedule for us. It was a big day. Stressful. I scooted myself into an empty rehersal studio at my office and talked to Jen on my cell for almost an hour.

The initial upset led us to discuss something fairly huge. Me carrying instead of Jen. I'm happy to do it, if we have to, but I'm not happy for Jen not to carry a biological child of her own. She wants that. *I* want that. I love Jen and a baby like her, who looks like her, and has her very very very special ways about it, it would give me great joy to spend time with that child. A child who has me in it...well, that is...less appealing. I'm sure I'll love it in the end, but that hasn't been how I conceptualized the deal. Especially the part about me being a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home mom to a baby I birth...is a whole different prospect than being a stay at home mom to a baby Jen carried. I wanted and want our little alterna happy family plan.

When Jen eventually spoke to the doctor, he told her that our freak out might be a bit premature. He didn't believe that the numbers had a direct correlation to the eggs left, and there were some other tests to do first. So my uterus is on deck. Jen's still at the plate. The dreaded HSG. She did it, on valium, and the result was, her tubes were fine. Clear. Then some more bloods.

Another #. This time, should be high, was low. Not ideal. But the doctor says we can try. So we stuck to our June insemination plan. The derailing of that in the next excruitating installment.


The sperm bank is releasing a slew of new donors, but most of them probably won't be ready in time for our next insemination in june. They did let us have a sneak peek at the first two guys who will be coming onto the market - one seems like an ass, but smart, and the other seems really sweet but was a mediocre student. His father was valedictorian though and went to MIT, so we have to hope he's got some smart genes in there somewhere. Plus, he likes old english sheepdogs. *I* like old english sheepdogs. We'll go with him.

The most important thing is that this donor is healthy, young, and this sperm hasn't been frozen for a long time. But I would be lying if I said he was my ideal donor. And I feel really horrible and shallow because my main reservation is cosmetic. He didn't do exceptionally well at school, but I felt there was an emotional openness to his communication that was appealing and intelligent in its own right. He loves to travel, which is a really positive trait that speaks of other great qualities like curiosity and friendliness and lack of timidity. But he's blond.

As the non-carrying partner, I have to align myself with the donor. I look for places where I overlap with him. With this donor, the very positive qualities this person clearly has - friendliness, enthusiasm, confidence, aren't things I lack at this stage of my life, but they aren't qualities that came naturally to me, or what I would list first on an accounting of what I like most about myself. My list would be less sunny, more inwardly focused. I am happy but only because I can critically analyze my surroundings, only because I can spend time withing myself, imagining. This guy doesn't seem to have to or want to do that sort of thinking. And I guess I just feel like the blondeness is the external signifier of this outgoing person's difference from me.

Outgoing. That's what it is. I object to him being naturally outgoing.

I realize this is ridiculous. Getting Jen pregnant is the goal, and the raw material of this guy's genes presents absolutely nothing to object to. Being outgoing and friendly are not negative qualities. I just see them that way because they have been hard for me to attain. And I know that all those years I spent being uncertain of myself made me miss out on a lot of great opportunities. Prime example - I could have TOTALLY been hooking up with girls in high school. But no. I was a pussy. I shouldn't pretend that's a plus.

And anyway, I'll have years and years to make the child anxious and analytical, and I'm sure living in New York City will help with that too.


the genius plan.

I love the L word and Jen hates it with the firey passion of a thousand suns. Sunday nights when it airs, we inevitably decamp to our own corners, to feed our own guilty pleasures. Jen on one couch, curled up with a book that probably has a dragon illustration on the cover or maybe a gryffon, and me on the other couch, panting after my next glance at Jennifer Beals.

The L Word just wrapped up its fifth and penultimate season, and to stave off withdrawal, I decided to go back to the beginning. I got a season 1 dvd from the gay library where I volunteer and popped it in one weekend morning before Jen was awake. I do love to taunt her with my L Word, but I know there's only so far I can push her before she breaks.

The series in general focuses on the lives (and loves and libidios and ludicrously bad decisions) of a group of LA lesbians. The characters I am most interested in (and attracted to) are Bette and Tina, a committed couple who have broken up and reunited several times over the 5 seasons, and who have a child together. I like the angst, I think they're pretty and I love that they have a kid. But as much as I am Bette and Tina centric, I didn't realize how much of the first season, and in particular, the pilot episode, focused on their attempts to get Tina pregnant.

In this episode, Tina and Bette have been trying to get pregnant with ICI at home using fresh sperm for 6 months. Still not pregnant, they have decided to step it up, and are shown collecting the donor's sperm and driving to the doctor's office for IUI. The doctor checks on the sperm under a microscope and has to deliver the sad news that their donor's sperm is non-motile. They then spend a lot of time over the rest of the episode (which spans the course of a month) trying to find another donor. It all culminates in an attempt to rope a young, hot, artsy guy into a threeway to get his sperm. But he backs out when they tell him not to wear a condom, on to their seed stealin' ways. Bette and Tina then proceed to have extremely extremely hot sex and reaffirm their love and connection to one another.

People often criticize the L word for this scene, *I've* criticized the L word for this threeway scene, but watching it again, being in a similar position to Bette as I did so, I saw a lot more truth in it than I had previously. The character of Bette, as a non-carrying partner, is not solely responsible for providing sperm, but in a way, somehow being the conduit of the sperm is her only role in the conception. She's an intelligent, controlling woman, and she takes that role lightly at first - assuming that this, like the other things she's tried to accomplish, will be done, and done well in short order. But as things progress and she can't sweet talk or cajole or boss the sperm into magically appearing, she gets kind of desperate. She's so proud when she finally does come up with a donor for them, and crushed when he's not what Tina had in mind. Finally, she'll do whatever it takes to get Tina pregnant, even if it means sharing her with a random dude that neither of them is too sure of. Its a stupid move, and perhaps uncharacteristic for someone painted as so smart and composed, but its also a testament to her desire to make a family with Tina. And I can relate. I fantasize about making sperm appear for Jen.

In the threesome aftermath, before the hot sex, Bette says "That was...CRAZY."

And Tina replies "I thought it was a genius plan."

And that's how inseminating goes. It pushes you past the limits of what you previously saw as the logical boundaries of your relationship. As a lesbian, you have to move past those limits to let the idea of sperm to enter the picture in the first place. And once you have, its a constant renegotiation of those limits. So maybe some strange and otherwise untenable solutions seem like a great idea. Would we use an asian donor? Would we be open to co-parenting with a man we know well? a man we don't know well? Would we spend $200 a vial on sperm? $300? $600? Jen and I have answered most of those questions already, but now that we're going IUI, we do have consider new donors again. I'm pretty certain the search won't end in a threeway, but I don't exactly know where it will end.

Sometimes I allow myself to think past the conception process and imagine actually having a child, and what questions people might ask. I especially think about what my family will say. How did I pick a person to fill the biological gap that represents me? I am them. How did I decide? There's a process of course. Criteria and availability and timing issues. But I don't know if any answers can help them see our eventual choice for the genius plan it will have to be.


brief injury.

The new doctor asked Jen to have the basic checkup stuff done at the regular gyn. before they go ahead with the bloodwork and HSG for her next cycle. She called the gyn. to schedule it and the receptionist was apparently incredibly rude, telling her that the doctor wouldn't see her unless she is pregnant. We have heard that this doctor only accepts patients who are pregnant or trying to concieve, but that does include us and she has already accepted Jen as a patient. Jen's been going there for over a year. If there's a new rule about this or something, there are lots of other ways to convey the information without making Jen feel even shittier about not being pregnant yet. That really hurt her. It hurt us.


I've been quiet. Things got stressful. Emotional. Personal. I didn't really want to share.

We didn't inseminate in March. Because although it seemed like Jen ovulated in Feburary, she never got her period. So there were 45 days between periods. Partly, we were wondering if she was indeed pregnant, or pseudo pregnant with something possibly very injurious to Jen, like an ectopic pregnancy. I was so worried about her. She was sick, unrelatedly sick with all the viruses New Yorkers constantly pass around to each other, and I was convinced that every shiver, every feverish cold sweat was a harbinger of doom. I care very much about having a baby with Jen but not at the expense of Jen herself.

Anxiety built. I googled things to clarify and that made my brain explode with a thousand terrifying theories. We became short with each other. Our hot sex cooled. I yelled at Jen because I love her and cried because I was angry.

While I was scared of Jen having some horrible complication or disease, Jen was scared of losing her period, and her fertility forever. I didn't think that was likely the case, just like she didn't think my theories were at all founded in reality. It was like I was saying "I'm terrified you're turning into a warewolf! I'm scared for you!" and her response was "Silly! I'm not. But we really should have my growing desire to bite humans on the neck with my pointy teeth and drink their blood looked into..."None of it was really based on anything except our fears and the mythologies that each of us were clinging to.

Even as I write this I know Jen thinks about this differently. I know she thinks her fear is more founded in reality than mine. I don't mean to mitigate her concern over her fertility, or make it into silly imagination play. I just...I don't think there's evidence to lead us to the conclusion that she's infertile.

So. We didn't inseminate. We snarked and cried and grew as people and waited until TODAY, when Jen had an appointment with a doctor who could weigh in on the issue. It was just a consultation, but I'm viewing the outcome as very positive.

Presented with the information we had compiled about Jen's cycles and our insemination attempts, the doctor didn't automatically think Jen's infertile or going through menopause or any of that. He does think we should be more agressive in our insemination practices, doing IUI inseminations in his office, as opposed to ICI at home. Before our next insemination (which should end up being in June), Jen's going to have some blood taken and undergo a few tests, including an HSG, which means that they'll inject dye into her fallopian tubes to check for abnormalities or blockages. The HSG is supposed to be rather painful and Jen is scared. But generally, people seem to have an easier time getting pregnant in the cycle after having an HSG test, the dye having paved the way for the sperm to get where they need to go or some more sciency version of that concept.

The doctor is setting our timeline now. Certain tests on certain times in Jen's cycle and so on. Jen seems to be a little forlorn at the loss of control of the process. I on the other hand am relieved that this is in a doctor's hands. I like experts and authorities, and I have to admit that I can't fake my way through this one.


It sucks to see babies everywhere

On saturday, we found out that this insemination did not result in pregnancy. Our hopes had been up - Jen's luteal phase was longer than ever before, which means her period appeared later than ever before. She was cautious, but optimistic, I was flat out optimistic and cautiously terrified. But it wasn't a baby after all.

I feel sometimes like my being a little scared of it taking jinxes everything. This whole process brings about a lot of magical thinking. If I ask Jen if she has symptoms, then that ruins everything. I can't ask her today. I'll ruin everything.

None of that is true.

After we found out we were not pregnant, we went out to NJ for a Chinese New Year party. There, we ran into a baby. We had last seen him in utero, but now he was out and wearing a t-shit that said Ladies Man. He was cute. But it would have been more fun to just get wasted and not have to look at a cute baby. When we got home I went to bed and Jen stayed up and had beers alone.

Sunday, we went over to a friend's apartment in brooklyn. Having NEVER in the four+ years that there have been friends of mine living in that apartment, run into a baby there, we run into a baby there. Even younger than the Saturday baby, it was even harder to socialize with.

Jen and I are trying to embrace our young married coupledom. And I do love it. This week we've created a 6 day weekend for ourselves that will be spent doing nothing but having sex and long breakfasts and cocktails. That's what I'm terrified of changing. But since we don't know when the babycrafting will start to work, and since it costs a bunch, our young unfettered coupledom is fettered.

We try again in March.


try 3

We chose a new donor. I don't love him like I loved "Dann" but we got too attached that time. This new guy is a good guy. Healthy, smart, a little funny. His english is worse, so he comes out with some amusing shit. Favorite car - "I cherish the Ferrari for its supremecy." Who doesn't?

We inseminated last night. This was our first real try, a valid try, correctly timed and correctly executed. Every hour counted. Jen left work early, got the sperm, walked the dogs. I left work early without really explaining myself, wedged myself into the train that was miraculously waiting at the station when I got to the platform, and zipped uptown, nervous as a hurricane. I felt the same way I do on a plane. Excited and terrified at the lack of control. I listened to rap and techno to focus myself. The remix of Dreamgirls' "One Night Only" really hit the spot.

The insemination was unexpectedly hot. We have the logistics of the situation down, so its less of a slapstick event. Jen is still nervous but less so. And anyway, we just seem to be on a hot streak for the moment. So somehow it just translated the event from a weird, clinical "stick long object into lady" type thing into an actual sexual experience. Which was sexy and sweet.

After we chilled, drank wine, jen elevated her pelvis (although I think she's bad at it. I said she was the worst pelevator ever). It was a fun night. And after I felt so calm and relaxed. If a baby comes out of this, I'm sure I'll freak out again, but for the time being, I feel back in control, and i think we did a great job.

Now we wait.



Our favorite donor of all time - Dann - was bought up. There were 20 vials left a few days ago and now there are 0 vials left. Dann was great. Now we have to find someone new.