Saturday, May 29, 2010

Womb for Two

We caved.

It's true.

We had the ultrasound done.

Like prisoners being tortured at Guantanamo, we blasted them with loud music at point blank range. While it was happening I kept saying in my head, "Ignore the noise....keep your cells together. Don't explode. you even have ears?"

After discussing our distrust of all things ultrasound with our doctor she highly recommended that we have this first one done just to make sure there wasn't a life threatening ectopic pregnancy in the works. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube rather than in the lining of the uterus. The baby grows and grows and grows and, unlike a goldfish in a little bowl, does not stop. Cletus the Fetus will quickly smash through his fleshy, pink cage, leaving you upset and bleeding to death, wondering, "Where did I go wrong?"

Our doctor let us know that, after this sneak peek, we wouldn't have to take a gander again if we didn't want to. We nodded and said, "Stop stallin'! Lube up that magic wand and show us the hearts!"

It was pretty amazing, sitting there, staring at a black and white television set that looked broken, playing back static. I tried to make out shapes - maybe a fist, perhaps a smile or a fetal back flip. I felt ten years old again, trying to catch shapes on my scrambled HBO and achieving nearly the same results.

I saw nothing.

The doctor points and says, "You see that?" Her finger lands on an inkblot, an irregular mole, a booger in a kleenex and says, "That's your baby".

It's a formless monster.

She tells us it's the size of a lentil bean. I say, "Delicious" and then, "We don't want to know the sex...just in case you were thinking about telling us, we don't want to know". She says she doesn't know at this point and she says it like I should know this already. "Stupid boy doesn't know six week old lentil beans don't have penises. Laymen".

She shifts the magic wand and a small white blob appears. It pulsates, grows and shrinks, grows and shrinks. Thumb-bump-thumb-bump-thumb-bump. She shifts the wand and shows us another pulsating ball of light. She says, "Those.....are the hearts". The first thing I think is, "My wife has three hearts in her body. That's pretty messed up."

And then I went about my day.


And then, eight hours later, after work, walking to my car, it suddenly hit me. There were two HUMANS living inside my wife. There were TWO of them....and they were coming OUT HERE very, very soon. I sat down in the driver's seat and thought about it.

My brain exploded.

Sitting here now, I hope we made the right decision about the ultrasound; I hope we didn't screw up their lives already, as I know there'll be plenty of time to do that in the years to come through practiced neglect, repeated discouragement and general verbal dissatisfaction

I wonder if this is what parenthood is all about...........a million simple decisions that leave you lying awake at night, wondering if you've just monumentally messed up your offspring...

So, that all said, let me show you two pictures of the broken TV in the doctor's office. Maybe if you put on your 3D glasses, you'll see a crying lentil bean.

If you happen to see a penis, you'd better not say jack.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Scan or Not To Scan

That is the question.

Me and the built in baby carriage went in for our follow up beta check this morning and came back with an astonishing 7018 (which is ironic because that's the year a psychic named Xena predicted I would die...) Everything seems to be going grand, great and wonderful. The Wonder Twins are doing what they're supposed to be doing and all is good.


Oh, speaking of my womb, we have a question for all you IVF bloggerinos....

Next week we are scheduled for The Big Show: The Heartbeat Ultrasound! So, here is our delicious dilemma.....first, a little anecdote.....

When I was in college, I planted some bonsai seeds. I wanted to grow bonsai plants and trim them and prune them and have people believe me zen. They would ask me questions regarding life and love and morality. I would snip-snip-snip, pause, breathe and answer in very few words and usually in the form of another question.

This never happened.

Five days after planting the seeds I grew impatient that the seedlings had not yet sprouted. On the sixth day I told myself I would give them until noon and if they hadn't shown up I was going in after them. Short story shorter, I ended up waiting two more hours before digging in with a chopstick , delicately scooping away clumps of soil until I found...........the plant, about ready to break through the surface. Perhaps another day, perhaps two and I would have had my patience rewarded. I smiled devilishly and dumped the dirt back on the sprouting sapling.

My zen dream was going to come true....

Only it never did. I killed it. I killed my baby plant. I was no wise yogi. I was Yogi Bear.

Now I stand about five days away from hearing our babies heartbeats. Thump-thump-thump (or, as the hitch hiker's heartbeat goes, thumb-thumb-thumb) and we're excited about it. In fact, we're REALLY excited about it. It's an experience all of our friends have said, "...really just brings it home". That said, I feel a little like Yogi Bear again, standing above the developing seed, holding an ultrasound wand in my hand instead of a chopstick and getting ready to start digging around in some soil that would be better off undisturbed.

I'm not worried about killing our "seeds" but what I AM just a weeee bit concerned about is autism or other neurological disorders. BUT WAIT!!! Don't write me off as a cooky hippie just yet. Let me run my case. I promise I'll make it short....

First off, here's a link to an article about an experiment a Yale laboratory did on mice. They exposed pregnant mice to an ultrasound and studied the mini-meeces brains once they were born. The study concluded that neurological disorders were present in them.

If you don't want to read the article, that's fine. It pretty much says what I just did but they sound REALLY smart. It's quite impressive, all the big words they use.

Secondly, I KNOW that everyone says "There is no conclusive evidence that suggests ultrasounds and autism are linked" and I understand that it just because there isn't proper research? "Not conclusive" means incomplete. It doesn't mean "Completed and results are negative".

Remember, "There is no conclusive evidence that links tobacco use to lung cancer".

Did you know that 30 years ago autism affected 1 / 10,000 children and today it affects 1 / 100? SOMETHING is going on. Is it ultrasounds? Is it vaccines? Is it microwaves? Plastics? Is it the internet? Did Al Gore invent autism?

I realize that the article specifies that this should not discourage pregnant women from having medically necessary ultrasounds, but the crucial wording there is "medically necessary". John and I have decided not to find out the sex of the baby/ies or undergo any genetic abnormalities testing (as it would not change the outcome of the pregnancy for us). So, is this a medical necessity ultrasound or just something of convenience and/or parental entertainment? What did they do back in the day before this new technology? (Besides smoke cigarettes and knock back a few celebratory drinks).

We've discussed our concerns with our doctor and she has assured us that there is no risk whatsoever to prenatal ultrasounds. I LOVE our doctor and trust her hugely but I can't help but think that most doctors also said bloodletting, mercury, lobotomies, radium water, Bendectin and bacon were totally harmless too - and look how well those all turned out.

ps. Bendectin is an anti-morning sickness pill that was pulled from the shelves in '83 after they discovered it was causing birth defects.

pps. Bacon is delicious.

ppss. Damn you, bacon.

Point is, science seems to change it's mind a LOT. What's great for us one minute turns out to be terrible for us 50 years later.

There's no disputing that there is a huge rise happening in autism now and I can't help but wonder if some of the neurological problems are partly cropping up because of the rise in ultrasounds. I'm NOT saying that it's ALL because of ultrasounds.........but is it a potentially contributing factor????????

So...........what are your thoughts? Does any of this make you a nervous-pervous?

Finally.....and not that I think any of you lovelies would do this......but nice and no e-fighting. This is just a friendly exchange of thoughts. There is no condemnation here no matter what your stupid, personal opinion is.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Officially Official

WE'RE PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Beta level on Monday was 99 and as of this morning we're sitting pretty at 270.

We've heard whispers of twins....................

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pregnant until Proven Otherwise

With the current success of the egg retrieval one week behind us, Jade and I have been patiently (anxiously) sitting by our big red phone, waiting for the call from the reproductive endocrinologist (pooty doctor) with what we hope will be good news noose (Freudian slip) regarding our fertilization report (bun in the oven).

Here's how our stats break down:

They harvested 33 eggs from Mother Hen, 21 of which were mature enough to proceed to the next step - FERTILIZATION!!

Of the 21 fertilized, 18 eggs were a success!! I immediately began formulating my plans to make a baseball team, a family band and my own personal entourage when Jade informed me that we'd only be implanting 2. BLAST! I immediately began reconstructing my plan. I'd form a tandem bicycling team, a small vaudeville act and a slightly smaller and more intimate version of my previous entourage. SUCCESS!!

Because we had so many successfully fertilize, our embryologist recommended that we freeze 10 and let the remaining 8 continue to develop for a five day transfer. We both casually nodded our heads, completely oblivious to what she was talking about. Personally, I couldn't get the phrase, "Doctor Lady say smart thing. We do. Baby, fun, soft, pink." out of my head.

She told us to show up on Monday.

While we drove home, I spaced out (these new cars pretty much run themselves, anyway) thinking that, somewhere out there, somewhere behind me, there were these little things...they were part Jade and they were part me and they were sort of neither of us. I started thinking about how making babies is like macaroni and cheese. Yes, the crunchy noodles are good when eaten plain. Yes, the powdered cheese is a little dusty but oh so tasty. Yes, they're each good individually but doesn't the the real magic come from the perfect union of the two substances coming together in a near divine concoction of pasta that you want to curl up with and snuggle?

We had, for all intents and purposes, reproduced.


Alas, Monday morning arrives and we show up at nine bells, ready and willing to be impregnated.

Based on previous discussions with us, they had already prepped our two grade As - no sense turning my wife's sausage storage into a clown car. The embryologist (who was standing behind this weird Mr. Ed type door, staring down Jade's wazoo) said our little chicklet babies were "textbook" and were ranked 8AB - the highest grade she gives. I could tell that Jade was already gushing with maternal pride when the lady turned to me and said, "These are great eggs. GREAT eggs. That's no offense to the sperm, but these are GREAT eggs". I just smiled and laughed but thought, "I'd like to see you do what you do without me, lady".

That said, without further ado.........behold........our blastocyte spawns and a weird looking penis shape!

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Now join with us, won't you, and cross every part of the body you can - fingers, toes, eyes - and believe that Jezuz-Pleazuz, we will see a miracle.

Monday is the big day!


Saturday, May 1, 2010


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When I was a kid I got suplexed.

My buddy and I were wrestling and he wrapped his arms around me, his chest to my back. He locked his wrists and flipped me backwards, crashing my noggin into the floor of his parents' messy trailer home. My bottom tooth smashed into my top tooth and shattered the corner. If you look at my broken, mangled smile you can actually see the culprit and the victim on the left side, trapped forever standing next to one another in an awkward silence.

Today, however, is not about awkward silences. Today is about SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY! Today the missus and I are going to the fertility clinic to remove my wife's sweet, sweet eggs. They go in with a vacuum, dig around and extract. It's sort of like an abortion in reverse.

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We only wait a few moments before they call our name and take us into a room that is entirely white. The black nurse sticks out like a sore thumb and tells Jade to put on some sort of strange magic lotion that will numb her skin, making it painless for when they put in the IV. After battling cancer and having some 37 injections and IVs combined I'm wondering just where this stupid potion was about a year ago. Truthfully, I think it was just a placebo. Jade covers the back of her hand with it while the nurse, who's name was Denise Crist (pronunciation on that last name, Jezuz-Please-Us) tells my Zygote Momma to put on her Egg Makin' Uniform. Some people say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I say that hospital gowns are the windows to the butt. Jade double knots the belt and puts the gripped hospital booties on OVER her "Lucky Socks".

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Denise asks if she'd like her to take a picture of the three of us. I look chubbier than I do in my head, Jade looks like she doesn't fully grasp the purpose of the hairnet and June (Jade's mom) looks like her anxiety pills have just started to wear off.

Jade says, "Just push the button to take the picture" and Denise says, "This one? This one?" and Jade says, "Yep - that one right there". My first thought is, "Why does everyone have such a hard time operating cameras?" My second thought is, "Is it strange that my mother-in-law is present at the conception of my children?" I pinch myself to make sure I'm not having some dream that is about to go down a very bad road.

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Someone takes a photo of us, maybe it's Jade. Someone says, "How do I do it?" Someone else says, "Just push the button". Every time I hear the shutter click I wonder if this will be The Photo that I will look at years from now and remember this moment by, here and gone. I look around the room and wonder if this is how I pictured it all. It's not but it's still very cool.

I wonder about people having children "naturally" and I wonder about accidental pregnancies and I start to wonder about all the things that can go wrong and I start to get scared that something horrible will happen, that something will go wrong. I start to think about how it's a miracle that anyone survives past infancy. My mind starts to go koo-koo-bananas when I notice that Denise has left the room and Jade is applying more Magic Cream to her hands. She sees me watching, shrugs and says, "Better safe than sorry".

Denise enters back into the room. Jade sees her and throws the tube back onto the silver tray with a clatter and starts to whistle, gazing out the window.

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Denise opens up this door and says, "Here's where it happens". I take a step too near, over a red line and she says, "STAND BACK! STAND BACK! YOU CAN'T CROSS THAT LINE! THAT'S THE DIRTY LINE! THAT SIDE OF THE LINE IS DIRTY AND THIS SIDE IS CLEAN! YOU STAY ON THE DIRTY SIDE! DIRTY SIDE!"

I leap back, suddenly terrified that The Hand of God was going to strike me dead for entering the Holiest of Holies without a proper invitation. We start talking to Denise about restaurants, which happens to be something she loves. She tells us that she'll never start smoking but she can't say no to a stick of butter. She tells us that one of her favorite restaurants is Homestyle Buffet (which is pretty much every food you could ever imagine served on three Power Buffets). Jade and I tried it once and couldn't go back. Denise says it's like eating at your Grandma's house and I refrain from asking her if her grandma resides in the Bog of Eternal Stench and if she boils her bacon until it's done just right. Jade politely says that she didn't really like it. Denise just laughs knowingly and says, "Girl, you're the wrong demographic".

I'm pretty sure she was implying something about race, about black people loving Crappy Power Buffet but I'm too afraid too ask for fear of sounding racist. I'm always afraid to even MENTION race because I don't want to sound racist. Sometimes I just ignore people's race altogether. If someone says, "Hey, you know that Puerto Rican guy?" I'll just say, "Puerto Rican? Hmm, I guess I didn't notice."

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Jade's mom shouts, "PICTURE TIME!" and Jade sits on my lap and in my head I laugh about her beanie / hairnet again. I do this a lot, laugh inside my own head without actually laughing out loud. Sometimes people say something and I just smile and they go, "Don't you think that's funny?" and I say, "Yeah, I laughed inside my head" and they think I'm insulting them.

I have to keep pinching Jade's leg and saying, "Look at the birdie" because her eyes keep drifting back to the Magic Cream. She asks me if she could put that stuff on her face and I just shrug, smile, laugh in my head.

We have to take this picture six times because I keep blinking. Have you ever noticed how often newsreporters blink? All the time.

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Denise brought in one of my sperm. She said this was the one they chose based strictly on it's size. I tell her that the head-to-body proportion seemed to be squed and that I'm concernced that those attributes may carry over to the finished product. I tell her I don't want some "damn Quosimodo hunchbacked big headed monster".

Jade insists on taking our first ever father / son photo.

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One topic that seems to be playing on repeat is the "Will you promise me that you'll stay Above The Blanket when we're in the birthing chamber? Jade tells me that I don't want to see The Man Behind the Curtain. She tells me that that much knowledge could kill a man. She makes me pinky promise with my little toe.

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Denise leaves again. We've now been waiting in the Heaven Room for about 90 minutes. Jade starts to slowly reach for the Magic Cream again, mumbling something about, "......never have too much...." I slap her hand away and she tells me that once the eggolas go back in that she can't pick up dog poop.

Dog poop.

That just sounds disgusting and demeaning.

She says there's something in the bacteria or aura of it. She says she can't pick up dog vomit. She says dog pee is off limits. I catch onto her little game and ask if she has to stay away from laundry detergent, dish soap, olive oil and making the bed. She says she's serious. I tell her that I bet she is.

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Then, suddenly, things start to happen. Things start to move. A woman, an old woman, a doctor, Mother Time, steps around the curtain. She is from Mother Russia and was probably a young woman sometime during the Great Depression. You could get lost in her wrinkles. I mean that literally, like, "HEY! I'M TRAPPED!!!"

She introduces herself and says that she's the anastesiologist. She says she'll be doing the IV. She smiles and leaves, disappearing behind the curtain and out of the room. Jade twists her head towards me, pinches a nerve in her neck and shout-whispers, "SHE'S giving me an IV?? Nononono - SHE CAN'T HOLD A NEEDLE STILL! SHE'S GOING TO BE LIKE THIS -" Jade then proceeds to wobble her hand from side to side drunkenly.

I tell her to relax.

Mother Time comes back into the room with an IV and steps up to Jade's left side. She picks up her hand and Jade starts to hyperventilate. I squeeze her hand and imitate casual breathing. June takes a few pictures and giggles, examines some rubber gloves.

Mother Russia pokes a vein and says, "Zees von eez gewd. Vee veel pokey zees von." She rips open the needle. Jade turns her head and looks at which vein Doc Oc is pointing to. June blows up the rubber glove and laughs again. I say, "Jade, look here" and I keep breathing casually, loudly, just as Jade starts to scream, "I DIDN'T PUT THE MAGIC LOTION THERE! I DIDN'T PUT IT ON THE SIDE OF MY HAND!! NOOOO - oh, that wasn't so bad....

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Denise and Wrinkles ask us to go back to the waiting room. They are ready. Jade comes over to kiss me on the cheek and I give her a big hug. This. Is. It. The beginning of the beginning. She walks into The Big Room with them and the last I see of her, she's chatting about roadtrips, IV in tow, lucky socks leading the way.

As June and I enter back into the waiting room, we find ourselves surrounded by hopeful couples and I can't help but wonder if they all think that June and I are "A Thing". I want to make this as uncomfortable as possible so I set my coffee down, take June's purse for her. I lean in and say, "They think we're together" and she says, "uh-UH!!" and I say, pretty loudly, "That's right, Babe" and then I put my arm around her and laugh.

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Thirty minutes later we're back with Jade and she's groggy but good. I give her a copy of Pregnancy for Dummies. At the bookstore when I bought it, the lady says, "Oh, I bet this is good." I laugh and say, "Yeah". I point to the word "Pregnancy" and say, "That's my wife" and then I point to the word "Dummies" and say, "And that's me".
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I leave the bookstore excited about the day when my kid will be old enough to have a sleepover, stay up until 3am drinking Root Beer and getting suplexed by his buddy.