Get Clucky!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What Have I Been Doing All This Time?

Well, I haven't been reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, that's what. I have no idea why not. A copy sat on my mother's bedside table the whole time I was growing up, but somehow I never got around to it.

Just to state the obvious: it is very good.

Here's a sentence, just from the beginning or so, that gives a sense of the prose:

Bernice, who lived below us, was our only visitor. She had lavender lips and orange hair, and arched eyebrows each drawn in a single brown line, a contest between practice and pasy which sometimes ended at her ear. She was an old woman, but she managed to look like a young woman with a ravaging disease.

But that's a little more flip sounding than most of the book, which is both placid and melancholy. It is a book sort of about the practice of keeping house, but actually it is about being unable to keep a house. It is about being unable to keep anything.

Which, let's be clear, is kind of a hard thing to read about if you're unsure about your ability to baby-make...which is an ability that, around here at least, has a lot to do exactly with the desire to have and to hold: to keep. Nevertheless, I think the book helped me worked through some stuff, and also, more professionally, have a good time imagining course syllabi I might include it in. I might pair it with White Noise, for example, which is also about keeping and not keeping and impermanence and feeling set loose. But this one would, I think, blow white noise right out of the water.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ovulation WTF

One of the more optimistic things I've been meaning to do this week is to buy an ovulation detection kit. Or do you say an ovulation detector? Whatever. One of those. But I've had no luck, because I haven't been to a pharmacy that has the kind my doctor told me to get (clear plan easy), and so then I look at all the other ovulation detectors and have weird little conversations with the pharmacists about their thoughts and whether or not the cheaper one would work, etc. It stresses me out a little.

So anyway, last night I had a very long strange dream--probably my third or fourth this week that has involved not one but two babies (which is weird, too, but another point entirely). In my dream, I had got an ovulation dectector kit, and opened it up so I could do the pee test, etc, because (in my dream) it was first thing in the morning and I had to go.

But, in my dream, I had bought of course the wrong ovulation detector kit. Inside, instead of the nice little plastic stuff I'd been expecting, was a cup, a little packet of the paper you pee on, and also (get this) a PLANT. And according to the directions in the box, what you did was put a piece of paper into the cup, pee in the cup, and then select a couple of leaves from the plant to put in the cup, and then DRINK IT. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO DRINK THE PEE! and then, if it was "spicy," you had ovulated.

I just don't know what to say about my crazyness here, people. Even in my dream, I was all: Dude, this is FUCKED UP.

I am thinking the whole leaf thing might have to do with "ferning mucus," which I am a little obsessed with these days. But as to the pee-drinking, I just cannot defend my weird unconscious.


Pro-Family, Pro-IVF, Pro-Choice

Via Feministe:

I had heard a bit about this, but this article was still very amazing to me: it's about the anti-IVF dimension of anti-choice groups. Though I supppose it shouldn't really be so shocking to read about a protester holding up a sign that says "IVF Kills Babies," when that belief is a natural next step from the basic "life begins at conception" attitude.

I've always been pro-choice...but in the abstract rather than in the personal sense, since I never really thought I would need to get an abortion. But now that i'm taking my first steps into the land of infertility, the attack on IVF really hits home.

There's lots to say about this, but I guess I don't want to get into all my pro-choice views here. But I do want to say: what this emphasizes to me is that, more clearly than ever, it is the pro-choice groups who are on the side of women who want to have babies...and that in allowing women to have control of their reproductivity, one thing we do is to allow them to be the most careful and secure mothers they can be.

Having control of your reproductive system isn't just about your right to have an abortion; it's about your right to be a mom.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thoughts about London

B's father is from England, and that whole side of the family still lives in the London area. We just confirmed that everyone is safe.

It's a scary morning. I woke up to Bush's speech. Like him, I think it is so important to show resolve--to continue living and working for what you believe in--in the face of catastrophes like these.

But I was struck by listening to what he said about people with "evil in their hearts." I certainly agree that it is evil to kill innocent people. But what is most terrifying to me is that the people who do this don't think they are evil. They're not anarchists or sadists--they don't do it for fun. They do it because they believe that what they do is good.

Sometimes I can't get my head around that. I've been thinking about it a lot these days, because I've been reading a lot of proslavery pamphlets from the 1840's-50's, and all those people really believe that, in holding slaves, they are doing God's will. It's so horrible to realize.

I guess this morning what I am most scared of is not the mindless forces of evil in the world, but rather the terrifying ways in which rigid belief can turn a commitment to do good into horrible, evil acts against the very people, the very world, you would do good for.

Music to Drive Around To

My friend PJ drives an elderly volvo, the air conditioning in which is somewhat, shall we say, shy. It works sometimes, but it's sort of bashful and retiring and has to be cajoled. So generally PJ leaves the air conditioning to its wall flower self and just drives around with the windows down.

The thing about about muggy summer window-down driving is that it requires a special soundtrack. Every summer he starts looking for good driving tunes. He won't see this blog...but these are my suggestions. Just sort of for posterity.

Why are these in all caps? Not really because I mean them so emphatically. I just did some sloppy cutting and pasting, and here we go.


Also, just in general: most anything by David Bowie or Johnny Cash.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hey, did everybody see this?

My mom--only newly clued in to my fertility woes--sent me this link after seeing the author interviewed on the Today show.

Child Magazine has done the first non-cdc evaluation of infertility clinics. You can get the full text here.

This doesn't directly help me, since none of the clinics they pick as the "best" are in my area. But I found it interesting to read through the reviews, because it gave me a since of what to look for, what to ask. And also, really, a bigger sense of how weird and secretive the whole industy is.

Something I was reading the otherday encouraged me (well, the reader) to remember that infertility clinics are business--and that the doctors are probably the ones who are making money off the business. So it's important to remember that their judgement might be a little biased--and that, while they have a lot of incentive to reccommend proceedures to you, they have no real incentive to think about your quality of life, or about why it might be better for you to slow down, take care of yourself and your relationship, etc.

My Project for Today

Is to get some fucking work done. A pal of mine just emailed me from Paris, where she is doing "research" this year, to let me know that she just finished her second dissertation chapter.

Friends, she and I are in the same place in grad school--in the past year she has actually had a larger non-research load than me--and she just finished her second chapter. And me, I'm still sort of plucking placidly at the hem of chapter one.

As soon as she sent me this email, I immediately began to rationalize. Of course she has so much done! It is because she is maniacally single-minded! But even so, I could have gotten that much done, if I wanted to! I could have! I just had to go to the doctor twenty-seven times. And then I had to blog about it! And check to see what happened to other people at the doctor's office! And then, I also had to make fourth of july deserts! Lots of them! How am I supposed to get my dissertation written when I've got all -that- going on, huh? HUH?

Okay, but really, today I'm going to get some work done. Off I go! Watch me!

***I will say in passing that partly it's hard to shift from obsessing about pregnancy to working on my dissertation, because my dissertation is all about mid-19c domesticity and women's self-expression. So really...all this obsessing and blogging seems like it should count somehow. Maybe I could turn in this blog as chapter one? Eh?

***And the other thing that I should say in passing is that doing this dissertation research really makes me put my own little problems in perspective (which maybe is why I'm not actually doing it, but lets not go there). As Joie says, in some ways I've got -good- news because I've got a pretty treatable problem. I can complain about my own fragile nerves and the inequities of the medical system, but man--an infertile woman in the nineteenth century? She really had problems. Can you imagine? You would just wait around your whole life and you would never know what was going on. Awful.

Okay, to work now. really! okay!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It's Official!

I've got a condition, but I can't spell really spell it.

It's called hypothalamic amenorrhea. It means my hormones are weird. It means it will be hard to get pregnant. Ah! Science.

It's funny, because this is, while not a major breakthrough, bigger news to me than it seems to be to my doctor. She's very cas, very, "oh, well, here's the phone number for the infertility clinic, don't worry, it's not like you can't get pregnant." And I feel a little bit like someone sort of casually was like "oh, well, yes, you've got cancer, don't worry, most people don't die." I mean, isn't infertility a real diagnoses anymore? I feel like she should sort of be willing to pat my hand gently and say, "I've got some bad news for you. You're reproductively challenged." And then I could have some nice cathesis and feel like I'd learned something. As is, I just get appointments for more tests, and phone numbers for people who will give me more tests. All the real information feels perpetually deferred. I even had to sort of pull a diagnosis out of her: "so...what would you call...I this hormonal...?" I should have just asked if I had HA, which I was pretty sure about, but somehow I wasn't sure how to ask that.

Anyway. Since I did eventually have a mini-period after the progesterone, it's not impossible that I'll ovulate this month--and if I do, it's fine to try to get pregnant, cyst or no cyst.

So that's the news, kids! What happens now, I do not know.

Again with the Marscapone

Having some problems with blogers photo feed. Maybe this will work. If it does, note especially how creamy and fluffy the marscapone is, and how it calls out the two sweet words: "food fight! food fight!"

Perhaps i shall take the leftovers to the doctors office today, and put it to good use if I don't get good news.

Fourths are for Families

The Fourth of July is one of the biggest holidays on my mom's side of the family--most years, everyone gets together in my little home town and goes to the parade and watches the fireworks and sets off fireworks and lounges around and eats lots of creamy, fruity deserts. It's fantastic.

However, since we all got together at my uncle's wedding a month ago, this year there were no family obligations, and I thought: hey! How bout having a fun, urban holiday with friends!

Unfortunately when I made this plan I did not realize that I would be in the throes of fertility-cyst-crazy weirds, and be a leeetle more invested in family traditions than I am anyway. At about eleven pm on the night of the third, I found myself thinking: well, if I leave to drive the seven hours home -now-, I would make it in time for the parade tomorrow afternoon. That's not crazy. Is that crazy? I would get to stay at least four or five hours before I had to drive the seven hours back to make my doctor's appointment on Tuesday.

Needless to say, B. convinced me that this was, yes, crazy. So we stayed here. But to console myself, I made all my friends come over for a holiday potluck, creamy fruity deserts included. See photos above: there is Blueberry Buckle, Lemon Tort, and Strawberry Marscapone (which I can't spell).

It was so great and so fun, and the food was so good, and everyone was so indulgent of me even when I decided that I had to read the introduction to the Declaration of Independence as a form of saying grace. They are good friends.

However! Some of these friends are boys who are so sweet and femmy they have a hard time working through their VERY NOTICEABLE competitive streaks. Two of these boys in particular are so sweet and enamored with each other and also very competitive that they just MAKE EACH OTHER CRAZY! But they totally like each other too.

And somehow all this long-pent-up competition/love burst forth just about the time we were trying to serve deserve, and the end result is that the marscapone ended up EVERYWHERE. Everywhere! Food fight! Whip cream! Boys squealing! Whip cream down on the windows! On the floors! In the hair! Down the boxer shorts!

Not even kidding. I heard these words: "Dude, there is whip cream ALL down my ass crack." Which is so over the top there's no point in doing the queer reading.

The happy ending is that everyone involved (silly boys) got out of their creamy clothes, jumped in the shower (not together, sadly) and then moped my floor while wearing borrowed swim trunks. And then, while the floor was still wet and we could all do styly moonwalk moves, we had an impromptu dance party while listening to "99 Luftballoons" in honor of our German guests.

So, this is not my normal family fourth. But I'll take it.

Doctor's appointment today! Send good vibes.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Well, It's Always Something

And today what it is is a cyst. A big one in my right ovary: 2.5 by 1.5 inches. The ultrasound technician who discovered it said, "Well! I mean, it's not...huge."

But having something two inches long in my body is definitely huge in my mind. And it's also hugely bad news, because it means that I can't start the clomid, and also, I can't exercise because the cyst might be so heavy that it would make my ovary "fall down" if it gets jarred, which could put a crimp in my fallopian tube.

Which--well. Just imagine that.

I can't really convey how disturbing this is--and I'd been so excited this week!--except to say that the nurse was being all sweet and supportive and I just--I just cried. And that's not my usual M.O.

But things are fine in the grand scheme. The cyst will dissipate. It's not dangerous. It slows things down, but I can handle that.

I have a consultation with my doctor on Tuesday, so I'll know more then. But just wanted to get this down.

Politics, just for break from the pregnancy

My uncle saw this quotation, and confirmed it through the Eisenhower library.

Dwight Eisenhower in a letter to his brother, Nov. 8, 1954:

"The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

That's right.

Some Nice Ladies

So, in the midst of this stressful week, I have met some really nice ladies. And wow--thank god for nice ladies who come out of the woodwork when you need them! Let me just mention them:

1: Nice Pharmacist Lady

So right after my ob/gyn appt on Tuesday, I went to get my prescriptions filled for all my drugs-of-awesome. I handed the scripts (is that the right word) to the lady behind the counter. She was sort of dour and middle aged and didn't make eye contact, but that was okay with me b/c I was still sort of twitchy from the ob/gyn and was muttering randomly under my breath weird phrases like "tell me its hard to get pregnant, I'll show you, getting pregnant, stupid pregnant doctor, I KNEW it'd be hard to get pregnant, stupid getting pregnant, stupid doctor." So we weren't really connecting, this dour pharmacist and I but that was okay with both of us.

And then, when she looked at what I'd handed to her, she magically turned into a Nice Pharmacist Lady! And got all warm and sort of misty around the eyes and said, "Oh!! Honey, good luck with all of this!!" And then proceeded to tell me about how her daughter is also a little reproductively challenged, and she (the nice pharmacist) is starting to pay a lot attention to infertility treatments, and would I come back and tell her how it works? If it works and I don't need more drugs, I can just come back for prenatal vitamins! Just ask for Barb. She really wants things to go well for me.

And she was SO nice that she listened to a somewhat prostrated rant (more "tell ME its hard to get pregnant, stupid pregnant doctor talkin' 'bout getting pregnant" stuff) and didn't even bat an eyelid or subtly imply that if I was really feeling that way, then maybe I needed something stronger than clomid, perhaps a sedative or an antipsychotic. She just nodded very sweetly and said again, "Just ask for Barb."

2: Nice homoeopathy Lady

Yesterday I was in a total hurry, but popped my head into a natural foods store to ask if they sold this fertility supplement that I've heard to be effective, and which I thought might be a nice low key healthy thing to balance out the clomid-weirds. So I went in, and I'm standing in front of the vitamin shelf, and the little store owner comes whizzing by. The Homeopathy is sort of maternal and squat and dyky--picture a softball player with long hair and bouncing busoms. Low-voiced. Bouncy.

"Can I help you?" she said. And, although I don't really like to be helped I said, yes, she could, I was looking for this one supplement, or really anything to increase cervical fluid.

And she asked if I was trying to get pregnant? And I said I was. And she said: "AH! WHAT YOU WANT IS FERNING MUCUS!" And she said it just like that.

Now, I have gotten pretty okay with a lot of things during my months of thinking about baby making. Mostly I have done this by replacing the word "mucus" with the word "fluid" anytime we are talking about my Specials rather than my nose. Call me a prude, but there it is.

But this lady wanted to talk about FERNING MUCUS! AT LOUD VOLUMES! FAST!

She is very interested in FERNING MUCUS because she had artificial--no, but she likes to say alternative--insemination herself and if I wait I can see her 14 year old daughter walk in the door any minute so she knows a lot about FERNING MUCUS and how to make a lot of FERNING MUCUS and how the answer is: dairy.

She said, "I could sell you this or that, but plain and simple, what you need for your FERNING MUCUS is dairy. Ice cream, yogurt, cheese, milk, whatever. When's your target date? Come back and I'll sell you some raw cheese because it's so great and it's easily absorbency and it will really help you make a lot of FERNING MUCUS because you need is a lot of FERNING MUCUS because you really need to make a stream, a stream for the swimmers to climb into the uturus, so the more FERNING MUCUS you've got the better for those swimmers. Do you have good swimmers?"

Which is something we all must ask ourselves. Do YOU have "good swimmers?" I couldn't' ponder this question in depth, though, because I was two distracted by the Nice Homeopathy Lady's bouncing and her ACTING OUT, with full arm gestures of what the FERNING MUCUS STREAM would look like and how the SPERM WOULD SWIM up my DAIRY-INDUCED FERNING MUCUS STREAM. Ferning mucus! Streams! Dairy! Swimmers!

Finally she concluded that I'd been sufficiently convinced as to the importance of dairy in my production of ferning mucus, and she let me leave the store. But not before she said, "You're going to be a great mom. You seem really kind!"

And I don't know how she figured that out, unless maybe not everyone listens so intently to her protracted Dairy-MUCUS lectures, but I have to say it was good to hear.

(note illustration up at the top there of FERNING MUCUS, which I was able to upload so easily now to blogger's new updated photo feed. fun!)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wait! Ask me again!

Sometimes my dog says that, when we tell her to do something and she isn't paying attention, and then slowly realizes that she's missed out on some treat. "Ask me again! I was listening! Really! I can DO this!"

Okay, so this time--it's my uterine lining saying that.

Friends, I have big news. It is very startling. To me. To my ob/gyn. Also to my no-longer-quite-white underwears.

Yes, it's true--I got my period. A verrry verrry small tiny dot of a period, a one-panty-liner-all-day sort of period, maybe more of an ellipsis really. But a period.

I started having very light spotting tuesday night, and can now report that I am on day two of a menstrual cycle. Never in my life was I so glad to ruin a pair of underpants.

My ob/gyn said, "oh! well."

So I guess the deal is that this is a "weak positive" to the progesterone challenge I took way back when. Which is better than a negative, but still sort of weird. And the lightness of the period indicates that (yes, duh) my uterine lining is very thin, so still lots of recuperation to be done. Probably no bebe anytime soon, but maybe sooner rather than later.

And, since I'm having a "cycle," lets call it that even though it's weird and reticent, I get to start my clomid stuff tomorrow, at 4 pm, with another blood test and an ultrasound. So they can tell me exactly how small my uterine lining is.

So: YAY. Yay!!

I asked many questions about the clomid, and the nurse agreed that it might not be very helpful but that it also wouldn't hurt, and wouldn't I rather try the cheap low-risk thing before the expensive painful high risk things? Why, yes I would. Okay by me to put off injecting myself in the stomach! I'd touch my own cervix first any day. and I'm glad to do something I can start now.

other thoughts in passing:

I can hardly believe I am the person having these conversations. I mean: really.