Friday, February 25, 2011

Doctor, doctor

I had my physical today and asked my GP for a referral to the clinic, which I was insanely nervous about. She’s quite awkward, actually, so between the two of us, it’s the awkward leading the awkward… which gets even more awkward if one of the awkward folks (me!) is butt naked.

Good times…

I figured I'd get it right out of the way at the beginning of the appointment, before she was staring up inside of me. I didn't want to have the conversation through my legs, you know?

My voice was shaking, but I managed to get out "my partner and I want to start a family," a statement to which she a) didn't cower, b) didn't judge and c) responded positively, against all of my expectations.

She did respond positively at first... and then she took it upon herself to explain that I would have to find a donor (really? I had no idea! Earth shattering information!) and that I would probably need to find out if I ovulate (um... yeah, I've been tracking my ovulation - at least on paper - for a year), and that I would need to read up on how IUI works (oh god, lady, you have no idea).

I told her we were excited to get the ball rolling, to which she replied, "well hold on, it's going to take a while". Yeah, I got that. That's why we're eager to start the ball rolling... duh.

She suggested a clinic which we've heard (from a few gay friends) isn't too gay-friendly, and seemed a bit surprised when I handed over an intake form from the clinic we want to go to. She asked if I wanted to get started on blood tests, disease tests, etc., so I have about 3 pages of blood requests in my handbag, which I'll go do on the specific days of my cycle. She went over my head meds and was actually really impressed with how I've "slimmed down" and much against my expectations, didn't say anything about ME risking my baby's health.

All in all, she was okay, but one thing got to me. I guess she wanted to take it upon herself to tell me realistically how this was going to work and for me to get that this isn't a walk in the park.

"It will take some time," she says, "And it won't work the first time, and it will probably not work for a while, and then you may get pregnant and you have a high chance of miscarrying..." and then I phased her voice out.

I am not one to push positive thinking, but seriously? I get that miscarriage is a fact of fertility, but how 'bout you just write out your little referral and let me have my excited time without telling me all the bad things I should start to expect.

At least she won't be my OBGYN, I guess.

BUT ANYWAY... another step closer!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hi my name is Lex and I'm a benzoholic

... or maybe not anymore!

[Oh, and by-the-way, you can call me Lex - it's been nice hiding behind the Crazy Lesbian Mom persona for a bit, but it just gets awkward, especially when I'm talking about my partner, Devon, and I don't even have a name. Plus, everybody - bloggy or not - deserves a name, right? So yeah, I'm Lex. Nice to meet you.]

Today marks the first day in thirteen years that I have not taken an anti-anxiety medication. I made the decision two months ago to stop taking them, for conceiving purposes and for long-term health, and I've weaned off between 1-.25mgs every couple of weeks. 

It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops. But it hasn't been horrific. My mind and mood have been stable, it's my body that's been taking the hits. When you've been on an anti-anxiety for this long - especially when it is your entire adult life - your body becomes physically dependent. I've stayed awake all night because I just haven't felt tired (though I know I'm exhausted). I've been nauseous and my digestive system hasn't been, um, stellar.  My joints are swollen, my chronic pain has made an appearance again, I'm shaking, I've felt very flighty and not grounded at all, I pee 5 times during the night, and my liver aches. I now know exactly where my liver is. Very well.

My naturopathic doctor, who, for the sake of ease and brevity I call my Witch Doctor (with much respect for her practice), has been working very closely with me to help flush out the toxins which she says are affecting me so much. She says my body will be ready to start trying to conceive in two months. 

Devon has been amazing through all of this. She has always supported me, but she has just made it so easy to not have to worry about anything else while I'm going through the withdrawal.  My favourite part of today was opening my lunch and reading a note: "Congrats on being free". It's true, I feel very free.

I still have (hopefully only) a good two or three weeks of potential discomfort to go through, with the lack of sleep and general ickiness, but I hope so much that at the end of this, I can look back and be proud of this milestone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Those Guys and Their Trucks

I'm sitting writing this on an iPhone from an autobody shop in the city. Regardless of how confident I feel as a woman, I seem to just lose myself to the girls-know-nothing-about-cars stereotype as soon as I walk through the doors of a place like this. At least I have a stick shift, which proves that I can actually drive. And I pumped gas across the street, so hopefully someone from here looked over and could see that too. Ah well.

Devon and I live in a small town right now, about 45 minutes from the city. We both work in the city. This is also where all of our friends live, so really, we spend most of our time here anyway. We will be putting our beautiful condo on the market this spring/summer, so that we can move back here, where we lived before we moved. Our original plan was to buy, but I think we've realized that there are a few more important things than buying a half-million dollar 700 square foot 40-year-old apartment in the city... because that's what we'd be able to afford.

Why don't we stay in our cute little town in our great little condo?

I want to be able to walk down a street, holding my partner's hand, without those guys hanging out the windows of their Ford F-150s with the fake testicles hanging of the back of their hitches. Tennis balls on a string, or the "real" fake kind. I want to be able to go out to a coffee shop around the corner from my home and see other gay people - not just that one time 3 years ago when we saw a man with pink glasses and a lisp (who was probably just visiting). I want to meet other "alternative" families and I want my kid to grow up in a community where it's okay to have two moms or two dads... maybe even in a community where there's a few kids in the same types of families. I want my kid to know that it's okay if you're gay (insert Avenue Q soundtrack here) and it's even more okay if your parents are gay.

I don't have any time for people who aren't accepting. So, we move from hick-town, pack away the wife-beaters, and enjoy the cosmopolitan, inclusive feel of this great Canadian city.

I can't wait.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The End of the Beginning, Maybe

Things are moving...

I think we've decided on a clinic - at least one to check out first. It's technically a reproductive health medical clinic, and nowhere on their website do they say anything about same-sex couples. In fact, it hardly even says anything - the focus is definitely on IVF, male infertility, and medical conditions that impede a woman's pregnancy. It is first and foremost a medical clinic, and once I looked into it, it seemed like I would have to have something physically wrong with me to be seen.

I thought I would've easily been able to pick up the phone and call them, but I put it off for a couple of days. I was ridiculously nervous. 

Although I have my own office with a door that shuts, I left to sit in my car; I didn't want to have to worry that Mr. Finance Officer who shares a wall with me might hear. Shaking a little bit, I dialed the number, got put on hold for a few seconds, and then a woman who seemed like she was in a rush answered with the clinic's name.

"Hi. I'm wondering if you work with same sex couples?"


"Um... I was reading about your clinic online and I've heard really good things, but before we go further, I need to know if you work with same sex couples."

I don't know what I was expecting. Her laughing at me? Her saying, "fuck off, dyke"? Her saying that they don't support two women starting a family. Her telling me that I was going to burn in hell?

Her answer came after what felt like minutes, but it was probably immediately after I stopped speaking, "Oh, yeah. Sorry, I just didn't hear you... Yes, we do."

So, I wanted to just make an appointment and go as soon as possible, but I have to get a referral from my GP. I don't know if that's even normal. I realize that I don't actually know a hell of a lot about what this is supposed to be like, so I have little expectations. I don't think you need a GP's referral at most clinics, but I could be wrong (I'm sure you'll let me know!)

I called my GP immediately after calling the clinic and made an appointment. I've been putting off an annual physical/pap for a few months, so I'm killing two birds with one stone. I didn't tell the receptionist anything other than "I need a referral" and I'm actually kind of nervous about telling my doctor.

She's a decent doc, but she's let me down quite a lot over the last couple of years, when I was trying to find the cause of the chronic pain issues I've been having. I've been to her for many referrals, and she's flat out refused for some of them. I know it's near impossible to get an MRI or CT scan in this country without waiting 9 months, but when I was in that much pain, I expected someone to fight for me. My doc didn't exactly astound me with her support.

In Canada - at least in this province and city - it is near impossible to find a family doctor. Even more impossible to find a female family doctor. There are listings online name female doctors taking on new patients in the city, and there is ONE, for about 750,000 people. So even if I wanted to switch doctors, I couldn't - not if I want to stay with a female (which I do).

My doc sees a lot of families and she's delivered a lot of babies. She's very family-centric, and I just hope she gives this referral without any attitude about my meds or health. I just hope I don't have to prove to her first that I'm healthy enough to do this... 

The good thing about going with this clinic is that it is 5 minutes away from my office. So, if I am able to keep a job in the company after this mat leave position is up (the mom I took over for is coming back this summer), I'll be able to walk to the clinic, get inseminated, and get back to my desk in time for lunch. 

I want to be moving faster, but I don't even know the steps.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Timing This Secret

Most of my friends know how keen I've been very on having babies and a few of my closer friends know that it has been a source of a bit of tension with Devon & me. I have been quite vocal about it through the years, and it is no secret to those who know me that having a child is important to me.

But, I have chosen not to tell anyone about the latest movements on us creating a family... except for one person, who I told today. I will say that the choice to keep it to myself has a lot to do with this community of bloggers - you! - that I have been exposed and introduced to. It's not that this community has made me more secretive, but I have realized that by being immersed in people who are going through similar things, I feel incredibly supported, and I feel that I can be open and honest (as open and honest as one can be behind the obvious anonymity of online life) about this journey. I can go online and "tell the world" what is going on, without the pressure, stigma, and constant questioning that I imagine would come if I told all my friends right now.

I told Dev that I wanted to keep this to myself, but that if she wanted to talk to people, I would support it. We decided to tell one person each. I wanted to celebrate with someone in real life, which was really cool to do today. It was in the cafeteria at work, so it was a bit under-the-breath-ish, but she got the idea, and was so happy and excited for me. 

I chose her for numerous reasons. She is not my closest friend, by any means, but I feel as though she is the most trustworthy. She's a clinical psychologist, and I know she takes the ethics of privacy incredibly seriously. I just know that I will never have to worry about it being "leaked" to my ever-gossipy members of our circle of friends. She is also a mom, who has struggled with guilt issues of hating her pregnancy and having a tough time with her kid, especially when people's expectations of her were so high. She is also a head doc, so she is sooooo understanding about the whole medication issue, and we talked about the stigma of that today. Basically, I feel incredibly safe with and supported by her, and I feel like I can talk with her about anything. Score.

I honestly don't know when the right time is to tell others, especially my family. I have never written here about my relationship with my parents, which is very layered. We are closer now than ever before, and I'm at a place where I do share a lot with them, but I just don't think I want to go there. That said, I don't know when to do it. Obviously their support is important, and I do want them to be a part of this journey, but right now, the only thing I can imagine is talking with them when I have to... when I'm showing... and I really don't know if that's the best strategy. Doubtful.

Unfortunately, both my mother-in-law and father-in-law are dead, so there are no grandparents on that side. I never got to meet either of my in-laws, but Devon and her mom were so incredibly close, and it does make me incredibly sad that Dev won't be able to share this with her mom. From what I know about her mom, she's the kind of woman that I would love to have in our kids life. Hopefully some part of her will know, and she'll keep an eye out, in her guardian angel way.

I don't necessarily want to keep things from people, or be untruthful, but I need to find a good balance. I hadn't even thought of what to say if people just flat-out asked me, which I had to figure out pretty fast yesterday when a friend asked where Devon and I were with the decision. I just blanked, swallowed, and said, "I guess it's still on the table". 

When is it safe to tell? Is it silly to think I can keep this a secret for months... years... ? Am I just going to show up at a family and friends social event in a maternity moo moo, 6 months preggers?


How 'bout we make an appointment at the damn clinic first?!

Oh yeah, haven't done that yet...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On the Couch, Looking for Sperm

It didn't spill...

Devon and I have spent the last hour or so on the couch, looking online at fertility clinics and sperm banks. Although I've done a little research on my own, Devon was interested in getting involved and checking out some options.

When I saw my doc on Thursday, she said that I would be ready to start trying - like really, really trying - two months after I quit my anti-anxiety completely... which is in, well, two months and 6 days. Crazy. I still want to look into reproductive psych further, but we have to start somewhere.

We have been told my numerous people that the most popular fertility clinic in our city is not really gay friendly, which sucks, but at least there is another option. We honestly don't know where to start... and I guess we just need to make an appointment at the clinic, but we're going to talk to another lesbian couple we know that have done this just last year - see what they suggest.

I'm excited. I'm so frikkin' excited. And it's great to see that Devon seems excited too. She had no idea that you could just look for sperm on the internet. I didn't know that until recently either. So, for fun, we checked out donors with her history and features, and I really had no idea how intense the process was. We were like, "Ooh, he looks good" to "Oh my god, *that's* the one" to "Math? Who cares if the kid likes math?"

Really, who cares if the kid likes math? That said, we want a kid who likes music, so I guess there are people out there who care if their kid likes math.

It's interesting having been a reader for a while and reading about how people start out really caring about their donors, and then slowly, it becomes less and less important. I wonder if that will happen... I guess it just gets to a point where your number one priority is if you get pregnant and not if your baby has a cleft chin. I get it, but for now, I'd like to be excited about it. And it's important for me to have Devon choose who she thinks would suit her side of this baby.

And, I just think it's awesome that on a Saturday, we're sitting on the couch, drinking coffee, and looking for sperm.

Love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Not Just Another Anti-Depressant. Not Just Another Pregnancy.

There is a fine line between being informed and knowing too much.

I work in media/public relations, specifically in pediatric health care. Public relations and sick kids either work wonders together, or are completely conflicting. Nothing makes the headlines more than "1-year old lives over all odds: doctors call her miracle child". Actually, something always does: bad stories. Stories about tiny babies born with awful congenital disorders, toddlers dying in the ER from shaken baby syndrome, little kids with brain cancer, mothers who die on the delivery table only to have their baby die a day later. 

There is a lot of wonderful things going on with child health care and research. But for all the press releases I send out on new discoveries for cutting-edge treatments or new preventative approaches to an illness, I get 100 news stories on how our kids are the unhealthiest they ever have been, or how many kids are not getting what they need. For all the heart-warming stories about how communities pull together to raise money for a family who can't afford medical treatments, there are 100 more about how families fall apart in times of turmoil... because there is little you can do when your child is sick with something a mother's kiss won't heal.

I like my job in the sense that I need to read a lot about maternal and child health. I like being in the middle of touchy topics like vaccines and ADHD and breastfeeding and stem cell debates and women over 40 getting pregnant. I like having access (without having to search for it) to numerous sides of each equation. I like knowing the benefits and consequences to something.

Or do I?

Generally... and I really do mean generally... when it comes to depression and pregnancy, taking anti-depressants isn't the most optimal choice, but if the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks, some doctors will suggest staying on meds throughout the pregnancy. And some are vehemently against it.

I have read enough to know that the risk to the fetus of taking an anti-depressant is quite low. Note my emphasis on the singular. Here's where I lose myself. I'm not on an anti-depressant, I'm on a cocktail of head meds. I have come off two over the past year or so - with a lot of complications - but I still take a few more. I don't have the kind of depression that a low dose of Prozac is going to take care of. My depression is - or should I say was (?) - extremely abnormal. Like shock-treatment, isolation-for-10-days, been on every head med I know about kind of depression. Like the kind where people are not sure what to tell you when you say you want to die, because they can tell how much pain you're in. Like the kind of depression that I can honestly say I didn't believe for a second I'd live past age 21.

Now, I'm better. I've been stable for many years, but it took even more years than that to find a balance of meds that worked (coupled with therapy) and I'm terrified to fuck with that. My shrink does truly believe that the benefits of me keeping most meds the same WAY outweighs the risk of changing/coming off them all. But I don't want to add even a 0.00012% risk to a fetus.

In the grand scheme of medical research, there is very little data on pregnancy and head meds in the first place (really, who wants to be in THAT study). There is absolutely no data on the combination of meds that I take and pregnancy, that I can find. All I have is information on the individual Rxs... and that info isn't confidence-building on the best of days.

If a pregnant woman is being treated with anti-depressants, it can be associated with low birth-weight, developmental problems, heart defects, cleft palate, to name a few. And the flip side? If a pregnant woman with depression remain untreated, it can be associated with low birth-weight, developmental problems, premature birth (causing heart problems and many other health problems). And, as numerous people have pointed out, every child is at risk of anything... regardless of their prenatal pasts.

I want to go into the pregnancy informed, and I want to feel confident in the choices I end up making. I obviously want to do what's best for everyone involved (baby, me, partner). I want to stay healthy, and I want my baby to be healthy. 

I know myself well enough to know that coming off my meds is life-threatening. I also know myself enough to know that I will read every single one of those awful articles that tell mothers that if they don't do everything naturally - from not eating sugar to refusing an epidural - that they are bad mothers. I will read every study I can get my hands on and will freak out about the 0.00012% chance that my baby will end up with a cleft palate and think I'm awful for taking that risk.

I will do everything I can to be informed... I just fucking wish sometimes that I was a straight girl who could get knocked up and could figure this shit out as I go. But no, I have to plan every step.

Tomorrow, I will try to find a positive headline to start my media report. Those ones really do make you realize that regardless of what happens, there are people who support and love you. Something everyone deserves - whether you're 1 month old, or a hundred.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guess what? We're going to do this!!

We finally talked! Devon even set up the date, told me that she wanted to talk this through... so we did...

I'm flying a little high right now, but I wanted to get this out of my body, to someone other than Devon: She wants to go through with this... she wants for us to have a baby! She talked through some of her fears - both before the conversation and during it - and she realized that all of the excuses she was telling herself (age, money, etc.) were just that: excuses.

I went in not knowing what to expect, and considering what happened last time, I had every single metaphorical piece of armor I own put on before talking. I was ready to take a blow. I was wondering how in the hell I would put this away... but I don't have to!

Devon opened up with something like, "I know you have an appointment with your doctor on Thursday; when you're there, I want you to ask what the first step is to get us on this road of TTC." And YES - she even used the phrase TTC... after reading my blog, she's almost up on the lingo ;-)

We haven't gone into too much detail yet. We tossed around a few names if we go the way of a KD. I was really adamant about wanting to stay active with the TTC journey... not letting it dissipate after all of our talking. 

She agreed.

Whaaaaaaaat?? We're going to get ourselves a baby!?!?!

Thursday: Bring it on!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Babies, Babies, Everywhere!

Firstly, holy cow there have been babies being born and babies being conceived all over blogland these days - so excited to hear about new developments in the TTC world. Congrats to all who have new heartbeats, whether inside or outside of the womb.

I had a wonderful dream the other night (and I promised not to bore you with every post being dream-inspired, but I suppose my unconscious is working overtime these days). I don't know if anyone has experienced this, but I dreamed that I was pregnant and could actually feel what it felt like. Of course, I have nothing in my real life that I can compare it to, but oh-my-frikkin'-god, it felt amazing. I was quite lucid throughout the dream, and clung onto it for as long as I could before waking up. My tummy grew throughout the dream, and I could feel how every new size of it felt on me. How my baby felt in me.

When I woke up, I held back tears.

When I woke up, I had a text message on my phone. One of my best friends had sent me a photo of her 7-month-pregnant belly with the message "oh my god, i'm massive".

Yes you are. And I am empty.