Riding in cars with sperm

This morning began with the most precisely timed jack-off in all of history. I was scheduled to be inseminated with the best of my husband’s sperm at 10:15. Which meant our fertility clinic would need his sperm sample at 9:00 so that they could pick the best swimmers. And since my husband just started a new job and couldn’t exactly take the morning off to jack off inside a room at a fertility clinic, we were given a cup and detailed instructions to “collect” at home no earlier than an hour before the 9:00 drop-off.

With traffic, it would be about a 30-minute drive to the clinic. To complicate matters, my husband had an 8:30 meeting. But I was scared of “collecting” too early because my latest google search told me that the ideal window for sperm to be viable is 30 minutes. I was nervously watching the clock.

So, at 8:13, after informing me that his penis is not a spigot that he can turn on and off, my husband retreated to the second floor of our house to masturbate into a cup in peace.

At 8:26, he emerged victorious, handed over custody of his semen, and left for work. I placed the magic cup into the overly inconspicuous white paper bag the clinic provided, strapped it securely into the passenger seat of my car and started the most nerve-wracking drive of my life.

It started out fine, me cautiously turning onto the freeway as I contemplated the fact that I had half of my future baby in the passenger seat. Then, I must have made too sudden a lane change, because I heard the paper bag crumple a bit as the cup flipped onto its side inside it.

Oh shit, my half baby!

I reached over and placed the cup right-side-up, and then I remembered something. My sister – who has done several inseminations and transported several cups of her husband’s sperm – once told me that the sperm are more likely to survive the trip if you hold the cup between your breasts. Because it keeps everything at body temperature.

Looking down at the two tiny lumps on my chest that I sometimes call boobs, I knew that wasn’t going work. The last thing they successfully held together was the plastic front clasp on my 6th grade (okay 8th grade) training bra. So I came up with a plan B. Between the legs. Fortunately, I happened to be wearing a long cotton skirt, which meant that with a quick lift of fabric, I could get those little swimmers even closer to their final destination. So that’s exactly what I did. Cup, meet crotch.

It was weird. And it made it a little hard to drive, but it was working. So I pushed my foot down even harder on the pedal and soared on down the highway. Outta my way, people, I’ve got live sperm here! And it’s gotta survive until it gets inside my cooter!

Of course, I neglected to pay attention to the fact that I was driving through a construction zone, where the speed limit was only 55mph. I was going 68. Crap. I slowed down and looked around. All clear. No harm no foul. But two minutes later a police car switched into my lane, directly behind me.

Crappity crap, had he clocked me going 68 back there? Was he about to pull me over? Would he ask where on earth I was headed at that speed? What would I tell him? “I have a cup of my husband’s semen in my crotch and I have to get it to the fertility clinic so they can put it up inside me?“ Would he think I had made up the lyingest lie of all time to get out of a speeding ticket? Would I actually have to show him the cup and the semen? Would he confiscate it and take away my half baby?

We both pulled off the highway at the exit to the clinic. But luckily, he turned the opposite direction as me. I, and the semen cup in my crotch, was saved.

Once in the parking lot, I returned the cup of sperm to its white paper bag, and carried it across the lot to the doors, through the lobby, up the elevator, around the corner and finally to the door of the clinic with everyone looking and thinking, “that girl has a cup of semen in there.”

Finally inside the clinic, I delicately placed the white bag on the check-in counter like it was the world’s richest most breakable jewel, checked in with the receptionist, and looked on nervously as a lab tech nonchalantly opened the bag, pulled out the cup and then took my half baby away.

I turned around and saw an Asian man sitting in the waiting room. He looked at me knowingly. Like he was about to produce a cup just like that, but in the safety of the clinic. Where no traffic, police officers, or road construction could do its contents any harm.

I sat, relieved that the hardest part of the morning was over. But the relief soon left me, as I imagined nine months into the future: My husband and I are in the delivery room, exhausted but bursting with joy as we look down to finally get a peek at our long awaited baby. Who’s half Asian.

Chief Project Manager of Reproduction

I have three sets of reproductive doctors: Dr. Kwak-Kim and her Nurse Practitioners, My Reproductive Endocrinologist – or I should just say, his nurses, since I’ve only gotten to actually speak to him once in 9 months, and my perinatologist who is on-call, ready to go when this extremely high-risk uterus of mine lands a baby. That’s right, for those following along, I’m still un-knocked up. Damn you, you smugly right pee sticks.

All three doctors offices are supposedly working together to impregnate the great medical mystery that is me. But as I’ve come to find out “working together” means they occasionally allow me to make mention of the other doctors and their recommendations without balking.

So it means I’ve taken another job. No, don’t be confused, I still have my regular 8-5 job. But this other job, well it’s more demanding with the not-so-guaranteed possibility of someday being rewarding.

I am now Chief Project Manager of Reproduction.

What exactly does Chief Project Manager of Reproduction do? It’s a medical position. But the fact that I have absolutely no medical experience is of no concern to anyone involved. Key responsibilities include communicating and interpreting lab results, medical prognoses and cycle recommendations between doctors, nurses, schedulers, insurance companies, pharmacists, lab technicians and one acupuncturist.

Side responsibilities include arguing with that guy at the specialty pharmacy who was supposed to ship IVIG medicine before the day it was needed, coordinating scheduling with a home health nurse for bi-weekly infusions, and being able to name the exact size of IV catheter, tubing and equipment needed at my home at any given time.

Despite its many duties, this role does have some major perks. One of them being sex. Lots of sex. Assuming, of course, that there’s a blinking smiley face showing on a stick I just peed on.

And, of course, there’s the valuable experience I am gaining. A year ago, I never would’ve been able to spout off recommended cytokine ratios or which type of tube blood needs to be collected in order to test them. Now, I could teach a course. And I practically do every time I go to the lab to get my blood drawn. Plus I’m getting really good at accurately describing the color and consistency of my period blood to a nurse without blushing.

Of course, for the role of Chief Project Manager of Reproduction, there is no pay. But I figure if I put in enough time here, someday there’ll be the possibility of a promotion to Chief Project Manager of Gestation. And from what I hear, after nine months, that one has a pretty sweet payout.

Eff you, pee sticks

Pregnancy tests hate me. And I hate them. And the fact that I am still so obsessed with peeing on them makes for an even more fucked up relationship between me and those little shitsticks of anxiety. In the 14 months that we’ve been trying to conceive, I must’ve peed on at least 96 of them. And only one, ONE test gave me a positive result. AND I’VE BEEN PREGNANT TWICE! That ONE positive test came a good FOUR days and TEN TESTS after I missed my period the first time. And as luck would cruelly have it, that positive test came the morning before I started bleeding.

The second time I was pregnant, I got all negative results up until four days after I missed my period. Finally, my doctor, who thought I was crazy, ordered a blood test. My HCG level came back at 300 (considered very normal for 4-5 weeks pregnant) yet I still couldn’t get even the faintest of faint pink lines on a home pregnancy test. But, of course, it really didn’t matter then either when my blood HCG fell and I again started bleeding.

I’ve consulted OB’s, REs, nurses, doctor Google and my dog about why in the heck my pregnant pee won’t turn a test strip pink. I’ve dehydrated myself, held my bladder for hours longer than what is healthy, and memorized every word and every pictogram of the little First Response instruction insert. First Response, my ass. And still I’ve gotten nowhere. One nurse had the theory that my body was already destroying the pregnancy, and so that’s why it wouldn’t show up. It sounded like a reasonable explanation. But then why would I still have had such a sturdy blood HCG level?

My pee stick anxiety peaked this week because after my first heavily medicated, heavily monitored, things-all-falling-into-place cycle with Dr. Kwak-Kim, I am under strict instructions to take a home pregnancy test 10 days post ovulation. That’s today. I am told that if the test is positive, I need to double up on many of my medications and injections. But if it’s negative, I need to stop my prometrium, prednisone and lovenox and wait for the next cycle. Simple instructions, if you are a normal person who pregnancy tests don’t lie to. Not so simple if you are me.

What if yet another false negative pregnancy test causes me to stop taking the very drugs that could keep my undetected pregnancy going? Then again, what if my refusal to accept the reality of a negative pregnancy test keeps me holding onto a hope that just shouldn’t be there? What if it’s just delaying the inevitable pain and disappointment I’ve gotten so used to feeling, month after month.

You don’t have to be a genius to guess that this morning’s test was negative. You also don’t have to be a genius to guess that it didn’t stop me peeing on about five of them. I then sent an anxiety-ridden email to Dr. Kwak-Kim’s nurse practitioner requesting orders for a blood test.

I’ve begun to accept the fact that, reproductively, I’m never going to be normal. I’m never going to be able to just have sex and get pregnant. But come on, universe, can’t I at least be a person who turns a pregnancy test positive when in fact, I am pregnant? Why must you make things even more difficult?

Then again, maybe this time, it’s just the universe’s (and science’s) way of telling me “Seriously, you aren’t pregnant. Get over it.”

I guess I’ll know when the phone rings.