Cleaning month

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

Last night at a restaurant I was seated next to a couple I’ve seen in Dr. Stein’s office. The woman is small and androgynous with short spiky hair. The man has a pointy goatee and glasses. They showed no signs of recognizing me.

For a few minutes I sat next to them in silence. I was waiting for a high school friend who I’d not seen in over two years. I was preparing to congratulate my friend on her pregnancy. I had no evidence that she was pregnant, but it seemed like a safe assumption.

While I was waiting, I tried to determine the nature of the couple’s conversation. But my deaf ear was facing them and I sat too close to attempt to read their lips unobtrusively. They seemed quiet and relaxed, and once they reached across the table to touch each others’ fingers.

My pregnancy hormone levels have finally decreased to 0. This means we can prepare for the frozen embryo transfer, but June is the clinic’s machine cleaning month, which requires further postponement.

To be sure, it’s pleasant to have time free of hormones, copays, and early morning ultrasounds. Distance from this process gives the semblance of normalcy, albeit one that’s easily shattered.

But this couple reminded of the clinic. Like any workplace, it’s got a particular routine that persists regardless of the patients who cycle in and out. The early morning monitoring, the IUIs, the consults and so on, continue.

I find this horribly disappointing. I want the nurses to inquire about my absence. I want Dr. Stein to be distracted at family dinners because he is contemplating my case. I want his family to grow frustrated with him as a result.

Soon after my friend arrived, the couple got up and left. I was surprised to learn that she was not pregnant, and wasn’t trying to be.

Everyone IS pregnant!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

Even Anthony Weiner’s wife has a bun in the oven.

 

 

 

CBS segment on fertility yoga

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

A few months back,  in the wake of the NY Times article on fertility yoga, I attended a class at NYU.

Lucky for me, it happened to be the day that a CBS camera crew was shooting for a lengthy Early Show segment on fertility and the “mind-body connection.”

I’d forgotten about it till I came across the clip online.

The first part of show implies,  infuriatingly but predictably, that yoga gets you preggers. Ugh.

If you skip forward, about 3 mins and 52 seconds into the clip, you can catch a glimpse of me in tree pose. I’m the one in the back row with white pants and  elephantine follicles.

everyone is pregnant

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

Maybe it’s me, but everyone seems pregnant these days.

Since my last cycle – the one that ended with a miscarriage — a coworker, my boss’s girlfriend, and a friend from a past writing workshop have announced their pregnancies.

“Why doesn’t she just get a swastika tattooed across her chest?” a different friend said to me at the sight of woman sunning her big pregnant belly.

I laughed, but like all good jokes, it held a kernel of truth.

These days, every pregnant person on the street seems like an insult.

I know it’s possible that their pregnancies came only after eight IVF cycles, and their resultant credit card debt has forced them to move in with relatives.

Or maybe they are carrying conjoined twins with a 50 percent chance of survival.

Or their own beloved mothers are suffering a painful terminal illness, holding on until they can see their grandchildren.

In those cases – as in all cases of major personal suffering — being pregnant is ok. The problem is that I can’t know without asking, so where do I direct my venom?

Feminists debate assisted reproduction

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

Hold on to your hats, folks.

The editors of Barnard College’s hot feminist journal, the Scholar and Feminist Online, have released their spring 2011 issue, “Critical Conceptions: Technology, Justice and the Global Reproductive Market.” It’s dedicated in part to advancing feminist analyses of reproductive technologies like IVF.

I haven’t finished feasting on the trove of writings, but here are some notes:

1. This blog is mentioned in Gwendolyn Beetham’s article, Reproduction as a Queer Thing! Beetham ends with a reminder that critical users of reproductive technologies — especially the more racially and economically privileged among us — have the responsibility to consider the ways that these technologies solidify power as well as subvert it:

There’s little attention, so far, to the ways in which reproductive technologies also facilitate privilege, such as the super-elite mode of parenting and ever-greater concentration of resources that might be encouraged by parent-to-child ratios that can exceed 4:1 in some of these families, or the naturalization of race that is achieved through the usually implicit decision to seek racially “similar” donors.

2. Sarah Franklin’s article, Transbiology: A Feminist Cultural Account of Being After IVF, is a dense review of four decades of feminist debate on reproductive technology. She emphasizes the ways in which IVF has changed “both the cultural logic of biological reproduction as well as the nuts and bolts of how it is accomplished.”

A small and slightly irrelevant aside on this article: I was surprised by her poo-pooing of the “well below 50 percent” success rates of most IVF clinics. Even 30 percent seems pretty damn good to me, considering that the unassisted success rates of most IVF patients would be close to 0 percent.

3. I approached The Difference that Disability Makes: Reproductive Justice Through a Wider Lens with interest, given the existence of my own profoundly retarded sibling. I was a bit disappointed.

The thesis seems to be that reproductive technology and technology more generally has allowed for survival of more premature and disabled babies which forces families to reinvent their lives outside of conventional narratives. True. But that’s sort of like asserting that witnessing one’s mother’s murder will change one’s entire life, not just the day that the murder was witnessed.

I also don’t get how the existence of reproductive technology has substantively changed the experience of being disabled or caring for a disabled person.

If you’re a 19 year old who wears diapers, is the experience changed by the knowledge that you lived in a neonatal intensive care unit for the first three months of your life? As opposed to, say, losing your bowel function because you were stomped on by a horse as a toddler?

I don’t think these were the questions the authors set out to pose, but that’s what I thought of while reading the article.

Please dig in to this journal and share thoughts here!

challenging resemblance talk

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about family-making and resemblance. Despite everything, I still find myself engaging in resemblance talk. I try not to do this because I don’t want to reinforce the primacy of biology in human relationships.

But it’s stunningly hard. Often when visiting a friend’s baby, I slip up and say predictable things like, “she looks just like her father.”

It amazes me that – in the midst of a society dominated by step parents, non-biological parents, and single parents — the myth of biological primacy holds up. And it amazes me that I, the infertile child of a step-mother who tries to embody radical politics, continue to fall into this trap.

I recently read two English language classics that have something to say about this.

Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time imagines a multi-gendered post-revolutionary society in which babies are engineered in laboratories.

Here’s Luciente, a main character, explaining how this system came to be:

It was part of women’s long revolution. When we were breaking all the old hierarchies. Finally there was that one thing we had to give up too, the only power we ever had, in return for no more power for anyone. The original production: the power to give birth. Cause as long as we were biologically enchained, we’d never be equal. And males never would be humanized to be loving and tender. So we all became mothers. Every child has three. To break the nuclear bonding.

The eponymous protagonist of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure expresses a similar sentiment when his manipulative ex-wife attempts to place her son – who she claims was fathered by Jude – into Jude’s care:

If I were better off, I should not stop for a moment to think whose he might be…the beggarly question of parentage – what is it, after all? What does it matter, when you come to think of it, whether a child is your by blood or not? All the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time and entitled to our general care.  That excessive regard of parents for their own children, and their dislike of other people’s, is, like class-feeling, patriotism, save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness at bottom.

In both instances the characters connect valuation of biological relations with various types of oppression: sexism, in Piercy’s case, and nationalism, classism and religious discrimination in Hardy’s case.

So what are good ways to challenge resemblance talk? Should you challenge every seemingly innocuous comment about how your coworker’s daughter has her mother’s eyes? What would Jude and Luciente do?

NYS restores some funding for infertility program

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

I’ve written before about the politics of state support for IVF programs.

Here’s an update about New York’s infertility demonstration program:

In the 2011-2012 budget, the legislature restored some of the governor’s proposed cuts to various health programs. According to this document –- the NYS Senate Enacted Budget Summary – a little over $1 million was restored to the infertility program (the line items are on page 36 of 74).

It’s 50 percent less than last year. But given the massive cuts to basic services like Medicaid and school aid  it’s shock that it’s still there at all.

chive omelets

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

I got a free chive plant in Madison Square Park around the same time of my miscarriage. The chives now reach over the tip of the pot and in three weeks they will be ready to harvest. I plan to use them in omelets.

It was a very early miscarriage. They say the cause was likely a chromosomal abnormality, attributable to nothing in particular.

Dr. Stein remains confident. At our post-miscarriage consultation, I ask if he thinks we should accept defeat. He smiles and rhapsodizes about our fertilization rates and the morphology of our embryos. “There is still a very good chance,” he says.

Dr. Stein looks like he has not slept in weeks. Frankly, he looks terrible. The ridge of his forehead casts grey shadows across his face. I feel guilty for bombarding this exhausted man with questions.

“I’ve known you long enough to realize you’re a pessimist,” Dr Stein says. I perk up, not because it is true but because he has commented on our relationship.

By the end of the visit, we seem to have agreed to try our luck with the frozen embryos.

news

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

Infertilitydoula had a post, “Stuck Between Two Worlds: Pregnancy After Infertility,” that inspired me to blog again.

My last IVF cycle — we did the retrieval on February 22nd — resulted in the long-awaited positive. But I didn’t blog about it for reasons I’m still not entirely clear about.

Partly it’s superstition. I don’t want to associate with the world I hope I am getting away from. I also dread the possibility (still very real) that I’ll soon be back at square one, but this time there will be father to fall.

Of course this flies in the face of my actual beliefs on this issue, which is that honesty on the part of infertiles helps school the ignorant.

The more people understand the reality of infertility and pregnancy loss, the less offensive advice (“try going on vacation!”), intrusive questions (“have you considered adoption?”) and irrelevant anecdotes (“my great aunt got pregnant at age 47”) we’ll all be subjected to.

For now, I will share factual information, like beta levels (294, 17 days post ovulation and 596, 20 days after) and ultrasound results (seemed normal at 6 wks, 1 day – but only had one so far). But I am not making assumptions about what it suggests about the future.

new language

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 by infertilerevolutionary

A friend of mine pointed out that the term “retrieval” reflects the doctor’s point of view, as opposed to extraction, which would reflect the patient’s.

Another suggested that the transfer should be called the launch.

What medical fertility language do you find weird or amusing? How would you change it?