Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

Piping Plover and its ChickThis is a story that has been going on since February.

No, further back.

Since Sasha was born.

Further still.

When my partner and I decided to have children, we decided to have two children. One at a time. We removed the birth control and were instantly pregnant. We have since found out that the chances of this happening are as low as five percent.

The original plan was have a child, when the child is eighteen months old, make another one.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

Yet.

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We started trying this past February because (and this is where it gets seriously #TMI so if you’re squeamish about menstruation and hormones and pregnancy and ovum, run away NOW) my period skipped a month. And that same month that my period skipped, I got a light flu. Which meant that the same time that I wasn’t having my period and wasn’t pregnant, I was getting hot flashes.

My brain immediately did the helpful, “HOLY FUCK WE HAVE MENOPAUSE PANIC PANIC PANIC”

Which, as you know, is helpful.

We weren’t even trying, hadn’t planned on trying yet, but the menopause scare meant that we moved up the timeline by three months and “started”. And made a doctor’s appointment.

In the Netherlands, you can’t just go straight to a fertility expert. You go to your general practitioner and they ask you how long you’ve been “trying” and if you say less than a year, they send you back home to keep “trying”. Except I was thirty-nine. And my period was being … odd. She sent me away, asking me to try one more month, and come back. Another appointment with the GP and she SHOVED the recommendation through.

Extenuating circumstances, she said.

It worked.

We went to a fertility specialist for FOUR MONTHS at Martini Hospital. Every month, we’d check in on my cycle with an internal sonogram and blood work and every month there was something … odd. In the meantime, I was also flying all over the world giving talks. And recovering from a trigger. I didn’t want to write about this.

So my brain introduced, “IF I CAN’T WRITE ABOUT THIS ONE THING, I DON’T WANNA WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING.”

Also, quite helpful, Brain.

Eventually, that specialist concluded that I have low quality / low quantity ovum. And there’s nothing further to be done. No hope.

I didn’t take it well.

But.

That doctor gave me a recommendation to go to an IVF specialist at UMCG hospital.

We filled out more paperwork in Dutch.

We got an appointment.

That was Tuesday.

Bad news.

I’m okay. Strangely. Or in shock. But I think, because I’ve had a few weeks since the last appointment where Martini recommended us to go to UMCG, that the knowledge pre-sunk in and the doctor today was so wonderfully logical and informative and answered every possible question I thought of….

The diagnosis that Martini gave, low quality and quantity eggs, is because a specific hormone level, FSH, is 18 in me.

Ideally, it’s 5.

And once post-menopausal, it’ll be over 60.

But a level of 18 means there isn’t any hormonal stimulation which will cause the eggs to be produced enough to increase the statistical chance of pregnancy above the method of simply having sex.

For someone my age, FORTY YEARS YOUNG, the chances of becoming pregnant is 10%. And with FSH level 18, the chances of IVF being successful is less than 5%. Therefore, they will not proceed with me.

They also said that my three options to have a second child are 1. keep having sex / wait and see, 2. oocyte (egg) donation (which they don’t do at umcg and is also very rare in the netherlands because the dutch give the egg donor so many rights to the child, even if they sign away all their rights), or 3. adoption.

Quite a few friends of mine work at UMCG and some came down to have a cup of coffee with me; it helped tremendously and I’m doing fine. I did call in sick to work and focused on self care, writing, processing, breathing.

Recovery.

I know my partner is simply miserable to hear we’ll have to keep having sex.

There are some questions that the doctor brought up that I thought were rather insightful. How old is too old to take care of a newborn? Wait, no, that’s the only question she had, but she had information that was really helpful.

As long as my cycle remains between twenty-one and thirty-five days, then I am still ovulating. When it is less than twenty-one days or more than thirty-five days, then I am not ovulating. I had no idea.

Therefore, we can keep “trying” as long as the cycle remains “stable”.

Further, I found out that there are two points that need to happen in order to be pregnant – 1. the sperm is there within twelve hours of ovulation (which is why you want sperm, which can live up to 48 hours inside the woman, every other day) and 2. the fertilized embryo must attach to the uterus.

If there’s anything wrong with the embryo, the body rejects the attachment and sheds the lining. So, even when we’ve hit the ovulation dates, the embryo was not viable.

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I don’t really have answers or follow ups to this information; I’m still processing.

I had an appointment with the psychologist this week and talked over #ALLTHETHINGS as this happened Tuesday and so did this and next week I fly out to GHC and the week after is OpenStack Summit Barcelona where I’m speaking.

Intense stuff, AMIRITE.

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