News Round-Up: You Can Be a Little Pregnant

1. You can be “a little pregnant.” I was shocked when my first Cycle 3 blood pregnancy test was “positive, but it probably won’t stick.” My hCG levels were higher than nothing but lower than something. Two more blood tests were required to confirm yet another new-to-me term: “chemical pregnancy.”

2. There should really be a blood test loyalty program: For every 10 tests, you get a new vein.

2. I ran out of my first donor. Goodbye, red-headed cross between Jeremy Renner and Eddie Izzard. My new donor is a videogame artist and a rapper (more on him later!), and is sold by The Sperm Bank of California, a nonprofit, Berkeley, Calif.-based, woman-forward concern that’s the antithesis of Fairfax Cryobank. I now own $2,000-worth of donor 4575.

3. I’ve been cataloging the differences between Shady Grove’s Annandale, Va., and K Street clientele, as I alternate between those offices.

Winter footwear of choice: Annandale, Uggs. K Street, leather calf- or knee-high boots with spiky heels.
Accessory of choice:
Annandale, male partners. K Street, giant engagement rings.
Entertainment of choice:
Annandale, the TV. K Street, iPhones.
Body type:
Annandale, mesomorph or endomorph. K Street, ectomorph. How are they going to push those babies out?
Entrance strategy:
I’ve never seen more than one woman waiting for the doors to open at Annandale. At K Street, getting to the front desk first at 7 a.m. is a competitive sport, involving stages of encroachment on the door; suspicious, I-was-here-first-don’t-even-think-about-it stares; and the threat of having a foot impaled by the aforementioned boots.

Things in My Reproductive System That Are Not Babies

A 3D ultrasound image of my polyp.

A 3D ultrasound image of my polyp.


I’m now on my third medicated cycle with Shady Grove Fertility, which is, for the most part, not in Shady Grove. And unwelcome stuff is showing up in my baby-plumbing.

1. A cyst. It miraculously appeared in Cycle 3, in? on? the left ovary. I don’t understand what it is or why it’s suddenly there, leading to much fateful Googling.

2. A uterine polyp, above. It, too, was discovered in Cycle 3. Its presence can impede implantation, so if I’m not pregnant this round, two things in my reproductive system that are not babies will be a camera and a sharp cutty thing.

3. Three immature follicles. “Your ovaries are tricky,” said my doctor, after their six-follicle fertility explosion in Cycle 1 and more modest Cycle 2 overachievement did not herald Cycle 3 plenitude. My follicles are stubbornly not meeting the trigger threshold, despite daily proddings by an ultrasound wand and assorted needles. [Ed. note: Three follicles matured and were deemed “juicy.”]

4. An ultrasound wand.

News Round-Up: Shots

This did not work.

I won’t reuse the syringe. I will reuse the ketchup.


1. I have now self-adminstered four vials of Bravelle. (Everyone shout, “Bravelle! Bravelle!“)

That’s four injections. But the pharmacy gave me three times that many syringes and needles. So I started playing with them.

I learned a few things I would like to share.

Poking a needle into a pimple does not result in a cathartic draining. It makes the pimple bleed.

Poking a needle, this time with a syringe attached, into a pimple and then drawing back the syringe plunger does not result in a cathartic draining. It makes the pimple bleed.

Bravelle-sized needles are not useful for extracting stubborn ketchup from a bottle.

Bravelle-sized needles are sort of useful for extracting stubborn HP sauce from a bottle.

Brown sauce can be stubborn.

Brown sauce can be stubborn. Also, enjoy thirst!


2. At my Day 11 testing, I shocked the doctor and the nurses by having six nice big follicles, which is an astonishing response to the meds given my FSH level. My womb is miraculous! How very Christmas-y.

3. Six dominant follicles means there’s too great a chance of triplets or quads (!!!!!) to do an IUI this round, so we had to cancel. I could, theoretically, even have had SIX BABIES!! I would have been called Sextomom in all the tabloids.

Bravelle, Lady Clomid!

Lady Clomid and Marigold.

Lady Edith did not require any of the below to get knocked up with Marigold.


This month, I get to ingest/inject/insert four drugs into my body. They have silly names.

Bravelle (generic name, urofollitropin): This synthetic, injectable FSH is generically up-with-women. One could believe that, in 19th-century Europe, female performers were applauded with “bravelle!,” and that its use died out along with aviatrix and authoress and usherette. Bravelle sounds like it should always be printed with a swoosh near it, and indeed it is.

Clomid (generic name, clomifene): This one’s less dumb, as it’s derived directly from the drug’s molecular structure. Yet it sounds like a “real” word, rather than Big Pharma syllable salad. I like to imagine that, in an early draft of “Downton Abbey,” Edith was named Clomid.

Ovidrel (generic name, human chorionic gonadotropin, injectable): The prefixes “ov-“, “fol-” and “fer-” are the “well,” “like” and “uh” of the fertility-drug name pool. Reach for them when you need something that’s not silence.

Prometrium (generic name, progesterone): This name prompted a rant about the lack of a compelling link between Prometheus and vaginal suppositories. “Does the name imply that it brings fire to the uterus?” I said, out loud. “Does an eagle regularly tear out this drug’s liver?” On actual inspection of the word, it became clear that it’s a harmless portmanteau of progesterone and endometrium.

My New Venture

In the next few years, I am going to launch a website, actualscientificfactsaboutpregnancyandinfertilityfromreputablereproductiveendocrinologists.com.

That was too long, but a similar domain name is available, according to Network Solutions:

Screenshot 2014-10-29 23.33.26

However, Dreamhost had issues with this domain name’s length. And “experts” sounds so Us Weekly, as in “body language experts say …”

So I registered actualscientificfactsaboutpregnancyfromreputablesources.com. (Go ahead, click it.) Just in case someone else has the same idea.

This website will have no forums or commenting.

This website will not look like a colorblind person designed it in 1999.

This website will fill a niche that, now, is largely devoid of reliable, consistent, thorough, science-based information.

Then I will write a book that also provides reliable, consistent, thorough, science-based information. This information will be presented through sequential art, some of which you can expect to see on this blog.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to buy a $175 textbook to find out what I need to know.

That stuff, you know, the STUFF, YES FINE I MEAN SPERM DAMMIT

These twin babies are scared because ShutterStock is coming to get them.

These twin babies are scared because the Shutterstock watermark is coming to get them.


News! I HAVE ACTUAL FERTILITY ISSUES. This was a huge shock as I’ve been gleefully assuming decades of drug/alcohol/smoke-free living have left me with a pristine reproductive system. This is despite my doctor telling me a few months ago that “there is no such thing as a young 39” when it comes to one’s eggs. My eggs don’t care how young I look. I wish there were Kiehl’s products for eggs.

So it’s the fast track to Clomid for me. This slightly ups the chance of twins (see above).

Before this bombshell, I was working on my first post in ages, a glossary of terms and euphemisms. Enjoy!

Aetna: The word that one must always precede with “for fuck’s sake,” and follow with either the word “eyeroll” or by actually rolling one’s eyes.

birth: “baby extraction process,” “ugh, I don’t want to talk about it,” “isn’t there a better way?”, “the hospital stay,” “so, what do you think about elective C-sections?”

Clomid: the gateway drug to bigger, badder drugs, then IVF.

dewar: the vacuum flask that holds the “the goods.” AKA “the package,” “the big box,” “the shipment.”

breastfeeding: “ugh, I don’t want to talk about it,” “the thing that if you don’t do people shun you,” “the thing that’s convenient but ewww.”

follicles: The things it is good I have. They are detected using this weird ultrasound wand the clinic puts in one’s … see last glossary entry.

FSH: follicle stimulating hormone. I thought the doctors were saying “SSH,” which isn’t that weird because what is a uterus other than a secure shell? FSH is the thing I have too much of, which is quite sinister, even for a 39-and-10-month-year-old.

insemination: “dispatching the genetic material, “the procedure,” “basting,” “you know, the thing,” “THE THING MOM YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN DON’T MAKE ME SAY IT.”

sperm: “the requisite genetic material,” “the goods,” “the contents of the dewar,” “the vial contents,” “you know, the stuff,” “THE STUFF MOM YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN DON’T MAKE ME SAY IT.”

ovulation: “the smiley face,” “the blinking smiley face” (i.e. what appears in the results window of at-home ovulation tests).

sex: “The normal way,” quickly adding “for straight couples.”

twins: According to everyone I know, “the last thing I want.” According to me and my flabbergasting naivety, “two for the price of one.”

vagina: “down there,” “the target area.” “Hoo-ha” is acceptable among female friends.