Family Dinner Panel (or how to kill the vibe)

Quick update first: my spermĀ did arrive safely (what a strange sentence to type) and I should be having my first IUI attempt sometime in the next week.

The night before Easter my immediate family (mom, dad, two sisters, brother-in-law) were sitting down to dinner. Everyone there knows at least vaguely of my plans and my sisters and my mom even came to my Sperm Donor Party. However, I have found over the past few weeks that people have A LOT of questions and I wanted to give them the opportunity to ask them.

I waited all through dinner for the perfect moment, feeling anxious butterflies in my stomach.

There was no perfect moment.

Finally, as we were clearing dishes, I smoothly jumped in with “So, moving on from that topic…I am going to be having my first attempt at getting pregnant soon” (I just can’t say insemination or sperm in front of my father. Maybe I should work on that) “and I am probably going to have some disappointments before I have any success, so I am not sure how much I am going to want to talk about it while it’s happening. So I wanted to give you the opportunity now to ask any questions you might have for me about the process.”

Awkward silence. I know how to murder a dinner party.

My mother panicked and could not think of any questions. I assured her that she was welcome to ask me things later if she wanted to.

My sister wanted to know mostly about the timeline and warn me about getting toxoplasmosis from my cat.

My other sister wanted to know if I’m moving in with my parents (maybe; they’ve invited me) and then my mom wanted to know if I’ve told my roommates I might be moving out (no, as I’m not even pregnant yet).

My brother-in-law wanted to know if I was getting genetic testing and, if there was a problem, if I would be terminating the pregnancy. While I assured him I was getting testing and had of course thought about many possible scenarios, I am in no way making a decision on that right now and hoping I never have to.

My dad said nothing.

Through this process, I have been surprised and buoyed by my father’s early acceptance of my choice. Though, looking back now, I realize that all this support was filtered through my mother and not told to me directly. My mother came to me with the invite to move in, saying that it was my dad’s idea. My mother told me at my Sperm Donor Party that while my dad didn’t want to come (good, really), he wanted her to tell me that he still fully supported my choice. The fact that my mom was telling me all of this instead of him was not strange, because that’s how our family dynamic works. We communicate with Mom the most.

At dinner, I pointed out how lovely my dad’s been about everything. He said, to the whole table, “Of course I support you in whatever you do. Just like I support you” (sister) “and you” (sister) “and you” (brother-in-law). “Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I support you.”

Am I wrong in feeling crushed over this? Does it matter if he agrees, as long as he supports me? Aren’t they somewhat synonymous in this particular situation? Does he think support is just a financial crutch? A place to come home to?

I know there will be a lot of people who disagree with my choice, but this is really the first time I have confronted it head on. And so close to home…

My Mail is Totally Normal

Certainly it’s the most interesting shipment notification I’ve ever received. My sperm donation, my two little vials of hopes and dreams and ejaculation, are en route from all the way across the country. If I wasn’t minimizing the drinking to maximize my chances of conceiving, it’s enough to make you want a few large glasses of wine.

And then, on the auspicious day…

Fortunately, I set things up far enough in advance that this isn’t going to mess with my plans for this cycle…I think. But where is my cryotank now? Is it safe? Is everything still frozen? Why isn’t UPS going to a business when it is open? What am I paying $180 for if my package is not going to be accurately delivered? Seattle Sperm Bank is one of the few places my clinic recommended, so I am going to assume that this is normal, that everything is okay…but this is really something someone should have prepared me for!


 

Taking the Plunge

I originally titled this post “pulling the trigger,” but I don’t really want to use gun metaphors to talk about my potential future spawn.

Several weeks ago, I threw myself an impromptu party…A Sperm Soiree? A Baby Daddy Bacchanal? A Donor Diversion?

I do not have names for these things.

Anyway, a few of my nearest and dearest perused my top choices and gave me feedback. I narrowed it down to two donors (I was pretty sure who I wanted, but wasn’t quite ready to make the call yet). I moved money from my savings to my checking account to pay the $1,560.00 fee for two vials of sperm ($690 per vial plus $180 for shipping across the country). I continued to chart everything that happened in my body via kindara. And I waited.

I dreamed about my ex. I took prenatal vitamins. I played with small children at a baby shower and tried to ignore that there were ten women pregnant at the shower and all of them younger than me. I read books about pregnancy. And I waited.

I went out with friends but didn’t really drink. I tried on a new dress and imagined how I would look in it pregnant. I considered giving up caffeine. And I waited.

And yesterday, I decided I was being utterly ridiculous, so, perched half-dressed on my bed about twenty minutes before I was supposed to leave the house to meet my friends for trivia night, I jumped in. I took the plunge. I ordered two vials of sperm.

There has to be a more beautiful way to say that, right? Two vials of sperm. I’ll think on it.

I chose brains over nice (though hopefully my baby will have both?) and I added them to my cart, just like buying books off Amazon. Click. I am now the owner of two vials of sperm.

I called my youngest sister on the way to the bar (my other sister is not really a phone-talker) and I told my friend at the bar and had a celebratory drink (I had a cocktail called Invincible Summer, which is a faint echo of all the things I want for my potential future spawn). And that’s it. Those are the only people who know. Which for me is the equivalent of an enormous secret, because I tell everyone everything always.

Although I guess Seattle Sperm Bank knows. And my clinic. This blog, but that hardly counts. I have to get used to the idea that the things that traditional couples get to keep private, I’m attempting with an online shopping cart and a couple of medical professionals.

But I own sperm now.

Splash.

 

Sperm Dating

There are a lot of disturbing similarities between online dating and looking for a sperm donor, and if you’re a single 35 year old woman, chances are you’ve spent some time doing both, whether or not you’re TTC (trying to conceive, for the newbs). I catch familiar echoes. Is this really my life now? Is the the only way to get what I want? Will I end up murdered, miserable, and alone?

Though I’m not technically TTC just yet, I start my prenatal vitamins tomorrow, field regular phone calls from my fertility clinic (don’t worry- I’ll talk about them later), and text my friends the results of my ovulation test (OPK), so I pretty much qualify. I still lazily peruse my messages on Tinder and OKcupid about once a week, but now it’s like, “No, John, I don’t want to have dinner when you get back from Texas, because I’m trying to figure out whether or not to spend $1,000 getting Benedict’s sperm shipped out from Seattle.”

So you think there’s got to be an easier way and then you find the free sperm donor websites and they are so much worse. The creepiest. At least with the men at the sperm banks, you know their motives are pure: cash. On the free donor sites, it seems men just have an itch to repopulate the world with an army of their bug-eyed, tattooed, hick spawn.

Speaking of armies, the family limits at sperm banks terrify me. Each sperm bank has a contracted number of families that can reproduce using one donor’s sperm before he’s retired. At that point, his sperm can only be used to create siblings for existing kids. Seattle Sperm Bank, currently my number one choice, allows 25 families per donor in the US. This is assuming that all births are accurately reported in a timely fashion. And, let’s imagine, that out of these 25 families, 60 children are produced: that’s not out of the realm of possibility. And what if some of the sperm was shipped to other countries, with different limits. Will my child have one hundred unknown siblings trotting around the globe? Will my child be haunted by this, scouring profiles of strangers on the street, looking for a family resemblance?

Will my child one day fall in love with his or her own sibling and become the subject of a Lifetime movie?

Probably not?

Things I Do While I Wait for the OPK

  1. Start the timer. I have five minutes.
  2. Clean pee from anywhere it might have dropped or splashed during the OPK test. (OPK is short for Ovulation Predictor Kit. I use Wondfo, mostly because it’s cheap and you can get it on Amazon– though I of course read some reviews first.
  3. Check my facebook, instagram, email, texts, and any other sites I can think of.
  4. Look for the second purple line. The secondĀ The Waiting Gamepurple line is the winner.
  5. Think about that blog I wanted to start, in case anyone else feels as lost in all of this as I do.
  6. Check my vaginal fluid/cervical mucus and my cervix for height and firmness. I know I’m looking for that gold star eggwhite consistency that signalizes ovulation (if you’re squeamish about this, you’ll get over it soon enough and find yourself thinking that eggwhite consistency is appropriate dinner table talk, since it is all you think about all the time). I’m still no good at monitoring my cervix.
  7. Look for that little purple line again.
  8. Gaze around the bathroom and think vaguely about how if I used this ten minutes a day to clean (five minutes in the morning and five at night during peak time), I would always have a clean bathroom, at least during this point in my cycle.
  9. Worry that I will never ovulate again. That all passed times have been a fluke, that I am too old, that I have past my prime, and that I am carrying around two dried husks where my ovaries used to be.
  10. When the time’s up, check for that line again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.