Sunday, April 29, 2012

Choosing My Donor

As of this past Thursday, I am officially all clear for take-off!  I had confidence that I had no underlying medical conditions that would warrant me not continuing on my current path, but having the doc's official stamp of approval is just nice to hear....perfectly working girly parts + spotless bill of health = time to make the biggest decision in my life, a.k.a picking a donor.  Remarkably this process was a lot less frustrating than going on horrible dates and/or being trapped within a self-imploding relationship.  Notice I used the and/or expression there, as it is possible to go on horrible dates in the midst of being trapped within a self-imploding relationship...hence the sign the relationship is unstable and should be severed before ultimate implosion occurs. Hence why I am at the current stage in my life, single and trying to conceive.  Hence this blog....I digress...

Even though I just officially got the green light from my doc, I actually began searching for a donor upon my initial decision to have a child. I will admit, it was kind of fun searching out cryobanks, skimming through profiles, imagining what my future bundle of joy would be like.  But it also made me question what were my top must-haves in a kid.  Was I looking for intelligence? Good looks?  Did I want them to be short or tall?  What about eye and hair color?  These are the types of things normally one probably does not consider when having a child within the confines of a relationship with a planned pregnancy.  You fall in love with who you fall in love with, you decide to have a child with them, and the rest is up to genetics.  If two people are in a relationship and decide to conceive, I doubt (unless there is an underlying medical concern such as dwarfism or such), one or the other person doesn't rightly think "hey, I don't want your kid cause they may have brown eyes and I want green!"  It just doesn't work that way, you love each other and whatever life you create will be perfect and unconditionally loved (at least until the teen years, I hear those are pretty awful for parents, ha!).  I, on the other hand, am not bound to another person with whom I want to create life.  I am just me.

So I have this mysteriously different option of getting to decide the traits I would like my child to possess.  I have no true emotional connection to the future father of my child, so my decision must be based on other factors.  Now don't get me wrong.  When I say I have no emotional connection, I'm not trying to sound soulless.  I simply mean that since I don't actually know the donor, although I do get to read some personal essays to help me determine their type of personality, I cannot base my decision on my feelings for them...well besides that ultimate gut feeling that came upon me Thursday morning....I will get to this gut feeling later.

So what am I looking for in a donor/50% of my future child's genetics?  Now it may sound shallow, but blue yes were important to me.  I have blue eyes, and I love them.  It is one genetic trait I can most definitely control.  With that said, I first narrowed down my donor selection by filtering out all the men who had eye colors other than blue.  This process significantly reduced the "gene pool" so to speak.  Once only blue-eyed donors were filtered, there were much fewer individuals to select from.  Why was having a child with blue eyes important to me?  Being that I'm about to become a single mom, I wanted to have some trait of mine that was 100% positively going to be expressed.  Since the blue eyed gene is recessive, if the donor and I both have blue eyes, then the child will too.  Since I'm mixing my genetics with a stranger in all practical terms, I want to at least have one thing guaranteed to be like me.

Hair color could also be controlled.  I was born with blond hair, although it has been a million various colors since my early twenties when I began randomly coloring it based on my mood.  I should state here, for those who are thinking it, no my hair is not blue as my profile pic suggests.  That is just a great wig I picked up in New Orleans for Halloween a couple of years back.  If I had the choice, I would probably actually have blue hair, as I think it suits me quite well and brings out my eyes.  But alas I do not live in Japan, where I think it would probably be more acceptable.  Nor am I 20-something anymore, so adulthood prevents me from wearing the wig except for special dress-up occasions.  Ok, back to the hair thing....  So, since I am technically a natural blond, I thought I might want a blond child.  I know how this is sounding, she's blond and blue-eyed and wants a blond/blue-eyed child...and she has major German ancestry...hmmmm.  Now stop that right there, this is not some Hitler Aryan dream child I'm trying to have! And yes, feel free to be amused by that statement!  I just thought at first it was one more trait I could control so I was guaranteed to have my own traits show up in the child.  My first two donors choices both were blond and blue eyed.  But why wasn't I feeling 100% confident with either one of them?

My first donor choice, well he sold out before I had my HSG.  So I was off to find another donor right away.  I couldn't find one at my original cryobank, so I switched to another bank.  There I did the same procedure as before, first narrowing the pool to blond/blue-eyed men.  I'll tell you, this drastically puts a dent in the number of selections.  Regardless of the decrease in choices, I did find a second donor who fit my criteria.  And it's not all about the coloring of eyes and hair, not even close!  I also was looking for personality traits based on their essays, and a good medical history...nothing lurking in the corners such as mass family alcoholism or breast cancer or anything of the like.  Once again, this is not something one would normally care about or question as thoroughly when planning a child in a committed relationship.  (I should say committed heterosexual relationship, cause there are various other types and I don't want to sound like I'm not considering those. Those who know me know I love my gays, so there really shouldn't be  any questions as to what I meant.)  Back to where I medical history just usually comes with the entire package and probably isn't as closely checked when in a relationship.  But it is one of those things I get to ponder. Also intelligence was highly important.  So it was important to me that the donor have a relatively good GPA in college.  I know high GPA does not guarantee high intelligence or vice-versa. But it's at least a good meter when an actual sit down get-to-know-you kinda thing isn't available.

So, back to my second donor choice.  Blond, blue-eyed, smart, large family (good breeding stock?) very tall.  Height was another factor I was looking for.  I would rather my child have a better chance, especially if it's a boy, to be tall.  I like tall men, although I have dated various heights.  And if it's a girl, tall is also good.  I'm slightly above average in height, and I like that.  What can I say, I love having long legs!  And his childhood photo was adorable.  Norwegian ancestry, and I've always had a thing for Norwegians!  But I still wasn't feeling 100% sure.  I mean, he'd do, just as donor choice 1 would have done.  But neither gave me that gut impulse.

So it's Thursday morning, and my final doctor's appointment to get the results of all my tests is at 2:30.  I know once I get the all clear, then it will be time to actually purchase the sperm.  It is a massively, huge, gargantuan decision that will change my life I don't want to question even the slightest bit!!!  That morning I got to work and checked my email.  I had an email from California Cryobank with a fresh list of new donors.  At this point I had decided on a donor from another cryobank, although donor choice 1 was from there.  Well I didn't want to second guess myself, but I took a look anyway.  And there, at the very bottom of the list, was "the one"!  I know we've all heard of women finding "the one" and it usually involves some sort of dating ritual, falling head over heels, and making sweet love in the afternoon, yada, yada, yada.  This was nothing like that, per se.  But when I opened his file, the initial introductory paragraph made me sort of swoon.  Not in a lustful way, but in an almost dizzy feeling because something just seem so perfect.  So I dropped some cash and got the rest of the donor's profile.  Yep, here was the father of my child.  He had everything I was looking for, sort of.  Blue-eyed, of course that was not an option!  Smarts, very good high school and college GPAs.  Looks?  The staff impressions were quite the selling point with the whole very tall looked like he stepped out of a GQ magazine comments.  They did offer some celebrity look alikes with similar facial features, I will not reveal those for those are not the major deciding factor and can only be so reliable.  But not blond.  Nope, this one has brown hair, although in his 3 childhood photos, which were absolutely adorable, he does have blond up top.  I would assume this means he is more like me, blond as a child and got darker with age.  Although I was white-blond as a young kid and his was more of a dirty blond.  Once again, I digress...

But all that aside, in the end it was his personality, of all things, that won me over.  He had the type of sense of humor that appealed to me.  A few of his life stories were right along the same lines as mine...who else besides me has been shot off the back of a treadmill and thought it was absolutely hysterical? He loves puns, I for awhile was known as bad-pun girl (my super secret superpower!).  I really can't explain it, just something in me clicked.  I had no questions or qualms.  I had no worries or doubts.  This was him.  I kind of wonder if he felt a shift in the universe at that precise moment.  I can't imagine he didn't!  I assume we live in the same one and mine completely wobbled there for a second or two.  By the time I got to the doctor's office, I was absolutely 100% ready!  I received my green light, went home, and placed my order with California Cryobank.  Actually I went over to my parent's house and celebrated with a glass of wine!

So now it's just time to wait.  I started with ovulation kit testing this month and had my LH surge today (see pic above), which means I will ovulate tomorrow.  However, this month was just a practice run to make sure I was ovulating as I should.  The donor sperm will not be here till later in the week, and I didn't want to stress myself by having to rush this month.  So, this time next month I should be going in for my official first IUI.  The doctor seemed absolutely confident that I would get pregnant on the first try, so I'm thinking he also felt the wobble in the universe that day :)

For any readers also wanting a good cryobank, check out California Cryobank @  No I won't reveal my donor number!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

HSG Panic and Procedure

So finally on to part 2...
Scouring the internet for other women's experienced with their HSG's provided much daunting information.  Most accounts were full of angst, pain, sever cramping enough to make the person hurl (while still on the doc's table), bleeding, etc.  Nothing much to grasp on to in hopes of a, if not pleasant, at least not an all that bothersome experience.   Of course, reading all these horror stories got me majorly wound up to say the least.  I was so wound up by the time the day of my appointment came, I was glad to have some Xanax on hand.  It helped calm my nerves slightly, and I began to relax knowing no matter how bad it was, in the end I was having a necessary procedure that's end goal was finally getting the all clear to start my IUIs.

So the day of HSG, I woke up, went to work, downed a Xanax, and waited.  At noon I left the office to go to the radiology clinic.  I had my mother with me, as she is sort of being my surrogate husband through all of this.  I think it important to have someone there with a second set of ears, since there is a lot of information to absorb and a ton of questions that one needs to remember to ask.  Following the advice of my doc and other women, I also took a a matter of fact, by the time I made it onto the doc's table almost 2 hours later, I had had two of these.  Overkill you say?  Maybe, but I wasn't taking any chances.  So, onto the procedure...

As usual with any type of gynecological appointment, it was the same thing...disrobe from the waist down, hop up on the table, spread eagle and slide to the end.  After so many years of doing this same maneuver, I still have yet to become comfortable with the whole thing.  But we do what we have to do!  So there I am, in the usual feet-in-stirrups position splayed to the world, with four other people in the room...the gynecologist performing the procedure, my secondary doctor, the nurse, and for mental support, my mom (don't be grossed out, she was behind me in a chair, not getting the doc's view).  And as usual, the speculum comes out...why is it always cold?  Once I am propped open and ready, which always takes some adjusting since I have a "tilted' uterus, the gyno performing the procedure informs me they are going to inject some lidocaine into my cervix...say what?  Not one of the forums I read bothered to mention this!  Needles are bad enough, but needles in my cervix, so not cool!!!  So naturally I tense up for a moment, doc says to relax and on
 the count of three give a big cough...1...2...3...COUGH!  Odd that the doc complimented me on my coughing skills, but I'm glad because I have a feeling the cough is necessary to take your mind away from the  needle prick.  Needles to say, hahahahaha, I didn't feel a thing!  No pressure, no stab, nothing!  That was a relief!

After the injection, the doc then inserts a catheter up through the cervix and slowly injects dye into the uterus.  The dye then pushes through the fallopian tubes to see if there are any blockages, leaks, or anything else of concern.  Here is where I get lucky!  Most of the horror stories I read were from women with tubal blockages.  The pressure from the dye pushing into the blocked tube, supposedly, can cause immense pain.  Well I really don't know if it was because of the pain pills or because I had no internal issues, but the procedure was nothing like I expected.  It was slightly uncomfortable, there was a little pressure as they rolled me from side to side to get the dye into each tube, but then it was all over in probably less than 5 minutes.  Afterward they had me get up slowly, as from the look of the gauze on the table it causes some pretty good bleeding, and get locking the door to the bathroom though, in case you have emergency...which I assume is getting light-headed and passing out!

In the end, after all that build-up and panic, the procedure, at least for me, wasn't too awful.  I have had much worse things done to me, so this was nothing!  I will say that I was a bit light-headed the rest of the day, but that might have been from the pills.  And for the next few days I did have some cramping and light bleeding, but nothing that screamed of the horrors other women described.  Which is great, cause some of them made it sound a little worse than birthing a child!  I guess I learned that most people who go into these forums discuss the worst case scenarios.  I will try not to take them too seriously from now on.  That's not to say I still won't over-research everything, that's just who I am.  But in the future I will take these things with a grain of salt...and of course that pain pill if I feel it's necessary!  No point in taking a chance on that one, hahahaha!

Final result, my tubes look perfect, I have a follow up appointment with my doc on Thursday, April 26th, and I'm basically all clear for take-off!  Next step is finally deciding 100% on a donor and tracking my ovulation...but we'll save those things for another day :-)

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Preparing for Hysterosalpinogram

I promised in my first post to go back and explain the "procedure" I had yesterday.  The long-winded term is Hysterosalpinogram...but it is better known as an HSG (probably because no one can pronounce the damned thing). A week ago I had absolutely no clue what an HSG was, nor had I ever heard the term.  MSG I've heard of that, who hasn't?  But when the doc told me on my initial visit that I needed to schedule an HSG with the receptionist, I was almost completely clueless as to what that meant.  Don't get me wrong, he explained enough for me to understand that it was a procedure where they inject dye into the uterus to check that the uterus is in good working order and fallopian tubes are clear of any blockages or what-not.  This is to insure there is nothing in the way to obstruct either the sperm or egg from traveling the pathways necessary to "hook-up" on the dance floor, if know what I mean.  That's all good and fine, nothing like knowing ahead of time if there is anything that could possibly cause problems, especially considering the cost of going through IUI.  Anything to make the percentages higher that your IUI will result in a pregnancy!  But I have to admit when the doc said I could experience some "cramping" and to take some sort of pain killer ahead of time, I seriously began to wonder what he meant by the term "cramping."

Many, it seems, lifetimes ago I had a LEEP procedure to remove abnormal cervical cells (they turned out to be non-cancerous so yay for that!).  My gyno at the time had used almost identical words regarding experiencing some "cramping" with the procedure.  To this day I have yet to fully forgive her for not being a little more specific by what she meant.  For any of you who have had someone take a slice out of your insides without any anesthesia while up on a table with your legs spread and your most precious parts vulnerable to the world...well let's just say there is a reason why men don't give birth!  Women are known to have a much higher pain threshold than men, and it's a good thing cause the human race would have died out in one generation.  So remembering back on that vague wording from so many years ago, and remembering the pain associated with that vague wording, and adding that together with the instructions that a pain killer ahead of time would be smart, I began to worry and question what exactly was an HSG and what exactly should I really be expecting!      

With all that being said, like any good patient I began to scour the internet for a better explanation and to see what other women's experiences were like.  I know the internet is not always the best source of information, especially when examining medical issues, but I just couldn't help myself.  I'm a well-trained researcher (to a fault thanks to a remarkable education), so mistakenly I put my training to the test!  A good, basic outline of the procedure was easy enough to find.  Plenty of simple, cut and dry (no pun intended), no-nonsense medical knowledge available on the web.  But as always, I went searching for real-world, first-hand knowledge.  Needless to say, sometimes it may just be smarter keeping oneself in the dark!

Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow!
Want more info on an HSG?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taking My First Step Towards Motherhood

Hello readers!  My name is Ashley.  I am a single woman aged 37 who has decided to throw away old-fashioned conventions and embark on the wondrous adventure of motherhood.  After years of tumultuous relationships...some good, some bad, and some very ugly... I've decided that if I want to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a mom, it is time to throw caution to the wind, forget the fairy-tale romantic notion that someday my prince will come, and finally take matters into my own hands.  It has been a long road with many a sleepless night coming to this decision.  I do not take it lightly nor consider in frivolous.  I have done my research, weighed my options, considered all available paths, and still ended at the same place... mommy-hood!

What do I expect of this blog?  I expect (or at least hope) I will be able to share my experiences, from initial decision to the actual birth of my first child with other individuals, especially women, who may be experiencing the same pressures in life as myself.  Not getting any younger, running very low on time, and not willing to settle.  I'm very excited to be embarking on my new future and hope my story will inspire, give hope, and also entertain. In addition, this blog will also be a record for myself of the amazing adventure which I am creating for me, my family and friends, and my future bundle of joy.  As the days role by I will be filling in the details of the last week, as my journey officially (in the medical sense) began last Friday, April 14th, 2012.  I will also create posts reflecting on what brought me to this point in life, for I feel it is important to understand not only where I'm going but also from where I come.  In the end, I hope this all comes to a happy ending...I guess a happy beginning would be more appropriate.  I welcome your audience as I travel along this road.  I hope you enjoy the experience as much as myself.

Although this was a short introduction, it has been a long day of testing to make sure I am ready to start my IUI injections.  For those who are not already familiar with the the term, IUI stands for intrauterine insemination.  I will provide more information as to the process behind IUI as I develop this blog.  Bur for now I am a little tired, a little sore from my HSG (yes, I will explain this too in the next few days), and ready to call it a day. I look forward to sharing this process with all those interested.  Thank you for tuning in!

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