Monday, 5 May 2014

The Absurdity of Infertility

It's CD14. If I were a typical woman, my ClearBlue Fertility Monitor would indicate that ovulation is imminent. However, as I was still reading 'low' as of yesterday, I don't think that it's going to happen. As I'm still working on ordering my meds and trying to navigate around Memorial Day weekend, this prolonged follicular phase is actually working in my favour. Finally, Si and Am are actually cooperating... by being lazy. My monitor is still reading 'low'. Now I'm starting to feel a little nervous that my ovies may be out of commission. If my day 21 progesterone were negative, would we measure on CD 28? CD 35? At what point would we need to induce a withdrawal bleed with Provera and induce ovulation with Femara?

When I arrived at work, I was greeted with a glob of egg white cervical mucus. At first, my instinct was to ignore it. While I was suppressing my ovaries during my FETs, the estrogen from my patches increased my cervical mucus. I've been misled by EWCM before. However, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.  Last June, I had a false negative with my monitor, (which I attributed to nocturia and a less than full first morning specimen) but I noted an increase in mucus on what was confirmed to be the time of ovulation. Now doubt was starting to creep into my mind.

A few years ago I delivered a talk on contraception to an audience of general practitioners. I tend to receive a few emails after a lecture. Usually from someone who felt too embarrassed to ask a basic question, or a wise-ass who wants to double check my sources or call attention to a typo in my slides. This time I received a response from a woman who explained that she only discusses fertility awareness methods as she views birth control to be abortificaents. "It's simple" she wrote "the body     knows when it's fertile and when it isn't" Accordingly, she claims that in ten years of working with over three hundred patients, she is only aware of two unintended pregnancies. I was tempted to write back and ask if she actually listened to my lecture. Specifically, when I explained that contraception prevents pregnancy, and thus does not cause an abortion. I also considered asking if she thinks it is ethical to restrict the information she provides her patients. Instead, I just hit delete. Now I'd like to reply and confront her claim that determining when the body is fertile is "simple". I've been specalising in women's health for over ten years and I have no fucking clue when I'm fertile.

I decided that I would need more data. Although I've received inconsistent results with the happy face LH tests, it couldn't hurt to have more variables. I ran to Safeway over my lunch break, feeling a bit cautious as many staffers often do some shopping during this time. Fortunately, the OPKs are at the end of the aisle adjacent to the self-check stations. I'm convinced that these were invented for the purpose of purchasing personal products. In one swoop, I grabbed a shopping basket, dropped the box into the basket and covered it with my purse, scanned my item and then threw it into my purse while I finished the payment process. I could not be any more discreet. For the record, an absent smiley face agreed with my ClearBlue monitor.

As it had been 30 days since Healthnet had covered a box of 4 estrogen patches and only charged me with a $10 co-pay, I was able to pick up another supply. It would also give me an opportunity to speak with my pharmacist friend to make sure he would be able to order my meds in time. While we were chatting, he asked one of the pharmacy techs to grab me a box of estrogen patches. I'm guessing he thought that everyone was pretty familiar with me at this point in time, but we were both a bit surprised when he placed a box of Ortho Evra on the counter. Admittedly, I was rather relieved that he didn't immediately suspect that I needed to be on postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. Besides, my friend in Kansas has a much more embarrassing pharmacy mix-up story. In the small and very conservative town, all birth control products are kept behind the pharmacist's counter and one must ask directly for them. (Interestingly, pregnancy tests are sold on the shelves without restrictions...) When she asked the 20 year old pharmacy tech for some Today Sponges, he referred her to the housewares aisle...

I was getting ready to leave the office, when I received a text from Husband with an invitation to have intercourse later that night. Actually, his message was much cruder, and I'm paraphrasing for politeness. (By the way, can that be considered a booty call?)  Anyway, I should mention that Husband is creeped out by my progesterone suppositories and goes on a vagina boycott during the simulated luteal phase. He was away during the brief post progesterone and pre-AF period and consequentially, I don't think either of us can remember the last time we had sex.  I did recall my conversation with Misery when I asked if I should check my progesterone level one week after  my monitor indicated ovulation. "Jane, you can't try to conceive at this time!" From the other end of the phone, she couldn't see me rolling my eyes. "Oh, Misery, please give me credit for being smart enough to know that."
"Yes, I'm sorry Jane."
"Besides, we've long accepted that ship has already sailed. I think it reached South Africa." That quip actually generated some laughter from Misery.

My protocol doesn't allow for that miraculous spontaneous conception just before starting IVF as I have to start Lupron in my luteal phase. In fact, the pre-requisite for this cycle is that we not get pregnant, which is something we're actually quite good at! Although two monitors are indicating that I am not fertile, the presence of that mucus was still weighing on my mind. We would need to take precautions. "You'll have to wear a raincoat" I informed him as I swallowed my Co-enzyme Q-10 and DHEA capsules with a sip of wine. I was somewhat hoping this would put him off the idea and we'd go back to the fail proof method of abstinence. "Do we even have any condoms?" he asked. I think I got rid of them after a broken condom marked our inaugural intercourse after my IUDectomy. We checked every place we thought they could be, but couldn't find any. Oh, well.    

Apparently not. Just as we finished dinner, Husband offered, "I'll clean up if you'll run out and get condoms." Oh, he must want it badly... I thought to myself as I drove to a nearby CVS. I stood on the other side of the aisle where a few months ago I was pondering over the choices of sanitary napkins. Now I was perplexed my the myriad of condom options. As I studied the names Extended, Ultra Thin skin-to-skin, Charged, all felt eerily familiar to the titles for feminine hygiene products, Radiant, Infinity, Ultra Thin, Long, Active. By the way, Trojan Sensations for her pleasure... yeah, not so much...

I grabbed a box and went to the queue sans camouflage items. By the way, sometimes you do need to choose your camouflage items carefully as I once stopped at a convenience store and the guy in front of me was buying a large box of condoms, a jumbo sized bottle of Gatorade, and he asked to see one of the stopwatches in the display case... Anyway, I had a peculiar smile on my face, which would be expected from one who is wearing flip-flops and gym shorts in CVS at 8:30 on a Monday night, making a sole purchase of condoms. Rather, I was laughing my ass off inside my head, as here I am; Ms Infertile Myrtle, can't get knocked up with IVF... and I'm getting some condoms...

My purchase history for today includes, postmenopausal estrogen replacement, an ovulation predictor kit and now condoms. I'm a walking contradiction.


  1. The visual picture of you in CVS makes me smile. Glad you were able to at least have a bit of fun last night. ;)

  2. Buying condoms and tampons is the worst. Why are there so many choices? I just want a tampon that will keep my underwear free of blood. And I just want a condom that won't get me pregnant. Why the fancy names? Why applicators made of precious stones? What's with all the jaggedy edges and fancy ribbing? Seriously, it's like Trojan and Tampax are owned by the same creepy old man. (I think this comment reveals some serious issues I have. I'll stop ranting now.) I hope you're night was fun--despite the raincoat!

  3. I'm glad you can see the humor in your purchases. I do too! :)

  4. Hilarious! My husband sends me crude texts soliciting sex all the time too! That guy in line in front of you reminds me of me when buying tampons, midol, ice cream and nothing else...

  5. Hey, infertility takes so much of the fun and spontaneity out of sex, you're lucky you guys still want to do it at all. My sex drive is so low (thanks DOR) that I think M would drive halfway to hell for condoms if that's what would get him laid.

  6. Oh the irony! Too funny. The only thing missing is lingerie and booze in that cart. Ha! I agree on all fronts that fertility is anything but simple!

  7. I agree with Aramis, infertility takes so much of the fun out of sex, it seems like it's been ages since Andino sent me a text like that! haha

  8. This post cracked me up. Oh the ironies! I loved how you took your vitamins with your wine! What a picture. Good for you for deleting that ridiculous email and not even replying. Sometimes, even in a professional capacity, it's not worth the effort.

  9. You are hilarious... and yes, you're right, those purchases are totally ironic!

  10. Your shopping list is entertaining! I looked for condoms a while back, absurdly enough, but decided to luck it out as there just were too many options...