Friday, November 09, 2007

life in two week increments

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It's only two weeks until the end of the quarter, and this one has both flown by and dragged.

The part that's flown: my work life. Since I have a fellowship this year, I'm only teaching one course this quarter and the next, so teaching hasn't been much on my radar. I'm teaching Feminist Theories and it's going reasonably okay. I think this is the first time I've actually scared students away--once on the first day of class, when I went through my usual spiel. I was sorry to see those students go, but it's a difficult, dense class, and not the appropriate follow up to intro. to women's studies. I hope they'll come back next year, or the next. But then I scared someone off more satisfactorily, when I finally called a bullshit non-major on his bullshit. You know when it's a tough class with tough readings and tense discussions and real, earnest trying on the part of most of the students and then some philosophy student who thinks he knows theory and thought he'd give feminist theory a "try," but never turns in any of the work, and doesn't do a very good job pretending that he's kept up with the readings nevertheless keeps trying to make it look like he's read by repeating what I've just said? Oh no. That wasn't gonna play this quarter, especially not when the other students are trying so hard and taking it so seriously.

Mostly I've been treating this like a research leave--I've only been going in to school on the day I teach and have spent the rest of the time working on my book. I completed a chapter that has dragged on and on and refused to end on a self-imposed deadline, and then a conference paper that forms a crucial part of another chapter I'm revising. (That conference, by the way, was fabulous! a fun, quick trip to Southern California where I got to hang out with friends I've made at this conference over the years, including the fabulous, fabulous Hilaire.) I'll do another round of revisions on The Chapter That Won't End next week, and then will turn to my MLA paper, which will also go into the revising chapter. After that I have two more chapters to revise and an intro., most of which is written. But the thing I can't bring myself to do, really, really can't bring myself to do, is send my proposal to editors. I have a proposal. I think it's a good one. It's snappy and sexy and explains why my book is important and why no other book in the world ever has, or ever can do what my book will do--promises I think the book keeps--but I find that I am loathe to send it out. What if they want my ms., which is still rough? What if they want the ms., see it in its roughness and say no, forever? And of course, what if they don't want my ms? That fear keeps me working and polishing and waiting.

And waiting is the real theme of my quarter. This is my third cycle of IUI and I'm in what ttc'rs (people trying to conceive) call the 2ww (two week wait). Again. It goes like this: you get inseminated as close to ovulation as possible (that's a whole drama right there. Well, two: first the drama of watching for ovulation, then the drama of inseminating, which can either be really pleasant if your nurse is nice, or really unpleasant if your nurse is a homophobe.)

And then you wait, for two weeks. If you get your period at the end of the two weeks, you are not pregnant. But of course you know this way before your period comes, because not only do you start spending all your money on home pregnancy tests starting around 9 days after insemination, you go back to the clinic for blood draws several times a week, first to measure your progesterone, E2, and lh levels, and finally, your hcg levels. (You start to realize that knowing all these numbers doesn't help you get pregnant, it just helps you measure how pregnant, or potentially pregnant you might be, day by day. It makes you crazy.) If you have an hcg level, you're pregnant. But maybe not pregnant enough. I got pregnant on the first try and was startled at my luck, because that's not how it works with me. Things usually take a long time coming to fruition. But there it was: six pregnancy tests saying that yes, I was pregnant. I wanted to be like many of the lesbian bloggers whose Trying to Conceive blogs I read religiously and post a picture of my digital test saying PREGNANT, but I hesitated. Which turned out to be good, because after a weekend of positive tests, my beta at the doctors showed that I was only a little bit pregnant and a day later, not at all. Technically that's called a chemical pregnancy. Not too big of a deal, theoretically, but certainly disappointing and, ultimately, expensive, because two weeks later you're back on the table getting filled with expensive vials of what you hope are super-potent sperm from a stranger.

During the 2ww you take progresterone (estrogen's fraternal twin hormone) to help your body be as ready for pregnancy as possible if 1) you conceived and if 2) your zygote feels like attaching. What makes this super fraught is that while you very well may not be pregnant, you start to feel pregnant--incredibly tired, craving salt, headachy, slightly nauseated, twingy and crampy in your uterus. You start googling things like "2ww symptoms" and then reading pages and pages of entries where women go through their cycles day by day and list exactly what they felt and when they felt it, hoping to find an experience that matches what you think you are feeling and confirms that you are still in the race.

You try to be a normal person and go on living your life, but there's lots of conflicting information: some sites say eat lots of pineapple to help the egg burst out of its corpus luteum; others say No! Pineapple!, claiming that it causes contractions. Some say no deli meats or soft cheeses (which kind of makes sense during pregnancy, but during the part where an egg that may or may not be fertilized floats around your tubes? Really?) Some say no cold drinks, only room temperature. Some say no coffee; some say lots of green tea--the kind with caffeine. Most say no alcohol. Some say have sex as you normally would; others warn to be careful of the uterine contractions that come with an orgasm. Some say the only exercise you can do during the 2ww is "mindful" walking, whatever that is; others say exercise as you normally would, only don't let your body get overheated, or let your heart get above 140. My logical mind says this is stupid: most straight people don't know they're in a 2ww and they run marathons and do cardio kick-boxing and eat whatever they want and have rough sex and their zygotes don't bounce out of their uteri, or shrivel up, or melt. But my illogical mind says, why take the risk? Think of the children.

So I walk, mindfully, around my neighborhood, and I lie around like a Victorian heroine and I take my progesterone, and then, because that first cycle failed because I didn't have a "strong enough" ovulation, my clomid, and the hormones make my body start to feel and, yes, LOOK, pregnant; my pants stop fitting and my button up shirts stop buttoning. I live in fear of someone noticing and asking if I'm pregnant. I crave Doritos. I drink fertility teas made from oatstraw and thistle and red clover and red raspberry leaf. I throw caution to the wind and eat pineapple and let myself have one cup of coffee, maybe two, as I read the paper in the morning.


Blogger Hilaire said...

You know, that seems like *a lot* to be going through/thinking about. I'm very impressed that you're getting so much work done with all that's going on.

And it was great to meet you, too!! I'll be in touch soon...

1:55 PM  
Anonymous j.k-c. said...

I'm with you in the wonderful TWW (I actually find it less stressful than the trying-to-track-down- ovulation part). I agree about all the conflicting information. It isn't actually possible to eat during pregnancy if you believe everything. And it is all about chance anyway, no matter what you eat.
Good luck with everything else going on too....I wil keep my fingers crossed that this is THE cycle!

6:20 AM  
Blogger Renee and Janice said...

Best of luck to you!!!!!

11:53 AM  

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