When your exes resurface and your past impregnates the future.

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Today is the first day. July 31, 2017.
I’m at a loss for words. I woke up and went to the clinic. While waiting, our credit card was declined (to pay for $500 worth of IUI procedure), which wasn’t what I was hoping for. Turns out that our past payment didn’t get processed yet, and our current balance, which includes the $2300 for sperm, and extra grand or so for ‘seeing the files on donors,’ shipping, Ubers to the appointments, storage fees ($50) and some other incidentals, exceeded our limit when added to our current spending.

We used debit instead.

All of this impersonal shit. Then we are waiting (for the sperm to thaw?) and there are cute babies in the waiting room. And another lesbian couple comes in, very pregnant, with donuts for the staff and big smiles. It isn’t like on T.V. I get called in. I wait for Allia. I feel nervous, which makes no sense, since nothing I do, or don’t do, right now will make any difference.

I lie down. The doctor introduces herself.

Last night we went to The Burdock, for a comedy show; my friend was performing. Unexpectedly, in walks an ex, one who doesn’t speak to me. She acts like the things I did in the end of our relationship are somehow different to the things she cheerfully admitted to doing to countless other girls before me. It wasn’t a good time for me, just months out of a long-term relationship, still very shaky and unsure… it wasn’t hard to tell that I was in no shape to be starting anything. She should have known. Arguably, she did know, and pretended not to see it.

Last time I saw her, over a year after our split, she gave me the silent treatment, until I pulled her aside, at a bonfire, and apologized wholeheartedly – I treated her with as much empathy and kindness back then as a broken person could muster. I did the best I could. She is not guiltless, but I definitely owned my mistakes. I paid for them before they were made.

How many times can you apologize?

Last night, coming into the bar with our friend, she said nothing. That’s how this will play out. Thirty-five and this is still the m.o.? I am too old for this. My wife looked at me and said, “It’s not about you anymore. You’ve said everything you can say… look at your life now. We are happy. This is what our life looks like. You can’t worry about the past.”

And she is right. She knows I hate feeling like I can’t fix the broken things. I crave understanding. But I love poetry and those moments of kismet are the things that give shape and nuance to the life we are breathing and building… which takes us back to this morning.

The doctor introduced herself: she has the exact same name as that ex. As she showed me a vial of sperm, she asked me to see that it matches. It did. Perfectly. Where closure is absent, maybe another kind of closure is possible.

This is the second time in two weeks that this has happened; a week ago I ran into the previous-previous exe; it was gut-wrenching. I cried in the car, after we parted, letting go of all the anger that 6 years of replaying hands around my throat has allowed to build up inside me.

I had been dreading that encounter, had given it so much mental energy, wondering when I would look into the face of a person who remains a source of anxiety and trauma – not so often now, but still sometimes, which is often enough… not wanting to be caught off guard. But… I was fine. Bothered (that this person still felt familiar enough to call me by a nickname), relieved (that face-to-face I held myself together, for all intents and purposes: fine). The moment passed and I could finally let go of all the memories and the power they used to have over me. That is not my life now.

U-turn. I am in the exam room. And now, writing this, I feel like it’s sacrilege to blend the sacred with the profane, but are they ever really absent from one another?

Death facilitates new life. Slate, wiped clean, with traces of blood, tears, … and semen (apparently). It was so easy, compared to our journey together up to this point. Anti-climactic.

It wasn’t at all like the L-Word (one of my only frames of media-reference), but on the table, as Allia held my hand, my leg muscles felt a little shaky. This is a beginning. Even if it’s not THE beginning. I feel peaceful, letting go of any control. All I can do is what is in my capacity to do… I can eat well, drink water, sleep, love, be happy.  Take my vitamins.

I am ready for this, if you can ever truly be ready for anything. And we will call this possibility ‘Cortez,’ like a Spanish explorer, a ship, a sailor; there may be a Cortez I, Cortez II, Cortez III, but we will be hoping for a new world – obviously one without colonization, and the ills of imperial domination and enslavement, but since those already exist historically, maybe our maiden voyage can be a promise to trust life’s compass and our own guts to guide us, to let go of the enslaved memory of the past, of grudges, of control itself… and think positively.

Swim little guys. Swim.

 

Okay, Crazy

This is what I looked like outwardly: 


But that was two days ago. You know that scene in The Exorcist, where the girl’s head spins around? That was me for one hot second (okay, 45 minutes) last night before I realized my insane mood swing was one of the listed side effects of chlomid. 


I feel like I was watching myself feel fully empowered to self-destruct, all the while trying to back pedal with the slim margin of my brain that was witnessing the scene in horror.  Once we finally realized what was going on, we made an action plan, I cried a bit and we figured out a SafeWord. Hopefully we can nip those little outbursts in the bud… We’ll be OK.

We went into the clinic Friday, good. On track. Saturday again, for bloodwork. My estrogen has spiked to a thousand. Good news. And today, Sunday, back for the works. In the post-exam meeting, the doctor said: 

“You’re the lucky one.” 

 (I’m not even sure where to put the italics in that sentence, but there was definite emphasis) delivered after she realized I was a Mississauga patient. It seems I’m the patient still getting monitored, but neither of us is quite sure how exactly it happened.   

 “Let’s not question the universe,” said the doctor. But I Am being monitored and it’s a very good thing. ‘Cause today is the day. It almost makes me forget the rest of this gong show, up and down, catastrophe, wild ride of emotions. 

Based on today’s results (19 and 21mm) they gave me an injection to ensure that my eggs release.  I still have two follicles, possible twin-set in the works, and I have an IUI booked for tomorrow morning!

Allia, now understandably, is cautiously optimistic and wants me to put some emotions on hold – to curb my expectations and excitement so I’m not devastated. I know the risks and stats (15% chance of success). But also given  my recent demonic possession, she doesn’t want me to be swinging out of control. I just really want to buy a crib. I’ve been waiting three years. It will feel so satisfying to put that sucker together. 

Really it’s just that I’m excited the day we’ve been waiting for is here. We step into the active ‘trying’ phase… 

“It’s the first time I will ever have sperm inside of me!!” 

Seriously. I’m not a gold star, but I’ve always insisted on scrupulous protective measures. 

Bring it on! 

Thinking of the numbers and likelihood of success, one has to ask: why not me? It could happen. 

Check-in

Yesterday we went for date night; let’s be honest, … most nights for us are ‘date night’. We checked out Locals Only and I had buck-a-shuck oysters, in the hopes of it being my last time. I was feeling pretty emotional, prior to today’s appointment.

First, a huge thank you to queerconceptional because I think you actually saved my cycle. I had asked all the obvious (to me) questions at the clinic, but not the line of inquiry you suggested: if my charts and the all important Infectious Disease screening results are being held in the CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS clinic computer… why not go right to the source. That ended up being a dead end, but it DID get me on the phone with the reception, asking if they knew anyone who used to work at both locations, or previously worked with someone who does; YES! E. was going to ask H., who knows one of their current nurses, who is not away, if there was any way to access the files. I had to wait until today to find out, but just the idea that it might all work out was smashing back and forth in my brain for the whole weekend …

Next, I went in for monitoring. Two follicles, both at 13, looks like they are in a race – which could mean a set of twins if they keep growing. Nice fluffy lining. Blood results are good. And they have my ID results on file now,… so when I surge, they are ready for me.

I go back Friday to see if the two, or one, follicle is growing appropriately (18-25 mm). I’m excited. We are going to go check out a screening of Atomic Blonde tonight – you know, to inspire my uterus to kick ass. Charlize is a badass.

How are you all doing? Thanks so much for all the support (and amazing suggestions!)

No Filter on Hate

We just got new neighbours and sometimes the internet is the perfect place to share/vent. The very “friendly” family is also latently homophobic. The one son knows we are gay. He was surprised at first. He told us he is ‘fine with it’ but let me know that his parents aren’t. Today’s update: they think you are “rotten”. Awesome. Kid, that’s one to keep to yourself. #nofilter

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Welcome to the neighbourhood.

I want to ask them: why did you move to Canada if you were not interested in the values of acceptance and diversity; but there’s the rub, the same freedom that entices, attracts and welcomes a family from Iraq, to move into the sleepy suburbs of the GTA (that’s the Six, for you out of towners) is the same value that allows you to harbour those views. Because it is a freedom to believe what you do. But I have lived here my entire life. My family is not indigenous, and this land never belonged to us; recognizing the gift and privilege of living here, I have always been aware of how lucky I am. As a 5th generation Canadian, I am lucky beyond measure, and spend my days as a teacher, teaching English, Dance, Drama, yes… but mostly, teaching new generations of students to be aware of the value and beauty of their differences; teaching students of diverse religions to know me as a human being; to see the dignity in one another; to know that whatever oppression we have each faced, we should see that pain as something we want to remove for others – not perpetuate.

I spend my entire career, going on ten years now, looking into young faces, teaching them to be proud of who they are. I am a 35-year-old, white, able-bodied, English speaking, educated, queer woman. Most of my classes are students who are born outside of Canada, the majority learned another language before English. Never has a student of mine made me feel that I was less deserving of dignity, respect and kindness; of all those kids who I have gotten to know and love over the course of 90 days together in a semester, none who have looked at my face, heard my stories, shared theirs…made me feel that even though our experiences widely vary they couldn’t see me as a human being.

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These are just some of the notes and letters my class made me this June. I tear up just thinking about what an impact it has on me to have a job with this kind of opportunity and reward.

Why come from a place ravaged by decades of war, to a continent rife with intolerance towards immigrants, with new pointed policies that marginalize, only to find a friendly, warm set of neighbours and bring hate with you – hate in your heart for an outstretched hand?

I often think about it this way: I don’t find YOUR wife attractive. I don’t want to imagine the intimacies of 99% of the happy couples I see on a day to day basis (or unhappy, but that’s beside the point); but me not wanting to picture the physicality of your relationship, or not understanding how you get through a day with the people you choose to surround yourself with, or even finding a disconnect in the way you believe that God manifests in your life… doesn’t mean that I should deny you that right, or behave in a way that makes you feel unsafe.

If you don’t understand my ‘attraction to women’ or my ‘lifestyle’… that’s fine. You don’t need to. If I asked you imagine, how does YOUR wife find it in her heart to have sex with a man? You don’t have to understand her attraction. If you find it repellent… not a problem… you don’t have to sleep with yourself. It isn’t your right to condone or condemn the love between other people. Just your own.

It’s a reminder of the privilege some have and some don’t: can you be sure your neighbours will be kind and respectful? I often enjoy the bubble of feeling like so much progress has happened that I’m immune to the bullshit.

This is your home. But it is also my home.

And I won’t let your intolerance and ignorance make me change. I don’t want to view strangers as statistics for religious intolerance, small-mindedness, fear-mongering or stereotypes. You are one person, a few people, who unfortunately don’t have enough love in your hearts to be warm and open to the diversity of people who make up your community. I will not change for you.

 I posted about this on Social Media: because sometimes just hearing the echo of your own community helps put things in perspective. I just need to bask in this before venturing out to my car, for the daily dose of pleasant, but fake waves from the man sitting in a lawn chair in front of his garage. How does someone wave you off for your day, while imagining you burning for eternity. There is something fucked up in that.
Reactions?
* That’s awful. People should be thrilled to live next to your awesomeness.
* Come live next door to us!
* This makes me profoundly sad. Not for you guys. You guys are perfect. And glorious. But for those people and those kids who have just missed out on two of the most glorious people on the planet.
I wanna insert some positive bullshit about how you might change his life with your positive modelling but fml ain’t nobody got time for that and frankly it is not your job to change people’s archaic views. So sorry girl.
* Ugh. I’m so sick of this bullshit. Sorry you have to deal with this at your own house.
* Fuck those people. Sorry not feeling so charitable about the ignorant today .
* ^What she said^ 

* How infuriating. I’m so sorry.
* Address of your neighbours please…. and I’ll bring the carton of ❤️❤️
* You two are more than fabulous
* We don’t think you are rotten. We love your compassion and love of English and dance. We are thankful for your dedication to your students, field hockey players, and the under privileged in all walks of life. And thank you for being true to you and your spouce. Xo
* Ugh! I’m so sorry you have to deal with all that BS. Sending much love your way!
*Have a big PRIDE party … and invite them.
*Seriously… F off anyone who thinks they even have the right to think they get to choose if they are fine with it or not.
* That’s incredible that he could feel so familiar to speak such filth and judgement. Imagine what it would be to have his parents to set such a rotten example. He’s going to have a difficult time adjusting. I wonder if he would say anything if it were my husband or I.
*Do not be so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance !!!

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Never Black and White

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Went in to the Burlington clinic today. Nervous, though I know nothing will ‘happen’ today. I almost felt that they might turn me away and say, ‘actually, we were mistaken,’ we can’t see you. I am ready for bad news these days.

Took an Uber to the appointment. Everyone at the clinic was a ray of sunshine. Goes with the territory, I’m sure; sunny dispositions only – is probably listed on the employment description.

Had my blood taken. Ultrasound. Met with the Dr. So nice, so smiley. My follicles look to be on the right path. There seem to be 15 potentially. My levels are good. Blood work came back. All good. I’m learning a new vocabulary. Like any new language, I’m uncertain what some of the words mean, but I get nods of encouragement, so I feel like the words are being reinforced when they are the right ones. I only want to speak the right ones.

The call came back today though, midday: are your units on their way? And is it your intention to proceed this cycle? Yes, these are all things we already discussed. But, they don’t have my blood results for the barrage of tests they did to make sure I’m disease free. They will not proceed with the insemination if they don’t have the results of those major tests that were done 4 months ago. The clinic didn’t send them.

What does this mean? I might ovulate before the clinic reopens and can send that info, proving that I don’t have any communicable diseases (apparently they can’t just take my word for it). In a perfect world: I don’t surge until a few days (or more) after my own clinic reopens. They send the blood panel results to Burlington. Worst case: being on my 25 mg. of Serophene for 5 days (which insurance may or may not cover), might make my already arrived earlier-than-usual period shorter (I’m usually on a 40-44 day cycle). If today is Day 3, and I go back on Day 10 (next Wednesday) to check, they are worried that I could surge by that Friday, or Saturday. They would not be able to do my procedure.

Please cross your fingers that I keep my long cycle …. and don’t surge until July 31. So that in a pinch, they can schedule my procedure for that day in the late morning and get my disaster of a clinic to send proof of my healthy stats to the other clinic that same day.

I really just need a little cooperation from the fates.

It All Falls into Place

When everything aligns, there is magic. Or at least the appearance of it. These photos are all symbolic of how the magic happens, sometimes due to luck, sometimes intense planning, other magic moments are the result of chemistry and temperature, or hard work and saving. Try pushing the button that says, ‘yes, we will pay $750 to buy your single-use shot of sperm’… making yourself feel confident in that click is a feat of magic in itself.

I am ready to head into the clinic tomorrow to start monitoring for a REAL DEAL cycle (a miracle after the past five days of uncertainty). I captured the moon.

I pressed send on that order button and bought our sperm.

I am crossing many things off my To Do List.


I am going to eat some pizza and key lime pie. Both pies, totally different, equally delicious. I am all the good, tasty things that I want, and working out to keep it all in balance.


I am being upstaged by a tiny chihuahua named Daisy. I sometimes look at small creatures and wonder 1) how they can exist and be so mini. 2) why a common reaction to small adorable things is to want to squish them and make high pitched sounds.

Sometimes the simplest moments are the most surprising when they happen, they can be challenging to capture, while other seemingly simple tasks represent the biggest leaps of all. Like the click of a button. The cycles of the moon. The science of cells dividing successfully over and over again to create a tiny human. Or dog.

I’ve got friends in high places

My uncle joked that he may not be the handy, ‘I can hang drywall and fix the house’ type of man, but he has a real leg up when it comes to fertility and reproductive health. It might seem weird to have your mom tells you to ‘call your uncle,’ trying to console you via telephone, when your three-years-long fertility plans seem to be unraveling.

In our case, my uncle (who will remain unspecified and unnamed), is kind of a big deal in the world of North American reproductive technology. This never seemed like something I’d need, but for the same reason I always felt better checking in with Aunt Donna or Brenda, our family’s nurses, when I had hurt or potentially poisoned myself, calling my uncle actually seemed like a perfect option as shit was hitting the fan over the past week.

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Having him confirm and clarify some things was such a relief. When I told him that Nurse N had said ‘Nobody gets pregnant using donor sperm,’ he said ‘That’s absurd’. That’s just what I needed to hear. He then gave us some stats. Maybe you already know this, but I didn’t and hearing it out loud made me feel way better.

*an average couple at 20 years old, trying to get pregnant through intercourse, has a 20% chance of conceiving

*at 35, with IUI, my odds are 15% (not significantly lower than a fertile twenty-something). It gets harder to conceive as you approach 40 and beyond.

*over a six month session of IUI treatments, the odds for someone in my situation are 75%  for a pregnancy

*if we move on to IVF my chances are about 35% per cycle/attempt

What does this mean? It means, “shut up, Nurse N” and stop crying, Alison, pull yourself together. To be fair, I only cried once for about ten minutes, lol.

I also found out that my uncle is a fertility superhero, answering all the fears and questions I had,  but also saving this cycle! Even though he can’t prescribe the meds for me, given that his license is not for my province, he was able to figure out what my closed-clinic would have put me on and to refer me to one of his colleagues in-province who can make sure I don’t miss my dosage and miss the entire cycle. This was the major concern: if my clinic is closed, I miss all the pre-procedure care and monitoring, as well as my prescription.

Now, here is where it gets weird: following the good news regarding my uncle helping to keep this cycle on track, I also had a very bizarre phone call this morning (in the ‘how did this all work out/happen?!’ sense). All the things I was told ‘could not happen’ due to the closure seem to be unfolding in entirely the opposite manner. I called the sister clinic, ONE Fertility, to ask about my post-HSG symptoms, as well as to confirm if I should still ship my sperm to them.

*They assured: My symptoms are normal.

*Next, they have my paperwork and CAN receive the sperm. The cost to receive and process it is $100, on top of the $75 to Outreach to ship it. Okay, no prob.

*For the $3000 IVF cycle/year the sperm will get stored there and is covered in that initial cost. Woah. Holy crap this is a lot of money. But, I think that is a quote specific to IVF and not necessarily for IUI, which is cheaper.

*The Burlington clinic also, miraculously, has orders from my doctor to monitor me during this cycle… even though that’s exactly what I was told couldn’t happen. So either Nurse N arranged this and didn’t call me to tell me (again, every time my persistent phone calls seem to pay off, because without those randomly timed calls, I wouldn’t have KNOWN that our clinic was closing, or that the other clinic would, contrary to what we were told, take me on during the interim). I’m also a little suspicious that somehow my omnipotent uncle called my doctor and made this happen (I’ll go with that version for now, because my childhood memory of my intimidating uncle makes this seem likely)

*I have a prescription phoned in for my meds, via my uncle’s contact.

*I can send the sperm to Burlington clinic. It will be there, ready to go ahead for this cycle and the clinic is expecting my call on the first day of my period to set up monitoring. What?

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