sperm

Let's Hear it for the Boys... & their "boys"... & Lab Director Carole Wegner

So as most of you know, I'm a humor writer. This means that I'm a professional highly-trained in making smart-ass remarks. Look how good I am at it, even my job description to you contained a smart-ass remark. My entire life, I've never been able to help myself from doing it so I finally gave in and made a career of it. That's why I'm no good on Facebook. People beg you for sympathy and support. Look, my friend Shannon whom I adore posted that she lost 133 pounds. Only she accidentally wrote "ponds"instead of "pounds" so of course everyone else wrote: "Good job!" and "Way to Go!" and I had to write: "Was that water weight, Shannon?" instead of letting it go like a normal person. (I've probably been un-friended by more people on FB than anyone else.) So in honor of "Let's Hear it for the Boys... and their 'boys'" month, when it comes to male infertility, I thought it best if I just shut-up and let a medical professional tell you some important stuff with some great links to more important stuff... instead of a smart-ass professional telling you why it's funny... which of course it isn't.

In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d tell the story of a little known but highly significant male reproductive organ- the epididymis. It is pronounced Eppie-Diddy-Mus which may sound like an urban rapper but I assure you, it is not.  The epididymis which is attached to and  lies just above the testicle, is responsible for the “detailing” or “fine-tuning” of freshly made sperm just released from the testicle.  Yes, the testicle produces the sperm but without the polishing and detailing in the epididymis, sperm wouldn’t swim and wouldn’t be able to fertilize an egg. So pretty important,  no?

It is important for a male to be able to tell when there are changes in the size or feel of his testicles or epididymides because these may be signs of cancer or inflammation associated with infection. This link, Get to Know Your Testis, explains how to find the epididymis ( which lies to the top and back of each testicle). You should also be able to also feel the tubes leaving from the epididymis called the vas deferens. If a vasectomy is performed, these tubes which normally carry sperm from the epididymis to the penis are clipped inside the scrotum to render the male sterile. Reconnecting the tubes surgically via a vasectomy-reversal procedure can restore fertility if not too much time has elapsed between the two surgeries.  There are two kinds of vasectomy reversal procedures as described in this article from the NY TImes Health Guide. It’s worth reading for those who want to know more about vasectomy and it’s reversal.

  • Vasovasostomy . The severed ends of the vas deferens are sewn back together.
  • Vasoepididymostomy . The vas deferens is surgically reattached directly to the epididymis. This procedure is more difficult to perform and is used when vasovasostomy cannot be performed or does not work.

But this post is about the epididymis, which despite years of research over many decades is still shrouded in mystery. The epididymis has three functionally distinct regions , the caput (or head), the corpus (or body) and the cauda (or tail). What is clear is that by the time the sperm transits these three regions and is stored in the final region, the cauda, prior to ejaculation, it is a fully mature sperm, capable of strong forward progressive motility and has acquired the molecular ability to fertilize the egg. But in spite of decades of research in both animals and humans, we still don’t fully understand all the molecular changes that occur in the sperm membrane within this organ.

The review article New Insights into Epididymal Biology and Function is a highly detailed review for those who want to understand the nitty-gritty scientific efforts to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for the epididymides’ unique ability to grant life-giving properties to sperm. For the andrologist or reproductive scientist, it has lots of references for further study.

Up to 40% of infertility is due to male-specific causes. Some of these causes are not obvious and may well be due to molecular sperm defects we are incapable of detecting–and may be due to faulty “fine-tuning” of sperm cells in the epididymis.  Much of male-specific infertility can be addressed by the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, which bypasses some deficiencies in sperm functionality acquired in the epididymis, like the inability to swim. However, ICSI is not without risks and sometimes fertilization fails even with ICSI so ICSI is not the solution for every cause of male infertility.

The original sperm cell produced by the testis looks like a sperm cell, but it is non-functional and can not swim. That is why testicular sperm can only be used with ICSI, not for conventional IVF or insemination, because it can not yet swim, nor fertilize an egg. The lipid (fat molecules) and proteins that are inserted into the plasma membrane of the sperm cell also change while in transit through the epididymis.  Some molecules are shedded and others are added to the sperm membrane to ultimately produce a functional sperm cell which can swim to, attach to, penetrate and fertilize an egg.

Researchers looking for male contraceptives are also interested in understanding which proteins are involved with functional maturation of sperm so that a reversible non-hormonal method to block sperm maturation can be designed. Likewise, if the molecular maturation mechanisms were understood, it might be possible to mature sperm in vitro and be able to use conventional in vitro fertilization, instead of ICSI, to gain the benefit of some natural selection. Therefore, a better understanding of the epididymis may lead to new therapies for infertility as well as new methods for contraception.

Each segment of the epididymis appears to have distinct gene profiles, producing a highly regulated cellular micro-environment, capable of responding to signalling pathways in a highly orchestrated way. Each segment is physiologically separated from the adjacent segment by connective tissue, permitting compartmentalization of the organ and segment-specific regulation . Not surprisingly, the various cells of the epididymis respond to androgens, the male hormone. Studies suggest that sperm and the cells lining the epididymis also exchange cell to cell  signals as part of the in transit maturation process and probably further regulate that process. The epididymis may have the most complex fluid composition of any exocrine gland and this composition varies with each region of  epididymis. The caput produces 70-80% of the proteins secreted into the epididymal lumen. By the time the sperm get to the cauda end, most of the fluid has been reabsorbed, fundamentally increasing the concentration of proteins bathing the sperm in the tubes.

Take good care of your epididymis and it will take good care of you.  Check your epididymis (and testicles) every month for changes in size, areas of hardening or changes in sensitivity or pain. Let your physician know about any unusual changes which could indicate epididymal (or testicular) inflammation, infection, presence of cysts or nodules,  or even cancer, all of which can impair your fertility and overall health. Here’s a link to more information on how to do a self-exam.

Carole Wegner is currently the VP of Grants Administration at the V Foundation for Cancer Research in Cary, NC. Prior to that, Carole was Lab Director of a Fertility clinic for more than a decade.  Her book: Fertility Lab Insider can be purchased on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com//dp/B004QOB7Z8

 

Hi there. This is Lori, the smartass. Looking to have laughs at infertility's expense? Sign up for my newsletter / check out my little eBook:

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's my infertility story that's been downloaded by 1000s of infertility sufferers & professionals looking to de-stress from infertility with laughs. (comments by top infertility experts in "look inside".)

http://laughingisconceivable.com (newsletter sign up at top of page)

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An Exercise Infertility Futility

We're impossible. We are. When you're going through infertility, there's no way to talk to us. The first thing to go may be our ability to conceive easily. But then, three of our senses tailgate very closely behind: 1) Hearing 2) Sight 3) Rational Thinking (aka Common Sense)... Not necessarily in that order.

After months and months of trying to conceive, and tests, and bills, and probings, this is the wreck our friends, family, and coworkers are left to deal with...and most and worst of all... Our spouses. 

Him: "Honey, do you want scrambled eggs for breakfast?"

Us: "Yeah, that's really funny. Thanks a lot!""

"Okay, so, I guess that means breakfast just went down the tubes."

"Oh, that's a nice comment! How unfeeling can one person be?!"

"I can't even talk to you these days. It's impossible to anticipate how you're going to react to anything."

"How can you say such a thing?! Are you deliberately trying to be mean?!"

"What did I say now?"

"You said: 'It's impossible to ovulate how I'm going to react to anything."

"What? Why would I say that?"

"I don't know. To hurt my feelings I guess."

"But it doesn't mean anything."

"That's nice. It's nice to know that my feelings don't mean anything to you."

"No. The sentence. It doesn't mean anything.Who would say: 'It's impossible to ovulate how you're going to react?''"

"YOU did."

"No I didn't. You're always hallucinating that I'm saying things I didn't say. Like when my brother was over and I was humming the song: "I Wanna Be Sedated" and he said he always liked that song but he could never remember who sings it and I said: 'The Ramones sing it' and you kept saying I said  "Your hormones stink."

"Well, that's what you said."

"No I didn't. Didn't you hear the part where he asked me who sings that song?"

"Yeah. So?"

"Then if you heard the question, why would I answer: 'Your hormones stink'? That's not even the name of a band."

"I don't know. You're just screwing with me I guess."

"But I was talking to him not to you. For what possible reason would I be telling my brother that his hormones stink?"

"Then you admit it! You wouldn't be telling him that his hormones stink, but if you had been facing me, you would have meant it!"

"No, but now I remember why I was humming: 'I Wanna Be Sedated.'"

********And if you'd like to be sedated by more of my writing over the weekend (wow, that didn't come out right at all)... please join my subscribers for a weekly email update for all info, offers etc...blog-related.*******

Also...(Geez I ask a lot don't I?) Join me  for "Infertility Rehab": A glance at how nice it would be if all of us infertiles could be just put away somewhere until the whole ugly infertility business was over. My post this week at Fertility Authority. http://fertilityauthority.com/blogger/1013368

Sperm Donors: Giving Till It Hurts

Am I the only one who cringed when I read the title? (And that's pretty bad since I wrote the damn thing.) So, my husband is always a great source of inspiration for my blogs. He finds me interesting tidbits and passes them along. It's a secure man who clips out sperm-related articles for his wife.  (And if you like what they get turned into in these posts, please join my fab group of subscribers to receive a weekly newsletter with info and future blog-related offers.)

So this latest tidbit was in the news about sperm donors running amok. (Another pretty visual isn't it? I can see this is going to be a long post.)

Apparently all, many or some sperm banks don't keep track of how many fish the donors send downstream.

What I mean is: They either don't keep track of how many sperm from one guy end up producing a child or they keep track and don't cut it off. (Was "cut it off" a poor choice of words?) 

It seems that sperm banks just keep letting more and more women pick the same sperm donor over and over and the numbers of children they produce keep rising like with the gas prices, and the number of customers served at the drive-thru.

Apparently this woman, who had conceived via sperm donor, decided to create a group online to keep track of her son's half-brothers and sisters. Well, he's seven now, and at last count he had 150 brothers and sisters. By the time he's twelve, they'll have to rent Rhode Island for their family reunions. 

So why's everyone up in arms about this? Because respectable women looking to have a respectable family go to a respectable fishmonger to fall in love with a respectable number that belongs to a respectable man so they can have a respectable baby.

Unregulated sperm donors...Is this breaking news? Hello?  Am I the only one who watches "Maury"?    

I guess I'm the one who's been keeping it on the air for some 20 years. I can see the network executives:

"Yeah, it's the same raunchy formula day after day ...but Lori likes it"

Look at all of the unregulated sperm donors on that show. A guy will come on the show 10 times because 10 women think he fathered their children. And those are only the ones who watch the show. (okay, they all watch the show. I'm the only idiot with a job.)

Then he dances around the stage like an imbecile, high-fiving the audience because he's only found to be the father of 8 of them. Then he leaves the show and continues to wear pants with zippers that are permanently stuck in the "down" position and is predictably back on the show 6 months later.

(I have a pair of pants like that. I just wear long shirts over them and try to remember not to bend so nobody sees my zipper smile.)

The classiness on "Maury" doesn't end there of course. There are usually a dozen or so moronic women with windshield wiper legs fighting over the dirt bag.

So, yeah, anyway you look at it,  it's probably not a good idea that one guy fathers not just a whole football team, but one child for every yard on the football field.

It's just that in the respectable world it's a dirty, dark secret. In the dregs world, it's 20 years' of good clean entertainment.

(If you haven't perused my latest post at Fertility Authority about how to have a lady-like conversation about the fkd up subject of infertility please have a look at):

"If Jane Austen Were Infertile" http://fertilityauthority.com/blogger/1013368

"And What ELSE We've Been Screwed On" (Male Infertility Breakthrough)

So apparently for years and years, researchers around the globe have diligently been working on the problem of male infertility. Doesn't that just figure? Hey, I'm not in anyway underplaying the severity of the male infertility situation. If you've got a good partner, whoever has the fertility issue, you both suffer. The couple suffers, the relationship suffers.

Even though I talk about football non-stop year round and have been told many times:

"Boy, I can't believe you said that! You must have some humongous (male parts) on you!"

I can't even begin to imagine the devastation a man feels when he's told he's physically responsible for the couple's infertility.

Research in Japan just came up with a promising prospect for infertile men.

Basically, in the future, scientists may be able to mix these chemicals with vitamins and put them into a man's testicles and no matter what his fertility issue was, he'll from them on be able to grow his very own healthy, wealthy, and wise, macho sperm... as proud, hard working, and egocentric as any other man's sperm.

Ain't that some shit?

So for the past several decades, we infertile women have been given the infertility workout:

Pop those pills, give that blood, shove those suppositories, get that surgery, open those tubes, remove those cysts, pump up those hormone levels, grow those follicles, harvest those eggs. Oh, no luck yet? Maybe  you can get a donor, a surrogate, or adopt.

So, now out of nowhere, the Sperm Fairy's going to fly over to your couch in her skimpy frock with her perky boobs and her one inch waist and sprinkle her fairy dust over your husband's crotch and presto changeo:

"Now he has no sperm... Now he does!"  Looky there.  He's totally cured forever and didn't even have to set down his beer. 

Where's his workout? Where's all of this?:

"The male infertility problem is very complex. You know it may not always be a problem with the sperm and we really won't know until we do a series of tests. So first we're going to take thirty or so pictures of your Adam's apple to be sure it doesn't have worms."

"Then we're going to have to send you for a very expensive scan to count how many follicles there are in your chest hair. We want to make sure that there is at least 52 percent more hair on your chest than your back.

Your chest will be inside a plaster cast during the scan and you won't be able to breathe during the forty minute test, but the scan is relatively painless...especially after the first two or so minutes."  

But no. While we continue to try annoying, devastating, painful, expensive, procedures over and over again that may or may not ever work, he'll be sitting home just comfortably growing sperm- maybe in the back yard between your hydrangea bush and his marijuana plant.

Then to add insult to injury, scientists will undoubtedly come out with this press release:

"Just found out that sperm will actually grow faster if the testicles are scratched every 20 minutes... Or groped by his partner every hour and a half."

Of course things may not seem as rosy for the guy at second glance.

If and when this treatment which has thus far only been done on lab mice, is actually available to human males, the chemical and vitamin concoction won't really be administered by the Sperm Fairy, but I would imagine... by injection. 

How many men do you suppose would rather get thirty shots in their eye than one in their testicles? 100% I imagine.

Listen, I gotta go. It's Monday, August 8th...sorry I got no better reason than that.

Men,Men,Men,Men,Manly Men, Men,Men (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can.  Yes, all this week is about men: Specifically, our men and their roles in our infertility journey: From us getting them prepared for their IVF husbandly duties specimen to the history behind the nightly "jab her in the butt cheek" ritual.)   I have to say these guys deserve all of our gratitude. If you're lucky enough to have someone amazing, they're indispensible across the board.  But anyone who's ready, willing, and able to give you tush injections is golden. 

There are a lot of people who volunteer for great causes: Donating blood with the Red Cross. Building homes with Habitats for Humanities. Building schools in developing countries with the Peace Corps. Maybe you're luckier than I, but trust me: There's no waiting list for volunteers to hold ice on my butt every night. Most people would just as soon risk malaria.

Even my husband asked: "Are you positive you can't find somebody else? Have you tried Craig's list... or Match.com?" 

Besides the emotional support of someone who takes on that task, there's the actual physical support.  

I've read online instructions for injecting yourself with progesterone. Has anyone ever tried taking this 1 and 1 /2 inch needle and injecting their own tuchas? I don't know about you, but I'm not nearly that coordinated. Twice in my life I tried to curl my own eyelashes. I ended up in the emergency room both times.

I just can't picture it: "Okay so I think this the upper outer quadrant of my buttock. Yeah, now I've got it. Right...about... here! Oh crap. There goes my spleen."

The husband may have seemingly only a few responsiblilities on this journey with us. But it is an unpleasant little list.

You know when people have a loved one who's sick or suffering and they say: "I wish it was me. I would trade with them in a second." I'm sure our guys really mean it. Sure, some of it is love... But consider the scenario:

"Mr. Jones, your wife will take several drugs, undergo a battery of tests, have doctors' appointments several times a week perhaps for several months during which she will be wearing nothing but a giant paper napkin and socks, lying on a table in a position developed by cirque du soleil...    and for you we have this cup."

"That's okay. I'd rather do the drugs and paper napkin."

"Oh, and by the way. The stress of the whole infertility thing piled on top of the hormones your wife's being given isn't always a pretty concoction. You may find living with her for the next several weeks, months, or years to be difficult if not intolerable. She may be moody, anxious, depressed or just hate being around you for apparently no reason."

"No, I'm serious. I want the drugs and the napkin. Where are they? Give them to me now!"     

Whether it's female infertility or male infertility, or both, or nobody's sure which: If you can really bond together against the odds, and the relatives, and the bills, and the relationship actually manages to survive infertility, the next sixty years should be a piece of cake.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to submit my timesheet at work to payroll. I may goof off, go to lunch and not return until the next morning, chat online all day, and call in sick every Monday and Friday... but I'm always very prompt for the good people in payroll.

If you haven't already, don't forget to check out this week's excellent Health Experts article: "Ways to Boost Male Fertility" by Natural Fertility Specialist Ian Claxton.  http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again on Monday.

Men,Men,Men,Men,Manly Men,Men,Men (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Tomorrow's Veteran's Day and I'm an IVF veteran. Have some respect. Do I get a free meal at Applebee's?) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How impressed everyone at the fertility clinic was with my husband's Olympic swimmer sperm and how underwhelmed they were with his old lady- who, in fertility terms was well--- an old lady. 

We also discussed how you sometimes feel jealous when you're the one diagnosed with the infertility problems. And it's okay to lament (momentarily) that you're the one who has to go through all of this, not him. 

In preparing for this post, I came across an article on FertilityPlus' site. It made some mention of the man's role. The seedier side of his responsibilities. Yes, I think you know to what I'm referring. Oh grow up. You do too. 

I stumbled upon this bit of advice:

"Don't talk to your partner too much about his role. This may cause him extra anxiety during an already stressful time and the extra stress can aggravate the performance anxiety that men suffer on the day of retrieval." 

Now you tell me. So which of these things should I have not said to my husband on that day? Or should I ask: "How many of these things should I have not said?"

1) "Honey, I'll leave you alone now. Do you want me to leave The 'Golden Girls' on? It's the one when Sophia wakes up on the couch naked."

2) "Honey, is this like playing golf for you? When you're aiming, does that cup seem extremely small?"

3) "Don't worry about that picture of your mom next to the bed. I'm sure she's not really watching you."

4) "You'll be thinking of me the whole time, right?"

5) "Don't worry if you can't do it. $15,000 down the drain. It's only money."

6) "I'll be in the car. Come on, come on."

7) "Please focus. You know you never finish anything you start. Remember the deck?"

8) a)"Your sister's on the phone. Should I tell her to hold on?"

      b)"This is such an exciting moment for us. I have to tell somebody. I'll talk to her until you're done."

10) "Try to make extra in case we spill some on the way."

10) "So then, if you're doing this now, I'm off the hook for tonight, right?" 

11) "This is kind of a special occasion. Should I iron your dress pants?"

12) "Let me know the second you're done so I can catch you before you fall asleep."

13) "Don't make yourself too comfortable. We have an appointment to get to you know."

14) "Do you need an extra hand to hold the container lid?"

15) "I hope you're not planning to take a shower afterwards. We don't have that kind of time."    

I can't believe he threw me out of the house and then wasted precious time changing all the locks before he commenced.  

Listen I gotta go. Do you think I'll have to dress in uniform like other vets when I go to Applebee's for my free meal tomorrow? I can wear my paper examination gown. I could use a bib when I eat anyway. 

If you have the chance, take a look at Ian Claxton's article: "Ways to Boost Male Fertility" (naturally)...quite informative I think. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Men,Men,Men,Men,Manly,Men,Men,Men (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can.  This whole week is dedicated to the "Y" chromosome, all grown-up, married to us and keeping us company during the entire infertility debacle.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Men and how they fit into the whole female infertility journey.   

As I'm sure most of you are aware, infertility can be attributed to the female partner about 1/3 of the time, the male partner 1/3 of the time and a combination of the two 1/3 of the time... and of course there's also the endlessly frustrating "anybody's guess" column somewhere in the mix.

No matter who gets diagnosed with what: Forget "fault". Neither of you is at fault. Somebody's body' is not working properly.  No fault. You didn't cause a car accident. If you became infertile because you were texting during sex, then forget what I said: Screw you, you are at fault. Otherwise, let blame,guilt, fault, all of that crap go.   

And let's say right here: If you're the one who's deemed to be the "infertile one" in the relationship... you have the absolute right to be a little jealous of your husband/wife, spouse, lover, best-you-could-do-under-the-circumstances, better-than-being-alone-or-so-I- thought-at-the-time, significant or insignificant other.

I know that 's not a nice thing to say. We're all supposed to support our partners unconditionally. Thick, thin; Sickness, health; Richer, poorer. Death, part. (Our marriage vows were in Hebrew. Gd only knows what we promised. The rabbi could show up anytime and take our car. "Look, during the ceremony, you said I could have it.")

But I think feeling a twinge of jealousy is normal.

When my husband and I first walked into a fertility clinic, as I've mentioned about a million times before, I was a month away from turning forty-one. They may have sent both of us for preliminary tests to be polite but let's face it: They had their suspicions.

I'm sure all the medical professionals saw was this handsome man graying at the temples with his deteriorated wife who had a flashing red light, red neon flags and a siren over her head. I guarantee more than one staff member gazed down the hallway to see who kept opening the emergency exit.  

So they looked in my husband's direction for about a minute and a half and then came up with this determination: "Mr. Fox, your sperm is the best we've seen in 20 years of practicing medicine. May we replace the tropical fish in our waiting room aquarium with your specimen?... As for the elderly lady with the shriveled ovaries you shlepped in here..."   

So why would I be a little jealous?

Okay, so let's make sure I have this straight: I'll be instructed to insert suppositories, take pills and inject nightly hormones into my person for several weeks, months or years and you'll be instructed to watch "The Real House Whores of Bootyville" and take liquid notes.

Wait wait, let me make sure I have this straight once more...

I'll be enduring hormone shots (nothing, I imagine, like Jello shots) and anesthesia, and egg retrievals, and pregnancy tests over the next several weeks, months, or years and you'll be cozying up to a Hooters' calendar on your lunch break.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to brush up on my Hebrew and replay our wedding video. I really need my car.

If you can, take a glance over at this week's Health Experts article by Ian Claxton: "Ways to Boost Male Fertility". It's a real page-turner, I assure you. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Things that Go Bump in the Night of an Infertile (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can.  This week is kind of the infertility version of a Halloween Fright Night movie marathon just without Jason or Freddy...or Jamie Lee Curtis yelling in your ear.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The disturbing goings-on at a few fertility clinics over the years.

Maybe fertility clinics should have framed inspection rating certificates hanging at the reception desk like they do at Wendy's. "Mary, look, this clinic only got a 72, let's get out of here!"

(Although I've seen some restaurants where I've looked at the certificate which boasted  a rating of "99.5%". Then I looked at the restaurant. Then at the certificate. Then at the employees. Then at the certificate again, squinting, to see how cleverly it was altered-- or ponder who was paid off.)   

But if we're all honest, sperm mix-ups and doctors engaging in criminal acts, while important, are nowhere near at the top of our "What scares the daylights out of me the most" list, the first time we open that door to the fertility clinic.On Monday's post, we discussed "The Unknown". That's what scares us to death I think--- in anything: A new job. A new relationship. A new nose.

"Will I get along with my coworkers?" "Will this person be Mr./Ms. Right?" "Will anybody believe it's my original nose?"

Whether it be horror movies or anything in life, "the unknown" calls upon all of our own personal terrors. When we don't know what comes next, our mind conjures up the worst possible scenario. That's why Alfred Hitchcock was so great. He just kind of put the idea out there and we freaked ourselves out.

And with infertility treatments, there is no shortage of "unknowns". The whole freakin' thing is one endless free-falling bungee jump into an abyss. Every minute of every day, you're Wile E. Coyote jumping off the stinking infertility cliff.

Almost every question, it seems, has no answer.

When am I going to be pregnant? Will this procedure work? Will I have to do in-vitro? How much is all this going to cost? How long will I need treatment? Why is the receptionist talking on her cell phone while I'm talking to her?

So, there are answers to these questions. They're just not good answers.

"Can't say. Couldn't tell you. We'll see.  How much ya got? She's been doing that for three years. It's too late to do anything about it now."

We want guarantees. We're used to knowing the beginning, middle, and end of things. How can infertility just leave us hanging? It's cruel I tell you.

I bring my car to the mechanic. He lies. I overpay.

I go to the dentist. His hands disappear into my mouth for twenty minutes. My insurance covers $8.00. I overpay.  

Not much in life works like fertility treatments. Could you imagine handing  your mechanic $20,000 and him saying:

"Well, it might be the brakes. Or it might be the transmission. I'll keep your car here for two years and try to find out. Either way I can't promise you'll ever be able to drive it again. Do you need a receipt?"

Listen, I gotta go. My car needs brakes and I need a root canal. I finally figured out, by the way, why they call it a "root canal": They just keep drilling until they get to the root of your savings.

I'll talk with ya again on Monday.

Things That Go Bump in the Night of an Infertile (Thursday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can... if you dare...whoooooooooooooo and if you like what you read, consider subscribing. It's easy and you'll get some weekly blog behind-the-scenes...If you dare.... whoooooooooo0oooo.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The one-in-a-zillion mishap when a qualified fertility doctor slips the wrong sperm into the right uterus.  Or, you might say, the sperm is in the wrong place at the right time.

Perhaps even more frightening (but definitely rarer) is when a woman goes to an infertility clinic, gets inseminated, and nine months later has a baby who's the spitting image of her..... fertility doctor.

There was a doctor named Cecil Jacobson who, in the 1980's apparently inseminated some of his patients with his own sperm.

(Is that so bad? I mean for the $1500 a pop for IUI, they should throw in more than a stork refrigerator magnet with their phone number dangling from his beak. Obviously this doctor was just looking to give his patients more bang for their buck (I didn't just say that did I? I didn't think so.)  

In a bunch of the cases, he claimed that these women were scheduled to be inseminated with anonymous donor sperm and the guys never showed up. 

That's horrible. In that crucial moment in your life you get a sperm donor who's such a total jerk-off (I didn't just say that either did I? I didn't think so.)

So, anyhoo.... the good doctor decided to step in and fill the guys' shoes... so to speak.

This doctor Jacobson must have been a real dynamo around the office. I mean if the temp receptionist didn't show up was he answering the phones all day between inseminations? If the cleaning crew didn't show up, was he vacuuming the office between inseminations and phone calls? 

He must have been quite the control freak. "Do I have to do everything around here myself? If I don't do it, it just doesn't get done! The phones don't get answered, the rugs don't get cleaned, the patients don't get pregnant."

Turns out he didn't have a sperm donor program at all... or if he did, he was the only donor.  I wonder if the staff found it odd that, after every sperm donor insemination, he went outside to smoke a cigarette or curled up on his couch for a nap.

What kind of an ego do you have to have to do such a thing? I'm curious to know if he had a belt at home with seventy notches on it. Or maybe this was just one of those innocent little naughty things you do at work that just gets away from you.

Like one day you slipped a handful of rubber bands into your purse. Nobody noticed, nobody cared. A few weeks later, a box of paper clips. Nobody noticed, nobody cared. A few weeks after that, a laser printer. Somebody noticed. Everybody cared. 

So maybe that's what happened with Dr. Jacobson.  A distraught woman came into his office. He offered her a tissue.  She was grateful. A few weeks later, a distraught woman came into his office. He offered her a magazine.  She was grateful. A few weeks later, a distraught woman came into his office, he offered to father her children. Like the printer incident... it just kind of got away from him.  

Thought you'd like to know that former Dr. Jacobson is now in Utah working in agricultural research. So if you buy a head of lettuce grown in Provo that resembles ex-Dr. Jacobson, you'll know he's up to his old tricks. 

(Yes, I'm fully aware that made no sense and that lettuce isn't a major crop of Utah. Leave me alone will ya?)

Listen, I gotta go. I'm working on a research paper of my own entitled: "Crappy Halloween candy: Why does it rear its ugly head only on October 31st and where is it hiding the rest of the year?"

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Things That Go Bump in the Night of an Infertile (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. I didn't post last week so you're probably aching to get as much of me as possible this week. Or not.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Fears. Particularly fears shared by those of us with fertility issues. We were discussing a few occasional mishaps at a smattering of fertility clinics where the woman got inseminated with some stranger's sperm instead of the guy she came to the appointment with.

I also recently read a story recently (I read too damn much.. and watch too much news. I should stick to cartoons. Nobody ever gets inseminated in cartoons... well maybe on Family Guy or The Simpsons or American Dad... Okay, cartoons are out too. I'll just stare at the wall.)

Anyway, this news article was about a couple who had twins from a sperm donor. Well, apparently someone had a problem translating English into English. They had requested a caucasian sperm donor. Unfortunately the sperm came from a place in South Africa where "caucasian" means "of mixed race".

I'll be honest, I don't understand anything about this case. The parents were suing the facility because the kids were being taunted in school because of their skin color.

The kids were in school? How old were these kids when they decided to sue?

I admit it. I have a way of procrastinating, of letting things get away from me. Sometimes I don't do laundry for two weeks (a month if I tell the truth- I don't have a lot of clothes. I'm just a slob). I put off going to the dentist for that six month ordeal, and they stopped picking up our garbage because I simply forgot to pay the bill. But, I'm pretty sure even I would get around to that "Hey, I think our twins are the wrong color" issue before they started school.

Or maybe the parents were just living in denial. Sitting around saying to each other: "Let's keep them out of the sun and see what happens. Maybe they'll lighten up in the fall."

The judge basically told them: "You have two healthy kids. Goodbye and good luck."

But I've been thinking. (Always dangerous) About all of these insemination misadventures. I think there's a way it could work in our favor.

Okay, I admit it's a little tricky, but it could be done. Yes, I believe it could. Let's say you're married and have this little cutie boy-toy on the side. And you get pregnant by this shiny new bed buddy.

So you hurry and tell your husband that you have fertility issues, then grab his hand, run full speed into a fertility clinic, and let them inseminate you with his sperm.

Then they do a pregnancy test and tell you that congratulations are in order, you act thrilled and duly surprised. Then the baby is born and looks nothing like your husband. (Hm, wonder what could have caused that.)  So you call the Maury show and bring the fertility clinic on TV and demand they give you and your oblivious husband a DNA test.

Then the baby comes back not his (close-up of you looking duly surprised--again) and you make a lot of money and divorce your husband and live as a happy family with your baby daddy and keep your old (ex)husband on the side as your brand spanking new boy-toy since, now that he's got a lot of cash, he doesn't seem so bad afterall.

Listen, I gotta go. After that tirade I really should stop, shouldn't I? It's the only decent thing to do.

I'll talk with ya tomorrow.

Sperming without a License and Sexless Reproduction (Tuesday)

So what were we talking about? Oh right. Some of the weirder infertility news floating around lately: Illegal sperm, military wife surrogates, and organisms which can reproduce by themselves..with no mate. So a few weeks back I "reported" to you about these 2 guys in the UK who were selling  sperm illegally over the internet. The company was called "Sperm Direct" or maybe it was "First Come First Serve".

Well anyway, their business endeavor was made possible thanks to a new law which allowed any and all frozen sperm donated to a legitimate sperm bank,  to knock on daddy donor's door eighteen years later and say: "Surprise! Remember me? Do I look familiar?"

Isn't the whole point of being a sperm donor: "Fill out a questionnaire, watch a video, do something you'll probably not mention to your mom when she calls and asks: "How was your day? Did you do anything special?" because you're A) Too embarrassed and B) Too old to believe the "going blind" story? 

Then you take the check and run. Two banks: One sperm and one First National and two deposits in one day. And then the day is over. And you move on with life.

I've heard of men being contacted by their adult sperm child and being elated to hear from them. But I could also see why men wouldn't want this to happen.

Now you're married and have kids and a stellar career: A respected pillar of the community. And there you were, eighteen years ago, jerking your way through college...

So once that law was put into place in England, --that donated sperm could meet their donor daddy once they turned eighteen-- of course a lot of men shrank away from donating as quickly as if they'd just sat naked on a glacier, and the free-flowing sperm well dried up.   

So here come these two internet sperm entremanures to drive a seed truck through the law loophole.

They took sperm donors who were supposedly well-screened, including a health screening which I guess was a letter from a doctor confirming that he or she touched their part and it seemed to be a natural color and didn't fall off from some horrible disease.

(I admit, I'm a little skeptical about the documentation presented to the women who got the sperm. I know places on Broadway where, in ten minutes, I could walk out with an ID that proved I was one of Brad Pitt's adopted children... Hey...yummmm...moving on.)

So then the woman looking for some sperm would somehow communicate with the donor and let him know the moment she was ovulating and needed it for her self- insemination.

Then a courier would pick up his sperm while it was still hot off the presses and hand deliver it to the bottomless woman eagerly awaiting on the other side of her front door. 

I mean he probably wouldn't have to ask: "Are you Ms. Steinberg?"

The fact that she was opening her front door naked from the waist down would probably be confirmation enough.

They always tell you when you're dealing with customers at your job, how important it is to make good eye contact. I imagine it's especially important at this courier job.

They probably train the male couriers for weeks before their first delivery by making them take their wives to Hooters for dinner every night.

Personally, I would love that courier job. How many jobs can you hand over a package, say to your customer: "Go F yourself" and receive a generous tip?: "Thanks for the reminder! I'll do my best!"

Listen I gotta go. I hear there's still an ice cream man forty miles south of here who hasn't put his truck into hibernation yet for the winter. I'm going to drive to where he was last seen and sit quietly in my car until I hear his mating song. Oh, please, I've done a lot worse for a fudgicle.    

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow. And if you haven't checked out the articles from our Health Experts in a while, I invite you to do so!  http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

Sperming without a License and Sexless Reproduction (Monday)

Okay, so my headline this week sounds like some of the porno spam emails I receive. (Why does everyone want to enlarge my penis? Who says it needs enlarging?) There are a lot of interesting and/or weird stories going on in our little 7.3 million infertile enclave this week.

There's this research into organisms/microorganisms (Do I know the difference? Look---There's my tenth grade biology teacher, Mr. Fields. He's shaking his head "no".)  

Regardless, the article was about these organisms that can choose to reproduce with or without a mate.  Hm... What if we had that choice? Would we still choose to close our eyes and open our mouths? Or would we just leave him there sleeping....looking like road-kill?

We'll discuss this week....   

Then, there are those unlicensed online sperm banks.  It's computer dating for eggs and sperm to meet in a loving, confidential, environment. The women go online and pick a guy's stuff. They can specify if they want the sperm to be tall, dark, and handsome, or blond-haired, blue-eyed; if they want the sperm to be romantic or a college graduate.

Then the woman clicks "Send" and in no time it's hand-delivered directly to her door. (Yeah, it's probably not the kind of thing you'd want your neighbor to sign for.)

Then, you stand at the front door, bottomless, take the package from the courier who's trained to make eye contact with you at all times, then you slam the door in his face, and inseminate yourself in the room of your choice. 

So, two guys who were running one of these cyber-sperm sales events in the UK  just came out of court.

We'll discuss this week.

Then there are a lot of other fascinating tidbits on the infertility news wire which might find their way into Laughing IS Conceivable this week: Military wives making extra money by being repeat surrogates. (Well, they need cash. How many bake sales can you have?)   

A white woman who sued a clinic because she got sperm labeled "Caucasian" but apparently it came from somewhere where "caucasian" doesn't mean white...and her kids aren't. (I said some of these stories were weird.)

And, as for my headline, you're right.  "Sperming" probably isn't a word.  But trust me: When Dr. Phil gets hold of this post, it will become not only a word, but a household word. He alone has the power to do for "sperming" what he did for "parent"... ("It's not just a noun, it's also a verb.")

Listen I gotta go. I have to explain to my husband why I said he looks like a dead raccoon on the side of the highway when he sleeps. (Quick, somebody suggest something.) I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Nobel Prize Winners: Those Rat Bastards (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. The phrase "Rat Bastards" has more umph if you see it written three consecutive times.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right.  A blog I read that blames Dr. Robert Edwards, the "Father of  IVF" and Nobel Prize winner for the Octomom. Well, it's true. Nadya Suleman needs help with her 72 kids. What kind of a father has Dr. Edwards been to them? He probably wasn't even there for her almost reality show.  

The blogger further kvetches: 

"Louise Brown: The world's first 'test-tube baby' doesn't just owe her life to the Brit who played around with some sperm and made her for Lesley and John Brown back in 1978. She's a bona fide celeb. And all she had to do was be born!" 

I don't know about you, but I've played around with sperm a lot. I've never been able to make a baby with it. You know when you were a kid and you put glue on your hand and let it dry and then peeled it off? Well... anyway.

So, these two brilliant scientists just "played around with sperm" and John Brown's baby was born with a cold upon her chest and they rubbed it with camphorated oil. (If you don't know the song, I must sound like a lunatic to you about now.)

Anyway... I had no idea that's all there was to this whole IVF jazz.

I was under the impression that these scientists put years and years of research into in-vitro and then you went to a doctor and had a million tests and sonograms, and people poking your uterine lining and took zillions of pills and hormones and shots and got anesthesia and they took eggs out of you and then they put them with the sperm and then implanted them back in you and then you waited and then you were pregnant or not and then if not you had to start all over.

I never realized it was just a couple of guys playing around with sperm. Then again, if they told us that, who would pay $15,000?

And then there's the bit in that warm, fuzzy, post about Louise Brown being  a celeb. (I assume she means "celebrity". I don't know that Louise Brown is celibate.)

"All she had to do (to be famous) was be born."

I've never heard of anyone just being born into fame, have you?

Not Prince William or Prince Harry. Not Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, or Brad and Angelina's three biological kids...or anyone else whose parents are on TV or in the movies, or singers, or rich, or mobsters, or royalty, or politicians.

So let's wikipedia Louise Brown and see exactly how she has manipulated the media and completely exploited her status as the first baby born via IVF, shall we?

Okay, she was a postal worker. And a baby nurse. How dare she? Who the hell does she think she is?

Then she got married and had a baby your usual, run-of-the-mill, after-dinner and a movie conception. So where's the reality show? Where's her mug shot? Where's the weekly stints in rehab? Where are the photos of her singing the national anthem at sporting events? Or the ones of her stripping? Or in Playboy? Or dating John Mayer? Or, at the very least...very, very, least... very least... signing a contract to be on "Dancing with the Stars"?     

What kind of a sucky celebrity is this Louise Brown? It's been 32 years already. You'd think she'd have had at least one decent scandal.

Listen, I gotta go. I'm determined to dig up some dirt on this Louise Brown, test-tube baby extraordinaire or maybe I'll just dig up some on that hateful blogger chick.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow. If you can't bear to log off just yet,  check out this week's article in "Health Experts": "Partnering with your Reproductive Endocrinologist" by Shari Stewart and Julia Krahm. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Infertility Support Forum (Friday)

(Start with Monday if you can. Every post this week, I assure you, has been a gem. The Hope Diamond or Cubic Zirconia? You decide.) So, what were talking about? Oh right. Some of the angrier crew running a few of these infertility sites. Yeah, I once read a "Welcome!" page and knew immediately by the demeanor of her "greeting" that I was asking for trouble. But I went ahead, against my better judgement, and signed up anyway.

The mandatory blurb explaining why I wanted to join went something like this:

"I've been through infertility and IVF. My humor blog is designed to de-stress others on the same journey."

Well that did it. I somehow triggered a rampage response. This woman did everything but kick me in my proverbial nuts:

"I know that humor is important but how DARE you make fun of people going through such a devastating whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever whatever!"

Okay, so whose blog was she talking about? You know I was dying to ask her that but I thought the only place left for her to go was to burn down my house.

One thing on these infertility support sites has had me baffled since the beginning:

I don't understand any of the abbreviations. (How's that for a segue?) I admit, I'm confused by all text-speak and I have a pet peeve about people who text and drive. Half the people can't drive and drive, now they want to look elsewhere while going 60 M.P.H?

I literally know 4 phrases:

BFF: -Mine is my husband. I'm not sure if I'll get the "awwwww" reaction or  "Really? Gee, that's kind of pathetic isn't it?" Ya got nobody else huh?

BRB:- Need you know that I stopped typing momentarily because the Taco Bell kicked in?

LOL: If a humor writer has to alert you that something she just wrote is funny, there's trouble in Humorville.

BYOB... That's not text-related is it? Okay, so I only know 3 phrases.

It took me about a year to figure out DH mean't "Dear Husband" (doesn't it?). One woman in discussing her husband called him: "AH" and I thought: Okay, I'm familiar with that one. I've never called my DH that, but I could see how a wife might call a husband that. It turned out to be a typo. I could see how that might happen. The "A" and "D" are pretty close on a keyboard.

One woman was incensed that someone who was single wrote DH when actually she only had a BF. Okay, so the woman who brought this to her attention clearly has WTMTOHH (Way Too Much Time On Her Hands).

If I noticed this single/married discrepancy, personally, I would have just tossed it into my "W" file: (Who Gives a ....?"  

All of these abbreviations remind me of convoluted personalized license plates. I sit there behind the wheel, waiting for traffic to move, squinting until I have a headache, while I'm sounding it out like I'm on a game show. (I've come close to running up a few tailpipes).

If I've followed/stalked somebody six blocks trying to figure out what their plate says, it had better be worth my while. Occasionally it is.

One time I blew past my exit to decipher a guy's license plate that spelled out: "Don't fk with me" in Spanish.  Then I went another two miles out of my way  just so I could drive up next to him and give him a thumbs-up.

But if I've wasted ten minutes of my day trying to unscramble "I Love My Cub Scout!", that's the moment I realize why I was never meant to own a fire arm.  

In case I ever do decide to purchase a pistol passenger, I probably should forewarn lame license plate owners everywhere. Maybe I could buy that personalized plate off that latino guy. It's not like I don't know how to find him. 

Listen I gotta go. My husband and I have to start our annual autumn ritual: He schleps me to every place within a 200 mile radius in hopes of finding (which he never does) pumpkin seeds in the shell.

Tomorrow we'll start on some local farms. By late November he'll be so desperate, he'll be taking me to Home Depot... because they sell pumpkin colored paint.

I'll talk with ya Monday.

Infertility News: Story at 11 (Thursday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Okay I can't come up with one good reason why you should. Just throw me a bone will ya?)

So what were we talking about? Oh right. This week in "Infertility News":  A publication that flourishes once every couple of months on my blog and then evaporates into oblivion itching to be resurrected. 

One article this week I found particularly interesting: Instead of taking a look ahead into infertility and IVF, it took a look back.

Have you ever read anything on Empowher.com? Neither have I. Nothing against the site itself, I just tend to steer clear of expressions like "empower" and "deal-breaker".

Any word or phrase that makes people sound like their channeling Oprah and Dr. Phil makes me hyperventilate. Love 'em both but their mini me's make me nervous.     

Anyway (apparently I've led us all astray again)  there is an article this week on this site written by Jody Smith: "In-Vitro Fertilization: From First "Test-Tube Baby" to Accepted ART". 

Ms. Smith wrote a very informative article for those who don't know much about IVF.

Then there are those of us who know TOO much about IVF. Let's focus, shall we on OUR point of view:

The article goes something like this:

"In vitro" is a Latin term meaning 'in the glass'".

That's correct. The glass it refers to, of course, is the jar in which we all used to keep our spare change before we began treatments and had to pluck out every last nickel.

Then the article gets into the nitty-gritty of the procedure itself:

"Step one is hormonal stimulation via injection over about 10 days".    

Oh no no no. That is not step one.  Step one is:

Freak out. "Why can't I have a baby?! I'm a woman. I'm supposed to be able to have a baby?! Why are all of my low-life friends and relatives having babies?!"  

Then there are the steps that follow: Figuring out what, if anything, to tell your family. Deciding what doctor to go to. How is this going to be paid for? The whole hormone treatment thing: That's like step 212.

Further down in the article: 

"... embryos then are implanted in a uterus of either the woman who owns the egg, or a previously agreed-to recipient."

I especially like that last part: "Previously agreed-to recipient." Is that like when your neighbor agrees to sign for your sweater in case UPS delivers it while you're at work? 

"Unlike artificial insemination, in IVF the union of a woman's egg and a man's sperm occurs in a laboratory dish, rather than in the woman's body."

Wow. This is upsetting. So, you mean my husband lied to me when he said we had to get naked on the clinic floor?

"Over a period of about three weeks, a few outpatient procedures are performed."

I'm sensing a little understatement here. Getting up at 5 every other morning so I could get my blood taken before work is one thing... Sticking myself in my subcutaneous gut every night and my husband getting me in the tush with a long needle... yeah those are a few outpatient procedures I could've done without.  

Then the article explains follicles and the egg retrieval and then this:

"The sperm is put in an environmentally controlled chamber with the best eggs." 

It figures doesn't it? We're sweating it out for weeks doing shots (and not the good kind), giving blood and doping ourselves up on hormones and his sperm are sitting in  a luxury lab suite with their feet up just waiting to have his pick of the ladies.

Then I became especially interested in some post embryo transfer info:

"After this procedure, the woman should stay in bed several hours, being discharged from the hospital a few hours later".

"Several hours? I was there for like 20 minutes. The nurse shook me awake from the anesthesia and said "When you can sit up without vomiting you can leave."

And hospital? What hospital? I think my room in the clinic was the staff cafeteria. That's why they did my retrieval in the morning. I had to be off the table in time for the noon crowd, and,hopefully, before someone starting microwaving.    

Listen I gotta go. I've got to poll some of my IVF survivor friends. I'm dying to know: Is IVF supposed to be the way it was for me? Or did my lousy insurance do me in?

Take a look at this week's article by Health Expert Counselor Tracy Birkinbine. She deals with how men and women deal differently with infertility (like everything else) http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow 

Infertility News: Story at 11 (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. "All the infertility news thats fit to print" or shove into a blog anyway.)   So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How there are these guys in England who were making a fortune providing sperm to women who needed it. It's your basic win-win situation: The woman gets the opportunity to try for that baby she has so desperately wanted and the guy gets to grope himself for cash. Everybody's happy. Also in Infertility News: 

When you go through in-vitro you can't help but wonder what the long term effects might be on your future kids.

I mean every minute I was being injected with some kind of hormone or something. I kept thinking: "I wonder what could happen down the line. Will my baby be born with two heads, have a mohawk or speak fluent Romanian?"

A new study came out that compared Iowa kids between 8 and 17 years old. The test scores of 463 IVF-conceived kids were compared to those of kids conceived via the boring old-fashioned, touch and tickle method. And guess what?

The IVF-ers scored higher on all standarized tests. (Go team!) 

Okay, so the study doesn't say why and nobody really knows why. I have my own theories.

1) IVF kids learn how to study independently. Their parents are so worn out from the whole IVF ordeal, even ten years later, they're in no position to help.

2) Poor kids have lower self-esteem and always have to work harder. Nobody is poorer than a twelve year old kid whose parents are still paying off their IVF treatments.

3) The IVF kids began their lives in a calm lab setting where dad gently swam toward mom. They weren't traumatized by the sweaty, physical, Marvin Gaye and wine.-induced bump and grind romp like most kids.  

Cryopreservation--freezing embryos-- didn't affect the scores. It's good to know that their brains don't harden up. I mean look what happens to a Milky Way when you stick it in the freezer (mmmmmmmm).

Also, method of insemination didn't affect scores. So whether a professional impregnated the ladies in a clinic or they had a do-it-yourself kit purchased for $12.99 on an infomercial, I guess their kid still turned out fine.

My concern is: The people doing the study sent out questionnaires to parents to see if they would participate. So, how did they know which kids were born via IVF? I know that at my clinic I checked something on the application that said I'd be open to clinical studies. I'm assuming that how they found these people.

I mean there's probably not segregated classes in the Iowa school systems: IVF kids on one side of the room: "You guys sit by the air-conditioning. I think you'll be more comfortable."

IVF football team: One person on the other team has the ball, twelve million try to tackle him.

IVF debate team: "Your parents went out to dinner, checked into a motel and did what? That's not where babies come from! Who told you that disgusting lie?!"

Chess Club: King's Rook to upper outer quadrant.

Prom Gowns: Open in the front.

Listen, I gotta go. If I don't stop myself now, who knows how far out of control this list might go.

If you have a moment, take a look at Counselor Tracy Birkinbine's article featured this week in Health Experts about how men and women deal with infertility differently. Interesting stuff. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Hail to the Clueless! (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. I just had a root canal. If I can stand that pain surely you can deal with a few days of my blogs. True, I'm Vicodin-ed up.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Things I'm clueless about and the lady with four boys who hates all of us poor unfortunate infertiles because we're not in the mood to throw her baby showers and personally christen her kids.

A moment ago, I mentioned Vicodin. Truth be told, speaking of "clueless", I am the most clueless druggie you'll ever meet. I know nothing about drugs. I don't even know if  "druggie" is the accepted spelling among addicts. Is there a more politically correct term: "Snorting consultants" or "High fuel injection experts"? For myself, I prefer "IVF Drug User."

I do unfortunately, know more than I ever wanted to about Follistim, Lupron, HCG, Gonal-F--and you probably could get a lot of cash for them on the street. Can you picture driving into a dark, seedy neighborhood and rolling down your window for some sleeze?: "Hey lady, I got some good sh-t guaranteed to rock your ovaries." I bet he doesn't take my insurance either.

My entire street-drug education has taken place in my livingroom watching "Cops" marathons. I may have mentioned it  before, but I actually wrote an article years ago about my drug cluelessness called: "Or... It Could Be The Cocaine."

There'd I'd be, working at some job or other for a few months and I'd have this coworker who always struck me as boisterous, high-strung, hyper, or high-spirited.

So, somewhere around that three month mark, I would inevitably comment to a fellow co-worker "Yeah, Rick/Steve/Mike/Annette sure has a boisterous/high-strung/hyper/high-spirited personality" to which they would inevitably reply: "Or... it could be the cocaine." Clueless.

So what do our well-meaning fertile friends and family say to us that proves they're just as clueless?

Well, I had a doctor tell me: "Take a vacation. That's how I got pregnant." (Maybe I needed to get a second opinion since she's a veterinarian.)

So first I'm thinking: Okay, she went on vacation and came back pregnant. Was this spring break? I bet a lot of girls get pregnant that way. Then the following winter, every male co-ed who was playing drunken beach blanket bingo in Cancun is on "Maury" taking a DNA test.

And what part of the vacation is actually responsible for this burst of fertility? Can I create a short cut and  just sleep with a travel agent?

Do my husband and I actually have to have sex during this vacation or is the act of being on this miracle vacation good enough?

Does my body know where we're going? Do my ovaries prefer a certain climate? Will they know a luxury hotel from a Motel 6?

Should we go to a Bed and Breakfast? Does my body know if we can only afford the bed and skip the breakfast?

Or should we only do the breakfast and sleep in the car? Will my eggs know if we're getting cozy in our old clunker car at a new location? Or do we have to do it in a rental?

There are two main flaws I find with the "Just Go On Vacation and You'll Get Pregnant" advice:

1) I'm going to the doctor for blood tests every other day. If the procedures work, I'll be pregnant. If they don't work, I'll have to start all over a few days later. I'm an old person. I'm not like the Rolling Stones: I don't have time on my side. (Frankly, neither do they at this point.) So when is this vacation happening?

2) Is the person doling out advice also doling out airline tickets? If not, at $15,000 an IVF pop, our vacation would have to revolve heavily around a drive-thru. Our "concierge" would know how to say "May I take your order?" in three languages.  

Listen, I gotta go I'm kinda liking this Vicodin. I think I'll go back to the dentist and see what else he can drill.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Check out the Health Experts article this week if you have a sec: Social Worker Ellen Glazer discusses how: "Stress Causes Fertility" http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

Those Who Assist Us With Our Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. You've survived another work week. You deserve to yuk it up.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right.

According to this week's Health Experts' article "Quality Assurance in the IVF Lab", it is extremely important that all of the medical staff members work in some sort of harmony together. If there's no comunication the whole thing, in essence, our treatment, can suffer. 

So I read that bit of the article. And then I went to the dentist...and saw what she meant..in the flesh.

So, let me throw a little disclaimer here by stating that I've only been going to my dentist for a short time but I really like him. I say this because I firmly believe that there are two people in your life you should never offend:

Your dentist and your mechanic. If you've found good ones--- slight your mother-in-law, forget your husband's birthday, curse out your sister... Just make sure you hug your dentist and your mechanic whenever you're in the neighborhood. Give 'em a hicky if you feel up to it.

Well, two weeks ago I went to my dentist because of a slight molar ache and to give my whole palate a once over.

So that tooth in question was likely going to be a major problem "down the line" but for now I was just going to go home and Listerine, fluoride, and floss the heck out of it.  

As for it becoming a major problem,  "down the line" came about five days later. Apparently all of the chicken mcnuggets, cookies, and potato chips I Listerined, fluorided, and flossed out of that tooth were all that was holding that tooth together.

As directed by someone (not sure who) who returned my frantic call ("Help! Help! Please call me back at your earliest convenience. Have a great day") , I went to the dentist the next day: 

1) An assistant said she didn't know whyI had an appointment and I shouldn't stay for the appointment because I need a root canal and they don't do root canals.

2) Another assistant told me to stay: They would try to relieve the pressure.   

3) Somebody else sat me in the chair and did the bib and chain thing.

4) Somebody else (not sure if she worked there or was just passing by) told me somebody would be along in a minute to drug me up.

5) The dentist came in and apologized: He said they wouldn't be able to do anything because the day before I was supposed to start taking antibiotics but nobody told me or called in a prescription. 

So, let's pretend this was a fertility clinic:

Okay, so you go in in the morning to give blood. And nobody talks to anybody else at the clinic. So the nurse doesn't call you that evening to tell you what dose you should take.

So you happen to be watching TV while you're waiting for her call. And they do the daily lottery numbers: 2-2-5. Okay, that sounds like a good dosage. It must be meant to be. The nurse is contacting you via the state Lotto.

Then you go into the clinic for your egg retrieval but, lo and behold, in the middle of it all, the crew realizes nobody ever told the anesthesiologist that you were scheduled so they just improvise and give you a rubber glove to chew on.  

Then when you go back to have the embryos transferred back into you, there's a battle between an RE and a couple of nurses. You can't make out exactly what they're saying. Somebody either stole someone's husband or lunch.

Well, either way, they kind of lost count of how many embryos they put in you so they stick in a few more for good measure. Quadruplets? Sextuplets? It's only a difference of two. It's the same as if you just ate 2 Oreos or 4 Oreos: No big deal.

Listen I gotta go.   Tonight is the beginning of a fast for me. I have to run home and eat everything in the refrigerator:  Gotta. By the time the fast is over tomorrow night, it might all be spoiled. And I just won't take that chance.

I'll talk with ya again on Monday. Check out that article I was talking about: "Quality Assurance in the IVF Lab." http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

Those Who Assist Us with Our Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Monday)

Okay, so that title completely eliminates any chance of me twitting anyone about this week's posts: It's like 1200 characters and says virtually nothing. This is to what I was probably referring (even I can never be sure): You remember when you were eight and you knew only about a handful of professions? Teacher, fireman, police officer... I wasn't even sure what my father did.

It's not that it was illegal or anything.  I remember the words "Business Man" being batted around. I thought that was a profession: Teacher, fireman, police officer, business man.

Okay, so I wasn't terribly bright. The funny thing is: I'm still that way. I think it has to do with being in the Arts (and the ARTS, ar ar ar). Artists don't always understand "real" careers.

This week, we'll discuss some real careers: Medical professionals inside the fertility clinic: What credentials each needs and which actual link they are in our baby making chain. It kind of goes with this week's Health Expert article. More on that in a sec.

Now back to me. For some reason, I like chatting about my senility. It's liberating. It's my twisted version of not dying the gray out of your hair. I'm embracing my decline. 

Writers are known for being extremely observant... Not me.. I'm the most oblivious writer you'll ever meet.

At my (non-writing) job, I can talk with a client for twenty minutes. She can be crying, cursing, threatening me with a stapler. Ten minutes later,  she can come back and still be irate six inches from my face again and not even look the least bit familiar to me.

But I'm aware of my lack of awareness. So, just as a precaution, before I speak to every client I call security.   

So, back to professions. My point is, I'm oblivious to what people really do for a living. Unless your job has a maximum three word title, my mind's software reads: "Does not compute."

Teacher, Writer, Baseball Player, Architect, Police Officer, Restaurant Server, Fire Fighter, Lawyer, Accountant. I get all of those, but if you hve to start explaining, and the first words out of your mouth are: "What our company does"....you may as well not even finish the sentence...

I have a twitter memory. By the time you've gotten out 140 characters I've flatlined. And I can't blame it on age. I can't even blame it on twitter. I've been this way since the eighties.

You know how many guys I dated back then, some for months at a time, and someone would ask me: "So what does he do for a living?"

"Couldn't tell ya. It involves a suit I think. He seems to wear them a lot."

Take a look if you can at the brand spanking new article featured in "The Health Experts" this week: "Quality Assurance in the Fertility Lab." It's written by Carole Wegner, an embryologist, and tells what really goes on behind the scenes at a fertility clinic.

http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

Listen, I've gotta go. I have to get to a dentist. I have a throbbing pain in my mouth. It's okay. Nothing that a $2000 deductible can't cure.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow 

Statistics Shmastistics (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. It's the Friday before a long weekend. You're not really planning to do any work today anyway are you? Do you really want to be known as the company kiss-ass? Who says peer pressure ends at twelfth grade?) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How statistically challenged I am, fertility-speaking. Right.  My ovaries were about to celebrate their 41st birthday when they first saw the light of a Reproductive Endocrinologist's probe.

True, the statistics were stacked against me:

There was only a remote chance I was going to get pregnant using my own eggs.

But a 1 in 4 chance I would fall and break a hip trying to hoist myself onto the examination table.

There was a slim chance I'd ever give birth to a baby.

But a 1 in 3 chance that, by the time the baby was 2, he or she would have more teeth than I did.

But you know what? There was that now-infamous study in the mid-'80's stating that the probability of a single, white, college educated woman getting married past age 35 was 5%.

And, as Newsweek added:  At age 40 that same woman "would have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist" than of ever getting married. 

So, here I was, a 37 1/2 year old single white, Jewish, college educated woman, living in NYC at the time of 9-11.

But I ask you (and Newsweek if they're listening): What are the probabilities that a straight woman would meet her straight future husband at a gay Chanukah party?

And what are the statistics on neither of them, each pushing 39, having never been married before?

And what are the numbers on neither of them having had children before?

And what is the likelihood that he would be exactly nine days older than she?

And what are the odds that at age 42 she would have kids with her own eggs?

And what are the stats on them being born from frozen embryos? 

Yeah, so, where the hell was Newsweek when all of this was going on?

The answer in it all can be found, obviously in the NY Mets.  (There's a segue for ya. Sorry for the whiplash.)

My friend Kathy Foronjy made a great documentary about my people: NY Mets baseball fans, called "Mathematically Alive".

For those of you non-diehard baseball fans, the title refers to this: As the baseball season progresses, and your team continues to suck, you start to realize that they may not be able to ever catch up to the team that's in the lead of your division.

So then, refusing to accept what seems to be inevitable to everyone else, you get out your pencil, paper, and calculator and you crunch those numbers.

"Okay, so if Atlanta loses the next three games, and the Phillies win one but lose the next six, and Washington loses one but wins eight, and the Mets win every game but one between now and September....The Mets will win the division!

So, they're not statistically in great shape.........but they are definitely "Mathematically Alive".

So, for all of you old broads out there, or those who have blockages or PCOS or too high this or extremely low that and whose doctor, sister-in-law and the loser who sits next to you at work have thrown statistics at you left and right:

Yes, be informed and then do what ya gotta....and remember, in 2006, even though it was late in my season, I won my division.

Listen I gotta go. I've got to find some new statistics to throw in somebody's face.