How To Make A Baby

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Winning The Listserve Lottery Gets You 50,000 Eyeballs

“No pressure, but almost 25,000 people will read this.”

This is one of the many wonderful thoughts floating to the surface of what passes for my brain when I won the Listserve lottery.  It was also probably the cleanest and nicest.

The Listserve is essentially a massive email list.  When you add your email to the list, it accomplishes two things: 1. you’re entered into the Listserve lottery and 2. you’ll receive one email a day from a lottery winner.  Lottery winners compose a 600 word email about any subject of choice, sent to all the email addresses currently on the Listserve.

I knew what I was going to write about, of course: our struggles with pregnancy and fertility.  What I worried about is what I always worry about when I write about this stuff.  Is this going to be offensive?  Go too far?  TMI?  I only knew I didn’t want to miss this chance.

So here’s the ramblings I sent out onto the Listserve:

How Not To Make A Baby

It turns out getting pregnant isn’t as easy as it looks.

My wife and I have been trying to conceive for over five years, suffering one miscarriage and month after month of letdowns and discouragements.  Turns out we both bring our own specific biological issues that, when combined, compound the problem.

While I’m well aware that we are not the first couple to grapple with infertility and conception issues, this is one of those things where knowing you’re not alone isn’t always the most comforting thought.  Add to that the staggering amount of tips, suggestions, medical information, etc., it can get downright frustrating.

When things don’t work as they should, be it electronics, automobiles, or my reproductive system, it drives me crazy!  There’s no real peace in the knowledge that there’s nothing I can really do to cause my body to produce the correct amount of sperm.

There are options, of course, with adoption or in vitro fertilization leading the pack.  We’re not opposed to either, although they’re not exactly in our budgetary cards just yet.  If anyone can point Oprah our way, there’s a high five with your name on it.  Honestly, the romantic idea of conceiving a child the “old fashioned way,” is just what our hearts are set on.

Through it all, hope has been both our strongest ally and greatest source of pain.  Each month, we carry the hope that this time, this month will be the one.  And each month, we feel like idealistic, optimistic fools, only to start the whole process over again.  Regardless, I worry about us losing that hope.

I’ve been working on and off on a blog about our experiences where, if nothing else, I’ve found supportive and comforting folks who read and share.  We can share links, of course, so I’m not sure if this makes it through, but you can find it by heading to howtomakebabiesdotwordpressdotcom.

My wife and I are praying people, constantly covering this and seeking an answer.  There’s a certain level of acceptance by now, but there’s always hope.

I think that’s what I’d like to leave off with…there’s always hope.  So many things can be denied or taken away in this world, but hope, though it may sting us at times, is what keeps us going.

Feel free to drop me a line or look me up.  I’m on Twitter: @jovid52,  where I share nonsense, music I’m enjoying, television reviews, and stuff, but I’d be happy to interact with ya!

Embarrassing?  Maybe.  Is it all those things I worried about and a bit grammatically challenged?  Probably. But I sent it out anyway with no idea when it would reach subscribers.

So, there ya go.  I knew it had about five days later when my inbox and Twitter exploded with some of the most incredible responses.  I’ll share some of them later this week.

Excuse Me, Sister, Can You Spare Some Pee?

When this Salon piece came across my Twitter feed a few months ago, I saved it, but I thought it was closer to clickbait than reality. What do they say about “assuming?”

So pregnant women are selling positive pregnancy tests, or I guess more specifically their urine, on Craigslist for $25-30 a pop. That alone is creepy enough, but it’s the ultra ethical “don’t care what you use it for” statement that really turns my head. I think this makes cigarette companies look like beacons of honesty.

I can understand being aggravated by a man. I annoy myself with my profound masculinity. But, ladies, c’mon…if he’s not committing, could this really be the best way to get him on the wedding bandwagon?

Even more interesting is trying to anticipate how much cash money could be made from one bladderful of hormone laced pee. There’s nearly no overhead here besides the costs of the tests, but $30 each goes a long way of covering a box of First Response, even if she picked them up at Costco.

What would you do with riches you earned from urine sales?

Jack Of All Trades, Master of None

While I’m planning a bunch of new posts so I can be ahead of the game here (nothing like proaction by way of procastination), I thought I’d share this video.

As part of my television reviewing gig, I watched the pilot episode for the new Showtime series, Masters of Sex, and was surprised to see how much it touches on fertility issues by way of sexual activity.

Keep in mind that this is an original series on Showtime that contains the word ‘SEX‘ in its title, so should you choose to proceed, you will be faced with adult type activities and language. This isn’t promotion for the program, if you’ve watched a second to Showtime lately you’ve already seen enough of that.  In fact, I almost didn’t write this up and share because I didn’t want to be perceived as doing that.  Obviously, I went ahead with it, so there’s my meandering two cents.

I will be cranking out a review for the other site, so if you wanted to read something like that, I can share that link too.  Let me know!

The video’s up for about a week, so if this is something you’re curious about, it’s definitely one way to kill an hour.

Clicky here (you’ll have to agree you’re mature): http://s.sho.com/1eHScN7

Is Anybody Out There?

So I’ve been absent with a vengeance from this old blog thing for an extended bit of time.

Tell the truth, it got to be a bit of a tough go here, facing that blank screen with nothing but disappointments and failures to share. As much as I’ve enjoyed the writing and all the interactions I’ve had with you sweet, wonderful people, I’ve experienced the same amount of defeat. I don’t really want to go all out, “diminished” balls to the wall melodramatic here, so let’s just say it’s been hard. And I tend to either ignore or run from the hard stuff in my life, so things went quiet.

I hasn’t been all feeling sorry for myself though! Over the lost time, I did pick up a couple of writing gigs, unpaid though they are, that sucked up a lot of free time and creative energy. And I’m enjoying them immensely. I write short new music pieces for an exciting music/culture site in London called The 405. I LOVE music and jumped on the opportunity when they sent out a request for writers. A more major bit of time is spent writing television reviews for a locally based entertainment site, Red Carpet Crash. These take much more time because I have to watch the programs, obviously, and then write detailed reviews/recaps on a quick turnaround. It’s fun, I get to watch lots of stuff ahead or airdates (so I feel cool), and it’s helping me improve. Or at least I think it is. If you’re a TV fanatic or a have favorite show, pop over there sometime and see what’s up if ya like. I know I’d love the dialogue and input.

I hope my silence hasn’t lost me any of the amazing connections that popped up when I began. If you’re still here, let me know! I’m gonna be around more often here, writing up more of our struggle/adventure as well as other pregnancy stuff that comes across my eyes. I think I’m ready to start again.

I missed y’all.

Bloody Christmas

So Dr. McScreamy, when not wielding sarcasm and fury at my testicles, gave me what I refer to as his “Bloody Christmas List,” he suggested my primary physician perform the blood tests. He said it would be cheaper, but I have a sneaking suspicion it would be a waste of his time. Of course I do not have a primary physician because I am male and this means: NO DOCTORS! It's really supposed to be a guy code thing, but I'll admit that, even after all of this, it's more a fear thing for me. But money saved is money saved, so I find a local doctor who, ironically is about to go on maternity leave. I make this appointment despite my total and completely rational fear of needles and the havoc they wreak. And of course the list of tests McScreamy wants ran is a mile long so I imagine that my arm's going to be hacked to pieces.

“You know, if you guys are out of needles, I really won't be upset,” I tell the nurse as coolly as possible. “I can always come back another time.”

“I don't think that'll be a problem,” she replies and there is no mistaking the bloodlust in her eyes.

The doctor comes in and she's really cool. Fonzie cool. She explains the tests in greater detail and without all the screaming. There'll be regular blood screens, a cystic fibrosis screening, and some in depth looks at my genetic code. A cornucopia of tests, if you will.

“You know, you can have irregularities in your genes and still look normal,” Fonz shares. Finally, a medical opinion that I am possibly almost normal looking-ish!

This test is to find if there's something deep down that might be messing with seed quality, if ya know what I mean. Makes me feel like an X-Man whose power is producing freakishly unviable sperm. Like Steve.

After giving up on them being out of needles, I man up and ask Dr. Fonz exactly how many times I'm going to end up getting stabbed with a needle. She assures me that there'll only be the one stabbing.

“Um…is there going to be a prostate exam thingie as well?” I ask cause I will NEVER be blindsided again. She looks at me quizzically. “No…not unless you want me to?”

“No thanks, Doc. I'm good.”

Enter the nurse again, carrying two trays filled with vials of different sizes like she just came from Willy Wonka's medical supply torture cabinet.

I eye her suspiciously as she says, “OK, if you can roll up your sleeve for me? We're going to be taking nine blood samples.”

NINE?! But Fonzarelli said….

Oh, yeah. There's only one needle. They just change out vials.

Well played, Fonz. Well played.

Nurse Bloodthirsty asks if I've eaten anything. Nope. Nothing. Sweet! I'm gonna be all woozy after this bloodletting!

But no. No woozy. No hallucinations. No cookie. No nothing.

I get a message from the nurse a few days later: Slightly high cholesterol (“cut down on red meat,” the nurse says like I'm some kind of heartless machine), no cystic fibrosis, and just negative on any bad DNA stuff. And no answers!

We Can Make Beautiful Music Together!

“First, you gotta create…da mood“-Sebastian

Since you are here and we regularly discuss the making of babies, I think it’s safe to assume that you are very familiar with the process of baby making. Well, I don’t mean like, familiar, like well versed or experienced…I mean, you have the basic understanding of how this works and…but not that you’re inexperienced…

How about you find whatever reading of that sentence that compliments you the most and let’s move on, shall we? Ahem.

Now I don’t know about y’all, but it’s relatively accepted that “the process” can be enhanced with the use of music. And I thought that’s where we can have a little fun!

Anyone familiar with Spotify? It’s one of the many music streaming services available and, at the risk of this sounding like an advertisement, it is wonderful! You have access to an extensive music library that you can stream depends on your user level, share music with friends, make playlists…but I swear this is no paid endorsement. It’s just the service I use, but if there are any Spotify peeps out there that want to hook me up, we can talk!

Anyway, I thought it would be funny to create a long playlist of mood music, if ya know what I mean wink wink, and make it a community effort! Please help craft this into the ultimate “hot with two T’s” playlist with your own suggestions! If you feel uncomfortable sharing tunes that create that mood for you specifically, that’s cool! I’m not trying to be creepy! Feel free to suggest or add those songs that have that notorious reputation.

If you are a Spotify user, the playlist should be editable by all subscribers, so feel free to add your own picks! If not, please post your picks in the comments and I’ll add them as we go along! I’ve embedded the fancypants new player thing they have below so no one will miss out on our musical greatness! I got it started with an extremely obvious choice and also on record that, upon my first hearing it in high school, I dubbed it the record for the sexing.

So here’s the beginning stages of This Playlist Will Get You Pregnant By Or Your Money Back!

Stop Being Such A Baby!

The link I'm about to share came across my Twitter feed a few days ago. I mainly use Twitter for posting nonsense, giveaways/contests, music blogs and news.

The tweet from Salon read “I Found Out I'm Infertile” so naturally it caught my eye. I thought it would just be an essay about someone dealing with infertility, but I was unprepared for what I read.

Apparently, Salon has an advice column. A reader wrote in with a rather heartfelt confession after being diagnosed with a definite case of infertility. He described the depression that he is experiencing as a result of the news and his emotions are also very familiar to me. (I'm planning on discussing such in the near future.)

But then I read the advice, which I found to be awful. The brusque dismissal of this man's wrestling match with his infertility as just something to let go of really gave me quite a culture shock. And the comments didn't really help much either. They ranged from weird dating advice to berating the fellow for “narcissism!” In fact, there was only one brief comment on the second page that actually understood what that what this man is going through is something to be mourned.

And now that I have tortured you with suspense…here's the link!

Meet The New Boss…Same As The Old Boss

“TELL ME WHAT YOU WERE TOLD ABOUT YOUR SEMEN SAMPLE!!!!”

This is what an accented voice bellows as the door bursts open to the office where my wife and I sit. Our new doctor tosses our medical records onto the table in front of and sits down. My semen sample analysis is very conspicuous on top of the papers.

I think we'll call the new doctor: Dr. McScreamy.

We notice an immediate difference in manner between Dr. K and Dr. McScreamy. If Dr. K was a serene, calm, cloudless day at the beach, then Dr. McScreamy feels like Hurricane Katrina.

“Zero,” Dr. McScreamy says. “You have zero. This makes things very difficult, if not impossible.”

He gives us all the information on the blood work and deposit facility. He performs a sonogram on my wife which comes back great and i find that apparently you can just go and do sonograms at a moment's notice. She gets scheduled for an ultrasound “to get a complete picture” of what he's working with.

“Well,” I stammer, “I have a diminished number of motile sperm…”

He scrawls numbers on a piece of scratch paper. Some numbers are levels of various hormones that create ideal “sperminess” in men. Then he writes the levels that my blood samples indicate of these same hormones, allowing a side by side comparison. And the weird part? All my numbers are within the normal brackets. Hmmm…

Yet my sperm numbers are still alarmingly, strangely low. Low enough where Dr. McScreamy feels like he should keep repeating how low they are. Low enough for Dr. McScreamy to walk us through what might hinder the IVF process. It's odd that Dr. K looked at these same numbers and gave us a 70 to 80 percent chance of success…

His next question throws us for a loop. “Have you given any thought to donor sperm? It's just an option I want to put out there. When I see numbers like these…,” he trails off. “I just want to open that door and let you think about it.” I don't really need to think about it. It's a bad thing, but I think we both feel negatively on the topic. After coming all this way, the last thing on our minds is the idea of using donated sperm. Even if it can swim.

“Well,” he sighs and looks at me, “I think we need to do a few more blood screens on you.” Great. More needles.

“I would also like to get multiple samples frozen to see if we can find more motile sperm.” Wait-multiple? He writes the name of a hospital. “I'd like for you to go to this facility in the morning and make a deposit. Then go downstairs. Have a cup of coffee. Go back up and make another deposit. Then go to the mall and wander around a bit. Go back again and make another deposit.” I must've been looking at him like he was crazy because he tries to explain this by saying, “Just remember your college days, ok?”

Now, I'm not sure what he's heard about my college days, but it seems my reputation is highly exaggerated. I mean I know I look like a stud, but really?

Here's the second major difference between our two doctors. Dr. McScreamy's office makes Dr. K's look like a set from the Flintstones. Now Dr. K had all the equipment he needed. His labs and office were great, fully equipped, and there was nothing wrong with them. They fit his personality. Quaint and comfortable. Older decor, older tools, tried and true and good as new.

McScreamy, however, has essentially tricked out his office. The waiting area is that fancy model home decor, there are widescreen HD monitors in the exam rooms, and music piped in everywhere. This is a technological fertility Narnia.

By the time it's all over, and believe me, we couldn't wait, we leave heavier than when we came in. We thought the appointment was going to be a conversation, a glance over the medical information, and then an in-depth discussion of getting this IVF party started. Dr. K was already at that point and ready to go pending 15 grand. Dr. McScreamy wants more tests and samples and data. Which I'm sure is a good thing, just not what we wanted to hear.

So we get the ball rolling again.

And there's a definite bright side if you ask me: at least I didn't get sodomized again.

 

Can You Kickstart A Baby?

We met with Dr. K to insure we understood the results in his last letter, as well as to discuss possible future options for us. In vitro fertilization is his best recommendation for our situation. He feels very strongly that the outcome would be positive. But that’s when the other shoe drops…

In vitro comes out to one chance per $15,000. Now, I don’t know about your personal financial situation, but unfortunately I don’t have 15 grand just sitting around. Short of Oprah busting into Dr. K’s office at that EXACT moment, pointing at us and shouting “YOU GET IN VITRO! YOU GET IN VITRO!” it’s unlikely that we can move on this idea quickly. Dr. K told us that, although he doesn’t condone going into debt, some patients take out a loan to cover these costs. Setting aside the debt issue, we’re just not certain that borrowing at least $15,000 on what would essentially be a chance is the best of ideas.

Around this same time, we find out about a fertility doctor that is actually covered by our insurance. I dug a little deeper and discover that there are some physicians that are “in network” and would provide a bit of financial relief going forward. There is even partial coverage for in vitro as well. But this would mean bidding farewell to Dr. K and taking this adventure to another unknown. Just keep swimming…

While we ponder these new developments, I start hearing lot about a website called Kickstarter. Kickstarter allows individuals with an idea/project to crowdsource its funding and to offer various premiums to anyone who chips in money towards the funding goal. The premiums typically vary depending on the amount you choose to contribute. If the goal is reached, the money is collected and the project is a go! Recently, there was an extremely successful Kickstarter that made well over a million dollars!

So this got me thinking…can you Kickstart a baby?

I won’t pretend to have read the terms of service for Kickstarter nor will I pretend I'm serious here, but just for fun, let’s step into a world of pure imagination like Willy Wonka would want us to do. Can you Kickstarter a baby?

How much would you need to raise? Obviously, only collecting the $15,000 would be foolish because there’s no guarantee. Double it? Triple it? If my math skills are as fine tuned as I like to believe, that's like $45,000! Not a shabby chunk of crowd sourced change! How would you sell the concept? Go with a heartstring tugging sob story or tickle the funny bone connected to the purse strings?
What kinds of premiums could you offer? For a buck, you'd get our thanks and the sense of goodwill for helping out your fellow humans. Maybe $5 or $10 could be a shout out on this major blog we got right here. And for the higher end supporters, $5,000 will let you put a name on the short list for the hypothetical child.
This is the new digital future and anything is possible! And, although I would not actually try this, I am curious…

What other ways could you Kickstarter a baby?

 

Sperm Week 2012: What To Do With Leftovers

I know that Sperm Week 2012 is over and, boy was it one to remember! I mean it was almost two and a half weeks long for starters!

In my Google travels across the vastness of the internet landscape, I have discovered that there is a LOT of information out there about baby making. To be more specific, do not just Google “sperm.” You will need one of those industrial chemical eyewashes. However, I found loads of articles, blogs, what-have-you out there to share here! It’s possible this internet thing may be worth the trouble.

Here is an article detailing what unraveling more of the DNA sequence in sperm cells could mean for fertility issues. This information is far too new for any impact in our case. It also touches on how these discoveries can make the process of infertility detection, and maybe even correction, easier in the future. And we can always hope easier translates into affordable, right?


And, full disclosure, although this article extremely interesting, I cannot read it without the fifth grader in me laughing that one of the researcher’s names is Wang.

 

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