In this series, we will explore Queer Martha's adventures in starting a queer family using love, humor, and artificial insemination. The series's title is super subject to change.
This is not our baby - it is my brother's wonderful baby - but don't we look goddamn adorable?
It’s strange to call this first steps because I started seeing a fertility doctor back in 2014, before I turned 26. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and I had no idea what effect that would have on my baby-making capabilities. Rachel and I were not ready to fire up the baby engine back then, but we did want to take advantage of the law that allowed me to stay on my parents’ pretty comprehensive health insurance until my 26th birthday. So in January 2014, I met with Dr. Gutmann from RMA of Philadelphia for the first time.
This is RMA from the outside, though the offices are in the building's basement. I like the golden clock that does not tell the time on the outside. RMA, it seems, is basically Philly’s lesbian social hall. We’ve known quite a few couples who have begun their own pregnancy adventures recently, and every single one has been a patient at RMA. It’s always a fun conversation: “I’m trying to get pregnant,” “Oh, me too!” “RMA?” “Yeah – Dr. Gutmann?” “Yep. I love Dr. Gutmann.”
So back in 2014, Dr. Gutmann put me through a series of tests to evaluate the extent of my infertility. One test seemed to be pretty standard for anyone wanting to get pregnant by artificial insemination: the Hysterosalpingogram, or HSG. I just call it the fallopian fun times because all it is, really, is lying on a metal slab as a doctor squirts dye through your fallopian tubes to make sure there is nothing in the tubes blocking the passage of eggs to the uterus. The doctor tells you that you will feel some cramping, but it hurt a lot more than I thought it was going to. I suppose everything from here on out will hurt a lot more than I expect it to.
Nothing was blocking my fallopian tubes, so we could check that off. Next I had the opportunity to experience an MRI machine! Dr. Gutmann wanted to get some brain pictures to see if I had a tumor on my pituitary gland that was pushing out too much prolactin. I still don’t actually know what prolactin is, really, but apparently you don’t want too much of it, and I had too much of it. I’ve never really been into moderation.
At the same time, my dad was getting treated for a genetic heart condition, and I had to go to a cardiologist to see if the “genetic” part affected me or not. It was a fun time of telling people that I might possibly have a benign brain tumor and a heart disease.
The MRI came back showing no tumors on my pituitary gland. My prolactin was high just for funsies. Knowing this, Dr. Gutmann prescribed me the drug Clomid which tricks your brain into thinking that your endochrine gland is not producing estrogen, so it sends signals for you to create even more estrogen! Then you ovulate! It’s like magic. We tried this for two months, I think, and it worked great. I was ovulating like the best of them, which is something that never really happened before (see: PCOS).
It’s funny how exciting it is to get your period when you are trying to be fertile.
Then I turned 26, and the fertility trials ended until Rachel and I were ready to make some babies. Dr. Gutmann told us that, based on the results from the tests I did, I should not have any more difficulty getting pregnant than any other woman once I’m on my drugs. Meanwhile, I went to the cardiologist and learned that I didn’t have a heart problem, but I also didn’t NOT have a heart problem, and I should schedule appointment to look into the issue further. Naturally, I didn’t. It was our wedding time! Who wants to think about potentially needing a defibrillator installed in your heart when you are about to fill your heart with wedding vows, you know?
So let’s flash forward to today. Rachel and I successfully got married, and now we’re as ready as we will ever be to make those babies happen. So, two years later we returned to RMA to get this party started. Two new things have happened since the last time we were talking to Dr. Gutmann. First, there is a new drug out there that Dr. Gutmann likes more than Clomid, and we’ll be moving forward with this new drug called Letrozole. Apparently, it is a treatment for breast cancer, but it works similarly to Clomid with fewer side effects (like mood swings and multiple births, for example.). So there is that.
The second thing is that I stopped getting my heart checked out when I really should have kept going to the cardiologist until I had a diagnosis or a confirmed non-diagnosis. I’m not allowed to start filling my uterus with anything until the good doctor knows I am not going to keel over randomly. So it goes.
Thus, the next step is getting a stress test on March 15th! After that, we get to compare and contrast sperm banks and buy some swimmers! And when that happens… you can read all about it on Queer Martha!