Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sugar N Spice, Snips N Snails, and Raw Eggwhites

So, I'm a little bored. No new television tonight, no riveting story to read, no urge to write.

Boredom leads to random internet searches. A conversation about the Hadron Super Collider led to a sex joke, led to a different sex joke, led to a conversation about the difference between the sexes, led to a conversation about which sex we prefer for the next child (being optimistic as we always are at the beginning of a cycle), led to a random internet search for old wives tales about acheiving the sexed baby of your dreams.

In case you are wondering, and wish to leave nothing to chance, here is some of what I've found. I make no claims as to the accuracy of this information:


- Dairy products favor girls, meat products favor boys.
- Girls are conceived during the new moon, boys during the full moon (and werewolves in between, I guess . . .)
- Low pH favors girls, high pH favors boys.
- If you want to conceive a girl, consume artificial sweeteners.
- If you want to conceive a boy, eat lemons or limes.
- Don't drink coffee if you want a girl, eat salty foods for a boy.
- Drink green tea for a boy, peppermint tea for a girl.
- Take soy for a boy, vitex for a girl.
- Sex 2+ days before ovulation = girl, sex the day before and day of ovulation = boy
- Missionary = girl, doggie style = boy
- No orgasm if ttc girl, multiple orgasms (but only after sperm is deposited) if ttc boy.

So. . . cheers!

But those harmless sorts of things are (generally) as accurate as being able to determine the sex of a baby by how high or low or round or lumpy a mother is while carrying the baby.

What really captured my morbid curiousity was something I've seen before - extreme gender swaying. You are welcome to Google it if you are interested. I'll briefly say that I was really surprised to read more in depth about the lengths some women go to in order to conceive the preferred sex.

What was most surprising was the at home inseminations following ejaculation into a cup and manipulation of the ejaculate to attempt to get only the right kind of sperm.

I'm not necessarily judging it (ok, I totally am at least a little), but it kind of fascinates me. Because from my vantage point, I really, really can't understand it. I know I'm blinded by our fertility and pregnancy struggles, I know it. But it's hard for me to understand the mindset by which no baby is preferable to a baby of the wrong sex.

Because it's obvious to me, proud watcher of Sizing Up Sperm that I am, that many of these methods are disastrous for simple reproductive purposes. Sperm are fragile - they don't survive well or long outside ideal conditions. And most of the extreme methods of gender swaying are well outside ideal conditions. By which I mean, I'm sort of shocked to hear that any sperm survive to make it into the vag, let alone survive the hell that is the cervix.

From my perspective, I'm trying to cover all angles and ensure that ovulation is timely, the egg is good, and there is as much sperm as can be crammed in when the eggwhite cm shows up. Because everything I know about reproduction says that it's a crap shoot with low odds anyway, and the only way to maximize your odds of sperm and egg meeting period is by taking advantage of fertile fluid and providing a wealth of sperm. We are just so biologically wasteful naturally that I can't see how the swaying and massive reduction in numbers of sperm is in any way helpful to the goal of conception.

Of course, the problem is likely that I am focused on Conception-Full Stop. And they, for their own reasons which I will NOT judge at this time, are focused on Conception of (Fill-in-the-Blank-Sex).

There was a time, long ago, when I could sort of understand that. Not to the level of desperation that some of these women feel, but I got gender preferences. I wanted a girl. A boy would have been a little disappointing. And certainly, our boy was shocking. Gabe threw me for a loop, no question about it. But I came around to understand that his sex was an incidental to my child, not the important bit of him. And I came to understand that my expectations and hopes were framed by my wishes, not by my child. And I came to discover all the ways in which boys are awesome and I was excited to have a son. As I always knew I would be, eventually, even though I'd wanted a daughter first.

But now, bereft of son, no child on the horizon, I struggle to identify. I find I can't. In bitterness, I think what a luxury it might be to be so consumed with such an unimportant detail. In charity I think, I think that we all have desires and there are certainly plenty of people who would similiarly not understand our desire to continue to try for a biological child in a high risk pregnancy instead of beginning the adoption process. But mostly I think, huh. Yeah, that's not us. We are so far removed from that.

I can't even express a wish for a particular sex any longer. And not just because I'm desperate to be pregnant, period. That of course, is a piece of it. But the bigger parts? I know what I don't want about either sex. It's hard to find reasons to want either sex. So much is tied up in wanting what we've lost, getting the chance to fulfill the promised role of parents to a son. And yet, a daughter feels safer, opposite, fresh and new. Both feel, in a tiny dark corner that I rarely think of and rarely admit to, like a betrayal.

There are many ways in which I feel alien to the world of women trying to conceive and pregnant women. I know too much, and I can't unknow it. I've tried too long, and I'm over it. I've given birth and I've held death, and I'm a mother who has never been challenged by the day to day drudgery. The little things? They simply don't matter. Not anymore. The weighty and important is what captures my attention and I don't know how to make small talk that isn't stilted. I don't know how not to roll my eyes, or how not to shout out cautions to the women around me. This is yet another way.

It reminds me of a board on thebump I always gave the side-eye to - Parenting After A Loss. I believe it still exists in some incarnation. I never could quite understand it. I didn't believe that my parenting - the basics of parenting, or how I viewed parenting Before - would be altered by my previous miscarriages. Pregnancy yes, sure. Parenting? Eh. But now - having become a mother and mother my spirit-child - I get it. It is different.

Everything is different. Sometimes scarier. Sometimes more precious. This is no different. And yet, still, I try to understand, to put myself there, and I can't. I find myself scratching my head and being puzzled by this, because my own experience colors it so differently.

1 comment:

B said...

Have you seen this?
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article3799254.ece

when you look at the stats, it's not exactly perfect, but it's weird.

but yes. alive trumps anything else. i don't understand the utter devastation the 'wrong' sex brings some people.

this http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article7013951.ece just makes me want to cry. five healthy sons, and she's still unhappy. at some point you just have to accept it's not going to happen and concentrate on the kids you do have. i hope they never come across that article.