Hello again, blog friends. How’s everyone doing?
It’s somewhat unsettling to be told that you don’t make enough oestrogen. As we know all too well, lot of the poorly-educated definitions of “woman“ that are banded about on toxic social media sites tend be reliant on overly simplistic definitions, such as having breasts and a uterus. Despite knowing logically that it’s nonsense – women who have had mastectomies and hysterectomies are still women, and women who have never had a uterus are also still women – there’s something really disappointing about knowing how much some of the norms have been drilled in. Testosterone is the Boy Hormone; Oestrogen is the Girl Hormone. It’s ridiculously oversimplified and not even that accurate: cis men also have oestrogen, cis women produce testosterone too, and it’s not even like they’re the only hormones produced by one’s body! (Plus: did you know that low-testosterone men are overrepresented in sports at elite levels? Fun fact!) And yet…
…And yet being told, once again, that my oestrogen levels are too low (despite using the oestrogen patches as directed) makes an unpleasant little voice at the back of my mind say, “see? you can’t even manage that!” Regardless of how I feel about gender, the concept that I would fail to meet a transphobe’s narrow definition of “woman” (despite at least nominally having been born one) should be nothing more than a sign of how poor their arguments are, but instead somehow just makes me feel bad.
Isn’t that daft? When I was a kid being bullied at secondary school, my stepdad sat me down and asked me, “Are they important to you?” “Does Emily’s opinion matter to you?” “Do you care what Hannah thinks?” and the answers were no, no, and no. Bigots on the internet with fish guts for opinions are not important to me, their opinions don’t matter. So why am I letting their rhetoric gnaw away at me? It must be some insecurity on my part, because I must secretly believe it to be true: when it comes to me, I am not “woman enough”. Other people? Sure, absolutely. But me? No, I don’t qualify. But what are my feelings on my own gender in the first place? I have intentionally left my pronouns out of my twitter bio not because I am against the concept, but because it’s too big a can of worms and I don’t feel comfortable opening it. For now at the very least, wooh, identifying what I suppose is internalised transphobia isn’t fun.
So yes, last Friday was another ultrasound, another blood test, another wait for the doctor to tell me my hormone levels are no good.
“Your endometrium is looking fine, though!” she said. “It’s over the minimum required thickness, so we can go ahead with the transfer this month.” The Japanese word for this is 胚移植, hai-ishoku, where 胚 is “embryo” and the 移植 literally means “shift/move, plant”. Embryo transplant.
“Also, there’s a kind of… glue? made largely from hyaluronic acid, that we can use on eggs when the outer part is a C grade,” the doctor explained. “Since the outer part is responsible for implantation and placenta, giving it a bit of assistance to help it stick slightly improves chances of getting pregnant. It’s worth thinking about.”
“Thinking about,” I repeated, looking at the graphs on the information page in front of me. “It improves chances, even a little bit, so of course I want to try. Does anyone actually say no to this?”
The doctor laughed. “No, you’re right. Pretty much nobody does.”
So we’re back on a higher dose of oestrogen, and back once again on the progesterone vaginal suppositories (woo). I’ve noticed myself being both more tired and shorter-tempered since resuming the progesterone! I even got into an argument on twitter yesterday, which (these days) never happens, whoops. Back at the clinic again tonight and then, all things being equal (fingers crossed) transfer tomorrow lunchtime! Aaaaaaahhh. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.