Hello, blog people! I am writing this from my aunt’s dining room table, which is notable mostly because it is located in Paris (the one in France, not Tennessee), and I am already, 5 hours after arriving, stuffed full of croissants, cheese, and paté. I will, of course, bore you to tears in subsequent posts with the same ten million pictures everyone else takes in Paris, only mine will be out of focus. Now, if that doesn’t keep you riveted until the next installment, I don’t know what will.
I alluded to it in my last post- we have made it to stage two of operation Get Me A Baby, namely, multiple visits to the neighborhood fertility clinic. Actually, it isn’t really in the neighborhood, but rather two towns over, as just about everything is in California- two, three, four towns over, accessible by a rapidly increasing number of highways and freeways, which always makes me sing that line from that Skee-Lo song in my head: “…I take the 110 to the 105, get off on Crenshaw…” Hello, 1995 called. It would like its barely topical reference back. In this way, Southern California reminds me of suburban New Jersey- going to the corner store might take you on three freeways, and you’ve only gone one mile.
This fertility clinic is quite nice- the nurses remember me, and haven’t batted an eyelash at J and I as a couple (I am starting to think I should just get over expecting an altercation at every interaction J and I have with professionals of any sort, since it takes a shit ton of energy for me to get all riled up IN ADVANCE, and then feel all deflated when they are nothing but nice at every turn), and the three doctors on staff are fine, if radically different in temperament.
Dr. C is an eternal optimist- when she did my first ultrasound, she noted with glee the presence of a nine millimeter follicle, which she was convinced would pop by the weekend, sending us into a flurry of excitement bordering on panic. “Have sperm here by Friday!” she tossed over her shoulder as we left the clinic. In order to meet this directive, we ended up calling our New York sperm bank from the PARKING LOT of the clinic so we could place our order before it closed, and if there’s something more hilariously ridiculous than ordering 6 vials of sperm over the phone while sitting in your sauna of a car, I am not sure what it is.
Dr. Y is exactly the opposite- the second ultrasound I had showed the same follicle, holding steady at nine millimeters, when apparently the doctor had expected it to blossom to 9 CENTIMETERS, or something enormous like that, judging by his deeply disappointed and concerned face. I think the problem was that I had erroneously indicated that my cycles were somewhat regular, when apparently they are working on their own system, one that defies online ovulation calculators (look, when you’re a lesbian, and your method of birth control is… err, BUILT-IN, you don’t give much of a flying fuck when your period comes, as long as it’s not during the Indigo Girls concert. I CANNOT stop with the dated references). Anyhoo, Dr. Y started talking about ovulation-stimulating drugs, and aggressive courses of treatment, and I left the clinic thinking I’d never get pregnant, mostly because my eggs would be too AFRAID of pessimistic Dr. Y.
Three days later, we met Dr. R (for those of you keeping track at home, that’s three doctors in 10 days taking a good long look at my insides via the dildocam, and I’m only sorry I didn’t come up with that particular nickname for the ultrasound wand), who is a lovely Jewish gay man who seemed to be well placed, in terms of temperament, between the other two doctors. He looked at my follicle, now measuring in at 17 millimeters, and told me to come back Monday. In the meantime, he took a vial of blood to check my progesterone levels, in order to make sure I hadn’t ovulated, WHILE NO ONE WAS LOOKING.
Meanwhile, at home, I’d been taking ovulation prediction kits at home, and consistently getting negative results. Secret Tip ClearBlue Easy Won’t Tell You: the hormone its testing for doesn’t make it into your urine for a while, so testing first thing in the morning isn’t gonna work- better you should test at 2 in the afternoon. It’s a good thing I am an excessive Googler, otherwise we might have missed this key bit of information. Of course, 2 in the afternoon of last Saturday happened to be smack in the middle of a BBQ we were hosting, so we totally indiscreetly locked ourselves in the only bathroom in the house for the four minutes the test took to develop.
You see where this is going, right? The positive sign on this test is a digital happy face, and J and I promptly freaked right the fuck out, dialing the clinic with one hand, jumping up and down while clutching the test stick in the other. I left a garbled message on the machine at the clinic, essentially asking them to come over and hold my hand, as I had absolutely no idea what the next step was- come in? wait? take two Xanax and chill? WHAT?? I spend the remainder of the day obsessively checking my phone, at a rate of approximately EVERY TWO MINUTES, which I am sure made me an absolutely charming hostess until about 6:30pm, when I finally convinced myself they weren’t going to call back tonight, FOR THE LOVE, PUT DOWN THE PHONE.
The clinic did call back, at 8am the next morning, indicating that I should, absolutely, come in. J and I made it from Long Beach to Westminster in 10 minutes, approximately 20 miles per hour over the speed limit and 10 minutes faster than any other, reasonable, person might make the same trip. After all that, we still had to do the traditional doctor’s office Hurry Up & Wait, getting more and more nervous, the sort of thing that is totally made worse for me because I didn’t really know what I was nervous ABOUT. Had we missed it? Was the egg still there? What the hell, exactly, were we there to do?
Answer, because we are bordering on the absolute limit one can request of others, in terms of attention: Dr. C checked me once more, looking for the follicle, which was no longer there. If all is working the way it should, this means my egg was floating around in the space of my fallopian tubes, and if the miracle of life was going to happen this month, we needed to get sperm up there, STAT.
After thirty minutes back in the waiting room (I had NO IDEA it takes that long to defrost a half teaspoon of sperm), we were called back again, where I was instructed to lay back and relax. Well, after I had confirmed that what they were about to send up my reproductive tract was, in fact, the donor we had ordered. And look, I am here to tell you, you don’t really know. Sure, the vial has the donor name on it, but SO MANY people have handled the sample before it gets to you that I am frankly surprised mix-ups don’t happen more often. Or maybe they do, and we JUST DON’T KNOW.
The insemination itself was no more painful than your run-of-the-mill Pap smear, and then I lay there for the next ten minutes, knees stitched tightly together. And I am not kidding about the ten minutes- the nurse had me on a timer. LEAST ROMANTIC INSEMINATION EVER.
And then… it was over. Door to door, the whole process took 90 minutes, which doesn’t seem like much, given the momentous-ness of what we are hoping actually happened. We went home, where I suppose I was to continue about my regular life, minus all the fun parts, while 5 million sperm danced around in my uterus. We won’t know if the insemination worked for 14 days, which seems like a short amount of time, when measuring vacation days, but like a giant, never-ending eternity when waiting to find out if your family might all of a sudden go from two members to three.
I know a positive pregnancy test is only the beginning of whatever comes next, and that there are a million ways the whole thing could go horribly wrong. But for once, just this once in my whole fucking life, I’m breathing life into my hope for the best.