If you can even believe it, we are still at Dr. Waller’s office.
There is so much information to gather and assimilate. Dashiell is going to have to get some lab work done, testing for infectious diseases, checking her hormone levels and taking a special peep into her genetics to see if, as an Ashkenazi Jew, she is a carrier of Tay-Sachs disease, a syndrome where you’re born without a certain protein that helps break down a chemical found in nerve tissue, so that it builds up and the child dies by four or five years old. Bummer!
Thankfully our kid can’t be given the full-on disease, as it takes two parents who are carrying it, and even then it’s only a 25% chance. But if Dashiell is a carrier she could pass on her carrier status to the kid, who would then have to watch who she or he breeds with, should they ever decide to MAKE ME A GRANDMOTHER! (Weird.)
I wonder, if Dashiell is a carrier, if we would have to steer clear of Ashkenazi sperm, or does the bank check for such things? I bet they do.
As for me, three months after I get my fibroids ripped out by a robot, I’m to have a Saline Sonogram to make sure the ol’ womb is spic & span. And then it’s onward to Babymakingsville! Me and Dashiell will be put on hormones to synch of our cycles exactly (which frankly, by the sad concurrence of our monthly PMS, I think has already happened). We’ll get calendars! I’ll be given estrogen to thicken my uterine lining, then progesterone to hold onto the baby.
Dr. Waller tells us to register for the monthly IVF Orientations the clinic holds. I imagine a mixer, with couples spun out on a heady mixture of financial dread, optimistic desperation, and general infertility ennui drifting about, knocking back Folic Acid with glasses of sparkling water, preemptively avoiding the cheese plate and sharing baby names.
“Now, your ovaries are going to get really big,” Dr. Waller tells Dashiell. “You’ll feel bloated. And there are small risks to everything, just like walking down the street.” What he is telling us is that less than 1% of the women in Dashiell’s shoes get Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome.
“Your ovaries start going haywire like a chicken,” he tells us. “They produce lots of eggs and the eggs send blood to other parts of the body.” He shakes his head at the mess of it. “There’s the potential to be hospitalized.”
I think about how orderly and organized, how controlled and thoughtful Dashiell is. It would be totally unlike her, energetically, to have such spazzy, unruly ovaries. I also think about how much Dashiell adores lounging on the couch in front of the television, falling asleep before the end of the program (requiring me to see that same episode of "Homeland" all over again the next night). She’s way too mellow to be an egg mega-producer.
“Is there an emotional side affect to the ovarian stimulation?” she asks the doctor. Yeah, who cares about berserk ovaries, we want to know if we’ll have any real problems, like feeling crazy and crying all the time.
“No,” he said. “You’re going to feel bloated and maybe those pants won’t fit you that well.” Damn, how big do those ovaries get?
Dashiell goes on to share another concern –- that if the sperm donor has successfully fertilized other eggs then our kid might have siblings walking around. What if they accidentally date one another or something?
“Thank god there’s a billion people in the world,” Dr. Waller replies. Do you fucking love this guy or what?
Finally we are freed from the doctor’s office. As we wait for the elevator, I point to the little chair by the window, the little table holding a box of Kleenex.
“It’s the crying chair,” I whisper. “That’s where I called you from when I learned my eggs were busted.”
We wait until we are out of the sort of hushed and somber women’s health building before exploding with love and excitement on the street.
“Do you love Dr. Waller or what?!” I demand.
“I love him! I really love him!”
“I know, he’s great! He said you have good-looking ovaries. That is the best compliment ever.”
“I think he loves us,” Dashiell says nodding with insight. “I think he really loves us.”
“I bet he does!” I cried. “We’re his quirky lesbian patients!”
As if on cue, Dashiell’s phone rings. She looks at the screen; the number looks vaguely familiar. “I think it might be the clinic,” I say. “Answer it.”
Dashiell picks up and the loud, slightly East Coast-timbre of Dr. Waller’s voice is streaming muffled through the phone. They talk for a moment and Dashiell hangs up. She is beaming with her extra contact with the doctor, who she is perhaps now in love with.
“What’d he say???”
“He said he tried to get our psychiatric evaluation waived. He doesn’t think we should have to do it.”
“Right, because we shouldn’t!” I get steamed about it right away. “It’s totally homophobic. This is how lesbians utilize a fertility clinic. If a male partner doesn’t have to get counseled before giving his wife some sperm you shouldn’t have to get counseled around giving me your egg!”
Alas, it’s procedure for a woman "donating" her egg to undergo a counseling session. I pledge to protest it every step of the way, complain my butt off to whomever I can, and to make the session an entertaining pain-in-the-ass for the unfortunate counselor. So much to look forward to!
Dashiell is on cloud nine for the rest of the day. Not even the homophobic counseling session can rain on the joy of learning that her ovaries rule and that our doctor is rad.
I call my sister Madeline to tell her how it went. “60-80% success rate!” I cry. “That is so much better than my elderly eggs!”
“Know what my doctor told me when I was going in for all my high-risk-pregnancy tests?” she asks. “’The only people considered ‘old’ at 38 are supermodels, athletes and pregnant women.’” You’re not elderly.”
“I know I’m not,” I agree. The weird thing is I am in better health and spirits than I ever have been in my whole entire life. Now, at 41, I am in a stable relationship. I’m financially stable. Thanks to my meds, I’m emotionally stable. My meds have also killed off my desire/compulsion to fiddle with my weight and live on walnuts and green juice. I weigh more than I used to, but I’m actually at my healthy weight. I work out all the time. I’m almost 10 years sober. It’s crazy that now, during this phase of my life, when I am most suited to have kids, my body is over it.
I decide that if we have a daughter we’re going to get her eggs frozen when she’s 18, so she can run around and have international lovers and become a big career woman or run herself into the ground making performance art or whatever baby-less way she’d like to spend her twenties and thirties. Then she can have herself a baby whenever she wants, because the uterus, amazingly, does not really age. Your uterus is just as good for childbirth in your 50s as it is in your 20s. Isn’t that unbelievable! Only the eggs go bad. Things are going to be different for our little girl!
Having met with Dr. Waller was a big marker on our baby pathway. The next one? My fibroid surgery, which takes place next week.