I hate being ambivalent about anything, and I’m usually not, so it was annoying to not know if I wanted to have kids ever.
Up until my late 20s, I thought of pregnancy the same way I thought of any STD, but with a dose of the movie "Alien." Something foreign with a will of its own gestates inside you, siphoning all your nutrients, changing your behaviors (like many diabolical parasites), finally clawing its way out, leaving you maimed and possibly even dead.
People who wanted babies were disturbed by my understanding of them as invasive monsters and not, you know, cute.
At 27, something happened. I read Ariel Gore’s book, "The Hip Mama Survival Guide," and suddenly pregnancy seemed sort of cool, like a wild art project or an extreme body modification, a great, punk daredevil thing to do, like hopping a train.
Ariel’s book was the first thing I had ever read that gave me -- poor, queer, weird -- permission to bring a kid into the world.
I don’t know if the book triggered something biological or if it was right time/right place, but babies suddenly didn’t seem like grotesque hobgoblins. In fact, I began craving the feeling of being pregnant.
What is this? I marveled. How could my body crave something it had ever known? This new sensation surged briefly into an obsession before it receded, leaving me different. The thought of having kid no longer seemed repulsive.
For the next decade, I wobbled back and forth in my mind, wondering if a child was something I wanted, and it was frustrating to not know. I had an LTR with someone who did not want a baby and got worked into a frenzy if the topic was introduced even speculatively.
Later, I had STRs with people who did want children, but they tended to suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder or Aspergers or some other Not Otherwise Specified psychological wound. It seemed that if I had a partner, maybe I would want a baby. Still ambivalent, but closer.
I began to lament the impossibility of getting accidentally knocked up. When I was younger I was relieved that the people I dated couldn’t get me pregnant -- one less thing to worry about. Now I was regretful that I couldn’t let a broken condom make the decision for me. Wait, wasn’t this entry supposed to be about Health Care?
I’m trying to get us to the Summer 2011, when I sat in front of my computer reading about how sad my 40 -year-old eggs are, crying.
Basically, your eggs are awesome when you’re like 15 years old, and get more and more busted throughout your 30s. By the time you’re 40 you have a 40 percent chance of getting pregnant; in just five years that drops to 5 percent.
If I wanted a baby I would have to do it right now! But I wasn’t in a real relationship! I would have to get out of my fake relationship (a good idea, regardless), find someone hot and not insane (impossible), who also wanted to have a baby (unlikely) and get to bonding on the double so that we’d be ready to take this life-changing step together by the end of the year. And so I began to cry.
But the crying, I shortly realized, was good! The crying was very good! I was finally having a definite feeling about having a kid! Look how tragic I got when I thought I couldn’t have one! I did want one!
I shut my computer, did a tarot reading and decided to have a baby.
All the frightening web sites urged me to go talk to my doctor. I went to my clinic, a sliding-scale joint that shares a floor with an AA clubhouse. The clinic is always about to go under and people are always having bake sales and drag shows to try to save it. You never know what you’re going to get at the clinic.
On this day I got a whole new doctor -- apparently my old MD, who I loved, required job security and left. My new Doc was a moody butch with gelled hair who looked at me blankly when I told her I wanted to have a baby.
“And, is there a problem?”
“No”, I said, “Just, um, all the web sites said I should talk to a doctor, because I’m 40.”
“You still getting your period?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Do you have a partner?”
“No, I’m just going to, you know, ask some fags to give me sperm.” I chuckled and smiled, trying to loosen her up with a homosexual in-joke . Nothing.
“Also, I take Celexa,” I told Dr. Moody Butch. “Will I have to go off my meds?”
“I don’t think so,” She said. “There may be some serotonin withdrawal in the infant, but you should be able to stay on them.”
Serotonin withdrawal! What a horrible way to enter the planet! As a clean drug addict who spent many a day waiting for my crystal meth-kidnapped serotonin to return, I could think of nothing worse. No serotonin equals feeling like you want to die. I couldn’t imagine how fucked a person’s brain chemistry would be, starting their life like that.
I left with a purse full of ‘Go Folic!’ multi-vitamins, feeling like there were probably a million things I should have asked her, and there were.
My friend Monica, whose partner had their kid when she was 43 years old, naturally, told me I needed to get an FSH Test.
“Follicle-stimulating Hormone,” she explained.
If your eggs are elderly and have a hard time making it down the tubes, your body will produce this hormone to give it a kick. Elevated FSH means your eggs are not awesome and you’ll have a hard time getting pregnant. I called my clinic to ask for one.
“Dr. Moody Butch said you don’t need one,” The receptionist told me.
“But I want one,” I pushed.
“She said try for six months and then come back if you’re not pregnant.”
This made me want to cry. Like when you want to punch someone in the face but they’re not there for you to hit, and so you cry.
I had no idea how I would get pregnant, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It would require cajoling reticent gay boys into handing over some of their magic mucus, if not purchasing it outright for thousands of dollars from a sperm bank. Six months of futile sperm bank visits was not an option.
“I need to know if I can get pregnant before I begin trying,” I insisted.
Finally I got an appointment with a lab at General Hospital, in October. It was June. When October came, the Lab canceled; the Doctor was sick. They rescheduled me for the end of November. Fuck America and its no health care!
I went to Walgreens and approached the back wall stacked with pregnancy tests, ovulation tests, fertility tests, newfangled clit ticklers, condoms, lube, scented pussy wipes, etc. My first pee stick!
On the third day of a period that seems to get alarmingly weirder every month-- is this is? Is this the last egg? -- I peed on a stick and waited to see what happened. A single hot pink line appeared in the little window. Was that good or bad? I couldn’t remember! I was keyed up and spazzy.
Wait -- it was good. No FSH. Wait, no FSH is good? Yes, that’s good. Okay, good. My eggs are still sashaying down the tubes, unassisted. In two more days, it would be day five of my period, and I could bust out the ovulation pee sticks. I was on my way, down a plasticy, pee-stick strewn path trod by so many women before me!
Next Week: Did you know that unsafe sex is unsafe? Learn more!