Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea: I've Decided to Do Some Fast-Forwarding, But I'm Writing Toward a Crappy Moment
Readers of Blog, I am so sorry to have been absent, but I’ve been on my honeymoon! And right before that I got married, and was too busy assembling a chuppah to be able to attend to this blog. And actually, so many things have happened recently -- in real-time, not this delayed blog-time -– that I think I ought to bring this story up to speed.
Part of me doesn’t want to. Frankly, I’m in love with my life, and the thought of not being able to indulge every little detail hurts my heart a bit. Even knowing that a vocal portion of you think it’s too slow-going and –- gasp! -– BORING! –- gasp! – doesn’t really move me. I mean, I’m documenting how fucking arduous and endless and frustrating it is to try to get knocked up in this modern, lesbionic way, and if that means it’s a tad dull or repetitive sometimes, so be it. It’s important for writers to keep it real. Plus, HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL????? Anyways.
It’s really the roller coaster of recent events that’s made me decide to do some fast-forwarding. It’s going to be hard for me to mosey on down memory lane here knowing that I’m writing toward such a crappy moment. So I’d rather get it all over with. Please, allow me to share some highlights from the past months.
Meeting nurse Stella and discovering she is smoking hot.
She has long, messy dark hair and turquoise chandelier earrings and generally looks like she should be modeling Pendleton clothing on a rust-colored cliff in Sante Fe. After the endless injection class I just spared you from hearing about, we met in her office to fill out a bunch of paperwork, including one that asks us what we want the hospital to do with Dashiell’s eggs if we die or break up. Well, we hadn’t talked about this!
The part about if we die is a no-brainer. If Dashiell dies those eggs go to me and I will spend the rest of my life giving birth to all of them, a quiverfull of gaybies with Dashiell’s elvin features. But if we break up? Well firstly, it’s not going to happen. Me and Dashiell are never going to break up, we’re getting married. But unfortunately so many other millions of couples have broken up –- couples who at some point swore they’d never –- that no one is going to believe us! So they make us fill out this stupid paperwork.
“Well, if we break up I guess I sure don’t want your eggs,” I say glumly. Even having to consider this is hurting my feelings.
“Well, I guess I would want them,” Dashiell shrugs uneasily, as confused as I am. “I mean . . . they’re my eggs.”
I see where she’s coming from. Knowing that she’s never going to break up with me but having to consider a break up, Dashiell is reckoning with a scenario in which I’ve either heartlessly dumped her, or done something unforgiveable, thereby forcing her away from me. Of course she’ll take her eggs with her when she goes! She’ll be taking her West Elm dresser as well, I suppose! Not to mention Rodney the Dog!
But, still. I feel like these are our eggs. Even though she is making them with her body, we are making them with our intention and planning, our efforts and our cold hard cash. I think that if we were to break up, they should be destroyed. But the whole thing is too foolish to get into, because we’re not breaking up. So I sign off on the eggs going to Dashiell in the event that I am drugged without my consent and then placed in close proximity to, oh, Lea Seydoux or Ryan Gosling, who have also been drugged without their consent, with, like, a love drug, and they put the moves on me and I let it happen, and then Dashiell leaves me.
Except I don’t actually think Dashiell would leave me under these circumstances. But they’re the only circumstance I can imagine cheating on Dashiell, so whatever. ONWARD!
Firing my therapist.
Remember my dismissive Russian therapist? Dumped her. Came off meds and started shooting progesterone and LOST MY MIND. Like, crying all the time. Feeling like I should totally dismantle and throw into the garbage the literary non-profit me and others have spent 10 years lovingly building. Canceling writing classes and literary events because I just can’t get stop sobbing long enough to leave the house.
Then, when a snarky bookstore employee Twitters something mean about me betraying young people with my no-show, I lose my mind completely, Tweet her back that I’m losing my mind, call the bookstore and hysterically freak out at the manager, find the culprit on Facebook and send her a mile-long letter sparing no detail in all I have been suffering, and then send a note to the owner. I spend the rest of the day weeping and make an appointment with my elusive General Practitioner, Dr. Louboutin, who I am miraculously able to see because she had taken the day off due to Jury Duty but then never got called in.
Dr. Louboutin confirms there is nothing safe I can take to be less of a crazy bitch while undergoing IVF. No SSRIs, no herbs, nothing. She hands me some printouts listing various therapists, and I start going to a new one, Kenneth. Kenneth is older and sober and gay, all of which rule, but after a couple months visiting with him I adjust to life on progesterone and off Celexa and don’t have much to say.
I find myself obsessing on how bummed I am that my step-father was a peeping tom and how my mother stayed with him anyways, but this drama is over 20 years old, and I’m sick of talking about it. Does it make me feel bad? Yes, and forever. I think Buddhist acceptance is more helpful than therapeutic rehashes at this point. And Buddhism is free. I break up with Kenneth.
Dashiell gets harvested.
This happens over gay pride weekend, which is extra proud this year what with the good news around Prop 8 and DOMA. We’re psyched that our marriage will be legal! Now I won’t have to legally adopt my fucking baby when I give birth to it someday, Goddess willing.
After hanging out at the Dyke March we run home and give Dashiell her trigger shot at exactly 8:15 at night. The next morning it’s Gay Day and we’re in the hospital bright and early, in a room that looks out onto this hill where a bunch of gays created a big pink triangle. It feels really sweet and silly and special that gay day could be our conception day.
And I realize that if I get pregnant from any of the eggs we get today, the conception day will be gay day, because the first thing they do when they grab Dashiell’s eggs is douse it with Quentin’s gay sperm and get them growing! I can’t help but feel that this is auspicious.
When I meet back up with Dashiell after the brief procedure she is all doped up and goofy and possibly happier than she’s ever been. The number 10 is written on her hand in Sharpie - it’s how many eggs they got. Ten eggs. They all won’t make it to transfer, but that’s a good amount to work with. Super high on whatever they pumped her full of, Dashiell is insisting on thanking everyone who operated on her for their service. Even wasted, she is unerringly polite. Apparently she was already buzzed when they asked her her name and what she was in for, and she replied, “To get the golden egg.” Our friend Mallory picks us up, greeting Dashiell with “You are the Eggman!”
I love being on the pills, even though the next day I crash and sob. But for the time I’m high, it’s nice. Being high is usually nice. A billion drug addicts can’t be wrong. The transfer is quick and painless and the lighting is super groovy. The only snag is when the doctor doing the job -– it’s not Dr. Waller -– asks us if we’d like one or two eggs transferred. What???? Dude, I’m HIGH. Don’t ask me to make a life-changing decisions when I’m on pills! Plus, I didn’t think we had a say. Dr. Waller said we were going with one, and that was that. We stick with the plan. Later, when we tell Dr. Waller about this he seems miffed and makes a note on our computer.
Not getting pregnant.
I gave myself the afternoon to cry about it. It would have been too good to be true, would it not? Pregnant on the first try? But it doesn’t feel like my first try, it feel like my 80th. Dashiell and I console ourselves with not having to raise an Aries, and we meet with Dr. Waller to make a game plan for Take Two. This time around he wants me to stuff two squishy, crumbly Viagra suppositories up my hoo-ha each night.
Apparently the boner saver has had great off-label success beefing up the uterine lining. We don’t know if my uterine lining was why that last little zygote didn’t attach, but why not cover all bases? He puts me on a regimen of aspirin as well, to thin out my blood, and it’s back to shooting progesterone in my ass again. Again, it makes me feel fucking insane and tragic. But then it stops. And we transfer another egg.
When Stella calls to tell me I’m pregnant I’m on my way to a nearby creperie to eat my final fatty meal. I just know I’m not pregnant, much to the dismay of my mother, who had a dream that I was and now believes it’s true, because like all the women in my family she is a witch.
My plan, after getting this confirmed, is to drink a goblet of Colon Cleanse because I have not shat in what seems like years. It’s the progesterone shots, though the prenatal vitamins don’t hurt. I also am flirting with the thought of getting a shot of bo-bo before our wedding. Why not? I got Botox a couple years ago and I freaking loved it. My forehead looked lovely and I didn’t look at all frozen, just relaxed. It’s too expensive to keep up with, but if a wedding isn’t cause for cosmetic injections, than what is?
But when Stella calls, it’s to tell me that I’m pregnant. This body of mine, that I’ve so worried just wouldn’t be a hospitable place for a baby to grow, is growing a baby. I start crying there on the street.
“I just didn’t think I was,” I tell her.
“But why?” she asks, as if was a given that I’d get pregnant.
“I don’t know,” I stammer. “I just haven’t ever been pregnant before.”
My hormone numbers are double what they should be, which makes Stella confident that it’s not just a chemical pregnancy but the real deal. When I go in for another blood draw in two days my numbers are again double what was expected. Stella tells me Dr. Waller is really happy. We go in for an ultrasound, and the Nurse Practioner is points to a tiny grain of rice on the screen.
"There it is.” She picks up a teeny tiny heartbeat, but it’s still early. When we return in a couple weeks we can see the heartbeat. It flickers inside the embryo like a strobe light. It’s incredible.
“You're done here,” the NP says happily. “Now that you’re pregnant, we don’t need to see you anymore. Find yourself an obstetrician. And congratulations.”
I feel so pregnant! This means I get hit with a crazy exhaustion and have to take naps all the time. Three hour naps. I try to get up after 20 minutes, or even an hour, an it’s like I’ve been drugged. Dashiell’s sister is also pregnant -- oh yeah, Dashiell’s gentlemanly sister is also pregz! What bounty! -– and it seriously makes me cry to think of her, and all pregnant women, having to report to an actual job while feeling like this. I’m so grateful that I work from home and can schedule a nap into my day if I need to.
Everything smells disgusting. About a month before our wedding and less than two weeks after learning I’m pregs, we move into a house way out in the Outer Sunset, by the beach. Because we’ll lose the built-in furniture that came with our apartment, we have to buy new dressers. The smell of them makes me want to die.
Plus the smell of Rodney’s dog vomit on the carpet in the sun room, plus the smell of the cleaner I used to clean it up, plus Charlie. Also, the entire world outside my door smells like urine, human and animal. I start bringing Saltines, ginger ale and Kind bars around in my purse.
We get into the New York Times.
Remember how I said I was going to submit our wedding announcement to the NYT’s Vows segment? Well, we got in! Not only that, the video journalist who makes little movies about future newlyweds likes our Getting Pregz story, and is flying out to San Francisco to make a movie about us!
She’s going to accompany us to our first meeting with our OB, something we really had to work on the hospital to allow.
“You really want the media there at your first ultrasound?” the timid media relations woman asks nervously.
It’s not our first ultrasound! It’s our third, and we’ve seen the heartbeat. It’s cool, man! The video journalist is cool, too. In her cat eye glassed and Converse she’s like someone I’d hang out with, and I feel totally fine about her being in the room when the OB slides her finger up my butt during the exam. What can I say? I’m a free spirit.
The OB, Dr. Betsy, is grey-haired and red-faced, Irish and portly, and I daresay a lesbian, though we can’t be sure. She asks Dashiell if she’d like to take those pills that help you lactate so she can breastfeed the baby, too, and Dashiell goes white and shakes her head.
The doctor laughs. “I’ve never seen a lesbian partner say yes,” she says. We try to get look at the baby on the ultrasound, which is not as high-tech as the ones at the IVF clinic, but we can’t.
"20% of women we can’t pick up at this stage,” she says. “It’s nothing to be worried about.”
OK cool, then I won’t worry. We hoped to get a shot of it for the video, but the video journalist asks if we’ll take some footage at our next appointment and send it to her. Our next appointment, as it turns out, is the day before our wedding. Which is rad, because our moms will both be in town and can come see it, too!
Dashiell gets nervous before all these appointments, but I don’t. It just doesn’t occur to me that anything will be wrong. It does occur to Dr. Betsy. When once again she can’t see anything, she’s quick to get real about it.
"You should prepare yourself for bad news,” she says solemnly. “There is a chance that everything is OK, but we really should be able to see something right now.”
The mothers look worried. They’re both Scorpios, both prone to worst-case-scenario thinking, and my mother is a nurse. She knows all too well all that can go awry. But I have the dopey good attitude of someone in serious denial. We’re sent down the hall to a better ultrasound machine, and the woman rubs jelly over my stomach and presses down. She presses and presses and presses, and looks at me.
“I’m so sorry,” she says.
Me and Dashiell hug each other and cry while Dr. Betsy goes back into the exam room to break the news to our mothers. Then we head over the food court, mostly closed at this early AM hour, and wait to be called back for another ultrasound. I drink coffee, because I can. I can’t stop crying, and daub at my eyes with a wadded-up napkin. Dashiell’s mom buys us pastry but I can’t eat it.
I go outside and call Madeline and cry. I send text messages to everyone I told I was pregnant, asking them to please tell everyone they told I was pregnant that I’m not pregnant anymore. Friends call but I don’t want to talk to anyone. I can’t believe we’re getting married tomorrow, and everyone will be feeling sorry for me, and I’ll be still looking totally pregnant.
Even though it’s not the baby, it’s just bloating, I look so pregnant people on the streets are letting me cut them in bathroom lines. I’ll have this sad little thing inside me, a little sack of cells that stopped growing two weeks ago, at eight weeks. We’ll never know why.
I run a chance of miscarrying at my wedding –- and yes, I’m wearing white! –- so I pack my purse with pads. I’m on progesterone suppositories, and I probably won’t miscarry so long as I keep taking them, staving it off until my abortion next week. I have to have an abortion! Dashiell wishes I would just call it a D + C, but it’s too weird that my quest to get pregnant has resulted in having to have this famous procedure.
I used to do clinic defense in Boston, waking up early to link arms against fanatical Christians, keeping the clinic open, helping women get inside. Now I’m getting one? Too weird. Too awful.
Would you like people at the wedding to mention this or would you rather they didn’t? Rhonda thoughtfully texts. Oh Jesus, how do I know? It’s exhausting to consider. I don’t know, I text back.
Because it is the day before our freaking wedding, there is no time to collapse into the tears I know I would if life was normal. But life isn’t normal. Our families are in town, friends have come from all over. Dashiell has her hair appointment, and I have to get a mani-pedi. The only thing worse than this happening before such a special day would be the tragedy of it being visible in our uncharacteristically shabby appearance.
Tomorrow’s photos are going to be with us forever. I’m getting my nails done. After that there’s time to lay down for 20 minutes but not to cry, as crying makes my face turn scarlet and my eyes swell up, for hours. Dashiell has wondered if I might be allergic to my own tears.
After resting with a progesterone tablet in my vagina, it’s time to get up and go to our rehearsal dinner, and make it through the pizza party without having a meltdown.