Being wracked with guilt seems to be a perennial part of cat ownership, which doesn't make it any less awful when it happens to you.
You guys, I keep forgetting the fake names I’m giving everyone for this blog. Like, what was I calling the lady who is sort of our caseworker at the fertility clinic? The lady who talks to me on the phone and sets everything up? Well, today I’ll just call her Sandy.
Sandy is going to send me some labs for rubella, varicella (chickenpox), the Human T-lymphotropic viruses 1 + 2, and also to find out my blood type. But I just found out my blood type during the labs I did for my fibroid operation! I’m O+. How common. But I can finally see what I’m supposed to eat according to that Eat Right For You Type diet and guess what? Just as I’ve suspected, I’m supposed to avoid wheat, dairy and beans and eat meat every day. I’d rather avoid meat and eat Oreos and cheese every day, but whatev. Knowledge is power!
I try not to give Sandy too much attitude when she schedules the psych evaluation with Dr. Rich -– I don’t want to make an enemy out of someone I really need as an ally, and plus Sandy is so nice and it’s not her fault this homophobic rule is in place. But when you uphold a homophobic protocol, you’re kind of complicit. Ugh. It doesn’t matter because I wind up breaking the appointment anyway.
I’m instructed to call the office on the first real day of my period, so that I can come in for a $600 saline sonogram, which will need to be paid up front in full. I like that she specified "real" day of my period, because, honestly, I am still a bit baffled as to when that is. But maybe that will stop now that the fibroids are gone? Maybe I’ll just, you know, boom, get my period. Rather than a weird drip, drip, drip, stop, drip, PERIOD pattern that I’ve had the past year or so.
“We’ll look at your uterine lining to assess for abnormalities,” Sandy explains in her chipper way. Then we wind up in a bit of a computer mix-up, because the clinic’s data system doesn’t have a two-female-partners option, so she has to toggle back and forth between me and Dashiell’s pages and it’s a bit confusing.
“I’m toggling, I’m toggling,” Sandy says. “Sometimes I toggle too much and I’m in the wrong person’s chart.”
I used to be the sort of person who really liked professional displays of incompetence because I felt so out of place and awkward in the world, I relished the opportunity to have a "Hey, it’s OK, we’re all just people, right, I’m no one special, don’t let me oppress you by requiring your labor, I’m not The Man" sort of experience. Now I just think, I am paying good fucking money for this, don’t tell me you’re toggling off to Buffalo here while I’m already worried you don’t have me synched up with my Baby Daddy-Mommy. As Dashiell would say, "Criminey!"
“You don’t need financial counseling for IUIs?” Sandy clarifies.
“Nope. We’re going IVF, with Anne’s egg in my uterus,” I explain. It’s weird calling Dashiell "Anne," and I’m afraid I’m going to slip into Dashiell-mode, further confusing everything.
“OK,” she says. She doesn’t offer me IVF financial counseling, I wonder why? It is more expensive. I’d rather have some sort of financial counseling where I can rip open my scarcity wounds and let my impoverished inner child weep and freak out than the weird session I anticipate where the psychologist tells us –- what? That once Dashiell gives me her egg, it’s no longer hers? I imagine that’s what egg donors get counseled on.
But she’s my person, of course the egg will be hers. Is it to rub our faces in what scarce legal protections we have as individual queers, should we decide to lose our minds and act like raging assholes to each other? Does Dr. Rich sit husbands down and tell them that once they hand their sperm over to their wife it’s no longer "theirs"? Are you sick of hearing about this yet? Sorry.
Sandy proscribes us a Z-Pack of antibiotics to wipe out any STD bacteria we might have swimming around in our systems. “It has a negative effect in the female body and can affect conception,” she explains. A Z-Pack is a whopper, a 5-day course of really strong antibiotics that will blast everything out of our systems and leave me, I fear, with a yeast infection.
I ask that I be proscribed a Diflucan as well. A doctor I had at Kaiser when I had college teaching health care for one year did that, always proscribed a Diflucan with antibiotics, and now I think that anyone who doesn’t hates women. Sandy makes a bit of a fuss about it so I just tell her to forget it. I’m getting my bloodwork done at Dr. Wendy’s office and I’ll just have her prescribe me one. Dr. Wendy doesn’t hate women.
Before I get off the phone with Sandy, she lets me know that me and Dashiell are very clear in their system -– Dashiell is the donor, I am the recipient. “OK,” I say, and hang up.
It’s my friend Tali’s birthday and she wants to celebrate it with steak, like always. We settle in at House of Prime Rib, where they wheel the meat around in a giant silver cart and everyone wears tall paper hats on their heads. The waitstaff are in suits and the owner, who is about 90 years old, comes by to check on us and make an old-fashioned joke about how his wife is going to kill him for working so much. It’s totally the kind of Ye Olde experience Tali lives for, and now that I know I’m O+ and born to dine on flesh, I can chow down my grisly Prime Rib with with slightly less guilt, though the squeamishnish factor is still at play.
After dinner, me and Dashiell cuddle up in bed with my computer open to the PDF of sperm donors. Dashiell is dying to see pictures, but only a few donors provide them, and you have to go in person to the office to look at them, and pay a fee. Some guys have baby pictures on file at the office, and some have contemporary shots, and some even have a video. Still feeling like a creepy eugenicist, we start combing for a European mutt, especially one with some Latin or Native blood in the mix.
Dashiell doesn’t want to select to retain her eyes, but I do. Maybe it’s because I’ve got brown eyes that I think her sparkly blue-green eyes are so special, and because she’s got that color that she finds my brown eyes so soulful, but we’re at some sort of eye color stalemate. Dashiell mostly wants the baby to look like a mini-us, which I understand but I know that my own beauty can be improved upon, and as a mother I just want what’s best for our baby!
We also try to figure out these men, using just the brief lines of vague adjectives used to describe them. The guy with the high school education who is now a real estate investor who flies helicopters? Is he rich or military? Dashiell admires an entrepreneur, but I think we have all the business genes covered with Dashiell. More than my ethnic makeup, I want to be filing in my gaps with some artistic genetics.
I say no to a minister. Dashiell says no to the philosopher, but I like the philosopher. He also says no to the thespian -– "Thespians are weird," she says. I think Dashiell would like Steve Jobs’ sperm, or Mark Zuckerburg’s million-dollar genetics, or maybe Richard Branson’s. I am looking for Wes Anderson’s, or Eckert Tolle’s or David Rakoff.
"There are some literary entrepreneurs," Dashiell offers, and I look at him like he’s insane. There’s a filmmaker whose sole hobby is "making movies," which I really like. That sort of creativity and focus. It’s good to be somewhat single-minded as an artist. Of course he sold his sperm to fund his movies! I decide he is passionate and directed, two great traits.
How can we even consider any sperm donor who lists "golf" as a hobby? We can’t! We need thespionic, philosophical, obsessive filmmaker sperm! Dashiell falls asleep beside me, but I keep scrolling down the PDF, trying to read into the real person, the life and the stories behind these stale lines of type.