So, as the crappiest day ever continues, I report for a work meeting that leaves me huddled in the bathroom afterwards, weeping on the can. This is a moment of triumph. I heartily believe in Kelly Cutrone’s work advice for the more unstable sex: If You Have To Cry, Go Outside, even as I’ve found it to be beyond my reach throughout my work life. Sometimes you don’t even realize you have to cry on the job until it’s happening and tears are rolling down your face! Or, you think you can keep it together, and then you can’t. Or, you realize that you must stay totally still and breathe in order not to cry, and the effort it would take to excuse yourself would blow it, exploding tears from your eyeballs, and so all you can do is breathe shaky breaths, hope your eyelashes are clumped with enough smudgy mascara to absorb any light overflow and pray the levees don’t break. Ugh.
Now that I’m on meds I’m waaaaaaaay better at not bursting into tears on the job –- in fact, it has all but stopped, so I thought until today. But the one-two punch of Your Eggs Are Busted with Your Leadership Skills Are Busted is too much for me to take. I comfort myself with having followed Cutrone’s advice, somewhat: the bathroom is outside, and I don’t fully lose it until I’m bolted inside.
God, it feels GOOD to lose it. I can’t remember the last time I sobbed like this, surely it was during my big break up five years ago. As far as not being able to leave a public bathroom for crying, that would have to be when I was twenty-one years old and on The Pill for the first (and last) time. No one had mentioned that a side effect of the meds was total and complete loss of emotional control. Thanks, doc!
I’m due at Dashiell’s house to recap the day’s bad news, but I swear, I can’t make it. And I don’t want Dashiell to see me like this! She’s the only person I’ve ever dated who hasn’t seen me lose my mind, and I’d like to keep it that way. But Dashiell is the tenderest person ever, and even though the thought of being comforted when I am such a mess is generally repulsive to me, I actually really need her. We start a text. I Think I Might Just Go Home, I start, like a baby. I totally want her to beg me to come over. You know how when you lose it, every shitty personality trait you have comes rushing out of your psyche, wanting their moment in the sun. But she does sort of beg me to come over, and we make a plan to walk towards each other and meet on some side street in the Mission.
When I see her walking toward me like a lanky male model / Outsiders extra, I’m filled with such happiness it swirls into my sadness and makes a whole new emotional ice cream cone. We hug in the street like we’re in a movie, and then she hugs me all the way home. Her bestie brings us a freaking rotisserie chicken from the fancy Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant, and we eat and cuddle and talk and I get lots of pets and I can’t believe I am with someone who is able to just really BE THERE in a hard moment. It feels so luxurious I almost feel guilty -- shouldn’t I be apologizing for myself, or taking care of your feelings about my feelings? Nope. The combo of being properly comforted plus the fact that I am in fact medicated brings my tears to a halt. After snotting up a full bandanna, I manage to pull myself together.
It’s time to talk about the real casualty of this bad fertility news -- the blog.
“I can’t stop THE BLOG!” I wail to Dashiell. “My readers will be so disappointed! Everyone wants a happy ending! Plus, I was going to make it into a BOOK! No one will publish a book about a woman trying to get pregnant that ends with a bunch of dried-up eggs and no baby!”
There’s only one thing to do. Wait -- there are actually many things to do. We have a bunch of options. But I seize on the one that sounds like the best story. “We have to get you pregnant.” I can easily morph Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea into Getting Dashiell Pregnant With Michelle Tea! It’s positively genius!
Dashiell looks alarmed. No, that’s not right. It’s more like a look of sheer terror moves across her face and sort of freezes there. “Now?!” She exclaims. “I’m not ready!”
Dashiell has spoken about having a baby in a general way. Before meeting me, she assumed that some day she would have to figure out how to give birth -- even though the idea sort of horrified her -- because the thought of finding a femme girl to have her baby struck her as sort of crude. But now that she has unwittingly found a femme girl to have her baby, the thought of getting her half-man half-woman body/mind-spirit pregnant is a bit unbearable.
“I understand,” Says my sister when I tell her about Dashiell’s reluctance to get knocked up. “Being pregnant is SO MISERABLE, even if you don’t have body issues. I can’t imagine how awful it would be for Dashiell.”
I think of Dashiell going to work, where she leads and directs more or less as a guy. She wears tailored menswear. She’s regarded as male. She IS male. She’s a male female. To have her belly and tits suddenly surge out of control and to have to be walking through the world like that is too much for her.
“I’d have to go to a farm or something,” She says, truly trying to problem solve an unsolvable problem. I imagine us retiring to a yurt in the woods for nine months, where I would minister to my pregnant boyfriend, giving massages and making stews with herbs I forage from the forest.
“Butch baby ranch!” My friend Gertrude enthuses over the telephone. Her butch girlfriend also might be the bearer of their eventual baby, and is having similar loathsome body issues. The problem has sparked Gertrude’s can-do, entrepreneurial spirit -- she’s opened a ranch, a Butch Baby Ranch, sort of like those places in Nevada where women used to go for divorces in the 50s, only butch people whose bodies are betraying them with the miracle of life can hide out and butch bond over their bulging butch bellies.
That this is actually a fantastic idea is confirmed by how excited my brother-in-law, a reality television producer, gets about it. It would make a really great show! I get totally excited too -– I know it’s trashy but I’d just love to be on a reality show! I buzz around a bit high from the idea until I realize a reality show about Butch Baby Ranch would sort of defeat the purpose. The men folk would be showing up to hide from the public, not be broadcasted to millions. Oh, well.
Dashiell thinks that, whatever else happens, I need to get those fibroids removed. The thought doesn’t totally stress me out -- I know enough people who’ve had the procedure that it feels pretty common, and now that I have health insurance it doesn’t seem like a financial apocalypse. Dashiell also is slow to give up on the possibility of me going forward with some sort of treatment, like an IUI.
“The odds are so low,” I explain, “And the cost is so high, we’d be better off going on a gambling spree and hiring a surrogate with our winnings.” Truly, we could find a way through the financial mess of it if there was more of a guarantee of a baby on the other end, but it seems like only a fool or a really, really rich person would take this route.
“Let’s just wait, and think on it.” Dashiell says. But we can’t think on anything for too long where my low-end eggs are concerned. Every moment we deliberate, another one spoils. But we wait, and we think on me going forward, against the odds. We think of Dashiell sucking it up and getting knocked up and put through woman-body hell for most of a year. We think of adoption, as do many others.
“I’m looking into Polish adoption for you,” My sister tells me, which is so cute. Obviously lots of people remind me about adoption all the time, and I know it’s an option, and one we might turn to if not now then maybe later, as we expand our theoretical brood. I’m totally open to it, it’s just not my first choice. My first choice would be having the whole experience of pregnancy, which I have a weird gut feeling I’d enjoy, despite how grueling it can be. I don’t long for it so much as crave it in a weird, mysterious manner -- how can you crave something you’ve never known? It is fully strange.
A lot of folks have reminded me that there are a lot of unwanted children in the world, which does nothing to spur me towards adoption, but only makes me feel bad, like my desire to have a baby is wrong and a correct desire would be a more selfless desire to save a child in need. But for me, these are two different desires. My sadness at the thought of unwanted children lives in the same part of my mind that feels sadness at the homeless men I see sprawled out and beat up on the curbs in my city, or the thoughts of people being murdered in Syria or raped women forced by law to carry their unwanted child to term. It is stashed with all the other heaps of injustice, both general and specific, and feels very, very different from this desire to walk around with something alive inside my body for nine months.
Nonetheless, I sit down with a deck of tarot cards. I pick three cards on adopting a child. A baby. Not someone so ruined by this world that they’ll smear shit on the walls and kill us in our sleep. The cards are not great. Okay. I pick three more cards, on Dashiell having our baby. Again, gloomy or uninspiring cards pop up. I shuffle again, asking the deck if I am supposed to go forward with IUIs or and IVF with Dr. Waller. Three more lousy cards come out.
You’d think that maybe this means I’m not supposed to have a baby at all, but I tarot reading I did at the very start of this whole thing said otherwise. I got glowing, lovely, radiant cards that said YES. Maybe you’d also think, then, that tarot cards are a bunch of bullshit and I’m a moron for trusting such important life decisions to them, but I’ve been reading tarot for too long -- 26 years -- to feel that way. Regardless, I’m stumped. And I figure that’s just how I’m supposed to be right now. Stumped, stymied, in limbo. At least I’m about to leave on tour, and wouldn’t be able to do anything for a month anyway. I split town without telling Quentin and Rhonda what I’ve learned about my body.