Michelle Tea: SPERM CLUB!

No, I don’t know if my birth father is alive or dead but last I heard he was alive but that was some years ago and he’d told me he was having heart problems and then his phone got disconnected and who knows. Ugh. Do I even want to pass on these genes?
Publish date:
August 15, 2012
pregnancy, getting pregnant with michelle tea, insemination

I check my phone when I leave the acupuncture clinic and find a text from Quentin.

"I don’t have gonorrhea!" It shouts. Hooray! In another day or so, I will get the same news back from Dr. Becky, but I figure if Quentin is clap-free, then so am I.

Buoyed by the clean bill of health but still haunted by my acupuncturist’s impossible suggestions, I march off to the organic produce market. My friend who got knocked up naturally when she was 43 years old and then rode her motorcycle through most of her pregnancy had told me, "Eat lots and lots of food, but make it fruits and vegetables, all organic."

I feel totally embarrassed to admit this, but I go back and forth on the organic. I mean, I know they are better, I know pesticides are bad, I know global warming is real and that smoking kills you, I’m not daft. But organic food is a weird little crack where my money scarcity comes through.

When you look at the pesticide-laden vegetable and then at its upscale organic relation, and you see no visible difference but only a difference in the price, it’s easy for me to be all, What’s the diff? Who cares? This one head of pesticide-laden broccoli isn’t going to kill me.

Sometimes I lapse into something that sounds spookily like my grandfather: We ate regular vegetables all our life and we’re FINE. This is maybe true -- my grandfather ate toxic food, drank and smoked filterless cigarettes until he died in his 80s. My grandmother, however, died in her 50s. My stepfather has been stricken with a weird spinal disease. Now I veer into a different direction: What the fuck, it’s too late, I was raised on pesticide vegetables and mad cow low-end ground beef, I’m doomed.

Obviously, if I just bought the fucking organic produce, I would be spared this apocalyptic head trip. If the 50-cent difference on the organic broccoli is going to render me homeless, then I’m too close to financial ruin for it to matter.

I make a pledge to stop letting my scarcity issues make me physically and mentally unhealthy and just buy the organic vegetables that everyone says is best for fertility. I go on a serious fruit bender and then have gas for days. But at least I am not releasing toxins into the environment.

“This is our last insemination forever!” Quentin says sadly. Then, remembering why we are there, “Oh! Well, I mean, I hope it’s the last one forever!”

Quentin is in drag again. "Arts Administrator Drag" -- satin pants, a bronze blouse and a wrap, all in autumnal tones. His hair is long and curly and he’s wearing more intellectual eyeglasses. I totally feel like she’s going to review my grant application and give me some stern but loving feedback.

Pandemonium Forever!

This really is the last time we are going to do this forever. Next month I’ll be gone for all 30 days, off on Sister Spit, a cross-country performance tour. A whole cycle, wasted. I’m traveling with a trans woman and a fag, both of whom I could maybe bum some sperm off, but I feel too invested in Quentin. It would feel like cheating! I’m monogamous with my girlfriend AND our sperm donor. It’s just how I am.

Also, while I’m off gallivanting across the country, Rhonda will be moving to Los Angeles. She found a little turquoise house she has all to herself, and the romance she’s been having with the androgynous skater person has gotten seriously serious.

I bust out a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling cider and we make a toast. I may not be pregnant, but we’ve all come together over these months to take a tremendous, intimate risk together. Rhonda has stared down my vagina. Quentin has engaged in one of the most personal of acts, in my kitchen, my cats clawing at the door. Dashiell has held a bowl of sperm and globbed it up a syringe.

It all could have been horribly awkward, and while it may have been occasionally awkward, it was never horrible. I understand why Quentin was feeling sentimental about the break we’ll be having. Though the main objective has been to get me pregnant, what we created was a strange, personal gathering where we all grew closer. Like a book club. Sperm Club.

After Quentin and Rhonda leave, I put a pad on my ripped lace underwear and get into bed.

“Are you spermy?” Dashiell asks. I’m sending mixed messages, wearing a pair of torn lace underwear and a spermy pad.

“I am in fact spermy,” I tell her, and we cuddle into each other like it was what our bodies were made for, and fall asleep.

I get an email from my friend Sassy who has been making her living by selling her eggs to a clinic in New York City. I love thinking that there will someday be a bunch of little Sassys running around -- I imagine girls with perfectly winged eyeliner who are have The Dwarves on repeat, are obsessed with pug dogs and spend all their time in dusty weirdo thrift shops, bonding with the owner and scoring discounts on the creepy ventriloquist dummies they collect. Because that’s Sassy.

"Hey, I accidentally on purpose forgot to give back my fertility meds while I was in New York, and now I have a freezer full of Follistim if you want it." It’s a generous but overwhelming offer. I don’t know how to get it from her, or how to use it, and I’m about to leave for a month.

And before I leave, I have a visit with the fertility clinic.

The fertility clinic is part of a larger teaching hospital, and is nestled inside their women’s clinic building, in a neighborhood that is dominated by the hospital’s many outposts and therefore quiet ugly and alienating. The women’s clinic is slightly less architecturally depressing, and once you walk inside it’s actually charming. The walls are covered with tiles depicting various leaves and plants and herbs, and the hallway to the elevators leads you past a landscaped, glass-walled courtyard. A lot of slightly traumatized women dump a lot of money in this place, I think. And it is decorated to receive them.

There are signs in the waiting room thanking you for turning your cell phone off AND for leaving all babies and children at home, as to not trigger the fertility-challenged lady patients.

Now, I may be being horribly insensitive, but I think: Toughen up, ladies. What do other people’s children have to do with you? Children exist, whether we can have them or not. There’s even a way to get deeply Buddhist about it and understand that all children are everyone’s children, though I get that that is advanced to the point of feeling delusional. I guess I am too much of the mindset that other people aren’t responsible for your triggers, and am surprised to see the clinic handling us all with such kid gloves.

I personally don’t give a crap if the place is crawling with little rug monkeys, AND I would like to use my cell phone so I can snap some photos for this hear blog, but oh well.

Fine, then can I bring my dog?

My name is called and I am taken to my doctor, Dr. Waller, by a person who appears to be a big dyke. No way! Jan has hair that looks short in the manner of having grown in from requisite lesbian baldness. She wears not regular earrings but piercing jewelry in her lobes, which looks gay. Her fingernails are short.

Beyond all this, if there is in fact a lesbian gene, I think Jan is carrying it. Whoo-hoo! I can’t even believe my good fortune!

In Dr. Waller’s room, Jan goes through my intake form with me. As we talk about the history of my extended family, a majority of which are either alcoholic or out of the picture or both, I think of my sister. She recently had to go through our family health history for her own pregnancy, and got caught in a shame spiral at how f’d up our lineage is.

I understood, but also thought that it wouldn’t bother me quite so much. Haven’t I cultivated a dark humor around my dysfunctional origins? Isn’t that part of my shtick, providing I have a shtick, which I probably do?

But guess what? When you are relaying all of this information to a health care professional as opposed to, say, your best friends or the attendees of an AA meeting, it feels different. It feels sort of bad.

No, I don’t know if my birth father is alive or dead but last I heard he was alive but that was some years ago and he’d told me he was having heart problems and then his phone got disconnected and who knows. His molester-y brother probably knows where he is, and his daughter is my Facebook "friend," so probably if he died someone would tell me?

I think his other brothers are all alcoholic and one had cirrhosis. I think my paternal grandfather had diabetes and got his toes amputated. I don’t know anything about my paternal grandmother. Everyone smokes. Ugh. Do I even want to pass on these genes?

My ancestry

I tell Jan everything. I tell her about what we’ve been doing, the inseminations, and I tell her about Dashiell.

“Queer families are so great,” she says knowingly. “You have so many more options.” She leads me into the exam room for my ultrasound with Dr. Waller.

Dr. Waller has little spectacles and a chipper, somewhat humorous manner. He’s a doctor and a guy, so I’m not super comfy with him, but he gets all into my tattoos and I relax. On the scale of doctor-warmth he’s actually pretty up there. It would be unfair to compare anyone to Dr. Becky, who I am in love with. The medical duo leaves and I take off my pants and underwear and hop up on the exam table with a paper sheet over my thighs.

I’ve had an ultrasound before. When I was a kid, I was having all these abdominal pains which were probably just psychosomatic stress pains from my parents fighting and what not; they never really found out what it was -- maybe a horseshoe-shaped kidney?

Along the way, I had all sorts of procedures done: so much blood drawn that I have a divot in the crook of my elbow, radioactive dye, a castor oil cleanse and an ultrasound. I remember weird jelly on my belly and something that felt like a tiny iron being slid across it. That’s what I was expecting.

I wasn’t expecting an instrument that looks basically like a big vibrator to be stuck up my vag.

Next Weeks: What to eggs-pect when you’re eggs-pecting?