When Atticus was born, I thought this love would kill me, how could I bear it.
Quentin shows up and he’s wearing the same striped wool cardigan that Dashiell has. My team inseminates in STYLE! I apologize to Quentin for the state of my house, like I usually do, and then I apologize for always apologizing for it. That must be annoying.
“I guess I’ll just slip out the door afterwards . . . " Quentin shrugs with this look on his face like he’s choking on a giggle. Quentin often looks like he’s choking on a giggle. It’s a very mischievous look. The reason for Quentin slipping away is, without Rhonda here there is no one for him to hang out gossiping with while me and Dashiell and my vibrator have our ménage a trios. So he’s just going to go. I feel sorry or awkward, but Quentin assures me he’s into slipping out while me and Dashiell canoodle: “It makes me feel like your mother,” he says, “Which I like.” Dashiell does a boss job impregnating me with the baby syringe, and then snuggles close while I do my business. The door clicks behind Quentin.
Dashiell is sleepy, it’s very late. Soon she gets up and goes home. She can’t really sleep at my house ever, because the cats make her eyes swell and tear like she is watching the most tragic movie of all time, plus there is little actual sleeping at my house due to cats walking all over your head while you’re trying to sleep plus speed demons burning rubber under my bedroom window, drunkards hollering in the street, neighbors who perhaps cure their insomnia by playing Rock Star, and plink plink plink of the leaky pipes inside my walls. Dashiell’s apartment is so peaceful, set far back from the street, facing a garden with lemon trees and chickens. She has to be there early to walk her small dog anyway, another reason she can’t stay over. She kisses me goodbye and shuffles out of my house like a male model, all lanky and handsome and timelessly dashing. I fall asleep feeling like a princess, hoping that deep inside my body a microscopic tadpole has busted into into my cervix and is making the 10-hour swim to meet my pending egg.
In the morning I return phone calls while running holiday errands. I talk to Tali. “Are you pregnant yet?” she asks. “Have you bought Quentin a bus pass at least?” I talk to my sister, who brings up IUIs -- Intrauterine Insemination -- where the doctor washes the sperm (getting rid of mucus and any deadbeat swimmers) and then shoots it right into your cervix. Maybe it’s like $600 a pop, my sister says, she’s not sure. I can get my head around $600. I’ve got some savings -- what am I saving for if not something like this? I’m not ready to investigate it, but I like knowing it’s there.
My pee sticks are making me crazy. When I notice the line darken a little I get excited and decide I’m ovulating, even though the instructions CLEARLY say that my pee line has to be AS DARK OR DARKER than the control line. It’s not. It’s just, like, a little darker, and I get all freaked out and amped like I’m ovulating and start begging Quentin to come over every day, which he does, even though the holidays are now officially here and he is busier than ever. I think about Tali’s suggestion that I buy him a bus pass. It just seems so tacky. I do get Quentin a holiday gift, though, a Tarot card reading manual. He is so sweetly surprised to get a gift! “Quentin, you are giving me the biggest gift of all, “ I say. “The gift of life.” For Rhonda I grab the new Babycakes cookbook so she can bake herself a bunch of bingeworthy gluten-free treats, and I get Dashiell a very lovely French perfume, the kind that comes with a story, like, ‘This is the scent of a wild albino stag dashing alongside a creek northeast of Provence, where his cloven hooves, clumped with the rich and fertile earth, tramples a bed of violets." I was a little nervous, getting Dashiell a perfume. What if she thinks I think she stinks? Once I bought my friend Beezus soap for her birthday and she said, “What, do you think I’m dirty or something?” The thing is, Dashiell DOES stink. She smells like heaven. She smells like impeccable grooming, like she’s sweating the very goodness of her soul from her pores. Dashiell loves smells, and its because of that I want to get her a special perfume, but what if I pick one she doesn’t like? I narrow my odds by hitting the perfume counter at Barneys. You can’t not like a perfume from Barneys because every flacon they stock is some sort of perfection. The manliest man on staff helped me and I used him as a bit of a barometer -- Would you wear this? I asked. “Nah, too sweet for me,” he said. Thus dude doesn’t want to smell like a girl, and neither does Dashiell. I settle on the bottle that smells like albino stag and violets.
By the way, if you are ever afraid to go to the perfume counter at Barneys because you’re a dirtbag with no money and you think they’ll spot your ignoble provenance the moment you walk in and begin dreaming up with clever ways to humiliate you, you are SO wrong. The perfume counter at Barneys is staffed by adorable perfume obsessive, total scent nerds who will talk to you for three hours about the interesting histories and compositions of every perfume in the place, and when you leave you will feel like you just graduated from some kind of elite finishing school. You know that feeling you have, that everyone with money knows all this stuff that you don’t know and you’ll always be a bumbling hick who doesn’t know the secret handshake? Well, you will still have that feeling. But you will have it a little bit less.
Anyway, back to my insemination! Quentin comes over straight from a holiday party, wearing the greatest holiday sweater in the history of textiles. He has outdone himself in every way. Also, he is wearing little animal mittens on his hands. It’s too much. I apologize for the state of my kitchen floor -- I actually washed it, but the cleaner that comes with my battery-powered Swiffer smells so gross I’m afraid he’ll pass out from the fumes all locked up in there doing his business. Or that it will somehow damage his sperm count.
The next night Quentin comes over straight from a drag queen production of "The Golden Girls." We should be tapering off the inseminations, but I remember how I had a hysterical pee stick? Well now I get a pee stick FOR REAL. My LH surge is imminent, it appears I will ovulate over the Christmas holiday, which is to be spent cooking food with Dashiell’s friends and family and then watching all the Twilights.
Hmmmm, I ponder this question and shrug it off. I’ll figure it out. I’ll waddle out here and yank it out and run-waddle back to my bed. “Why don’t I put it in for you before I go?” Quentin offers. Oh my god! What a doll! What a Christmas miracle! ‘Oh hey, I’m Quentin, just stopping by to put a bun AND a crumble in your metaphorical and actual ovens!’ Amazing. Later he confesses he was stoned the night he came over from "The Golden Girls," and his guilt prodded him to help out with the crumble.
Quentin comes into my room and hands me the vintage cherry red bowl of sperm. “Thanks!” I suck the stuff up into the syringe, it’s sort of fun, like a game, a game of Get All The Sperm! I think I do. I lay back and inseminate myself. Controlling the syringe, I feel like I can get it up there really deep, but maybe my plunge isn’t quite as powerful? I lay back for 30 minutes, kicking my legs up into a wonked shoulder stand while the sugary smell of crumble seeps out of the kitchen and into my apartment. I love my team, but inseminating myself was fun.
My acupuncture right around now is the special acupuncture they give you when you know (or in my case, hope/hallucinate) you are ovulating. A row of needles across my belly. Needles in my feet, needles in my ear. In the communal acupuncture room at SF Community Acupuncture I lay back in my reclining recliner and slide into that waking-dreaming state. I feel like I can really feel it -- a certain energy humming up inside me. It almost feels like being really turned on, but it’s different than that. Or rather, it is that, but it’s something else, too. It’s energy, swirling energy. “We’re nourishing your uterus,” the acupuncturist said as she tapped the needles in. She’d also said, “I love making babies. The results are so visible.” So many people seek acupuncture for subtle reasons, I can imagine it’s very satisfying to watch one of your clients come in with an ever-swelling belly. I can’t wait til I’m one of them.
After one session, back at Dashiell’s, curled up on her couch watching "Once," the energy in my lower abdomen is so electric it’s almost uncomfortable. I mean, it IS uncomfortable, but it’s exciting, too, because it means that acupuncture is real, it works, and this is the feeling of my uterus being nourished, this enduring, vibrating, almost ticklish sensitivity. It feels ALIVE up there. It makes me wiggle in the couch, jostling Dashiell who is sleeping because she tends to fall asleep when we watch a movie together.
I Can Feel My Uterus, I whisper to her. It Feel So Crazy, Like Things Are Happening. It Feels Magical. She opens her eyes, which get way otherworldly when she’s sleepy, and kisses me.
NEXT WEEK: Pregnant, or Celexa Withdrawal?