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The Fallopian Chronicles,
May 2003, llandry
We were there at precisely seven o’clock in the morning. By now we knew the routine. David, now less nervous, walked up to the desk where the nurse had him fill out his forms, and she gave him the requisite cup and paper bag. The surly Slavic nurse now complains to us when people aren’t following procedure. She’s not mad at us; she's actually confiding her frustration to us. We are regulars at the East Bay Fertility Clinic.
David walked to the back. I call it "the back." I am not allowed to go in there. He tells me he sits in a tiny phone booth-like room (with a solid door).
"Is there porn?" I asked.
"Some," he said, "but, it’s outdated. I picked up a Playboy and it was from 1982."
Hubby is always pretty quick on the draw. He goes in, does his business and comes out within ten minutes with his fellers in the cup, tucked into the bag, which he hands to the surly nurse.
Once his boys are bagged, we have two hours to kill while they inspect them and select out the best swimmers. We use this time to ride around Berkeley and fantasize about neighborhoods where we’d like to live and then seek out a place to have breakfast. On this particular morning we started out so early we were driving around at 7:30 and there were no diners or breakfast places open. Just the coffee shops. We chose IHOP and had international pancakes.
During the "sperm wash" period, David and I usually start talking about what-ifs. What if we get pregnant this month? What if we can’t get pregnant? What about adoption? What if we adopt a baby and they end up having all these problems? What if we have our own kid and they have all these problems? David always tends to be the more positive one while I lay out every gloom and doom scenario I can think of until he’s had enough and changes the subject with a "let’s just take things one at a time."
I now feel time as a malicious and dark presence in my life. I never was one of those people who worried about aging. I always felt younger than my years. But, this year I’ve had to face the consequences of late bloominghood. After a year of trying to get pregnant, I had tests done to make sure I wasn’t blocked. They squirted radioactive dye into the fallopians, took an x-ray and confirmed that they flowed freely. They drew blood and checked hormone levels. They found nothing. "Unexplained infertility" was the diagnosis. I wanted to go get the tests and have the doctor read them to me and say, "Oh, Lynn, this is your problem right here. You don’t have any ovaries." Or, "your uterus is a hostile environment for any life to grow" or, as I proclaimed in my younger years, "you don’t have a biological clock."
But, I didn’t get that. I got, "We don’t know." Hubby had his sperm checked out and he was just fine. The doctor, in a malicious moment, asked me, "Why do you think you’re having trouble?"
I said, "I dunno. You’re the doctor. You tell me."
He replied, "Miz Landry, you’re 38 years old."
This shut me up pretty good. I’m 38. I’m almost 40. I’m old old old. He was saying this loud and clear.
He suggested we start with Clomid and IUI for six months.
That was four tries ago.
Clomid is an amazing little drug. I hear that doctors don’t really know how it works. I take five little pills for five days starting on day three of my cycle. Supposedly there are side effects like hot flashes and dizziness. I haven’t really experienced any of that. But, when I start to ovulate, I really start to ovulate. The drugs make you "super-ovulate." I’m not sure what that means, but some people have to get off of it because their ovaries swell up and are in danger of bursting. I’ve always felt something during ovulation, but with this it's magnified a hundred times. But, I don’t mind the pain because it feels like something is happening.
Throughout this whole ordeal, I have wonderful, supportive friends who cheer us on with gusto. I appreciate it, but I really wasn’t supposed to have to face this at all. Before I met David, I was absolutely convinced that I never wanted children and I was fine with that decision. We had the big talk about kids before we got married and he really wanted a family. I really loved him, thought he was a great guy, so I said, "Sure," but told him that we needed to get crackin' because I wasn’t getting any younger. We got married when I was thirty-five and I decided that we should wait a few months before getting off birth control. I was so convinced I’d get knocked up right away. A year went by of free-wheeling, no-pills, no-condom sex. Nothing happened. My first thought was, had I wasted all that money with birth control when I couldn’t even get pregnant? Then, I thought, did I do something to my body with my wild living?
I bought books like Take Charge of Your Fertility and Getting Pregnant. These books ended up confusing and depressing me. In Take Charge, you’re given these graph calendars where you’re supposed to dig up into your business and pull out cervical mucus and write down if it’s "cottage cheese, egg white, or nonexistent." You are supposed to take your temperature every morning. In Getting, it’s all about the diet and environment, so you read chapter after chapter about how everything you eat is bad for you, the environment is bad, you’re overweight (well, I’m overweight).... It’s so depressing. I decided, if it’s that fucking difficult to get pregnant, then no one would ever get pregnant. I chucked it all and called my fertility doctor, who told me to stop reading books.
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