Desperately Seeking Moses

I’m finding it useful to write in the morning to empty the recesses of my mind of thoughts that obstruct progress toward completing the day’s tasks. This morning I cannot shake the image of New Life Baby Home, and the very real knowledge that there are children in this world, living and breathing and laughing, who need parents. And then there’s me and R, who really want to parent. Between us there’s a Red Sea of prejudice and Moses is out on another call. 

I cannot believe that God prefers for children to live without dedicated parents. Without unconditional, deep and imperfect human love. And I guess it’s that belief that propels me forward, even to the brink of what could be perceived as antagonism, until I meet a wall I know I cannot climb.

I’ve read many articles in the popular press that condemn women and couples using assisted reproductive technology. Authors and commenters ask why these families don’t do the world a favor and “just adopt.” Buried in that phrase is the implication that adoption is simple. Dig one layer further and you’ll find the notion that adoption is distinct purview of infertile couples. Neither is true, and I’d like to see a more realistic public discussion of the very real impact of sexism, homophobia, and class on the various pathways to parenthood. 

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for Moses.

 

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Stars and Stripes

I apologize for not updating this sooner. I am overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to describe last week and all its events. In a nutshell, using a KD is hard. Sticking to our guns is even harder. And trying to strike a reasonable balance between creating Bean and everything else is hardest. It seems like every month we have to make dozens of agonizing decisions that have financial and ethical implications, and much of the decision making and agonizing is due to the fact that we chose to use a KD rather than ordering Bean’s genetic material from a sperm bank. In hind sight, that process was far easier; I kind of feel like a bride who, exhausted by her efforts to have a ‘unique’ wedding, sheepishly admits that those boring traditions are useful and breaking them wreaks havoc.

Last week I was sick with indecision about a thousand tiny things: to have KD complete an ECG or not (after 5 hours of research and deliberation that included reading articles in JAMA and consulting with two physician friends, we decided against), to have his karyotype tested or not, to wash and freeze his ‘deposit’ even though the sperm count was about half of what it needed to be for a good sample or not, to proceed with the terribly expensive process of setting him up as our ‘directed donor’ or not. I spent several full work days fielding phone calls from the sperm bank in CA, the fertility clinic in WA, the KD, and R.

I wondered if Bean will even give a rat’s behind about where we found her donor. I wondered if parenting is worth all this, especially given that it’s bound to be significantly more challenging for a much longer period of time. I wondered if we’d be better off following R’s stepfather’s advice to just walk into a bar…I suggested this to R and she quickly shot me down.

With all the above as a backdrop, we went to the fertility clinic on Monday for an ultrasound to see whether R’s follicles would be the right size to allow us to TTC during the 36 hour window of time our KD was available in the flesh (as opposed to the vial). After a kerfuffle with the medical assistant and the receptionist, a teary phone call to our nurse practitioner, and multiple text messages between us and KD, we decided to head south for the 4th of July. This presented a few challenges because our usual hosts have a tiny newborn and a steady parade of house guests. In the interest of preserving everyone’s sanity, we decided to book a room at a bed and breakfast with the added bonus of nixing the usual scramble to get across town with our cup o’ sperm.

The B and B was cute and quirky, and importantly, nearby KD’s house. I knew it would be an adventure when I caught a glimpse of the innkeeper, Sheila, who was listed as one of the B and B’s “amenities.” The house, much like the website, was decked out with various glamour shots of Sheila in her “famous chapeaus” (chapeau=hat, in case your French is rusty). Every inch of the house was filled with family photographs, sculptures, and groups of tsotchkes, the most prominent of which was a 4th of July themed montage in the front bay window.

Our room (the Kendra West) was airy, comfortable, and warm, with big windows that faced the street. The bathtub was large enough for R to have a nice soak prior to the task at hand. While we’d intended to meet up with KD early in the morning on July 5, after some deliberation we decided late on the 4th would be better so R could be recumbent for a solid 8 hours. This change in plans was met with some surprise by the KD, but he was amenable. While R soaked I texted back and forth with him to organize the logistics of this operation. Typically, we hand off a sterile cup and loiter about until he resurfaces with a paper bag and the goods. It is not unlike a drug deal, and surely appears that way to anyone who cares enough to observe the process. Usually I don’t worry about anyone giving a whoop but this was a bit different because we were staying in someone’s house, and there were some house rules about overnight guests and the like.

The KD kindly offered to walk to our place, but before I had a chance to confirm whether he was arriving with the goods in hand, he showed up. Empty handed. Sans sterile cup and paper bag. We fumbled through some pleasantries and then got around to the awkward business of how, precisely, we were going to manage the production efforts. I led him into the creaky Victorian and scoped out the communal bathroom downstairs. It was too small. I scratched my head. I walked up the loud stairs and dragged R out the tub (and out of her bliss). I rushed her through towel drying her hair, and ignored the buzzing of my phone, which turned out to be KD suggesting we go to his place instead. By that point I’d already killed R’s joy, so it seemed like we should just move forward.

R and I came back down the creaky stairs and sat on the loveseat across from KD and the three of us chit chatted like this was all perfectly typical. Another guest walked in, and must have sensed our awkward vibe because she mumbled an apology and scampered off to her room. Eventually KD went upstairs to our room, and we sat on the loveseat and waited. And then Sheila walked in.

She was indeed festooned with a chapeau, but more importantly, with textured cropped pants: left leg starred, right leg striped. We made small talk and I tried to suppress the urge to spill my guts about the whole scenario. She went to the kitchen. I sweated through my fear of KD walking down the stairs and bumping into her. I envisioned the possible explanations. I imagined she’d be fine with the truth. I picked up a book about Jews in Wyoming.

I tried my darnedest to hurry her along by sending telepathic signals. She seemed to receive them. She turned out all the lights and left just as I heard door knob turn in Kendra West. I breathed a sigh of relief. KD came down the creaky ass stairs. He acknowledged that the whole scene would be something of a curio to anyone who happened to observe it. We hugged him goodbye. We got shit done.

We laughed at the absurdity of it all. And now we wait.

Suspense

The second half of the two week wait is always the hardest. It’s the time when we both start to dampen our hopes with the intent of softening the blow of a negative outcome. This time of the month–and this time of our lives, more generally–is full of suspense. We are long on questions and short on answers, which seems somewhat unusual in the era of smart phones and Google searches. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, but I’m learning to thrive in it. I’m starting to make peace with uncertainty, which I suppose is a good thing after 32 years of fighting it. This past week I’ve felt strangely calm about the major unknowables in my life right now, which include a month long trip to Africa for which I may or may not be departing on Wednesday. My newfound zen state has left me wondering (aloud, to my Chair, apparently) whether my lack of stress indicates I’m forgetting something really, really important. She said, “No, you’ve just planned well.” I hope so!