Yesterday, a co-worker told me about internet controversy concerning a sperm bank that may or may not have continued selling the sperm of a donor whose offspring had terrible birth defects. I told her to stop fucking up my day and that I'd have to Google it, but at least the blog post would write itself. She understood.
Now that Heather and I are all but committed to moving forward with IVF ("pre-mester" of healthy lifestyling be damned), I turned to Heather Tuesday night and said whimsically that, if we were doing the whole embryo-making thing, it'd be cool if I just carried the baby for her. She seemed as delighted with the notion as I was. Her main source of enthusiasm: "I won't get stretch marks on my stomach!"
When I called the Nashville clinic yesterday to finally set up a consultation-- after completing Heather's forms the second time, they'd left a message saying that I would need to fill them out, too (another 45 minutes of Social Security numbers and medical history)-- I realized while we talked insurance and pricing that they somehow expected us to pursue IUI.
"Nope," I said to the lady. "We've done that a whole bunch and we're pretty much ready to move forward with IVF."
"Okay," she said. "So is Heather the one who'll be treated?"
"Yes, but what if-- just hypothetically-- I was to carry her baby? Would that be way more expensive?"
"If you were going to do IVF anyway and we extracted her eggs, then, no, probably there wouldn't be much of a price difference. You'd probably want to talk to our pricing consultant to be sure."
I went right past sugarplums to visions of maternity dresses and broccoli, acupuncture and swollen feet. If I haven't mentioned it before, I would love to be pregnant. Heather cares about sharing her genetic material, but I'm all about the belly. Home birth, breast-feeding, cravings, and naps...
Pain in the ass that she is, though, Heather stepped back when the surrogacy option looked like a real possibility. What about maternity leave? she wanted to know. Weren't we going to have three months at home together with the new baby?
I promptly looked up the Family Medical Leave Act and where we lesbians fit into it, and it seems like we're legitimately eligible. By lunchtime, my maternal impulses were glowing brighter than Rudolph's nose, but Heather's convictions were flickering. She pulled out the big guns: "I know I said I didn't care, but maybe it would be nice to feel a baby growing inside me."
I came back strong. "What about this? You'd have nine months to quit smoking. You'd have to keep it away from me, but that'd be a lot nicer than having to kick it in two weeks when the doctors crack the whip. AND I wouldn't be nagging you all the time about what you were eating or doing and whether you were keeping up with your vitamins."
She said it was her decision and she wanted the couple weeks before our appointment to think about it, pressure-free. Fine, fine. But when I snuggled into bed with my Kindle, the baby-making program felt a whole lot different. All the warnings and advice could be for me.
I was ashamed to realize that, for all the empathy I imagined I felt for Heather and the sacrifices this fertility lifestyle (and, be honest, that's what it becomes-- more so, motherfuckers, than the "gay lifestyle," which seems to be exactly like the straight lifestyle other than that the person getting into bed with you has matching genitals), it meant something totally different when I imagined it for myself. It was more moving, more sacred, harder to dismiss. Every time I read about eating kale during pre-ovulation, I'd jump straight to wondering whether that was something worth pressuring Heather about. It doesn't seem worth a fight. ("Rachel! Kale is disgusting. You're already chasing me with broccoli and sweet potatoes all the time, so fuck off with the kale." Heather, if you get around to reading this, don't lie: you would totally say that.)
With myself, though, I can be-- as I often am-- free to let loose the judgment. I can enforce bedtime and kale without feeling like an abusive spouse.
Oh my god. She would have to empty the litter box.