Author’s note: The following blog entry is about fertility treatments. Because of the family nature of this website, please understand that reading between the lines is required.
Before we go any farther, I want to say that it wasn’t my fault. I want to make that very clear from the beginning. My boys could swim. They were Olympic swimmers. They could medal at Beijing, okay? I proved that fact the day I had to go through the humiliating process of walking into a crowded (of course) waiting room of a medical clinic and hand over for analysis a brown paper bag containing a cup of “me”. I guess I voluntarily put myself in this situation. Rather than perform the necessary procedure “on site” in a brightly lit sterile room with a stool and a magazine, I chose to take care of things in the privacy of my own home. Let’s be honest, guys. It’s all about home field advantage, y’know? Nobody performs as well in another ballpark (so to speak). Anyway I was taking a chance with this particular method because time was somewhat of the essence. I think the little guys have about 45 minutes to survive on their own in the big bad world. Luckily the clinic was only about a 5 minute drive from my house. Of course the real challenge was not falling asleep immediately after the deed was done which goes completely against the “man” code. But I did it, capped it, bagged it, drove it, and handed it over to a humorless nurse. I know she was humorless because I was trying to crack jokes to ease my obvious discomfort and I was getting nothing in return. Not even a smirk. Even my wife placates me with a sarcastic “ha ha” on occasion. The nurse took one bored look at the bag, looked at me and asked in a voice that in my opinion was a little louder than necessary, “Do you have your paperwork?” Sadly I answered her question with a question of my own, “What paperwork?” I wasted precious moments arguing that I had no idea I was supposed to bring any paperwork with me and when I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere with Nurse Ratchet, rushed out the door. So while my boys were crowded into a plastic cup dying a slow death while looking for an egg they would never find, I sped back home, picked up the necessary paperwork and rushed back to the clinic in the nick of time. I rushed in heroically and handed my paperwork to the nurse giving the waiting clinic patients quite a show. Anyway even with the little swimmers on their last legs (or tails as it were) I was still deemed “very fertile” when the lab results came back. So, there. Okay, moving on. My wife and I began trying to conceive a child about 2 ½ years into our marriage. We went from “hoping for a happy accident” to “casually trying” to “Honey, it’s 7:23 PM exactly. Get upstairs right now, put 2 pillows under my lower back, and get yourself into a 56 degree angle….NO, you fool! You’re clearly at a 68 degree angle. MY GOD! Do you even want a baby??!!” After a year had passed with no results, we decided it was time to cheat. Not on each other, but rather on the procreation process. We met with a very nice fertility doctor who was also obviously very good at her job judging from her “wall of fame”. This was an entire wall of her office devoted to photographs of babies that she had helped create almost like a modern day Dr. Frankenstein. When my wife saw the wall she burst into tears dreaming of the day when our baby’s smiling face would be thumb tacked alongside the others. The first thing we had to do was to get checked out individually for any fertilization abnormalities. I have already recounted my vindicating albeit humiliating tale. My wife was found to be fertile as well, but in need of a little help to make things stick. A “baby boost” if you will. She started with Clomid pills and when that yielded no purchase, she began administering shots to herself. Actually, not quite to herself. She was scared to death of needles and was well aware of my infamous lack of hand eye coordination so she drove all the way down to the Dr.’s office each morning to have the professionals stick her. Now here’s the thing. Both of these methods significantly increased the hormones coursing through her body. And all of these hormones made for a very…uh…let’s say…intense personality. Lucky me. I was always told that “crazy wife” doesn’t appear until the first trimester of a pregnancy, but then again my wife has always been an overachiever. Our last resort before kicking everything up a notch to in vitro fertilization was the insemination process. My wife provides the target, I provide the ammo, and the doctor provides the gun. This is basically a procreation process that I liken to the ally oop maneuver in basketball. One guy throws the ball up to the net from outside of the paint, the other guy athletically leaps into the air and stuffs it home. In this case I’m the guy who throws the ball up. Five times my wife and I drove the ball down the court…literally. What a circus this was. I basically had to go through the same humiliating process I had endured the year before when I was tested. It was ridiculous! Leave it to science to take all of the fun out of an activity that I had been enjoying quite regularly since my mid teens. On an August morning in 2005, we awoke to commence this freak show for the 5th and final time. It was the last insemination our insurance would cover so we had to make this one count. My wife prepared breakfast and readied for work while I “got started”. A friend of mine was visiting from out of town and staying in our guest bedroom. I assured her that she may want to stay in there for a little while longer on that particular morning. Otherwise she would be privy to a morning shock from which she would never recover. So once again I did it, capped it, bagged it, and drove it. There were two significant differences from my previous adventure. This time I had farther to drive and my wife was in the passenger seat holding the evidence. To keep the sample as warm as possible, she held the paper bag between her breasts because she heard that this is the warmest place on the female body. It was kind of sweet in a way. It was kind of like her first motherly act. We panicked every time we saw brake lights in front of us. For some insane reason we were surprised that we were sitting in traffic at morning rush hour on a Southern California freeway. I rolled down my window and yelled, ”Come on! Lady with a baby! Seriously!” The few times traffic did let up, I exceeded the speed limit and secretly hoped a cop would pull us over. I was dying to explain the reason for our haste. I was even planning on asking for an escort the last few miles. We finally arrived at our destination and rushed inside. The next step was to “wash the sample” They put the cup in a big metal machine and prepared it for its final and crucial leg of the journey. I remember thinking, “I certainly hope my cup is the only one in there right now. For instance if a sweet Asian couple is also here hoping for their first child, and a mix up occurs we could have the makings of a real life wacky sitcom on our hands.” The nurse assured me that there were definite checks and balances and that there was nothing to worry about. The doctor stuffed the ally oop home with gusto…and an instrument resembling a turkey baster. Upon examining my wife’s uterus, the doctor also revealed that not only was the net open (to further the basketball analogy), but there were 7 others like it on the court. Basically the shots my wife had painfully endured for three months were working in spades. It was very possible my “very fertile” swimmers might find up to 8 targets. Instead of you, me and baby makes three, we were suddenly looking at a possible you, me and 8 babies makes bankruptcy. We could have been one of those couples that end up on the cover of Newsweek. To make a long story short (oh it’s far too late for that), that August day proved to be the winning basket. Of the 8 follicles, only one was fertilized and successfully implanted. Now after two years with the lucky winner, it makes perfect sense. He’s a very tough kid. And yet I still carry a sadness with me sometimes. I find myself thinking the ridiculous thought that he’s not really mine. I mean I cheated. I just got the assist. Nobody remembers the guy who threw the ball up. Only the guy who finished the slam dunk. We men don’t like any help whether it’s directions to the interstate or conceiving a child. It’s all such male ego and prideful bullsh*t. And just when I’m thinking these ridiculous thoughts my son will turn to me and flash that smile that looks so eerily like mine. And I’ll sigh with relief and realize how wrong I am. I didn’t cheat. In fact I worked harder than most people to bring him into our world. That makes him special. That makes him a miracle. And that makes him all mine.And the doctor? Well as a reward for her beautiful slam dunk, she’s got a big old smiling picture of our miracle on her wall.
By Chris Loprete