Back Alleys & Laundry Day: Chapter 7

J&ENovember 16th – a dark, damp morning with a misty rain drizzling out of stone-grey clouds. It was a day made more for crawling back under the covers than for jumping out to greet it with joy. This was especially true after having spent a long rather fitful night of nail biting, but Bashert was up before dawn too excited to stay in bed any longer.

You know the saying about having something burning a hole in your pocket? That was Bashert. She was more than ready to bolt out the door and storm the doors of the clinic at sunrise. It took some convincing to hold her back. Our appointment with the infertility clinic wasn’t until 8:30 and we lived only a few minutes away.

Bashert had made arrangements for me to come with her on insemination day – as a friend. The ID had no problem with this at all. Finally, I was going to be allowed to participate! And on the THE DAY.  The knowledge that she had to go through all the previous stuff alone was frustrating and frankly hurtful. I wanted to be there every step of the way for the creation of our child and to support Bashert the best I could. It meant the world to me to be able to be there on creation day.

When we both could stand the tension no longer, we loaded into our car and made our way downtown. According to the on-call nurse, the clinic had moved into temporary digs while the main offices were being renovated. (With all the damn money they were soaking out of everyone, I guess they had to spend it somewhere – but that’s different part of the story). We had the address, but it took a minute to find the place. It was tucked behind another building.

There are some sensory things that will always stay with you, sights, smells, sounds. One of several things I will never forget from that day was the sound of the loose gravel under the car wheels as we pulled into the parking lot. The crunching and grinding permeated my senses as we cruised the perimeter looking for any signage to tell us we really were in the right place. It was a very strange feeling.

I recognized the strip of connected offices. This was the former location of my ophthalmologist’s office way back in the 70s. It had been old then. Now it looked dilapidated and abandoned. The old veneered doors were weathered and stained. With the gloom of the drizzly rain and overcast skies, the whole vibe of the area gave the aura of a gritty film noir. Trying to find the right office was a warped Burtonesque version of “Let’s Make a Deal” – guess what’s behind door number two, Monty. There was still no official signage to be found. We didn’t know if door number two held the temporary office of the infertility clinic or a guy with a machete ready to do away with us in a most unpleasant manner.

Only by slowly checking out each door did I happen to see a piece of paper stuck to one of the doors. It was a simple 8.5 x 10 piece of paper with nothing but the address typed on it. No name, no hours, no indication that anyone was currently occupying the offices. The creep factor just kept on rising. Nothing like two scared women roaming a deserted parking lot downtown in the early winter morning.  I started wondering who would play me in the movie of the week.

Given that this was the only indication that life may exist among this cluster of offices, we  took a breath and tried the door: locked. Bashert noticed a little sign next to the door that asked us to, “Please ring the bell”. By this time I would not have been surprised to see the guy from the Wizard of Oz poke out his head and cry, “Who rang that bell?” But instead a normal, average woman peered out from behind the curtain covering the tall thin window next to the door. She spoke through the glass and asked us to wait a moment.

Sure, no problem. We’ll just hang out here in the creepy abandoned parking lot, in the rain, waiting patiently, still not quite positive if we are in the right place or not. Good times.

When the woman finally opened the door, she confirmed that this was indeed the clinic. The woman pleasantly took Bashert’s name and information, confirmed her appointment – “You are early” and asked if the $500 dollars was going to be cash, check or card and oh, yeah, reconfirmed that Dr. Lizardo was, in fact, the on-call doctor. Talk about a set up for wham, bam, thank you ma’am.  It just kept getting better.

After the woman took the credit card, which was by the way in my name – some friend, eh? – it was hurry up and wait time, again. You see, not only did we have to wait for Dr. Lizardo to show up (far be it from her to be there at the appointed time on off hours), but the specimen had to be prepared. It had to be thawed, washed, spin cycled and whatever else had to be done to make ready for the IUI procedure.

The inside of the office did not offer much to buoy our spirits about the place. The lobby decor was early threadbare carpets, washed out wood paneling and the stale smell of a place left long empty. Cardboard boxes filled all open areas. The entire office gave off a the feel of a back alley practitioner’s secret lair.

There wasn’t much to do while waiting, Bashert and I were only friends after all, so it is not like we could discuss future plans or I hold her close help soothe her worries. So we flipped through magazines and watched the clock move through sludge. Finally, the door to the back opened and Dr. Lizardo called Bashert’s name. I could feel the electric panic run through Bashert.

Dr. Lizardo seemed confused and disturbed to find me accompanying Bashert. I thought to myself, what the hell was this woman’s problem? What difference did it make if a patient brought someone with her to help her through a very intimate and nerve wracking experience? Did she have the same reaction to women who brought their husband’s? I tried to catch Bashert’s eye to give her the raised eyebrow, “What the hell?”, but she was already beginning to zone out and take herself away from the circumstances she was facing. Cannot say I blame her one bit.

The doctor’s demeanor was cold and unwelcoming, the hallway we were led down was claustrophobic inducing, with boxes crowding the walkway. The exam room we were shown to was equally as stuffed. Boxes and files filled the corners and all flat surfaces, there was barely enough room left for the exam table, one chair and the doctor. The walls were the same age bleached wood and the floors were crappy stained linoleum. All of this was not confidence inspiring to say the least.

The doctor instructed Bashert get undressed, put on the ubiquitous and fashionable exam gown and get on the table then she left. It was a bit of a relief to have her out of the room. I knew that if I was nervous, Bashert must be triply so, after all, I wasn’t the one on the table. I tried to lighten the mood a bit by joking about what earth they could actually be storing in all these boxes and why they would need to be in such a dilapidated facility. We laughed nervously in fits and starts trying to fill the nervous silences.

When the doctor returned with all the accoutrements to perform the procedure, to say the woman lacked any kind of bedside manner would be a gross overstatement. Bashert tried to engage her in some kind of conversation, asking her where she was from, desperately trying to find some sort of common ground to break this cold and distant woman’s attitude. Nothing seemed to penetrate this woman’s shell. It got even worse as we went along. My brain was spinning – “this is a doctor”?

After the doctor had prepared the syringe to do the insemination, she turned as if ready to move ahead with the procedure. Instead, she went into a diatribe about how far fetched the odds were to getting pregnant on the first attempt and how low a motile sperm count our donor had (I knew this was untrue, I did the research before hand). I wanted to reach across the table and throttle the damn woman. How dare she do this? How dare she? I kept my temper under control only for Bashert’s sake, as she had started to cry. I didn’t care what that bitch doctor thought right now, I took Bashert’s hand to give whatever little support I could offer.

As I took Bashert’s hand, Dr. Lizardo inserted the syringe and Bashert’s entire body clinched and leapt up with pain. I looked daggers at the doctor and could barely constrain myself from ripping her arm away from Bashert as I asked if she was okay. Dr. Lizardo must have finally sensed that she was pushing it because she deemed me fit to speak to. She said that all was okay, that Bashert’s cervix was just contracting in response to the insemination. “It happens,” she said. (Bullshit, it is not supposed to hurt or cause pain – this doctor was full of shit.)

Watching Bashert lie there was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life. I wanted to kill that doctor, and fling her from the room, but I knew Bashert would have cried out against the interruption of the procedure. She would rather face the pain than give up our chances of having a baby.

After the procedure was complete, the doctor told Bashert that she needed to stay lying down for 20 minutes and then left the room again stating she would return when time was up. We were ready to bolt from the room immediately, but made ourselves stay. I chanted positive things and gave Bashert’s tummy a good luck Buddha massage, trying to pass on what ever positive energy I could.

I was leaning over Bashert, whispering words of encouragement when Dr. Lizardo returned. The look she shot me is another thing I will never forget. It was only an instant but it was if she truly hated me for being there. I can still see the narrowing of her eyes and then her face freeze into a neutral, but distain filled expression. We were dismissed.

We emerged from that surreal back alley to find that the rain had stopped. We hugged each other in relief both for the weather break and the fact we were out of there. Then a thought popped into my head. I told Bashert that everything was going to be okay, I just – knew it. I said if things had gone smoothly then it would not be us – everything she did was a wild ride one way or another!

The rest of the day was delicately and surreally mundane. We relaxed around the house watching t.v. and doing little household chores, it was after all Saturday – laundry day.

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