infertility clinics

We Need to Break Up (or I’m going to prison): Baby Chpt. 9

J&ESince Bashert, and then I  began writing about our journey toward parenthood people have asked us why we didn’t just report the infertility clinic and Dr. Lizardo. The answer is a plain and yet complicated one: Fear.

We are a lesbian couple. Now to many fair-minded folks that may be a nonissue anymore, but remember our story takes place 10 years ago when it was not quite so chic to be out and proud. Oh, sure we were affectionately known in our neighborhood as “the girls,” but in our other social and professional circles we were made to feel outcast. We lost friends after coming out to the world. There were still iffy situations within our respective families. There was my government job where Bashert had to remain known as my “roommate.” There were many in our religious community that, at the time, treated us as pariahs – they avoided close contact, as if we had some kind of contagious disease. The medical community we had to deal with did not accept “us” and we had to use subterfuge in order to get what is was we needed.

We were scared of losing it all. Bashert was afraid that she would be found out and denied service. We were afraid we would have to go to some half-baked quack (the actual infertility doctor was very well qualified) or travel such distances that we could not financially afford, as others of our “tribe” had to do.

Were we naive? Yes. Were we blinded by fear? Yes. Would we do the same thing again? Not knowing what we know now, of course not, but at the time it was all we could do to hold on and move inch by inch toward our final goal – having a baby.

So, with that being said, I am glad to announce that after the blood test came back positive that Bashert truly was pregnant, we were able to break free from the infertility clinic. It was not a clean break by any means. They took what should have been one of the most joyous times of our lives and continued to interject fear and worry into Bashert’s mind.

The clinic nurse had called with the “official” results of the blood test, but after letting Bashert know she was indeed pregnant at the moment, her hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – wow, huh?) levels were uncomfortably “high.” They wanted her to come in as soon as possible to be checked out, after all, she was a high risk pregnancy. Read that as, more blood testing and vaginal sonograms. What the hell? I was getting ready to do bodily harm to someone at that place.

I could see Bashert getting more and more upset and when she told me all of this, I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore – not the pettiness of the money grubbing – not the emotional and physical torture they put her through – not the idea that these people wanted to control our very lives for another nine months. I told Bashert we just needed to call our own doctor and get some kind of straight talk and get the freaking hell out of Dodge. We had what we wanted, now let’s get some real help.

Our OB/GYN’ staff was absolutely wonderful! For the first time since all of this started I saw genuine pleasure in Bashert’s countenance. Our nurse explained in delighted detail just exactly what the high hCG levels meant (I almost fainted at this one) – it could be an indicator of multiple birth! It didn’t mean that Bashert had entered some high risk category of imminent spontaneous abortion. What a relief to talk to someone who actually sounded pleased at the insemination’s outcome. We set up some appointments and took a big sigh – we could really kiss that nuthouse goodbye.

Bashert was armed and ready when the nurse called back from the infertility clinic. As the woman rattled off the appointment date for the next blood letting and assault, Bashert calmly interrupted the woman and said “we” would no longer be in need of their services. She thanked the woman, but said “we” had made other arrangements with “our” regular doctor. From the sound of it, the nurse was not happy with this, but Bashert stood her ground and hung up.

I don’t think I have ever been so happy to break up with anyone as I was at that moment.

Now, what was that about having more than one?

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First a Bank & There Ought To Be a Law: Baby Story Chpt 4

J&ESince I couldn’t be directly involved with the physical proceedings, I threw myself into finding the perfect cryogenics bank and donor. First came the bank.

Sperm banks are regulated at the National level by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). They are supposed to be regulated at the state level by each state’s respective State Department, but as we have all heard, the follow through is not always the most attentive. We wanted a place that stood by ethical policies that protected both the donors and the clients.

We wanted a place that did the most genetic testing possible at the time. As Bashert has Ashkenazi Jewish heritage on both sides of her family, we needed to make sure that the donor we selected didn’t have a history of known diseases prevalent in that type of lineage.

We also needed a bank that supplied IUI ready special sauce. Not all places did.

One of my own criteria was that the donor be anonymous. Bashert and I talked about that one extensively. My reasoning was emotional. If I wasn’t able to contribute genetic material, I at least wanted to be the full other parent to our child. To me, a anonymous donor is as the dictionary describes – one who gives without need of recognition or acknowledgement. I didn’t want any ghost of parental figure lingering in the background of our lives. We would have the pertinent information, such as, medical background, family histories, physical characteristics, personality reviews and so on to give to our child when the time was right. I just didn’t want another physical person in the mix. Three’s a crowd.

So, I was looking for a place that was shown to follow ethical practices, have IUI ready specimens, perform extensive genetic testing and have donors that agreed to remain anonymous. And oh, yeah, we had to be able to afford it.

Well, in 2002 that narrowed down our choices quite nicely. It even eliminated the bank we have right here in our home town. It would have been wonderfully convenient and less expensive, but we just didn’t feel it met our picky standards. Besides, it sort creeped me out knowing that the donors could have come from right next door. Silly, I know, but there you go.

We ended up with one of the larger banks located out of state. It had been around for some time and seemed to set the standards for what a cryo bank should be and met the qualities we were searching for. The next step would be setting up an account and finding the perfect donor for us.

I am going to pause here for a moment and tell you something about myself. I am a mild mannered person, quite shy really and it takes a lot to get me visibly angry. But mess with anyone I love and it’s Bruce Banner to the Hulk in three seconds flat.

Now, in the previous chapter I said that I was not able to attend the actual appointments with Bashert due to our situation. We had to maintain covert operations in order to achieve the goal of the mission. Little did I know what indignities (sounds like such a small word for her suffering) Bashert was having to endure. She kept me in the dark about many of them so that I wouldn’t go to the clinic and get myself arrested.

It makes my blood boil even now to recall the horrific circumstances she had to go through with one of the doctors. I could deal with the attempts to overcharge us and even the onslaught of negativity that came from a place that was supposed to be about giving the gift of joy to parents, but I could not deal with was the physical violation that occurred.

You see, part of the process in verifying that a woman has viable eggs is a vaginal sonogram. It is an invasive procedure that should be handled with the utmost of respect, care and gentleness. Bashert’s original compromise with the ID was to do one ovulation cycle and then have the sonogram. What Bashert didn’t know was that her ID had a partner that filled in when he was not available. It just so happened that her ID was not available the day she was to have her sonogram done.

It is always discomforting to have your regular physician replaced at a pivotal point, that’s why I have disliked going to team practices where I am never quite sure who I will be seeing on appointment day. Knowing that Bashert was already on edge about a procedure she had never experienced before and had not been told what to really expect, the change up created an even more heightened state of unease.

I did my best to try and give her support as I kissed her goodbye that day. What she told me later had me ready to wrap my hands around Dr. Lizardo’s throat. If I had known the rest of what Bashert did not reveal, I am not sure we would have Yoda right now.

When I came home from work that afternoon, I expected to find a partner relieved that the deed was done, but happy with the results. Instead what I found was a visibly shaken woman who had obviously been traumatized by the doctor who was supposed to be helping. (see Bashert’s site for her revealing story). I was ready to report that freaking doctor to the head ID,  the AMA, and whoever else I could find. If I’d known then what I know now, I would have reported it to the police (after I had beaten the living hell out of the woman).

This woman, this “doctor”, who supposedly took an oath to protect her patients had basically raped Bashert when performing the vaginal sonogram. Dr. Lizardo made sure there were no witnesses – all the staff was gone, including the attending nurse. She used undo force and did not listen to Bashert’s concerns. She offered no real apology or comprehension as what she had actually done.

Bashert didn’t let me in on the whole story at the time. She wanted to go ahead with our plan to have the baby she so wanted. She didn’t want to jeopardize anything even in the face of such degradation. She felt constricted by the limited choices we had and for whatever reason, Dr. Lizardo seemed to realize that Bashert was bound by that. What a fucking situation to be in. Even with the partial information I had, I was so beyond furious.

This is what many lesbian and gay couples have to go through just to have a family.  Humiliation and violation without recourse. And people wonder why we are fighting so hard to get the rights we deserve.

At that point, no matter what the ID said was needed, we were going to stick to the plan, get the insemination done and get the hell out of Dodge. As the kids say today, that place was “whack”.

To get this accomplished, it was time to pick a donor.