same-sex parenting

Hello. My Name is Epidural. My Water has Broken. Prepare to Birth: Baby Chpt 16 Part 2

J&EOnce settled in our room, the reality of the situation finally hit Bashert and she began to cry. I was scared for her, but all I could do was be there. My heart was breaking for her, that is, until my patience wore out. Once the contractions started again in earnest, Bashert began to panic. The level of pain she was in was not what she had bargained for and she wanted her epidural NOW. I may not remember many things with extreme clarity, but her face when Nice Labor Nurse told her the contraction level she just experienced was only a seven? Wowzers. “Only a seven, only a SEVEN? What is the highest?” she asked the nurse. Nice Labor Nurse replied, “Ten.” Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, that was it for Bashert. Never, ever tell Bashert what the side effects or the upper limits are of something that involves her health in any way. She will suddenly be included in the top 0.001% of all people who had that reaction. Seriously. Ask her.

Nice Labor Nurse left the room after dropping that innocent little bomb and Bashert had another contraction. After it was over she asked me to check the monitor, “That was a ten, right?” I looked at the screen reading, “Nope, Babe, still a seven.” She was ready to throw in the towel. In between each contraction it was “Where is he? Why isn’t he here. How much longer? Please go ask them to get him here.” I was ready throw in the towel. I knew the guy was on his way in so I stepped out into the hallway pretending to talk to the nurses. I stayed in the quiet for just a minute or so and then with energy somewhat restored, I headed back into the battle zone. “He’s on his way up. It won’t be long now,” I lied through my teeth. But it was just enough to ease her mind a bit. All in all from the time we hit the birthing room to the time the guy arrived was only really only about twenty minutes, an eternity to Bashert.

The epidural procedure was interesting. Bashert was, for once in her life, impatient for someone to administer drugs through a needle. Her fear of all things needle was legendary. Needles bent at the touch of her overly tensed skin. Not really, but I remember countless times of having to hold her hand or cover her tear filled eyes for a simple blood drawing. I had fear in my heart for this going down well. But Bashert was desperate, so there was hope.

We sat her up on the bed and she leaned on me for support while the doctor began the procedure. Nenè, who had been dozing on the couch sat up to see what was going on. She was seated behind Bashert’s back. When the doctor pulled out the syringe and needle to be used for the epidural, Nenè’s eyes widened and mouthed, “Oh, wow!” She held her hands up miming the length of the needle as if showing the size of a prize winning fish. I smiled at her and let my eyes tell her in no uncertain terms was she to let Bashert know what was really going on behind her back.

The entire time the anesthesiologist was working he and I were trying to figure out from where we knew each other. It was so funny. Bashert is always the one who runs into people she knows. Really. She can leave the country and still meet someone she went to grade school with and here I was trading possible common places with her savior, the anesthesiologist. This reversal was a great distraction even though we never did make the connection. As Bashert says, “It was bashert.”

The transformation was heaven. For the first time in at least two months she could relax her body. It was like watching those psychedelic movies from the sixties where someone is tripping out and watching their hand float in front of their eyes. She was sooooo chilled. It was nice for us all. The anxiety level in the room decreased immediately and we all soon fell asleep. Most of us anyway.

Bashert, obviously had the bed. Nenè claimed the couch. That left the hard rolling chair for me. It was convenient to sit next to the bed and be able hold Bashert’s hand and talk softly with her; however, a comfy La-Z Boy it was not. When I could no longer stay awake, I pulled the chair up next to the bed as close as I could and folded my arms over the edge of the bed to rest my head. I can be a heavy sleeper, but every move that night translated to a very edgy Cee waking up at full alert. Man, I was tired. And stiff.

At some point during the night, the monitoring device Bashert was wearing ceased to make its beeping noises. Somehow that penetrated Bashert’s euphoric epidural haze and she woke me in a panic. She was terrified that something had happened to the baby. Since none of the nursing staff had rushed into the room at that point, I figured that nothing too bad was going on. They do tend to react in an emergency situation, you know. Anyway, I took a look at the monitor and I could still see the baby’s heart rate and the seismic waves of Bashert’s contractions, so we figured that either the sound had given up the ghost or someone had turned down the volume. Either way just seeing that little heart graphic pounding away was a relief.

Time seemed to have stopped in our hospital room. It was always just ‘now’. So when Dr. Ken and Nice Labor Nurse came in to tell Bashert it was time to really start pushing, I really had no clue as to the real time of the night. It was just now time to push. Bashert was not too happy about it since she was enjoying her first real night’s sleep in such a while, but trouper that she is, she complied. And promptly started feeling sick.

In our house, nausea is enemy number one when it comes to illness. We treat Phenergan® like white gold. Its wonderful magical powers to relieve a horribly upset stomach is priceless. So when Bashert began to feel sick to her stomach, she figured some of the lovely stuff would be in order. Oh, no…not this close to delivery. They did not want to introduce anything new with any hint of a sedative effect at this point. Bashert’s face was quite the study of disappointment when Nice Labor Nurse handed her the ubiquitous kidney shaped plastic bowl.

On and on the ‘now’ of the night moved. The contraction monitor stopped working, but Bashert could feel the oncoming contractions in a disassociated kind of way. There were no longer levels of measure, they were just contractions. This was a good thing because Dr. Ken was not pleased at the rate of Bashert’s progression considering the meconium in the amniotic fluid. He ordered the administration of oxytocin to speed things up a bit. Things plucked along nicely until Nice Labor Nurse backed off the oxytocin to slow us up again. Seeing our confusion, she told us that there was another mother on the floor in labor emergency. We would have to wait a little longer to see our son.

Activity in our room began again in earnest when a new labor nurse walked into the room. It was shift change. I looked at Bashert and she at me. Eyebrows raised in unison, we both whispered, “Oh, my g-d. Our baby is going to be delivered by Barbie!” I kid you not, Nurse Barbie had bleached blonde hair, nails painted fire engine red and more make-up on than Honey-Boo-Boo. We were scared witless.

Thankfully, our fears were immediately allayed. Nurse Barbie swept into the room and took charge. “Let’s get this baby into the world!” Nurse Barbie was confident and assuring. Bashert and I shrugged and went with it. The oxytocin drip was restarted and things went to town. Soon I could see little Yoda’s head crowning. Talk about surreal! I had never seen a birth, not even did I watch Nenè being born – the reality of it was too much for me, yeah, it is not like the sanitized stuff seen on television, not by a long shot. I was excited, scared, fascinated and freaked out all at the same time.

It was the weirdest thing to be able to reach down and lightly touch his head. The same head I had rubbed those late nights through Bashert’s abdomen. It was so strange to touch him and realize that he would soon no longer be part of only Bashert, but be part of the world. It really is an overwhelming thing to experience. I finally realized why the other partner is the one crying at the baby’s birth. The intimacy of the relationship between birth mother and her baby cannot be denied; it is a symbiotic relationship (not to spoil the moment but it is actually a parasitic relationship, but really? Ick.) The relationship for us on the other side of the uterus is a more etherial one until we actually get to see, hear, and feel the little one. The abstract is no more.

In preparation for Yoda’s birth and subsequent baby naming ceremony and during her creative textile spurt, Bashert made a kippah (yarmulke) for him. It was a tiny little thing about 3 inches round. We had fun making bets as to whether Yoda would have enough hair to use Velcro to hold it in place or if we would have to tape it to his bald head. When I saw Yoda’s head full of black hair begin to emerge, I leaned up and whispered to Bashert, “Velcro.” Poor thing, she looked at me like I was nuts. I could tell she was thinking “What in the hell are you talking about – I’m a bit busy here.”

Dr. Ken interceded by telling us the baby was coming. I looked back down and he was delivering Yoda, but stopped. I looked closer. The umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck, twice. Dr. Ken carefully slipped his fingers underneath the coils and cut them away. It happened fast and in slow motion all at once. My anticipation (and admittedly some dread) about being able to cut the cord was dashed, but the safety of the baby absolutely came first. After the cord was loosened Dr. Ken helped slide the rest of the baby out into the world. Quietly.

He did not not want Yoda to cry yet because of the meconium. If Yoda cried there would be the chance that he would aspirate it and that would be a bad thing. So as soon as he was fully out, the other attending Nice Nurse whisked Yoda away to the little portioned off area to make sure he had not done so anyway. The quiet was unsettling. The wait was unsettling. It seemed that from the beginning of this journey all we did was wait. I held on to Bashert but could not take my eyes from the concentrated work Other Nice Nurse was doing. When that first plaintive, mewling cry came out into the room, there was a collective breath released. All was going to be okay.

Other Nice Nurse, kept trying to get a diaper on Yoda to bring him over to us, but each time she did, the little booger pooped. Four diapers later, he was finally put into Bashert’s arms. Our barely six pound, little boy had finally made it.  Delivered by Ken and Barbie, our Judah Kol, the voice of Judaea had arrived. He looked like Curious George after losing a street fight, but he was here and our wait was finally over.

Judah over shoulder

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Hello. My Name is Epidural. My Water has Broken. Prepare to Birth: Baby Chpt. 16, Part I

J&EThe five minute ride to the hospital is a blur. I do remember slowing to a roll to let Bashert and Nenè off at the front door, peeling off to the parking garage and then running, yes, running back to the hospital. Back then I was a good 30, 40, okay, 50 pounds lighter and could well, you know, run. Even still, I was out of breath and sweating like a glass of iced tea by the time I finally located them up on the third floor triage area in a curtained off area.

Now as our luck would have it, Todd and Marge Chester arrived at the hospital at the same time as Bashert and Nenè were entering. Apparently the ride up in the elevator was quite the hoot (see bashert04 on the side link for her telling). I got to experience the latter part of that comedy of errors.

When I arrived on the triage floor, Bashert was in obvious pain and dripping wet. Mrs. Chester – Margo – on the other hand was bright and cheerful, flitting about chirping to everyone that she just knew her water had broken. I got a good look at Margo. She was tall and thin and wearing skinny designer jeans with high heeled boots. The thought of pregnancy had not even crossed her body’s mind yet.

Triage Nurse was in the common area passing on information in a loud stage whisper. “Mrs. Chester in exam area one is here because her water has broken. Ms. Bedlam-Smith in exam area two thinks her water has broken.” That was it for Bashert. All the anxiety and pain lifted any filters she had left at that point. She grabbed my hand and said in a very not whisper, “Thinks? She ‘thinks’ her water broke? I’ve got Niagara Falls between my legs and I ‘think’ my water broke?” Momma-to-be was not a happy camper. This did not bode well for our rapidly approaching birthing experience.

We could hear Triage Nurse making nice with the Chesters. “Let’s get you checked out, okay, Honey?” For crying out loud even I could see that Margo was dry as a bone and looked less pregnant than I did! Meanwhile, as they were checking out dear Margo, poor Bashert was lying on the exam table shivering, sodden and scared. All I could do was be with her and try to take her mind off of things until the doctor arrived.

I heard Triage Nurse start in with her stage whisper again explaining the various states of the women on the floor. When she got to Bashert, she again said, “She thinks her water has broken.” This time Bashert did not hold back at all, “Will you stop saying that! I don’t think my water has broken; I know my water has broken!” I could hear the bass voice of the doctor quietly responding to Triage Nurse. Thank goodness he finally got there. It did not take long after to get things straightened out as to who was actually birthing a baby that night. The doctor sent Todd and Margo off into the night to ponder how many stock options they could wrangle before their next dry run at childbirth.

You will notice that I used the pronoun “he” in reference to the doctor. Please recall that OBwan warned us that she would be out of town over the weekend. What night was this? Right. Saturday night equaled no OBwan. Bashert and I had joked early on about the “lesbians” ending up with a drop-dead gorgeous doctor on call when she went into labor. Guess what – the doctor on call that  weekend turned out to be the living, blue-eyed embodiment of Ken. Even through her pain and fear Bashert had to laugh at that one.

Dr. Ken turned out to be very nice. Once he quickly cleared up the whole Todd and Margo thing he turned his full attention to Bashert. He was kind and reassuring and most of all he was able to put Triage Nurse in her place with a dazzling smile.

You see, Bashert does not do pain. Bashert’s middle name is Epidural. First name on the admittance forms: Epidural. From day one of our prenatal visits with OBwan it was clear that Bashert would be getting an epidural. OBwan, herself a three times over mom at this point, agreed whole-heartedly and made extensive notes in the file to that effect. Big bold letters: Bashert gets an epidural as soon as possible. Apparently, Triage Nurse did not think this was a good idea.

After Dr. Ken examined Bashert and gave us the news that there was meconium (baby poop) in the amniotic fluid and she needed to deliver in the next twelve hours, Bashert asked about the epidural. Well, little miss Triage Nurse, stepped up and interrupted, “Oh, no, you don’t want to do that! It will just slow things down.” All I could do was look at her with “Wha?” stamped on my face.

Dr. Ken let her have her say and then turned to Bashert directly, did the toe squeeze, flashed a smile and asked her if the epidural is what she wanted. I believe if she had not been having a contraction at the time, her response would have raised the roof, “YES!” Dr. Ken then said that he would make all the arrangements and they would make her as comfortable as possible until the arrival of the anesthesiologist. Triage Nurse huffed and finally went away. One stone, two birds. Bashert relaxed as well as she could for the moment. Her epidural was on its way.

Now that Dr. Ken had given the official declaration that Bashert really was in labor, we were moved to the actual birthing room. It was a relief to get away from the confusion and craziness of the triage area. The birthing room felt incredibly spacious after all three of us being squashed in the exam area. Even with the little area that was portioned off for working on the babies after they were born, there was quite a lot of leg room. Here there was a bed, a couch, a hard chair and the usual assortment of medical machines burping and whirring. We actually had access to a private bathroom which was great. Nenè set herself up on the couch and began dozing. Bashert and I were alone for the first time since we sat down to watch Sir Elton so many hours ago.

Music Hath Charms… : Baby Chapter 15

J&EMusic and babies. On Nenè’s due date I attended a Monkees concert – complete with opener Weird Al Yankovic. I wasn’t going to let a little thing like the beginning stages of labor stand in the way of a much anticipated concert. Heck, it was another day and a half before she got here anyway.

Bashert’s due date was a quiet Saturday evening at home watching Sir Elton John on PBS. Of course, it didn’t start out or end up that way, it would not be our story if it did. As we tell Yoda, we are allowed at least one wrong turn per trip, sometimes two…or three…or…

Bashert was having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions the week she was due. They started getting harder and more frequent enough for Dr. OBwan to confirm that she was heading toward true labor. Poor Bashert, she was so tired and hot; she was just ready to be done. During that week’s visit OBwan said that if Bashert didn’t deliver by the weekend, she would go ahead and induce labor on that coming Monday. I think the relief that the end was finally in sight sort of paved over the other information that OBwan was going out of town that weekend.

I was scheduled for two straight weeks of vacation beginning the next week, but knowing that the time was so near, I went ahead and started my vacation, at least from my night time job. My government job was not quite as flexible, so I had to work two more mornings. Those were a couple of really hard mornings. I was not able to confide in anyone there as to what was going on. (I found out later that I did have a secret ally, but at that time – who knew?)

Bashert was going stir crazy and kept begging to go off somewhere, anywhere to get out of the house. I was so nervous about going off in case she went into full blown labor. Now, I realize it would not have made any difference, you are where you are when it happens and you go from there. I think maybe my own labor experience had me wanting to keep her close to home. I lived 13 miles outside of town and about 20 miles from the hospital where I was to deliver. It took so long to get there I was a double nervous wreck. I didn’t want that to happen with Bashert. (Yes, I know I went to the concert, but I wasn’t doubled over in pain and I was actually closer to the hospital at the time!)

Friday afternoon she finally got me to go with her on a walk around the neighborhood, which really amounted to a walk to the road and back – about 50 feet. It was 350℉ outside and Bashert could hardly move she was so uncomfortable with her body and the contractions hitting her every 15 minutes or so. By the time we got back in the house, she was in such distress, I said screw this and bundled her off to the hospital.

About an hour into the waiting game there, our patronizing triage staff cheerfully told us that it really was not time yet and we needed to go home. Damn. That was a long night.

The next morning, Bashert’s urge to get moving again surfaced. She wanted to go downtown to the Farmer’s Market. Sure, I was going to drive us downtown to walk around outside in the heat when she could barely make it to the end of the drive at home. Yeah, not going to happen. She thinks it was because I wanted her to relax; it was more for my relaxation. My already on edge nerves could not take that outing. It was not until later that afternoon, she finally wore me down.

I put off going to the grocery for a while because I was afraid to leave her alone for too long. Even if we had more than one car, Nenè still couldn’t drive and I did not want to have to rush home from across town. But we were down to our last tidbits, so I had to go out for supplies. She had me cornered. If I went without her I would be constantly worried and careless in my rush. If I took her with me I would be worried, but still have all my limbs attached in the right places.

That was the longest damn trip around the grocery store I have ever experienced. Her contractions were increasing to the point where it was take two steps, grab the cart and breathe; take two steps, grab the cart and breathe… We finally settled for some subs from the deli and headed home. I was so ready to get back to safety.

Once home we settled in on the couch to watch the Elton John concert on PBS. Nenè wasn’t interested so she scooted on upstairs to her room to do whatever it is that a 16 year old girl, who doesn’t want to spend the evening with her parents does. We started in on our subs and the show began – on screen and off.

Bashert and I saw Sir Elton in concert many years back when he did his one-man tour and we were looking forward to revisiting all those songs. We were conversing about how odd it was that we didn’t know any of the stuff he was performing. We were laughing and saying, “Nope, don’t know that one, either” each time a new song started. It wasn’t until about three or four songs in when a recognizable tune started. It is not that I don’t appreciate new material, I was just tired and wanted to hear something comfortingly familiar.

My excitement and joy over finally getting my wish was squashed in an instant when I heard Bashert yell, “MY WATER BROKE!” I turned to look at her and my brain went blank. You know those stupid sitcoms where the normally competent husband goes all goofy? Well, that was me.

I was calm as could be when I had Nenè, but not this go round. Way different on this side of the uterus, I tell you, way different. My mind would not function in an orderly manner. I spent nine months being patient (well, mostly) and attentive (well, mostly) and here I was forgetting about the one thing I should care most about – Bashert!

When she yelled that her water had broken, all I could think about was her sitting on our big blue cloth couch! I kept insisting she get off the couch. “Get off the couch, it’s going to be ruined!” My brain had slipped into park. How about that for an attentive and caring partner? Yelling at pregnant woman in obvious labor to get up! Great, just great there Cee. (The Jackass made a joke in really bad taste when he had to clean up the car after I leaked all 20 freaking miles to the hospital – not the same thing at all.)

Nenè came running down the stairs after all the commotion carried up to her room. I snapped out of whatever twilight zone I was in and proceeded to guide Bashert to the front door. I could see that she was in some serious pain, but I needed to get her to the car. She kept stopping along the way. The ten feet to the door never seemed such a distance.

Now, let me say here in my own defense, we had been discussing along and along how Bashert put off thinking about the actual birthing process. She was okay with it in the abstract, but really did not want to know anything about the actualities. So give me some room for the next segment.

When we finally got to the front door, Bashert grabbed the frame and said, “I can’t. I can’t do this.” Well, my reference point was the conversations we held about her fears of actually giving birth, so that’s where I came from. I said with a little laugh, “Yes you can, Bashert. It’s a little late to back out now. You can do this. I’m here.” That did not go over too well. She shot me daggers and said through clenched teeth, “I meant I can’t walk right now. I am having a contraction.” Okay then – I shut up from then on out and we slowly step-by-step, contraction-by-contraction made it to the car.

We never did get to see the full Sir Elton concert.

Animal Magnetism: Baby Chapter 14

J&EPheromones caused it all. Some kind of magnified parallax whereby all things mammal were attracted to Bashert for good or bad. Remember how the animals knew about her pregnancy before we did? Apparently, it spread to the neighborhood animals too.

At the time Bashert was pregnant, we had the original two dogs, Elisheva and Shit Dog. Elisheva had not one maternal bone in her 20 pound body. Really. She growled at puppies and had no use for children at all. She alone seemed impervious to the pheromone power of Bashert. She didn’t change must during the pregnancy except to possible get even more clingy than normal. E-girl had issues.

Shit dog was normally a fairly easy going guy save his ongoing and imposing Napoleon complex. He had no time for other small dogs; no they were beneath him. He preferred the company of large dogs, the bigger the better. He would put on airs about being able to stand up to the fiercest looking Rottweilers, but somehow magically be somewhere else when any altercation started. He was also known to run away from cats. His bark (high pitched as it was) was definitely worse  than his bite. That is what made what happened all the more impressive.

One of our neighbors had the grand idea to keep an un-neutered Bullmastiff in an 1100 square foot (102 M2) townhouse. Those dogs do not have “mass” in their breed name for nothing. Jasper easily weighed a good 200 pounds (90 kilos) and his humongous head reached chest level. It is a cliché, but small children really could saddle up and ride. The dog was big. And territorial. And his idiot owner allowed him to walk free inside the courtyard.

One morning, a very pregnant Bashert put Shit Dog and Elisheva on their leads and walked out into the courtyard for their first potty break. As soon as Bashert got to the end of our patio, Jasper charged. He slammed Bashert up against the brick patio wall with visible intent of attacking. At that moment, all the courage of all the mixed breeds inside Shit Dog rose to the surface and he lunged at Jasper. I ran outside at the commotion and saw an amazing thing. Shit Dog was holding  that freaking monster at bay! Between all of the shouting and Shit Dog’s devoted response the idiot owner was finally able to body slam Jasper away from the scene. (E-girl was no where to be found.)

A shaken and bruised Bashert made it safely back into the house and Shit Dog lived high on the hog for quite some time. Never did we think his bravado would actually amount to anything – he proved us pleasantly wrong. (As a side note, after some legal discussions, idiot owner finally realized she needed to place Jasper in a better situation for a dog his size and he went to live in the country.)

Outside of our home environment the pheromone effect took a different path, one of less resistance.

Before it became too uncomfortable to walk any distance, Bashert and Nenè would take evening strolls. It was not unusual for me to get a morning report that this dog or that dog would come up to them as the were on their walk around just wanting to bask in the glow of Bashert’s being. A few would trot along with them for a while and then return from whence they came. But apparently one night the moon, stars and all in the universe lined up correctly – Bashert became the piped piper of all the loose dogs in the neighborhood.

Around 8pm, I received a phone call from Bashert. This was on my desk phone as we still did not have cells and for her to call me at work was odd, especially when I heard the tone in her voice. “Cee-ee, I don’t know what to do…” I started to panic, but I could hear Nenè laughing in the background. What was going on?

“They followed me home, Cee, they all followed me home.” I was beginning to get the picture. She repeated, “I don’t know what to do” and added, “there’s seven of them!” I immediately sat straight up in my chair and said, “Please tell me you haven’t let them in the house! Do not let them in the house!” I asked her to put Nenè on the phone. “Nenè, please tell me Bashert has not let those dogs in the house!” Through choking laughter she confirmed that yes, there were indeed seven dogs and they still remained outside. She gave the phone back to Bashert.

“Oh, my g-d, Cee one of them is looking in the window!” That, I-need-to-take-care-of-every-stray-animal tone was slipping into her voice. I put on my air traffic controller tone to match hers and talk her down through situation. “Bashert, just do not engage. Do not look through the windows. Do not open the door. They will give up eventually and go back to their own homes.” I knew neither of them would go out and shoo them off.

“But Cee, they are looking at me” – gales of laughter from Nenè – “and now they are knocking on the door!”  More laughter and a muffled voice in the background, “I swear they are knocking on the door Mom!”

“Bashert just back away from the window and turn out the front lights. That way they can’t see in and will give up.” “And tell Nenè to be quiet so they can’t hear y’all in there!” They complied and went into stealth mode. I remained on the line a few minutes more as the only outside contact and then had to get back to work. I was getting funny looks by then.

The next morning I got the rest of the scoop. After they turned out the lights and quieted down from the  laughing, it took maybe five minutes for the Bashert-worshipping doggies to go on their disappointed way. I think it took Bashert and Nenè hours to get over the ridiculousness of them both crouched in the darkness hiding from those dogs as if they were unannounced guests and the house was a mess.

All I could do was shake my head and mumble, “Only you Bashert, only you.”

The number of her faithful followers never reached that number again, but to this very day I can attest to the fact that we have at least one dog (or cat) try to tag along when we go out for a walk. – a hormonal hold over I guess. She just has that animal attraction…

Ice Cream & Horseradish: Baby Chapter 13

J&EThink back on your childhood days when your parent made you take your Flintstones One-A-Day™. Oh, yeah, they pulled you in with their little effigies of Bedrock’s favorite inhabitant’s (except Betty, ‘cause Betty’s Not A Vitamin). You could giggle and bite off Barney’s head or feet in a little defiant act of cannibalism, but did Barney or Fred or Wilma or even Dino really taste like grapes or cherries? I think not.

Oh, a first there was a strange unidentifiable sweet – just enough to fool you – then came the slow realization that the back of your tongue was now coated in tin foil and no amount of water would scrape it off. It forced you to go brush your teeth – a cooperative childhood conspiracy between the vitamin and toothpaste companies and our parents, I say. Anyway, the dang things were just gross.

Now, prenatal vitamins are horse pills, big, long oval horse pills. They don’t even come in appealing little cartoon shapes. The ones Bashert took were light kidney bean colour and they smelled like rust. They tasted like, well, vitamins (see above). So, you may excuse me the grimace that comes over my face when I write the next line.

Bashert loved to suck on her prenatal vitamins.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Bless her little pea picking, pregnant, weird craving heart, that is exactly what Bashert did with her prenatal vitamins. Sucked the goodie right out of them, she did. Even Dr. OBwan thought that one topped the charts for her records. Excuse me, I think I need to go brush my teeth.

Another peculiarity about Bashert’s dietary changes during pregnancy, she could consume as much milk as she wanted. Normally borderline lactose allergic (think Meg Ryan on the train in French Kiss), once she realized that she was free from the bonds lactic tyranny it was look out ice cream! She became the dairy industry’s poster child. Cheap, expensive, soft serve, cone, or Klondike Bar™, no mixture of creamy frozen milk was denied. For someone who had to down four lactic counteractive pills before tasting the sample at the frozen yogurt place, this was a dream come true.

After the ice cream, came the need to consume all things that burn out your entire gastrointestinal track. Up until Bashert’s pregnancy neither one of us really had a palate for spicy foods – savory, yes; spicy, no. Pepper to us was just a doll from the 60s. That all changed for her during the pregnancy.

For some reason, Bashert’s body chemistry took a weird turn and decided to keep her sinuses blocked up for weeks on end. She didn’t want to take medications, so asked around for ideas. A friend suggested consuming something spicy – not an appealing thought, but she was desperate for some kind of relief and decided to take the chance.

The first opportunity (since we didn’t keep any peppery spices in the house) came when we attended a Passover seder at a friend’s home. Passover is full of traditional stuff, from the actual order of the meal (seder means order) to the things simply repeated year after year by the friends gathering round the table. Sometimes the traditions can combine, ancient and invented. One of the combined traditions was “Charlie’s Horseradish.”

Part of the seder is to consume bitter herbs (maror) to symbolically remember the bitterness and tears of slavery. The primary food of choice for this bit is horseradish. Charlie’s horseradish had to be kept in a specially designed jar – it ate through ordinary containers. When the lid was removed to start partaking of the lethal concoction, it did not take long before everyone’s eyes filled with tears. This stuff could have been used as a chemical agent for warfare or riot control.

So, why was this night not like any other night? Normally, Bashert and I would take the tiniest portion possible of Charlie’s horseradish, say an imaginary one, but this night Bashert took a heaping spoonful of the slow burning acid, spread it on her matzah and popped into her mouth.

I was writhing in sympathetic agony when I first realized what she had done, but then I got a look at her face. The transformation from the initial, “oh shit, what did I just put in my mouth” to “praise be, I can breath” was nothing short of a miracle. The look wonder and profound joy was incredible. My eyes filled with tears – the fumes were killing me.

Stop Peeing on the Damn Sticks Already: Baby Chpt. 8

J&ENever buy pregnancy test kits before the requisite two week waiting period.

Many of the kits advertise that they are the ones with the earliest detection times – “Our test can detect pregnancy one day after your missed period.” What they fail to mention is that is still two weeks after insemination – artificial or not. But to Bashert, early meant early, as in right away. She was driving herself (and me) crazy peeing on those damn sticks. Every time it would fail to show the smiley face, she would slump just knowing that she was not pregnant then she would do it again the next day. I finally just had to get rid of them – for both our sanity.

As the years weeks of waiting dragged on…Bashert began to notice that our animals were acting strange around her, more than usual and in a different way that is (All of our animals seem to come with some neurotic misfirings). The dogs were suddenly more protective and the cats, well, here’s a bit of TMI for you – the cats loved to roll in her underwear! They would pull it out of the dirty clothes and just roll. I love my cats, but they are freaky little things. Was our strange menagerie giving us an animal kingdom head’s up?

Finally the two weeks were up, I could safely put out the pregnancy tests again. Bashert was beside herself with anticipation. I’m not sure which night was worse, the night before insemination or the one before she could possibly get a real reading from the damn pee-stick. So early that Saturday morning, yes another laundry day, Bashert got up as late and as early as she could so that the test could be taken with what was considered her “first voiding” of the morning.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that one. I can only imagine the 3600 things bouncing around in her head that morning.

I was still dozing in bed when I heard MaLea calling my name. I jumped up and ran the full three feet to the bathroom. There I found two smiling faces; one big smile on Bashert’s face and another tiny one on a little white stick. I was in shock. I’ll be damned if the thing wasn’t showing her as pregnant. The insemination worked!

I asked her a billion questions to make sure she had followed all the instructions to the T. I didn’t want it to seem that I doubted her capabilities of peeing on a stick, I just wanted to make sure that all the required protocol was followed so that we had a true result (don’t judge, remember the cutting in line episode, she wasn’t known for following all the rules). The truth of the matter washed over me and I could feel the warmth of joy spread throughout my body. We were going to have a baby! What a Chanukah present!

The fly in the ointment remained the stupid infertility clinic. Bashert had been instructed to call them if and when she got a positive response at home. So here we were on another Saturday, forced to call the on-call nurse. Oh, joy. After what seemed from my vantage to be a much more snippy version of what I had asked, Bashert said she had to go in on Monday and have a blood test done to confirm the findings for sure. Much in the vein of Dr. Lizardo, the nurse had gone off on how next to impossible it was for a woman to get pregnant on the first go round and that all the different hormone levels needed to be checked to make sure the pregnancy was in fact true and the fetus was viable. Viable?

Two hours earlier, Bashert and I were dancing on air and in one fell swoop another minion of that cursed infertility clinic had dashed us to the earth. I had really begun to hate that place. Once again, I was put in the place to try and alleviate the fears creeping back into our lives. That’s me – comic relief central.

Monday finally rolled around and I was hating it. I wanted to be there with Bashert for this step too, but my morning job didn’t have any flexibility to it. We only had the one car so Bashert had drop me off at work before heading over to the blood lab to have her blood drawn. As we pulled into the parking lot, she began to get upset. After all of our discussions over the weekend, I thought she was upset about the prospects of the pee-stick smiley face telling a lie. I began to try and tell her that things would work out the way that was best and we can’t be sure of anything and so and so on. A strange look came over her face and she finally interrupted me to let me know it wasn’t about whether or not she was pregnant, but that she was scared sh*tless about having to be stuck with a needle! I thought I would bust a gut laughing.

After all the crap she had been through already to get to this point, she was afraid of the blood test? Even she had to laugh at that point. At least we parted in a good humor that morning. She took off for the blood lab and I went in to work to wait out whatever the results were going to be.

It was hard to concentrate at work that day. There were only two phones in the locale of my position at the time. One was on my immediate supervisor’s desk and the other slap in the middle of the work floor – a phone call was not going to happen (these were our no cell phone days). I had to wait for Bashert to physically return. The day dragged on and on for me. I couldn’t believe it was taking so long to get a simple blood test. Did they really have to go kill a rabbit?

Finally, I got a call from the front office that someone was here to see me. It was about an hour before I was to get off. That meant she had been gone four hours! When I walked out into the lobby all I could see was Bashert crying. Oh, no, the damn clinic was right! She wasn’t pregnant after all.

Now Bashert seems to recall that I began to speak again, waxing philosophically about how it will happen when it supposed to happen and all that. I don’t remember talking that much at all. I just remember a lot of crying and then her finally spitting out the words that we were pregnant. It took a minute for the words to actually register. I went from crushed to elated in such a short span my brain couldn’t keep up. She actually said, “We’re pregnant!” And that rat had me thinking it had all been for naught. Always, always an adventure with this one.

We were having a baby.

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.

The Surge: My Baby Story Version, Chpt. 6

J&ENow that we had a donor, the waiting game began again.

Bashert is not the most patient person in the best of times. She hates to wait. Oh, does she hate to wait.

Once we traveled to North Carolina to see the Highland Games that are held on top of Grandfather Mountain – a real mountain, mind you. The road up is quite steep and twisty, so the organization holding the event had arranged for bus ferries up and down the mountain. When we were through with our visit to the games, we walked out and faced a half mile long line to board the bus down the mountain. I sighed and accepted the slow progression of shuffling forward foot by foot, but Bashert? Oh, no, this would not do.

Before I knew it we were out of line and meandering up toward the loading zone. As we got to the front, Bashert began conversing with a family as if she were picking up a conversation just left off. The family chatted back, as comfortable with this relationship as Bashert seemed to be. Now, knowing that Bashert had ties to the Scottish game community through her bagpipes playing days, I thought this may be a family she knew. We continued the conversation and eased our way on to the next bus, probably a good thirty minutes before we would have had we stayed in line.

As we took our seats, I turned to ask Bashert who those people were. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “I have no idea.” I guess I must have blanched because she then added with a big smile, “But we’re on the bus aren’t we?”

Like I said, she hates to wait. So waiting for something pretty much totally out of her control, say the surge of ovulation, was excruciating torture. She thinks I didn’t notice, but I think she must have tested every single day that month in hopes that she could will it to happen on her schedule.

The Friday morning it actually did happened you would have thought Ed McMahon rang our doorbell. Bashert woke me from a sound sleep (two jobs remember?) shouting, “I’m surging, I’m surging!” and dancing around the bathroom holding the test stick. After realizing what was happening and it wasn’t just a panic attack about a bug in the bathroom again, my heart kind of stopped. The same terrified and joyous feeling I had when we chose the donor came over me. This was it; the ball was really rolling.

We shook ourselves out our happy stupor and managed to call the clinic. Our joy was short-lived.  The call to the clinic revealed that once “the surge” began, we had to wait 24 hours for the optimal time to perform the insemination. That meant 24 hours more of anxious waiting and a Saturday appointment. Bashert was not a happy camper.

I was privy to some of the anxiety producing situations Bashert was going through, but I didn’t know the full extent until much later – some not until she began to write her story – so, her extra heightened state of distress about having the insemination on a Saturday confused me. Being upset about the wait I could understand, but I just couldn’t see the big deal about Saturday. I thought the timing was great since I wouldn’t have to call into work and we could spend the whole day together.

Slow dawning came about when she finally told me that because the insemination would be done outside of a regular office day, the on-call doctor would do the procedure. The on call doctor that weekend: Dr. Lizardo.

Who’s Your Daddy (sorta): Baby Story Chpt. 5

J&EWe don’t all have access to a willing rock legend, so choosing a donor who will contribute half the genetic material to your child is no easy task. You wouldn’t believe the sorts of things you have to wade through.

I sifted through all the informational literature, testimonials, videos and price guides to finally come up with a cryogenics bank that suited our parameters – ethical, genetic testing, IUI ready secret sauce, anonymous donors and price.  Once that was settled, I was able to start concentrating on finding the perfect donor again.

We had already discussed what our ideals were. Since Bashert was to be the one who carried, we wanted to find someone with more of my features, colouring, etc. But I have to tell you, once I got into the website and saw the different combinations I could come up with, it was like playing with an electronic paper doll. Let me see…green eyes, black hair, medium complexion. No, no…blue eyes, curly hair, ears that don’t attach at the bottom and left handed. Scot/Irish heritage?  Latino? No problem, throw in a foreign language? sure thing…

Another thing to get through was the donor levels. Who knew that sperm came in economy, standard and premium?And for goodness sake let’s not forget the washed and unwashed states. As Bashert is want to say, “Oh, vey!”

Economy, just as it sounds, was the lowest level of sperm available. That sounds kind of bad, doesn’t it? Lowest level – like they should be hanging out on the street corner trying to push drugs to unsuspecting kids or something. No, these poor unwashed masses were simply those donors who had only limited genetic testing, no college education recorded and the other documented donor information was a bit skimpy. These were the guys that donated before the heavier standards were in place for this particular cryo bank. There was a sort of a “you pays yo’ money and takes yo’ chances” kind of feel to these donors. It may have been perfectly lovely sperm, but most of this bargain-basement special sauce did not come IUI ready and we wanted a bit more for our future child.

The next level up was the standard class, I think the group was actually tagged as the name of the cryo bank, sort of  the “Sperm R Us” donors. These were the young guys just starting out in life, but working toward something, undergraduate degree, next level management, that sort of thing. They had been accepted into the program after the more stringent testing began. They recorded more extensive medical and familial records. A few even had baby or childhood photos and a recorded interview. But with this added measure of security and intel came a jump in price. In 2002, an IUI ready vial of special sauce at this level was around $250 a pop (so to speak).

The crème-de-la-crème of the special sauce was the premium standard for this bank. Called the graduate level, this category was for the eggheads – no pun intended. To be in this club, the special sauce must have been cooked up by gentlemen with no less than a Master’s and preferably a PhD. That level of education was really all that separated the wheat from the chaff. The items available to share about the donor were all the same. Bashert and I weren’t prepared (or able) to pay upwards of $400 a vial just for the “dahctah”.

Remember, Bashert was working for a private diner’s club, but only making minimum wage – back then that was $5.15 an hour. I was working two part time jobs, one that paid minimum wage and had a set 20 hours a week and one that paid about $8 an hour for around 30 hours a week. The bankroll was not fat cheddar. We would have to pay outright for the sauce, storage, transportation, and insemination. The only thing covered under insurance was the testing – and that turned out to be a sore spot later.

So, with our picky protocols and shallow pockets, we like Baby Bear, selected the level we felt most comfortable with – “Sperm R Us”.

Once I was done playing genetic dress-up, I got down to brass tacks and began looking in earnest. Bashert’s clock was ticking toward her next ovulation and after the assault she suffered at the hands of Dr. Lizardo, we wanted to move through this stage as soon as possible.

It was frustrating. Time and time again, I would think this was the one only to read a little further into it and discover that schizophrenia ran in his family (yeah, we were really surprised that one made it on the list, too) or that there was rampant heart disease on his father’s side. As time grew nearer, I was seriously beginning to think about lowering our standards some in order to make this happen.

But then one afternoon, I was back at the computer and a new number popped up under my descriptive search. Green/blue eyes, medium complexion, dark hair, correct blood type…so, I opened his file to read more. Oh, hey, curly hair – Bashert would like that…a little on the short side, but that’s okay – good things come in small packages & I’m not exactly a basketball player either, getting his bachelor’s degree, likes team sports & art, absolutely clear medical record and family history until this caught my eye: uncle died in Holocaust…wait a minute…grandfather perished from injuries sustained in Holocaust…wait just a dang gone minute here…are we talking Jewish?

We had purposely not searched for Jewish donors. Since we were able to be choosy we didn’t want to possibly reintroduce diseases that run in the Ashkenazi gene pool. But as I read down this guy’s list of publicly available information, he fit the bill in every category we had decided on. The more I looked, the more excited I got. I called Bashert over to the computer.

I read off all the information I had gathered and then…ta da…revealed that he was all that and a bag of bagel chips! You would think we were at a Chippendales’ show they way we were oohing and awing over this guy’s profile. We were so taken that we decided right then and there to order the “extras’ so that we could get the fullest scoop we could. The extras included a personal profile he had written and a childhood photo. Yes, we knew it was more money out of our pockets, but I think we both knew this was the one. The essay was nice; he came across as a good guy, but what truthfully sealed the deal? The photo.

Now, I searched and searched for a match for my physical characteristics/interests and that criteria is what this guy came up under, but people when that childhood photo slowly revealed itself (we were on dial-up, so it took forever!), fractal line, by fractal line there in all her male gender identity sat Bashert. The kid could have been Bashert’s brother! I actually looked at her and asked, “Your Dad used to be a traveling salesman, right?” It was uncanny.

At that moment, we knew we had found the one. We went to the phone and began the arrangements. We had enough saved up for two vials of special sauce and the extras we had ordered. We had our ducks in a row with all the physician paperwork completed in advance, so all we had to do was set up an account, tell them what we wanted, hand over the credit card number and voilà! we would be set to move into the next phase of this story: insemination.

My friends, as joy filled as the moment was, it was also absolutely terrifying.

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.