One year ago today we could never have conceived of these two people who we live with, only—with a little help!—we did.
Very early on a Saturday morning, we drove from our home in Vienna, VA to Shady Grove, MD to embark on a journey called ‘In-Vitro Fertilization’, the continuation of several years’ of infertility treatments. I drank an extra cup of coffee in the car to give a little boost to my swimmers, and we talked nervously about the future. We’d been to the building before, but never to the swanky 5th floor, where the waiting room was decorated with fresh flowers. It was quiet, too, except for the only other couple there: a mousy mom-to-be who smiled a lot, and her outspoken husband. He was a real piece of work—quite easily the biggest asshole I’ve ever seen. Heck, he was the first and second biggest asshole I’ve met, combined into one person.
Talking at about 87 decibels and wearing a garish T-shirt, he brashly demeaned his wife and the project at hand. Incensed that there was no TV to watch, he gruffly rifled through the fancy magazines until he settled on one. He flipped pages as he continued to chime in with insults toward his wife and extended glares at us. Finally, mercifully, one of the staff members came to the doorway to summon us to the back. Only as soon as he saw her, our new friend stood up to insist that he should go first. “Honey, please sit down!” his wife implored, and we forced a smile as we moved out of the room. As we walked down the hall, we heard his loud protest and complaints.
The plan was for several eggs to be harvested from The Wife while I made my regular contribution in the special room that is always just around the corner in places like this. But for now, we talked to our nurse about the procedure, signed a stack of forms, and waited quietly for our doctor to come by. She was excited for us to take this next step, but was cautious about our prospects on this, our first attempt.
Preparations underway, we sat in our little curtained cubicle and tried to calm The Wife in the face of impending general anesthesia, and to temper our high hopes about everything. And, since he had made his entry to the treatment area, we tried to ignore the loudmouth on the other side of the curtain as he boasted about how much he enjoyed giving his wife her hormone injections, “because I love sticking her with sharp needles!” Even as we cringed in silence, we shared an unspoken prayer: “Lord, please, please don’t let our sperm get mixed up with his!”
Speaking of which, I was asked to say ‘goodbye’ and to head toward the Andrology Lab. Which, I have to say, was only OK. The one in Georgetown was a bit broken down, but at least it was private. Out the door and across the hall left one feeling a bit exposed, but things were quiet there, and you were basically left alone until you made the Walk of Shame back to the waiting room and the assembled and expectant masses. Let’s just say I always wore my shirt untucked, ok? The magical room on the lower floor in Shady Grove was a bit overefficient. A (male) attendant led the donor to one of four small rooms. Once there, he gave an uncomfortable tour of the room (sink, chair, magazine rack, TV, cup) and invited the victim to “ring the bell” when completed, so that he could come by again to grab the sample and show the way back to the waiting room.
But up here on the fifth floor, prospective dads were given a bit more autonomy, even if the facilities were not too impressive. There was only one room, where I was directed without further comment, and which I (eventually) exited to wander the halls looking for someone who might be looking for my sample. A bit more wandering, and I found The Wife, who was groggy but happy to see me. We sat and waited and both tried to wake up, until our doctor came by with some news: where she had thought that they would only be able to harvest a few eggs, they had instead take eighteen, which were currently being fertilized. “Head home when you’re recovered, and we’ll give you a call to let you know how everything looks tomorrow,” she smiled.
So, there wasn’t any candlelight, and very little romance. But that is the day that our dear children got their start.