“I’ll be right back,” the doctor told me. Picture this: my feet in stirrups, my sit-bones teetering over the metal edge of the table, my lower back and upper ass stuck to the paper sheet.
I do not much enjoy being abandoned in spread-eagle position, twiddling my toes while the gynecologist leaves unexpectedly to do something mysterious elsewhere.
I know I shouldn’t have, but I stayed up late the night before, reading everything on WebMD about the fertility-confirming procedure I was having, called a hysterosalpingogram. Vast numbers of internet commenters warned me it could be painful. Very painful. Like screaming painful.
So why couldn’t I go under for this? Why didn’t they offer me Valium? What if they shot that dye into my tubes and we found out — the hard way — that I was all blocked up? Why couldn’t they send a robot camera in there? It was the year 2001 for god’s sake. We did not have spinning space stations staffed by silent women in miniskirts serving men to the strains of The Blue Danube, but we did have some cool medical tech.
So I sat there fully conscious and trembling, for what felt like MINUTES, absolutely terrified that my wild-oat-sowing past would come back to haunt me. That everyone on the gynecology floor of Kaiser would know. And I’d be all alone.
My husband was not there with me that morning. Nor was he there for the two IUI’s — aka Intrauterine Inseminations — I did, to hurtle his somewhat sluggish sperm toward my blessedly unblocked tubes.
We ultimately divorced due to our unresolved infertility as a couple. I could never forgive him for failing to accompany me through some of the scariest detours on our journey.
So this is why I went with my friend Darci to ALL of her IUI appointments. I drove down to Palo Alto three times to meet her at Stanford Hospital. We used to joke that if the doctor-guided turkey baster “took,” we could tell everyone I was the one who knocked her up.
And it’s why I went with my friend Marissa to her ultrasound a few months ago. After all those years of going to the OB/GYN on my own, and being sad about it, I was ready for some happy.
We got to see little fetus Hannah from all sorts of crazy angles: tip to toe, taint to top. Talk about embarrassing baby photos, in miraculous 3D. No goggles required. The future has arrived in all sorts of unexpected ways and I am here for it.
But does all this tech relieve our loneliness? I cannot decide if the balance has tipped toward connection or disintegration.
I will never know the thrill of seeing a little copy of myself inside me, onscreen. But even if I had gotten to experience that, would I feel less lonely?
From my rather cushy vantage point, parenting seems like a pretty fucking thankless job in amongst brief moments of joy and satisfaction. So I suppose storytelling is my new baby.