Love Is Hard: Chapter 4
I sat across the desk from Dr. Dearborn while he gave me a short tutorial on infertility. Because Eric and I had tried on our own (and with a fertility monitor) for over a year with no result, we were technically infertile.
The first thing we needed to do was to get both of us tested to see where the problem was. I’d had blood tests done at my first appointment and then I’d had my fallopian tubes checked the previous day, of course. Dr. Dearborn went over all the results and they were excellent. My hormone levels were perfect for a woman my age and my fallopian tubes were clear as a bell. I breathed a sigh of relief and listened while he explained what our next steps were. Eric’s semen was to be tested the following day, and once he got a gold star for his swimmers, we’d proceed to the fancy stuff.
First, I’d have six months of taking hormones orally. This was so I’d produce multiple eggs, which would, in turn, increase my chances of pregnancy. For those six months, I’d come in several times every month for ultrasounds to monitor my egg production. Then on the big day, I’d come in to be artificially inseminated by Eric’s sperm, of course.
If those six months didn’t result in a successful pregnancy, then we’d bring out the big guns and I’d inject myself with hormones twice a day—also to produce multiple eggs. Again, I’d get regular ultrasounds to monitor the eggs, and if I produced enough, we’d do in vitro fertilization. There was a lot more to in vitro than there was to the artificial insemination, and so we’d save that for the big-gun months. Of course, I hoped I’d never get to those months and that I could get pregnant sooner with one of the smaller-gun procedures.
The doctor sent me home with a stack of papers to read and an even bigger stack for Eric and me to sign. We’d have to come back for another appointment together for counseling on birth defects and all the odds of horrible things going wrong (my words, not his). And then, of course, this would all cost us a small fortune. Our insurance wouldn’t pay for any of the treatments. Dr. Dearborn explained that many couples viewed this sort of undertaking like an investment in a car or a vacation home. I was relieved that we didn’t have to worry about the money–Eric made such a good living–but wondered what kind of debt couples had to get themselves into before even thinking of the expense of the actual baby.
I wanted to get started as soon as possible. I wasn’t sure when Eric was supposed to leave for Rome, but I hoped that we could at least get a month of the artificial insemination in before he left. I scheduled his sperm test for the following morning and left.
When I met Tara for lunch, I told her what the doctor had told me. She was fairly familiar with the whole thing as she’d had a couple of girlfriends who had gotten pregnant by in vitro. Tara herself had a five-year-old daughter that she’d conceived the regular way, and wasn’t interested in having any more children. Her husband was the famous model, JB DuRone, and while they could certainly afford all the children they wanted, they had decided that they only wanted one. She was a beautiful little girl, although I rarely saw her—she was always with the nanny.
I spent the afternoon by the pool reading through all the literature the doctor had given me. Then I went upstairs to my office to read more about the procedures online. I kept getting distracted or interrupted by Juana or Margarita or the phone until finally, I’d had enough and sent everyone home early. Eric called to say he’d be late again, so I went to the kitchen, poured myself a glass of wine and walked back out to the pool.
I hadn’t had a drop of alcohol since I’d started trying to get pregnant. Neither had Eric. He was also avoiding hot baths and jacuzzis. I avoided them as well during the two weeks every month that I hoped I might be pregnant. I also avoided any medications, seafood, caffeine, junk food, tap water, strenuous exercise, stress (although worrying about what to avoid seemed to cause the stress I needed to avoid). It seemed that with everything I did and especially everything I put in my mouth, I had my uterus in mind. I’d read the books and we both did whatever they said we needed to do like good little procreators.
I was never a big drinker anyway, but I decided that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if I had a little something to relax my mind while I was enjoying my rare solitude. I knew for certain that I wasn’t pregnant at the moment. Those days were always a little less stressful. I didn’t have to worry about making some horrible mistake that could cause early miscarriage. Sometimes the pressure was pretty tough.
Ever since I’d left the doctor’s office, I’d had something nagging me in the back of my mind. It started when I was leaving the office and I looked around the waiting room, imagining how clear all the fallopian tubes must be in those women. I got my instructions on how to bring Eric’s semen in the following morning, and then there was that nagging little feeling again. Was this really what I wanted to do?
I had always been the kind of person that didn’t do things halfway. I prided myself on being very capable and very determined. It’s how I got through school, and how I functioned at work, and when I decided to get pregnant, that’s how I approached that effort as well. I’d obviously hit some obstacles since I wasn’t pregnant yet, but in true Sookie fashion, I’d just learned what to do next to reach my goal and sought out the fertility clinic. But was it what I really wanted to do?
When Eric and I first got married, we weren’t ready for children. We wanted to wait until we had more money and a house. I always kind of assumed that I’d just go off the pill when we were ready and things would happen naturally. If we got pregnant, great. If not, that was fine as well. We’d have more time to travel or work on the house in Venice. I’d have more time to devote to my job. But then when we got to Brentwood and I no longer had a job, I devoted my time to getting pregnant. What happened to the things happening naturally idea? When did it get replaced by the do anything and everything necessary to get it to happen idea? Was it too late to change my mind? What would Eric say if I told him I wanted to go back to the just let things happen idea? And then what if it just didn’t happen? What if we don’t have any children? Would Eric still be happy with just me? Would I be enough family for him?
The more I examined my feelings, the more unsure I felt about the fertility treatments.
I fixed myself some dinner and ate in front of the TV. By the time Eric got home, I was in bed with a book. I gave him a brief overview of what the doctor said and he took the papers downstairs to read them himself. I made no mention of the second thoughts I was having.
I went through all of Sookie’s papers and got a crash course on fertility treatments. I felt like I was on board a runaway train. When did things go from two people making love to injections and ultrasounds? I guess I shouldn’t complain. All I had to do was jerk off in a cup on a regular basis. Poor Sookie had to subject her body to all of the hormones and spend an absurd number of days every month with her feet in stirrups. I signed all the places marked spouse and went to bed.
Sookie was in the shower when I got up. She’d been asleep by the time I got to bed and we hadn’t had a chance to talk about any of the fertility stuff. She followed me to work and I jerked off in the cup in the bathroom in the production office while my casting director waited in my office for our 8:00 meeting.
Sookie gave me a peck on the cheek and I watched her walk across the lot out my window, little brown paper bag in hand.