You don’t like me,I can tell. It’s something about the way you hold your head up a few degrees too high, your blunt haircut and excessive professionalism. It’s something about the way you only talk to Andrea, like this whole thing is really none of my business. You always only call her name in the waiting room. I trail behind her like an entourage, holding her bag and sucking on the free mints.
I struggle not to feel superfluous, but my body wants to be involved in this process. I think about fucking her with a hard-on more than ever. I can’t describe how weird it feels to watch you stick a gloved probe up inside of my partner. I pretend to recognize all the blobs on the screen but they’re ambiguous and shifting and the screen, of course, isn’t facing me. You never explain anything or look directly at me. You act like you have no idea this will be my baby, too.
We snoop around the room while we’re in there alone. Andrea touches a probe that I point out might have been inside someone else’s vagina, so when you enter the room we’re giggling. Do we make you nervous? But you are in the position of power here; you have the probe, and you are measuring the follicles that will time Andrea’s ovulation.
You try not to lift the sheet when you reach under it. The first time you glanced at me with suspicion, as if I shouldn’t have been looking. Isn’t it me who should be casting suspicious glances at you?
This whole clinic thing is such a leap of faith. Really, we have been kept on a need-to-know basis. It is impossible to ask all the right questions, so things keep coming up and it feels sometimes like you guys are inventing stuff as we go along.
We arrive on most mornings with sweatshirts, bed-head and skater shoes. Everyone thinks we look too young to be doing this. Maybe you do, too. Maybe you don’t like that we’re queer. But at $1,300 a month, you could at least feign interest. I suppose this is good practice for when I am known as “Gracie’s mom” everywhere I go (or for the nine months we will spend having the world think my partner is a straight woman with a man at home). Our doctor is the only one who spends equal time looking at both of us (and he flicked the catheter with a precious glob of purchased sperm onto Andrea’s thigh last month, so he ain’t perfect either).
I am not usually so sensitive to how much strangers like me. But in this situation where there is so little certainty, I want to believe you are personally committed to bringing us a baby.
Do you think it’s inappropriate that I am here while she gets her ultrasound? Do straight couples not usually do this together? I had a fleeting thought last week that you could botch our insemination if you wanted to. You are helping all these people get pregnant. What happens when you don’t like what they stand for, or the choices they are making? Are you a little less thorough, do you avoid the extra mile?
Andrea’s Nana had a fit of rage once over the fact that when you order decaf coffee you can never be sure it’s decaf. They could lie if they wanted to. If they didn’t like you. If they just didn’t feel like making decaf that day. I am starting to feel like same goes for the clinic. You’re never sure if you are getting the best treatment you could be getting.
I used to assume that doctors are always doing the best they can. I know that police officers, prime ministers, social workers and the queen are not always doing their best, so why would doctors be any different?
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy. There’s this one episode where an abusive man has some kind of penis surgery and the surgeons intentionally neglect to preserve the nerves he would need to ever feel anything during sex again. They don’t want to put in the extra four hours for someone they dislike, so they don’t and then they tell his family they didn’t have a choice. Knowledge is such power. I have had almost no contact with doctors or clinics in my 28 years. Consequently I have naively believed that most of the medical profession operates with only one actual choice, necessary action or necessary inaction — that there was no room for like or don’t like, no room for judgment. But of course there is and it is kind of unnerving to only realize it now.
We are vulnerable here because regardless of how much we know, you will always know more, and you are a real source instead of a virtual source, which makes it difficult to weight opinions and information equally.
We are heading into our third month of insemination. Maybe I should bring you a coffee next time. Or an ice cream. Or just another $1,300.