The IUI’s weren’t working. The fear that Terry might not be able to get pregnant even under the best circumstances began to creep into our conversations. We still hadn’t ruled me out as the cause, so it was time to hire outside contractors. Just as the military has come to outsource many if its most important jobs, we decided to get some other dude’s sperm. When I say “decided”, what I really mean is that Terry finally got me to agree to let her do it.
She was very diplomatic about it, knowing the bruise this question was likely to cause.
“Baby, I think we should look into sperm donors.”
Sweat breaks out as I try to stare her down.
“Remember, we talked about it before and you said you’d be OK with it.”
“That was a long time ago. I’ve gotten used to the idea of knocking you up.”
“I know baby, but we’ve been trying for two years now.”
“But I’ve got 20 million sperm.”
“I know, and they’re very strong sperm. They just don’t seem to be able to get the job done.”
(I now hang my head and pout.)
“I don’t like the idea of some other dudes’ sperm.”
What finally changed my mind was shopping. Sperm shopping is kind of like window shopping for your next child. From a two page questionnaire about physical stats., ethnic heritage, likes, dislikes and opinions on important issues, you get to choose your kid. I found myself thinking about a son for the first time, as the pictures conjured for us by reviewing the questionnaires were of how a boy would be in the world. Terry conceded Irish-American heritage (“who knows, he could be your cousin”), and we haggled over the rest. She chose someone who might turn out to be taller than me, I chose the cocky wise-ass. We settled on a tall, athletic musician.
I started to get excited. This was like Christmas! What happy child entertainment would Dude #48796’s sperm bring our little family? Of course we’d start the child out in sports and music early on. He’d call me “Dad” (of course it was a he – the doner was a he so all I seemed to be able to imagine was a boy!), we’d raise hell together! If it was a girl, she’d be a 6’2″ international model and lead guitarist for a Heavy Metal band.
Of course another upside to this change was that I got to get loaded and take a bath hot enough to cook lobster in. I did not revert to the tighty-whitey world – once a cowboy, always a cowboy. I don’t remember much from that period – lets call it “The Week of The Drunken Cowboy Who Wouldn’t Get Out of The Bathtub.” The orgasm regulations were also dispelled. Come to think of it, I’m lucky I’m not sitting in a jail today.
We made four attempts with the Irish-Dudes sperm. We would have made more, but the room on the credit card was starting to dwindle. Funny how other dudes sperm costs so much and your own is free.
From the beginning we had moments of “I think I feel pregnant”, or in my case “I think you look pregnant.” The evidence of our inability to judge pregnancy was strewn about our apartment – pregnancy test sticks are still being found years later. After four years of trying, 3 of those filled with poking, prodding, abstinence, austerity and misery, we finally surrendered to the curse of the info-divas. We had waited too long to have children, we were infertile.
There is a lot of Terry’s suffering I have left out of this story. The physical pain of IUI’s and the emotional roller coaster fertility pharmaceuticals put a woman on. The many, many nights of laying awake, calculating how old we’d be when our child was 10, 15, 18, 20. Would we ever live to see our grandchildren? Would we be able to keep up with a toddler? Could she survive a natural childbirth at 45? Would a child resent our wrinkled faces? My heart was not big enough to contain her suffering or tell her story here, my pouting often increased it.
Terry struggled on despite our failure in the Adam and Eve department. The surrender on this front was only the beginning of a new campaign. The ending of the last battle was the first day of the “Campaign to Adopt a Baby.”