Appointment No. 1: The Necessity of Knowing What You’re Getting Into

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It’s finally here.

After months of anticipation, the day of our initial consultation appointment is here. After a less-than-restful night’s sleep, I wake up well before my alarm, work-out, and shower. Whether I’m doing asymmetrical lunges, feeding the dogs, shampooing my hair, or powering up my work computer, all I can seem to think about is this appointment.

What’s going to happen? Are they going to tell me I’m not ready? I’ve done my research, but what if this place does things differently?

The only thing that jolts me out of the incessant loop of questions is my wife hollering from the other room, “What are you going to wear today?”

I chuckle to myself because it brings me back to the earlier days in our relationship. You know those times when you’re still solidifying your impression on your partner’s family and you don’t want to wear a sweater that completely offends their grandma at Thanksgiving dinner?

“I’m wearing a nicer sweater and…I guess my work slacks,” I answered back.

I haven’t worn pants without a stretchy waistband since Covid hit. Hope the fertility doctor appreciates my efforts.

Despite the anxiety-induced nausea, I decide to fully put myself together; makeup and all. Partly because it serves as a nice distraction from the whirlwind of nerves coursing through my body and also because, if I’m being completely honest, there’s this fear in me that we’ll get there and be told “no.”

I credit that irrational fear to this albatross many people in the LGBTQ community carry when encountering new people and new situations. You’re never sure who is going to turn you away or how hurtfully they’re going to do it. It’s just this automatic guard I have up, a constant warning in the back of my mind, chanting “Things might fall through once they see the two of you.” I realize it’s a pessimistic outlook, but after our experiences with planning a wedding and travel, I’ve decided it’s a safe outlook for self-preservation. So, even though I was quite confident this medical practice wouldn’t turn us away, I couldn’t completely let my guard down just yet.

analog clock sketch in black surface

I manage to keep my focus on work during the morning, despite checking the clock roughly every seven minutes until finally…

“It’s time!” I exclaim, jumping up from my chair. My wife is equally as prompt in closing down her work computer and getting ready to leave. “Gosh, I’m so excited, you’d think we were coming home with a baby today,” I joke while deliberating over what shoes to wear.

“Megan, do these slip-ons work, or should I wear my riding boots?”

Looking me up and down, she thoughtfully replies, “The riding boots go better with your coat.”

“But is it weird…you know…to wear riding boots to a fertility center?” I made a strange gesture toward my feet to emphasize a point…even though I’m not even sure what the point is. I haven’t put this much thought into my outfits since we were dating.

“No, wear the boots,” she laughs. She’s always been better at fashion, so I take her word and head out the door.

Though it is a dreary, drizzly October day, the mood inside our car is much brighter as we head to the office. Once there, we mask-up and head down a hallway that winds through several medical suites, finally to find ours at the end. But there’s a note on the door.

Due to precautions with Covid-19, they are seeing patients only. Partners and children cannot accompany.

Looking at Megan, somewhat scared and disheartened, I mutter, “I’m sorry…I guess you have to wait in the car.”

I enter the office alone, check in, and sit down. I understand their reasoning, but I sure didn’t think I would be doing this alone today.

Only a few minutes pass before they escort me back to an exam room. Everyone is so friendly, but it feels strange without Megan beside me. The nurse comes in and confirms a slew of intake questions and slides me a folder filled with a variety of forms, checklists, and cryobank pamphlets.

“So, do you have a partner?” she asks. By the way, this nurse is simply delightful.

“Yeah…she’s out in the car.”

“In the car?!”

“Well yeah…there’s a note on your door stating partners can’t come along…” My heart starts feeling a tinge of hope.

“No, this is the consultation, she’s gotta be here for all of the fun!” She springs up and pops out the door to inform the receptionist to let my partner come back. I call Megan, tell her the great news, and in just a few minutes, she sits next to me.

“Look at all of these sperm donors,” I say, wide-eyed while presenting a fanned out display of cryobank paraphernalia to Megan. She nods and the nurse proceeds with talking us through the check-list.

“Now, you’ll both need to have bloodwork done…”

My eyes immediately shoot to Megan’s, knowing that she’s a bit “skittish” when it comes to bloodwork. I’ve grown accustomed to it for various medical reasons in my past. The nurse notices our surprise and proceeds to elaborate.

“We need your partner to be screened for certain diseases that can be transmitted since you’re active. That way, when you both are cleared, if something were to happen {waving her hands to allude to a situation we never thought about}, the cryobank couldn’t hold you responsible. Of course you, Britt, are going to be screened for more than just those things, since you’ll be carrying.”

“Ahhh makes sense,” I nod, sensing Megan’s disappointment that she doesn’t get a free pass on the bloodwork.

“Yes, and if you two are ready, we can actually do the tests in here today.”

“That’d be great,” I hesitate, looking at Megan. “Are you up for it today?” I ask her in a quieter tone.

“Yeah…I’ve just never had bloodwork done…” She smiles, recognizing she’s teetering on the edge of melodrama.

“Alright, well we got through all of the questions, and the doctor is a little behind. So, you guys can just relax in here and maybe look up those sperm banks on your smart phones while you’re waiting.” The nurse smiles and leaves us alone.

I turn to Megan and realize by the blank look on her face, she’s either equally overwhelmed with all of the information or psyching herself about the bloodwork.

“I mean, if you’re not ready to do your testing today…” I begin to say.

“No, you wanted a baby….Well, here I am!” She jokes and begins to laugh at herself. That’s one of the things I love about her. Even when she’s being a complete diva about a spider in our basement or getting a flu shot, she recognizes it in the moment. It saves me a lot of eye-rolling.

The nurse comes back to escort her into the other room to get pricked, and I hear that kind woman coaching Megan through the traumatic experience.

What a brave little soldier. I laugh.

After she survived the harrowing blood draw, Megan returns to the room with her bandage of honor across her inner arm. We have a little time to discuss the various pamplets, and I come across one with pictures of various handsome men captioned, “Actual donors.”

“Heyo, Megs! Look at these guys. Do you want any of them to be the baby daddy?” I slide the pamphlet over to her.

Briefly perusing a few of the websites for the cryobanks, we talk about how this is going to be a tougher decision than we’d imagined, but we’re also so surprised how in-depth and selective the banks are for testing and accepting donors. So much, that it really warrants its own post, or three, so stay tuned on that!

We eventually meet with the doctor herself, who is very kind, charismatic, and clearly knows what she’s doing. In reviewing some of my current medical situations, she determines that I need to have a hysteroscopy and sonohysterogram to erm…make sure my oven is capable of successfully baking buns.

white fresh bread on table in kitchen

I tried to find the best image of a bun baking in an oven, and this was the closest I could find. I suppose this one will do since it kind of looks like, well, you know…

Oh, don’t worry, the metaphors are only going to get more awkward from here.

So, she confidently scheduled those procedures for 11 days away. “November 6th?!” I ask more loudly than intended.

“Yes, and in the meantime, you’ll need to call me on day one of your cycle, so we can get you in here on day two or three for your next blood draw.”

I diligently take notes while feeling that sense of impending brain explosion. Something I haven’t felt since honors chemistry back in university.

“So you’re saying day one of like, my next day one? Like potentially the end of this week or beginning of next?” I ask, still baffled by how quickly we’re able to get the baby ball rolling.

“Yes. Don’t worry, we’ve got all of the details in your folder you’re taking home, and if you ever have a question, you can always call,” she responds with all of the patience in the world, despite me asking her the same question a multitude of times.

After I decide I’m done interrogating her, the doctor gives me back to the nurse to have a respectable amount of blood drawn (to Megan’s horror, who is sitting in the corner, witnessing it all). After that and some other tests, we walk out of the office a few hours later feeling lighter, more excited, and with a replenished sense of hope.

The facility is professional, progressive, and reputable. Having the peace of mind that no matter where this process takes us, we’re in good hands, is priceless. Which is good because, as I’ll discuss in a different post, I’ve done my research on our available health plans, and to phrase it bluntly: being in a same-sex relationship and requiring fertility services doesn’t hold the same level of legitimacy in the eyes of insurance administrators as being in a heterosexual relationship with equipment challenges. Whether or not that’s fair… I recognize it’s a matter of personal opinion, and it’s impossible for me not to be biased.

Nevertheless, years of thoughtful consideration went into this, and we have a pretty solid idea of what we’re getting into. Ultimately, your future and your children’s future is the most worthwhile investment. So, we’re ready to give this our all, no matter where this path leads. And that commitment, alone, quells my worries (at least a little bit) of whether we’ll be good mommas.

So, with a phenomenal team of professionals by our side, a plethora of resources, and a healthy dose of humor, we’re ready to get this thing moving!

2 thoughts on “Appointment No. 1: The Necessity of Knowing What You’re Getting Into

  1. This is so wonderful. I really love how candid you are about the insurance bias. We had equipment issues that were reaolved with medication, but it was stressful finding out exactly how little help is really out there for people wanting to experience pregnancy, but needing medical intervention.
    Best of luck to you both on this journey! That is going to be one lucky kid to have you guys for parents.

    Like

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