They explained it all with absolute clarity.
People talk about how confusing the process is - all the appointments with the doctors and the surgeons and reproductive endocrinologists and the microbiologists and the 'gists you haven't even heard of before. But you learn more about your body than you ever knew before. Ever wanted to know before.
Your body becomes not your own. It has now been reduced to its most basic form. An organism. A malfunctioning organism that will now be tampered with, drugged, pushed and prodded, scheduled, dissected and all while draining your physical and emotional bank accounts dry. The cost in dollars: exhorbitant. The cost to your soul: incalculable. You'll do it anyway.
You will be naked a lot. Eventually, you won't mind anymore. Just another day to get nude or semi-nude and spread my legs for whatever invasive scope or probe is being pushed up there today. I used to be terrified of needles. Eventually, I stopped hyperventilating when they reached for the needle. Soon, I could look while they put them in. Then I didn't even notice when they put them in. Then I learned to inject myself, hesitantly, and then routinely as though it were nothing more than wiping my nose or pushing hair off my face.
Honey, do you know where the new box of syringes is? These only hold 2cc's and I need more for this cycle.
Your body doesn't take this lying down, either. You get hot flashes, dizzy spells and dry mouth from the drug that forces menopause upon your too-young-for-that body. They can't take a chance that your natural cycle will disrupt their timeline. You bloat with more than ten pounds of water weight, as your ovaries swell to the size of baseballs. You won't sleep well, and you'll be nauseous and miserable and conscious every second that you're pumping your body full of chemicals that can cause potential long-term issues. You'll do it anyway.
After daily bloodletting and vaginal probing, you'll get the call and no matter what's going on at work, or at home, no matter when they call, you'll go. You have a very specific window of time. You get one big shot in the ass (with the biggest damn needle in the history of ever), and exactly twenty hours later, you're on a table in a cold operating room, praying that the "twilight sleep" puts you out enough not to feel the sonic needle puncturing your vaginal canal over and over as it moves out to vibrate your painfully swollen ovaries and extract your eggs. The anesthesia doesn't always work so well. Even if they ask you if you want to stop, you tell them no. You do it anyway.
Every day they call you to tell you the progress of these little pieces of you. Eight extracted. Or five. Or once, just two. Five fertilize. Or one. Once, none of them did. Three days later, you're down to three, or two, or one. And once, none. It was hard getting over that, but I did it again anyway.
You're in the cold operating room again, awake this time, as it's only a catheter going into your vaginal canal, which is nothing. A whisper. Practically mundane considering the assault you just put your body through. There's a large thing that looks like a refrigerator in the room, but it's an incubator. Perfectly controlled temperature and humidity. They open the door, and pull out a small petrie dish, and the world suddenly stops turning, shrinking into a vortex that swirls around that dish and its contents.
Would you like to see? They ask. I'm afraid, but fascinated. Yes. Yes, I want to see. They put the dish under an electron microscope in the other room, and after donning a mask, I can look. I stare at the screen projection, and I can't breathe. They don't look like much. Tiny circles within a circle. The circle of life. I almost giggle as I start humming. The circle of life....and it moves us all....through despair and hope.... I'm very aware that I'm honest-to-God looking at despair or hope. Please be hope, I whisper.
I watch the ultrasound monitor as they slide in via the catheter. Little blips, falling off a cliff into the waters below. Sink or swim. Despair or hope.
Ten days later, they stick me again, and I wait for the call.
Finally, we try one last time.
Hope panic hope oh my God I can't believe it has it been nine months already pushing pushing it's not working c-section oh my God please please please and a startled cry. Eighteen months of pure, unmitigated joy and sleepless nights, and I was ready to do it all again.
I'm too old. Well, at least we have her. You know what? We'll try one more time. Just once more.
They look much different than those eight little cells now. She's long and lean and beautiful with a kind heart. He's tall for a kid his age, with a contagious belly laugh and a smile that can light up a room. They cost me a lot, financially, physically, emotionally.
And if I had to do it over, I'd do it all again anyway.