A Period Piece
By: John Jericiau
Many things can go awry in the last few weeks of an IVF calendar, and we’ve already hit a few hiccups. After a month of daily birth control pills, our friend (surrogate) and the egg donor were supposed to magically experience their menstruation at the same time to prepare for the fertilization of the harvested eggs, followed three days later by the implantation of our future child(ren). Instead of periods, however, we have had question marks, as in “Where the heck are the periods?” The surrogate’s blood was tested and her hormone levels were perfect—everything was going great inside even though nothing was flowing outside—so she was able to start her injectable medications as was written on the IVF calendar. The donor was another story. Her hormone levels were too low to begin her calendar, so a comma was thrown in for 2 plus days and we have to wait patiently for a retest to see if she can start her injectables. Did this mean that the donor was not taking her birth control pills religiously as instructed? We have every faith in our surrogate (friend) that she would follow any protocol as requested … that’s why we now have a 4-year-old running around. But the donor is a different story. It’s an uncontrolled variable that provides much angst to a couple of hopefully soon-to-be parentheses. We don’t know her. We do know that many women get involved in these affairs just for the money, which is not very pleasant. Actually, it’s a pain in the colon. You want them to be as invested in the outcome as you are but that may not be the upper case.
We’ve had our share of frustration as we have journeyed to fatherhood, mostly with the birthmothers “ready” to relinquish their parental rights to loving people. I had my blinders on when the woman I was matched with and dealt with for six long months arrived at LAX with my day old son Finn and (SURPRISE!) her “new” boyfriend in tow. I tried to be Zen, but as I dashed everyone back to a nearby hotel (at which time I would take Ryan home until the paperwork was to be signed two days later) I got a chill up my spine as I looked in the rear-view mirror to see the “new” boyfriend softly and lovingly stroking Finn’s forehead. He had a certain misty look in his eyes that I didn’t understand until I saw the same mistiness in mine. My story has always been that I got “the call” that she changed her mind after I had him home for 24 hours, but to be honest I knew in that car ride that things weren’t going to go as planned. I was sad. I wanted so much to greet this bundle of joy every morning with a cheerful “Hyphen!”
Even though Alen and I should have seen the red flags waving in our faces as we journeyed as a couple, we didn’t. Like the woman from Las Vegas who picked us. She was supposed to travel by plane to Los Angeles so the OB we chose for the birth could checked her out. After the plane arrived without her in it, we got a call from her father saying she had been arrested at the Vegas airport for something that was never disclosed to us. After promising us a repeat try at flying to us, maybe she could hear the hesitation in our voice on the phone because she poured it on and told us nice things that we wanted to hear (“I’m very healthy!” “This baby is meant for you!”), but then some odd and puzzling things. After learning that Alen is Armenian, she blurted out for the first time “The birthfather of this baby is from Persia!” And even though we knew that there is no real Persia and the word Persia had stopped being used in the Middle East around 1935 (it’s primarily Iran and Afghanistan now), we pressed on with her and even foolishly agreed to give more “medical expense” support money in advance. “If I were you, I’d be getting me to every doctor in Vegas”, she exclaimed! It turned out to be the most accurate thing she said to us. When we (Southwest Airlines actually) finally did get her to California and our OB, we quickly got the results of her medical screening on a pair of graphs: positive for methamphetamine use. We had to put it to her in no uncertain terms: You’re killing your baby! You’ve been lying to us! It’s over! Period! Paragraph! End of sentence!