Between Adam Goldberg's Bat Mitzvah, a reenactment festival, and preparing to use another woman's uterus, I may have entered another universe. Am I in a Fellini film or just a suburban Chicago hotel?
So back up 4 days ago to Thursday. My first follicle check had turned out to be a less than stellar report with only four follicles showing. On top of that, the nurse expressed that repressed concern you often hear in their voices that my estrogen was high and I was showing a dominant follicle. She kindly suggested that perhaps I should postpone my flight until later because she'd hate for me to come all the way to Chicago for no reason. "What??!!" I screamed in my head, but remained composed enough to say I would discuss with my husband and decide. But I knew our plane tickets were bought and there was no turning back. "Let's wait for tomorrow's results," she hesitantly said.
Easier said than done. I am prone to panic. I spiraled downward, ready to call a donor egg agency and start mapping out plans with A. and a donor egg, maybe start freezing some of my own embryos over the next couple months for a second child, and perhaps put in paper work for adoption. It had very quickly turned into worst case scenario pandemonium.
Some of the logistical balancing acts with using a surrogate is that I monitor in New York, but my instructions come from Chicago. So New York may say one thing but I have to wait for Chicago to call me later to confirm instructions. It can put you in a bit of a muddle feeling like each clinic is a parent but you're not sure who to listen to. New York being like my mother, very optimistic with an "everything will be okay" attitude while Chicago being like my father, very cautious and preparing for all outcomes. Friday arrived. This time New York told me things looked good. But would Chicago comply? Is this a good cop-bad cop scenario? Were they waiting for me to break? Our airport car was suppose to come at 5pm and it was 4pm with no word from Chicago.
What else could I do put beg. Yes, down on my knees begging God, the universe, and all forces around me to give me a chance. I chanted over and over again, "Please don't cancel me, give me a chance! Please don't cancel me, GIVE ME A CHANCE!" The Chicago phone call finally came and the nurse said that I now have about 8 follicles and things are looking much better. It's amazing how much power these nurses can wield over your emotions. Did she have any idea how my mind had already traveled down all emergency roads to a point of hysteria?
Fast forward to the weekend. It's evening and we're spending our first night at last in Illinois not panicked that we are going to be cancelled. I get into the elevator of our hotel and I join a Colonial American woman in a large hoop dress from the 1600s, a Civil War general, and a Roman gladiator. The elevator spills us out into the large grand lobby and I am in the middle of a 13 year old's bat mitzvah party. Cameras are flashing. Young teenagers in party dresses and suits are swirling around me in honor of Adam Goldberg's entry into manhood. The small skinny adolescent boy with glasses grins widely, arm in arm with several other kids looking rather prom-like, as his parents take a group photo. I pass through down a hallway where more women in large colonial dresses are plopped down like big biscuits on a plate, soldiers are pitching battlefield tents, renaissance men are looking jolly with goblets of wine while Indiana Jones passes by with a pirate. Where the hell am I?
It's hard enough to grasp using a total stranger's uterus to carry my baby, but how fitting it was to have everything around me seem so nonsensical. I've entered into a universe of no time. Our hotel is hosting the "reenactment festival" where people from all over the area gather to reenact any era they want. Yes, so I've stepped into my own little time warp here where I can span medieval times, colonial times, or a modern day bat mitzvah. So who's to say it's so weird that I am about to make eggs, fertilized them, and stick them in another woman?
Reenactment is all around me. Living history. Be someone else. Be yourself but at a different time period. Be something completely fictional. Be who you fantasize to be. Or maybe you've never felt more yourself than as a Roman soldier? Whatever it is you want to be, this is the place to be. In a way, how am I so far off from this? What am I reenacting? For starters, the repeat of many actions before me- stims, ultrasounds, blood tests, trigger shots, retrievals, fertilizations. I'm living history of a woman who feels like she's been trying to have a baby since the beginning of time itself. I've been reliving battles of my own history. I've been dressing the part. I've been putting on a show of normalcy to the outside world for what seems like centuries. Even though role playing by definition means you aren't yourself, I think there is something about entering a new world, living and breathing in it, that ultimately brings you back to yourself. In the end, all the fears of whether infertility has stolen my legitimacy as being a "real," "natural" mother are seeming groundless. Will I just be role playing "mother" when someone else will carry and give birth to my child? It doesn't matter. I really doesn't matter.
So as I prepare to trigger tonight and retrieve what eggs my 37 year old body can eek out at this point, I am in a calm stupor. We made it this far and I am about to see if we'll make it any further. In this sweet blessed moment where I've been given a chance, I'm laughing at where I am - in a random hotel room on the edge of the universe. It's the travel over time and space, in this most absurd environment, that love takes center stage again. The kind of love that circumvents all the senselessness, lunacy, and humbuggery I've slugged through - the love between me and my husband. The desire to love a child. The love of friends and family who are all holding their breath right now. The love of strangers - online, offline, and right here by my side even as my surrogate. If all this means anything, then it's more than fitting that the transfer of my embryo(s) to A. is scheduled for Valentine's Day. It's cliché, but I'll take it.