OK, so I realized after all we had been through to get Judah I would have been TOTALLY NUTS to even suggest having another child. So call me totally nuts because yes, I wanted another child. I suppose I was glutton for (more) punishment. However, I loved Judah and I enjoyed being a mom. I wanted another baby! Here was the thing. I wasn’t sure how to talk to Carol about it. After all I had promised her I only wanted one. But, I lied. Honestly, I wanted several more but I knew that would definitely have been pushing it.
I still remember the look on Carol’s face when I told her I wanted another baby. At first she ignored me but the next time I brought it up she just replied, “Oh, yeah? And I want a million dollars.” As you could see the thought of another kid didn’t go over too well with her. For one she was concerned she was too old. She being 9 years older than me and already seen as the grandmother to Judah she was not totally convinced having another one was a good idea. For me though I could feel my fertility clock ticking. I was already 37 years old. If we were going to make a decision we needed to do it very soon. I kept bringing it up to Carol. I just needed to let her soak in the idea. I knew she’d come around. After a few rounds of bringing it up Carol then started returning my comments with questions. Questions like: And where would we go for the insemination (not wanting to return to where we were before) and could we afford it?
On the flip side Carol didn’t want to take away my dream to have another child. I suppose there was some guilt in that she herself couldn’t provide that part to me. So, even though she had many reservations she agreed to try for another baby. I was thrilled and very nervous at the same time. The entire process was going to start all over again. Once again we had some decisions to make. Where would we go to do the insemination? Would it be possible to get the same donor that we used for Judah? And if we couldn’t would be able to find as good of a donor? I have to admit all of the questions made me so frustrated. Dammit! I just wanted to get pregnant. I didn’t want to have to think about all of the details. The one thing Carol and I agreed on was I was not going this round alone. Carol was going to be apart of it.
During this time when we were trying to figure out what infertility clinic to go to, a friend of ours happened to mention she knew the infertility doctor that we had used to get pregnant with Judah. The good one. Not the woman. I used the opportunity to tell her about our first experience and how we were told they would not inseminate a lesbian couple. Our friend felt things had changed and she went straight to her friend (the doctor) to ask him. He told her he had no problem inseminating same sex couples. Well, I’m not sure if their facility changed or it was the fact we just had an inside contact that helped. Now before deciding whether we’d return to the same facility I had to know if that female, nazi inseminator doctor was still there. AND if she was, I wanted to make it clear she was NEVER touching me again.
Just as I had done the first time, I decided to start with speaking to our OB/GYN. And so I made an appointment. This time though Carol came with me. When we met with our OB, she was thrilled to hear we were wanting to try again. We spoke to her about some of our concerns with the infertility clinic we had used and wanted to know her opinion about some things. She spoke to us candidly about her own experience with the infertility clinic and she gave us some valuable information. While talking to her Carol and I still hadn’t decided what facility to use. Our OB/GYN felt it would be easier and more convenient to use the same one we had used with Judah. She made some very valid points which we considered in deciding where to go. I knew this go round would be different because this time I was NOT going to go through it alone. I was not going to have any interaction with the woman doctor who had been so horrible to me. The other thing was I was NOT going to hide my identity. This time Carol was going to be with me every step of the way. And honestly, I suppose that was what made this attempt to get pregnant so special. Now Carol and I could share it.
Since it had been almost five years since we had gotten pregnant with Judah we had high hopes the facility we had used had changed. Listen, we weren’t totally thrilled at all with going back to them but our choices were limited. We had to take the chance. HOWEVER, Carol made me agree that we weren’t taking any crap. If anything came close to the behavior of what happened before, that was it. We were going to complain! And so I called the infertility clinic and got an appointment with in the week. I suppose knowing a friend of the doctor helped.
Gosh, I’ll never forget the day Carol and I had the appointment. They were in a totally new building and when we walked into the lobby the waiting room was packed. I’ve got to tell you we were the ONLY same sex couple there. However, maybe we’d see others during our next visits. We went to check in by signing my name on the paper at the front window. After sitting for a few minutes the receptionist called me back to the window. She asked how we were going to pay for our visit that day: cash, check or credit card. Wow! How quick to assume it would be coming out of our pocket. It was funny because even though that was an infertility clinic there were may women who after they were pregnant kept seeing the doctor. So, I’m sure they were used to filing insurance. Anyway, when I told her I had insurance she started the whole rigmarole as to how insurance doesn’t usually cover infertility. Carol could hear her talking (as she was still sitting in the waiting area) and came up to the window to help me. Carol told her that our insurance did cover all preliminary infertility tests. I could tell the receptionist was not believing Carol and only through our pushing did she finally make a copy of our insurance card. I was pissed. Here we go again with same kind of crap. Nothing like having a room full of people waiting and the receptionist is arguing with us about payment. The receptionist handed us back the insurance card and told us to take a seat in the waiting room.
After a 30 minute wait we were able to see the doctor. During our appointment the first thing the doctor did was to go through all of the statistics of my chances to get pregnant. But this time because I was older so my chances lowered considerably. Carol reminded him that I had gotten pregnant with Judah on our first try. He was surprised I had and fumbled through my medical files to confirm that. He told us that was VERY unusual and to not expect it again since I was older. OY! THESE PEOPLE ARE A BALL OF NEGATIVITY, AREN’T THEY? Just what I needed to hear. After the doctor reviewed all of the basic information he then began to explain the next steps we’d have to take. First he’d have to do a full examination of me. WHAT? WHY? I had an OB/GYN and I had just had my yearly exam with her. Carol asked him what kind of examination did I need. After he went through his schpiel, Carol said, “You mean the same kind of examination she gets at her OB/GYN every year?” He stuttered a little bit and then agreed it was. And so without giving him an opportunity to argue, we told him we’d have our OB/GYN send over a copy of my last exam which was just a couple of weeks prior to our visit. That way there’d be no reason to do it again. The doctor seemed taken back by our forwardness. We could tell he wasn’t used to having patients like us (and I don’t mean just of the lesbian kind either).
The doctor agreed to look at my records from my OB/GYN and if everything looked good he would for go doing an exam. Now here was the absolute best part. Are you ready for this? The doctor then tells us that he will need to exam Carol. OK, STOP FOR ONE MINUTE HERE! You need to exam Carol? Why in the hell would he need to exam her? It wasn’t as if he needed to see if her sperm count was sufficient! For goodness sake she was my partner who had no ability what so ever to get me pregnant which was why I was in this doctor’s office in the first place. The look on Carol’s face when he told her that was priceless. Carol looked at the doctor and with a smirky grin asked,” Why in tarnation would you need to exam me?” Want to know what his answer was folks? He said, “Well, just like in a male and female couple I exam both of them.” Carol laughed (out loud). She looked at the doctor while leaning towards him and said, “Why would you need to examine me when I have nothing to do with getting her pregnant?” Again, he seemed shocked with our forwardness. We could tell he was not quite sure how to answer Carol’s question. But, he finally said it was because we were a couple so he needed to make sure Carol was healthy as well. I knew there was NO WAY in HELL Carol was going to be examined by that doctor. And so, knowing Carol had also been to our OB/GYN with in the last few weeks, I suggested our doctor also send over Carol’s file. The doctor clearly was not happy with us. He tried to say there were tests he does that our doctor would not have done therefor he needed to do the tests. And so, Carol asked, “Like what?” Folks, I’ve got to tell you. Carol has never been a person to so overtly challenge a doctor nor to go against their suggested medical opinions. HOWEVER, this guy was an idiot and there was no way Carol could refrain herself. The doctor answered, “Well but I’m certain your GYN wouldn’t have tested you for AIDS.” Without missing a beat Carol said, “OK, that’s different but it doesn’t require for me to have a full GYN exam. Isn’t that just a blood test? Can I have that done here?” The doctor finally agreed to have our OB/GYN to send over both of our records from our last exam and for Carol to do an AIDS test in his office.
Once we had gotten it resolved that our OB/GYN would send over our records, the next thing the doctor discussed with us was the course of action he wanted to take for an infertile woman of my age. OK, once again. I was only infertile because I didn’t have the sperm. I SO HADN’T MISSED THEIR NEGATIVITY! First, he suggested me going through several ovulation cycles to make sure I was ovulating. Then, he wanted me to have a vaginal sonogram to make sure the follicles were a good size. And then, he wanted for me to have a procedure where they would extract my eggs and then look at them to make sure they were healthy. All of that would put our insemination if all went well in about 8 to 9 months. AND aside from the time, not all of those procedures would have been paid for by our insurance so we would have had to accrue those costs. Basically, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? As concerned as I was with wasting that much time I once again got angry at all of the testing they wanted to do. How much money so many of these women put out is insane! I understand wanting the best chances to get the woman pregnant but the doctor is not looking at the individual patient. Well, Mister Dr.- my situation didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out or so I thought. But no talking to the doctor nor his staff would get them to understand. As the doctor was talking about doing all of the tests I stopped him. I told him we were not willing to invest that much time or money into it. I told him I was healthy and if it was meant to be for us to get pregnant then we would. I made it clear that I wanted to go ahead and have the insemination as soon as we could without all of the extraneous tests. The doctor was speechless after I told him. Listen, whether I got pregnant or not, Carol and I were NOT willing to go into debt over it. Well, not having anything to make a counter argument I was happy the doctor agreed to our wishes. He told me since I had thyroid issues he did want to look at those numbers and make sure they are at a certain level before being inseminated. OK, now that made sense to us. He told us once my levels were at a good point we could do the insemination. He then told us we’d need to go to the part of his office which houses the sperm to open an account. That way when we ordered our sperm they could store it for us until the insemination.
As we were walking out of the doctor’s office to head to the place where the sperm was stored, the receptionist called (yelled out for) us. Would you believe she wanted us to pay for the visit? Now that would have made sense if we had not had insurance. She continued to tell us as we were standing at the door and she was in her reception box area that we owed her $200 and something dollars? It was funny because Carol was so taken aback that she looked at her and loudly said, “WHAT? Why?” I pushed Carol closer to the receptionist because I hated this was going on while there was a full waiting room for all to hear. The receptionist started explaining as if we were two total idiots that we had to pay for our visits and should have done so before we had seen the doctor. OK, was this woman an idiot herself? We had given her our insurance card to copy. We had contacted our insurance company before coming that day to make sure what they covered and we gave the receptionist all of that information before seeing the doctor. But, apparently the receptionist didn’t understand and so Carol repeated it to her again. I couldn’t believe it when the receptionist demanded that we pay her. Carol rubbed her eyes (which was her sign that she was beginning to get agitated) from under her glasses and said, “Ma’am, did we not just discuss this? Our insurance will cover this visit.” The receptionist proceeded to tell us that we’d have to get in touch with our insurance company and they’d have to reimburse us. She told us that was between the insurance company and us. Now wait a minute. We were going to an infertility clinic which was an umbrella under the Medical College of Georgia. And when we contacted them before even making an appointment we were assured they took our insurance. SO, what the bloody hell was going on here? That wasn’t how insurance companies work. No way in hell was our insurance company going to reimburse us. PLUS, (we discovered later) what she wanted us to pay was much more than what the insurance company negotiated with them. So, the insurance company wouldn’t just simply reimburse us. That was crazy!
Carol asked the receptionist, “Are you telling me you don’t file with our insurance? And if so, how can’t you when you are a state run facility?” The receptionist argued with Carol and honestly it made no since what the receptionist was telling us. It seemed so crooked. Carol asked for the office manager to speak with. Well guess what? We were speaking with the office manager. Of course we were. Why would anything in that place go smoothly? OY VEY! After going around and around the receptionist/manager told us that she’d file it will the insurance but when our insurance company refuses to pay we’d have to pay at the very next visit. Carol and I had our doubts on whether she’d even file with them and then tell we’d have to pay at our next visit. After literally 30 minutes of putting out that fire, we headed over to their storage facility. The crazy part was the storage facility’s office was in the back of the doctor’s office but to get to it you had to go outside and walk to the back of the building. Why should we be surprised? That was one fucked up place.
Carol and I were surprised to see the receptionist in the sperm storage place to be the same woman who was there when we first got pregnant. Meanwhile, I’m not sure why because she was quite a character too. It must have been a prerequisite to work there because there wasn’t a one of them that seemed sane. The receptionist recognized us when we walked into the office. In fact when she saw us she said, “You know you still have sperm in storage here from five years ago? Oh and by the way you owe us for five years of storage fees.” HOLY FUCKING HELL! I COULDN’T BE LIVING IN REALITY. THIS PLACE WAS FUCKING RIDICULOUS!
Here was the thing. When I had gotten pregnant with Judah we still had another vial. So, they asked us what we wanted to do with it. Because we knew we wouldn’t have been able to pay them for the storage costs and we didn’t think at the time we’d want to have another kid, we told them to destroy it. In fact it was the very women who we were talking to who we told. The receptionist remembered typed in our name into the computer and looked up our file. When we told her that we had told them to destroy the vial, she asked us if we had signed anything asking them to destroy it. We told her no that no one had told us we needed to sign anything. We were only told to call to tell them what we wanted to do with the extra vial (which was what we did). The receptionist got very annoyed with us. BUT what was new. We seemed to do that to the people at this facility. She then said, “Oh, you can’t just call us to tell us to do that. We have to have it in writing.” We told her we had only done what we were told at the time to do. Finally, she had had enough and she told us we could NOT have sperm sent there (or have an insemination) until our account was cleared out. The receptionist started pressing buttons on her calculator next to her computer. While she was doing that I turned around and whispered to Carol, “I feel like I’m at a garage sale with her damn calculator.” Carol laughed. I suppose my point was I felt the place to be so low end. It was all about the money and me as the patient seemed to have gotten lost. Finally, when the damn receptionist was done with her calculations she said, “You owe us $535.00 but we can call it an even $500.” She added, “Once you pay that in full we can go forward with your insemination.” Well folks, I could feel my blood starting to boil. I was pissed. Listen, don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to find out our other vial was still there. HOWEVER, I was infuriated that we had told them to destroy it (and NEVER had we EVER received a notice about it). Meanwhile, Carol didn’t see any other alternative and was willing to pay it. The problem though was our insemination was going to cost $500 and if Carol payed for the storage costs of the sperm, we wouldn’t have had the money for the procedure (which the insurance did not pay). I knew Carol was willing to pay it just to be done with the crap. But, I told her no and I told the receptionist we’d get back with her. Of course she made sure to remind us that if we didn’t take care of that balance we wouldn’t be able to use their facility. Yes, bitch! I got that, ok? I was so steamed! Carol couldn’t figure out what I had up my sleeve. As soon as I got home I contacted our friend who knew our doctor. She gave me the doctor’s e-mail address and she told me to tell him what had happened. She also said she’d talk to him. I explained to our friend that we weren’t wanting to screw them out of any money but that we really felt as if we weren’t being treated fairly. Listen, Carol and I didn’t mind paying something for our sperm that had been stored. But, we felt paying $500 was way too steep.
A couple of days later I received a call from our infertility doctor’s nurse. The first thing she needed to tell me was that my thyroid levels were too high. They were going to have to increase my medicine. I’d then have to wait three weeks before being tested again. Meanwhile, I was accustom to dealing with my whacked thyroid levels so I had expected it. But, I hated the wait. The other course of business the nurse wanted to talk to me about the situation with our sperm at their storage facility. I explained to her what happened and how I felt we were not being treated fairly. The nurse was very nice and remained neutral about her opinion on the matter. I told her we would be willing to pay $200 for it. She told me she was going to check and she’d get back with us. And since I had to wait for my thyroid levels to go down anyway, we had time to wait to hear back. Listen, of course we wanted that vial. It was the same donor who conceived our first child. But the reality was there was no way in hell we could have afforded the $500. That was just the reality of our situation. A couple of days later the nurse called me back. She asked if we could pay $250 for the vial of sperm. Folks, were we at a car dealership? Here I was having to negotiate for sperm? Are you kidding me? I pointed out to her that either they would take the $200 from us (which would pay for some of their storage costs) or they’d get nothing (which wouldn’t pay for any of their storage for all of those years). I refused to negotiate. At the same time I new I was playing a risky game. They could tell me no and our chances to have had the same donor would have gone down the drain. I did explain to the nurse that we just could not afford anymore than the $200. I thanked her for her time and appreciated her being the “middle man” to attempt to negotiate.
Well, another couple of days went by before I heard back from the nurse. AND to my surprise she told me they would accept the payment of $200 for the sperm. I was shocked and happily so. The nurse also told me that we’d have to go to their storage facility to pay it (in full) with in the next two days. Yep, can’t forget… they wanted their money. Can’t pass go with out it.
Carol and I didn’t want any chance they’d change their minds so we went down there the very next morning. No surprise that our lovely receptionist was there. She clearly was not happy that we weren’t paying her the full $500. But, you know what. I didn’t give a shit. In some ways I wanted to say to her, “Nana nana boo boo!” But, don’t worry, I didn’t. In fact I was over the top very nice to her. After Carol gave her a check for the $200 I couldn’t believe the woman was put off when Carol asked for a receipt. At first she tried to tell Carol that her check was her receipt. BUT, that wasn’t what Carol wanted. She wanted to show that we had zero balance on our account. We knew this facility all too well and we certainly didn’t want to show up for our insemination to discover they hadn’t wiped out our balance.
When we left that day after paying for “our sperm” Carol laughed and said, “You know MaLea, nothing we do can just go smoothly. Everything we do just has to be memorable, doesn’t it?” And for the next few minutes we got a good laugh over all that had happened. Listen, we had to laugh because crying was not an option.