I never thought something like that would have effected us as it did. Weeks went by and Carol and I were still upset about it. It took Carol longer than me to move on. We needed time to decide what we wanted to do. Our doctor told us if we wanted to do another insemination we’d have to wait a few months so my body would get regulated again. That worked out just fine because needed that time.
A month later as we were still grieving our loss, we were surprised to receive what looked like a bill in the mail from the infertility clinic. OK, what now? Listen, the way the infertility worked everything had to be paid upfront. So what could we possibly have owed? Had they not filed one of my tests with the insurance again? What was the fucking deal now? Carol opened the letter hoping maybe it was a “I’m sorry for your loss letter”. When Carol opened the envelope and saw what it was, she was irate. Would you believe they sent us a bill for our last insemination? Now remember that was the day we couldn’t pass go until our storage fee was dealt with and until we had given the receptionist payment for the insemination. SO, how in the hell did they think we owed them? The crookedness of the place was beyond words! And now I will call them straight out crooks. Thieves! Another thing that really grabbed our goat was their lack of sensitivity. It had only been two weeks since our miscarriage and here they were sending us a bill from the insemination that it occurred. Meanwhile, we didn’t even owe them that money! I was furious. This facility had done nothing but caused us angst and stress. Yes, they gave us Judah which we are incredibly thankful but holy shit it came at an incredibly HIGH cost. What we had to endure in return was insane. I had had enough.
I sat down at that very moment and wrote my doctor a letter with a copy to the medical board. I explained how our experience had been at his clinic. I wrote about the receptionist’s treatment toward’s us and how she was refusing to file all of our preliminary tests with our insurance company. I wrote him about the situation with the storage of the sperm and how we were trying to be double charged. Lastly, I told him about the bill we had just received and explained to him there would have been no way we could have had the procedure done with out having paid upfront. After all the receptionist would never had let us have an insemination without paying her first. And then I supplied a copy of the bill which was sent to us along with our receipt from paying for that very insemination. Well, guess what? Would you be shocked to know we never heard from the doctor or the board in regards to the letter I sent? I’ve got to tell you. THERE WAS NO WAY IN HELL we were using that facility again. AND we made a point of sharing our experience (as I’ve done here) with everyone who would listen. Have they changed? Can’t tell you. We never stepped foot inside their place again.
Another four months had passed before Carol and I started talking about trying again. We were each concerned with bringing it up to each other because of how painful the miscarriage had been. I was also pretty darn sure Carol wouldn’t have wanted to do it again. Listen, each time I was the one who approached Carol with wanting a baby. In some ways I felt guilty for causing her that pain when we had the miscarriage. SO, I just couldn’t broach the subject and possibly do that to her again. No way! And so, that was why I was surprised when one afternoon Carol came to me and said,”I want to do another insemination.” Folks, I can’t tell you what it meant to me to hear her say that. And even more so to my surprise she was more driven than ever for us to have a second baby. It really meant a lot to me and her desire to go for it again was incredibly meaningful to me. On a side note here. Her strength was quite sexy…it looked very good on her.
Now, I hadn’t realized when she had come to me saying she wanted to do another insemination that she had already done a ton of research and had devised a new plan for us. I wasn’t used to that. After all it had always been me with the plan. Now that the shoe was on the other foot, I wasn’t so sure about it. But, Carol was the sensible one. She would have never suggested something that we couldn’t do. HOWEVER, folks, I was NOT prepared for what she came up with.
First, let me back up a minute. Remember that we won that Rosie O’Donnell cruise? Well, we had met another wonderful couple (two women who had one child and were expecting another). They had done their insemination at home by having the sperm shipped to them. They told Carol about it and apparently she never forgot about that idea. And so, Carol posed to me that we do our insemination at home. Folks, to say I was totally OK with it at first would have been an over statement. I honestly, wasn’t for doing it and was very skeptical. Doing it at home seemed so far fetched. OK to get just a little graphic here. By doing it at home that would mean Carol would perform the insemination and the only procedure option would be the one where the sperm would be placed in my vagina instead of in my cervix. I was concerned because I knew the procedure (of placing the sperm in the vagina) wasn’t as successful as the one where it was placed in the cervix. I had a barrage of questions for Carol. She stopped me and asked that I hear her through before making a decision. She had already done the research so she wanted to explain it all to me. Carol started by telling me how the sperm would be shipped to us in containers called dewars. Dewars were basically oversized thermos bottles. She told me the dewars ship frozen sperm specimens in “dry” or “vapor” which allows the sperm to last a good 7 days from the time it was shipped from the bank. If we decided to do multiple inseminations, the sperm would arrive in two separate dewars so that the one not being used would remain frozen until used. By this point my head was spinning. Could we really do this?
Carol continued to explain things to me. The dewars come in a box that protected them during shipping and they were approximately 11 in. square by 25 in. tall and weighs about 24 pounds. In order to have a dewar shipped to our home, we would have to make sure our state would allow it and then have our doctor sign a small stack of legal papers assuring our sanity and ability to return the dewars. Apparently, the dewars are VERY expensive as we would have to put down a $500 deposit on each one we received which would be returned once they received the dewar back. While doing her research Carol discovered there were only a small number of sperm banks who would ship to your home. After she looked at a few of the banks she narrowed it down to one she felt would be best for us. I was concerned about a sperm bank that delivered to your home and the safety of it. Carol told me all sperm banks had to abide by very strict FDA laws. This meant the sperm bank had to disclose health background of the donor (just as we had gotten from Judah’s donor). But instead of $200 per vial which was what Judah’s donor cost us (for the particular category we chose), all sperm at this bank were $50.00 a vial. And to our surprise they provided as much information about the donor as we had received from Judah’s donor. The difference with this sperm bank was the donor did not have to go through any genetic testing which was why the cost was cheaper. However after Carol called them, did weeks of research and contacted a couple of friends who were doctors she felt confident it was safe. And most of all she felt this bank would provide hearty sperm. We can’t forget about that can we? NEVER in my life did I ever think I’d be concerned about getting “hearty sperm”. OY VEY this was crazy and we knew it.
I have got to tell you. A home insemination seemed weird. OK, not that it wasn’t weird in the doctor’s office but at home it seemed even stranger. Carol pleaded her case. She talked about how romantic we could make it and how we wouldn’t have to be in a sterile, uncomfortable environment as we had been in the past. She knew I hated that. Also, I hated seeing Carol so frustrated for not being able to give me something I wanted so badly- a child. Taking the route of home insemination Carol would be able to do the procedure and in many ways it would be more “natural”. Knowing that Carol and I would be literally making a baby together with no other party present was something I saw very special. AND so, that reason alone made me agree to do it. I was insane but what the hell? Most people thought that of me anyway, so why not go for it.
By the time we agreed to do a home insemination it had been four in a half months since my miscarriage and my cycle was finally back on schedule. Our first step was to get the plethora of paperwork filled out from the sperm bank (we had chosen). This required both us and our doctor to complete an assortment of forms. Then we had to pick out and order “our” sperm. Once that was done and the sperm bank confirmed receiving all of our paperwork we were able to begin our sperm search. OMG! Saying “sperm search” just made me imagine a sperm (looking similar to a cartoon version of Frank Sinatra) holding a microphone singing, “Strangers in the Night.” See what sperm searching does to a lesbian’s brain? It makes us go places we never wanted to go.
Anyway after looking on the sperm bank’s site for over two weeks we couldn’t seem to find the right donor for us. Listen, it was hard enough the first go round with Judah. Why we thought this was going to be any easier for us, I don’t know! We got discouraged. We didn’t want to just pick any donor just because I was going to surge (ovulate) soon. For god sake we were picking out half of the genetic pool for our potential child, so we couldn’t rush it. However after missing one month’s opportunity to inseminate we weren’t so sure this particular sperm bank had the level of sperm we wanted. Listen, we loved the donor who we used for Judah. He was perfect. His personality and medical history matched perfectly with all of the things we wanted. Judah’s donor received almost a perfect score on his SAT’s so he was smart. He and his parents spoke multiple languages. He was good at sports and especially in baseball. He was a baritone singer and his mom an alto – they were musical. Then there was the fact that his aunt and uncle had been in a concentration camp. So, the next donor we were going to pick had a lot to live up to in comparison to Judah’s donor. How was that even possible? Well, it wasn’t going to be if we were going to continue to compare the two. We had to let go of the idea of getting the same donor so that we could pick another one. OY! I never would have thought donor picking would have become so difficult. How lucky many people are to be able to find their mate and make babies the old fashion way. However, I don’t need to tell y’all but if Carol and I were able to do that we’d be two VERY wealthy women.
As she had done the first go round Carol spent many late nights searching for the right donor. Because the sperm bank posted new ones continuously it was not uncommon to see new guys pop up (no pun) on the site. After a good month’s search, Carol finally found a donor who satisfied the both of us. We really liked he had features similar to Carol- dark brown hair and green eyes. We had looked for those qualities with Judah’s donor but none of the sperm donors at that time had them.
Finally, we chose a donor. And this time because it was one with Carol’s features we were actually excited about our selection. OK, so I supposed we never really let go of the fact we couldn’t get the same donor as Judah. Here was the thing. We knew what our previous donor produced in Judah and even though another child would most likely be different, it still was nice to know Judah and another child would be totally related. By choosing two different donors I had dreams where the children would have fights about who had the better donor. One kid yelling, “But, my donor had almost a perfect score on his SAT’s! What did your donor make?” If they both shared the same donor however that wouldn’t have been a problem. But as the reality set in that if we wanted another child we’d have to get another donor, we realized it was about us as parents. And once we picked out a good donor it was us who made our kids related. Biological schmological. Blah!
Happy and excited with the donor we chose we purchased two vials. This way we could inseminate twice during one cycle to help increase our odds. When we ordered the two vials it cost $100. The cost of Judah’s donor 4 years prior was $400.00 (for two vials). We gave the sperm bank a credit card number. They not only charged the cost of the sperm but also for the $500 (per dewar) deposit which would be taken off once the container was returned. Now here was the best part of the $500 charge. Carol had to call our bank to let them know we were approving a $500 charge. Because it was a large amount and one we rarely made, we had to contact our bank to let them know or they would have put a stop on it. AND lord knows we wouldn’t have wanted that! Listen, it was nice to have such a conscientious bank but how do you explain there will be that kind of charge from a sperm bank? Um, I could just see the face of that person on the phone with Carol and the snickers that followed after their conversation. Oh folks, you just don’t know how many laughs Carol and I had over just wanting to get pregnant at home. It was beyond hysterical.
Now let me say this. One could purchase the sperm directly on line from the sperm bank. You know exactly the same way you’d purchase a dress you want on line. The sperm could be done the same way. Just press the one you want, add it to your shopping bag and then checkout. Voila! Sperm ordered. HOWEVER, Carol felt a lot more comfortable to call the sperm bank and do the transaction by actually speaking to a human. I would say we are old fashion that way but that seems a bit off considering we are ordering sperm.
The woman Carol spoke to on the phone was very nice and informative. She helped guide Carol on the how to’s of insemination and where to purchase the paraphernalia needed to do the procedure. She also explained how the shipping of the sperm would be done. Then, we had to tell her the date we had to have the sperm at our home (which would be when I was at the peak of my ovulation cycle). She explained they weren’t responsible if the sperm didn’t arrive on time- that was something we’d have to handle through the shipper as it was their responsibility. It made me so nervous but all we could do was hope all of the stars would line up and it would arrive as planned. After Carol hung up with the nice lady at the sperm bank she proceeded to look on line to order the paraphernalia for the insemination. Of course that was not something the sperm bank provided. Thank G-d for the internet because Carol had no problem finding it and ordering. Once that was complete all we could do was to wait. Oh hell! There was that word again! W-A-I-T! You would have thought I had gotten used to it but not a chance in hell did I!
Just as I had done before I counted down my days for the 15th day of my cycle. Carol and I had decided we’d inseminate twice on the 15th day. In order for that to happen though it was important our sperm arrive on time (which was planned the evening before our first insemination). The day the dewar (with the sperm) was to arrive we were SO nervous. Would it get there that day? Carol had been tracking it the entire time and discovered a slight glitch. She could see that it may not make it to us until the following day. OH HELL NO! Sorry, but that was not going to happen. Carol was one step ahead though. She contacted the shipping company (helped that she worked for the same company) with plenty of time to get that package on a truck and to us on time. She explained as best she could without stating exactly what the contents were that it was crucial we got it by a particular day. The shipping company promised to have it to us by 5:00 in the evening (which was still the evening before our first insemination). We were partly relieved. Of course we’d feel fully relieved when the dewar arrived.
Well, it was as if we were waiting for a long lost relative coming for a visit. In anticipation we kept looking out our window to see if we saw the truck. We didn’t want any chance that it would miss our home. And folks I can guarantee you that if it had, these two women would have been running the truck down. At any rate it was literally a nail biting moment. When we heard the truck pull up, we were thrilled! One would have thought it was the Publisher’s Clearinghouse saying we won lots of money with how excited we were. As stupid as it may have sounded, we were jumping up and down that our sperm had arrived.
When the delivery guy walked out of his truck carrying a fairly large box, I thought I was going to pee in my pants with laughter. It was huge! The box was so big! Because we had ordered two vials the gentleman took out two big boxes. I don’t know exactly what I found so funny except that it seemed like over kill. Listen, folks, the vial that was in the dewar was only about the size of my pointer finger, so was it really necessary for the box and dewar to be so big? Did it really need SO much protection?
As the delivery guy was getting the boxes out of his truck I wondered if he even knew what he was delivering to us. OK well, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out. In all of my excitement I kind of yelled from our front stoop to Carol (who was still inside our house), “Our sperm is here! Our sperm is here!” Needless to say, Carol came running outside telling me that I didn’t need to announce it to the world. Honestly, I hadn’t realized I was. Listen, folks, it’s not often you get two lesbians so excited to see sperm.
OK, so maybe our intimate moment of trying to get pregnant would not totally be private but it was definitely more private than the infertility clinic. And lets face it folks it was going to be a lot m-o-r-e entertaining. Bottom line though, how weird was it to order sperm on a website and then have it delivered to your home? I’d say it was quite weird!
The next morning was when we were going to do our first insemination, Carol took Judah to preschool a little early. She then returned home to get everything ready. OK, now here lies where it really got comical (as if it hadn’t been already). All I could do was to lie on the bed and wait. Yes, folks I really was “laying” in wait. Anyway as I was lying there, I watched Carol. Folks, she was hysterical. She was clearly nervous but was trying very hard to not show me.
OK, so first, she cleared her dresser to make it her prep area. Even though she had studied the instructions for the last few days and had them fairly memorized, she still provided herself with a written instruction sheet which she set on her dresser. She kept reading each line of the instructions out loud over and over again as if she was practicing the procedure in her head. She had even waived her hands around once as if to be doing the procedure in the air. It was funny watching her. Well, sort of. At the time I was getting annoyed she was taking so long. I mean really.
After her in air medical procedure practicing she had placed a box on the bed. I asked her what was in it. She in a curt tone said, “It’s the paraphernalia I need to do the insemination but please be quiet so I can concentrate. I’ve already lost my place once.” Alllllllrighty then. Quiet I will be. And so as I was lying there, I started thinking about what she meant by PARAPHERNALIA. Gee, what was in that box….IT WAS PARAPHERNALIA. Yeah, well folks. Keeping quiet was not easy for me. I had to keep myself occupied somehow. Meanwhile, when I was done thinking about the PARAPHERNALIA, I went back to listening to Carol who was talking to herself. Would you believe she was only on number one of the instructions? I had been lying there for 20 minutes already. Each time she’d start to read, she’d loose her place and start all over again. It was insane. Finally, when she was done rehearsing (for the hundredth time), she opened the box of PARAPHERNALIA. In it was a box of disposable surgical gloves as well as the device she’d need to squirt the sperm inside my vagina. The care at which Carol took to reach into the box to pull out the “paraphernalia” was like she was in outer space. OK, so no, I haven’t been in outer space but man if we had been playing charades, she would have won the best outer space imitator. I did get frustrated by her slowness. I tried hard not to say anything to her but DAMN people! At the rate she was going I’d never be inseminated. So much for the “romantic feel”. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and I yelled, “Carol, if you continue at this rate of slowness I’ll be 100 years old before you inseminate me.” Carol apologized and told me she was just nervous and wanted to make sure she was doing it right.
Finally, Carol took a pair of surgical gloves out of the box and put them on. I smiled at her and said (as she slapped on a glove), “I suppose this is the epitome of playing doctor, huh?” Carol knows when I’m nervous I have to crack jokes and of course this particular morning I did not disappoint her. After putting on the gloves she opened the package with the device used to inseminate me. She started laughing hysterically. I wanted to see so she turned the package towards me. Folks you wouldn’t believe what the package read. OMG! In a million years you would never guess the name of the device. Are you ready? It was called, “The Inseminator!” All Carol and I could imagine was Arnold Shwartzenagger doing a commercial for it. “Hi, my name is Arnold and I’m going to pump you up!”
Anyway with her surgical gloves on and “The inseminator” in hand, Carol acted out a little commercial which was a cross between an Arnold Shwartzenagger character meets Saturday Night Live. I can’t tell you what a fly on the wall must have thought about all of this craziness we were doing that day. Once we were able to wipe away our tears from laughing so hard Carol got back to business. Well, she got back to business but neither of us could remain serious about it. It was all so funny and weird at the same time. We felt as if we were in a movie because it just couldn’t have possibly been real.
The best part was when Carol opened the dewar: the container that held the “golden” sperm. The instructions said it was crucial to be very careful with how the “specimen” aka sperm was retrieved from the dewar. It had to be removed slowly. When Carol opened the lid I felt as if I should hear sci-fi music playing in the background. Smoke was coming out from the dewar as Carol reached in for the metal handle to pull the vial of sperm out. OK folks, it was taking Carol so long to pull out the vial from the dewar it was insane! I was certain they didn’t mean to go as slowly as Carol was moving. Lord it took an eternity for her to pull it out of the dewar.
OK, now imagine this folks. Visualize smoke coming out from the dewar while Carol looks for and grabs the metal piece and slowly pulls it up and out. You do realize there were SO MANY openings for puns here but I won’t go there or did I? Anyway, we couldn’t wait to see the vial that was attached to the end of the metal piece. As big as the dewar was and as long at the metal piece was we anticipated the vial must be at least the length of our hand. OK, yes, we knew the vial of sperm was only as small as our finger but the build up of waiting for it to reach the top of the dewar made us think, just maybe, our vial was bigger.
Once Carol pulled out the metal piece which had the vial of sperm attached, I could only speak for myself and say that I think I did pee in my pants for laughing so hard. Seeing the size of the dewar was so big, having all of the smoke coming out and then having such a long metal piece that went on forever until this tiny, small vial appeared? Folks,we literally fell over with laughter. Anyway, once the vial was out, Carol had a certain amount of time to thaw it. Yep, she had to thaw it. I bet you’re wondering how one thaws sperm, aren’t you? Well, let me tell you. One of the methods was to place the vial under your armpit to allow your body heat to melt it. Lovely thought, yes? Not something one does every day that was for sure. Well, the look on Carol’s face as she held the small vial of sperm and then put it under her armpit to thaw was absolutely classic. Folks, I swear I shouldn’t have had any urine left in my bladder after laughing so hard but each new part of the process just kept sending me over the edge with laughter. I just couldn’t help it. This entire thing was crazy!
Carol kept the vial of sperm under her arm for a designated amount of time. While waiting I remember her asking, “So, whatcha want to talk about while we’re waiting?” And of course that was all we needed to start laughing again. Now, I bet your asking yourself, how does one know when the sperm has been thawed? Well, that would be an excellent question and one Carol and I would never be able to answer. Carol made sure to follow the instructions by having the sperm under her arm for a specific amount of time but after that we had no clue. It wasn’t as if the semen in the vial appeared more “liquid-y” or as if we’d suddenly see sperm swimming around yelling, “We’re ready!” All we could do was to trust we did it correctly and move forward. Once we felt it was thawed Carol gave me the go ahead to get ready. That meant it was time to remove my clothing from the waist down and place a couple of pillows under my tush to elevate it during the “procedure”.
When I was ready, I looked over at Carol and said, “I’m ready.” She was no longer laughing or even smiling. Her face was VERY serious. She was scared shitless. Through all of the joking and weirdness of it all, we wanted another baby more than anything. And this was our chance. It was our chance to make one in the most “normal” way possible which was incredibly important to us.
While lying there with my butt up in the air I could see Carol fiddling around with the “inseminator”. What the hell was she doing? She’d tell me she was going to start but then she’d stop. It was taking forever! The pressure was too much for the both of us. And at that moment we both freaked out. I started yelling at her to hurry up and Carol was yelling at me that she was trying. She then started yelling that I didn’t have enough pillows under my ass and she started shoving more pillows under me with one hand all while holding “The Inseminator” with the other hand. I started to worry about the sperm. Had Carol properly prepared them without having damaged them? So, while she was shoving pillows under me, I was yelling about the condition of the sperm. Meanwhile, Carol yelled, “How the hell do I know. I followed the instructions but it isn’t as if sperm are my expertise.”
It was total chaos and insanity until Carol yelled, “Stop! I am going to do it!” We both shut up. With the instructions by Carol’s side she told me she had to inject it slowly so the sperm wouldn’t get injured or come out of my vagina during the process. As she was injecting the sperm in me, she suddenly said, “Oh shit!” OK, not a good thing to say just as you are injecting me and so much is riding on it. Apparently, some of the sperm had come out of my vagina and landed on the towel under me. At first Carol forgot I had a towel under my bum so she had thought the sperm had gotten on our sheets. And lord knows how those lesbians feel about sperm getting on our sheets. Oh no. Carol wasn’t concerned that what fell out was supposed to be in me. Instead, it was all about those sheets. We really were something out of a TV sitcom. No doubt!
Once Carol was done inseminating me, she told me I had to lie there for 30 minutes (with my butt still elevated) as she started cleaning up. Um, hello Carol! What about the romantic part of this? Clean up? You can do that later. We have a baby to make here. Didn’t she say it was important for the woman to orgasm after being inseminated and especially during a home insemination? Then, what the hell was she doing? So basically, bing bang thank you ma’am? What the hell? Remind me again why “WE” chose to do the insemination from home? Oh, yes, it was for our own privacy so that we could possibly make a baby more like other (straight) couples did. That would have required Carol to lie next to me and you know…to have adult “playtime” together.
Mad at Carol’s lack of passion (for lack of better word) I asked her to come lie down next to me. I had hoped this would have stimulated her and well, you know. Well, Carol rested her head on my arm clearly relieved it was over. She lifted her head to give me a kiss and then she rested hers back down on my arm. The both of us let out a big sigh of relief that our first home insemination was complete. Seconds later I asked Carol a question but she wouldn’t answer me. Now remember, I was lying with pillows stacked under my butt so I wasn’t able to turn to look at Carol to see why she wasn’t answering me. But, when she wasn’t answering me, I tried to turn just a little to see what was wrong and that was when I heard a very familiar sound. Folks, while Carol was lying next to me she had fallen asleep and was snoring away. Man, I would have loved to have thought her being exhausted was from us making long, passionate love to one another but that wasn’t the case. Instead the love of my life was lying right next to me sleeping like a baby because of all of the mental stress of the insemination.
Well, maybe the home insemination wasn’t the romantic moment I had hoped for but you know that no longer mattered to me. As I had to lie on my back for what seemed like an eternity with my ass in the air all I could do was chuckle at all that happened that morning. The experience was priceless. When I looked over at Carol as she slept I realized what a special partner I had. And even though the home insemination didn’t turn out as I wanted it to, it was still a special moment between me and Carol. The way we had laughed that morning was something the two of us had not done in a very long time especially since having our miscarriage. That in itself made that time special for us. We laughed, we cried, it was a HELL of a lot better than “Cats” that was for sure!
Two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test and unfortunately we were not pregnant.