Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
So last week we found out Ryan’s sperm count is through the roof.
Oh yes, the verdict is in: This guy is fertile. He is a bull. I’m surprised flowers and beanstalks don’t sprout up and grow right beneath his feet. I’m surprised the walls and ceilings of our 620-square-foot condo aren’t covered with ivy and roses in full bloom and a harvest big enough to feed the entire neighborhood and its dogs.
Since we embarked on this whole last-ditch effort to have a baby before we become senior citizens, I’ve had to go through a slew of diagnostic tests. I’ve had to have my blood drawn so many times you would think I was a heroin addict, walking around with little bruises on the inside of my arms. I’ve had to have pap smears and pelvic exams and X-rays and ultrasounds that involved not cool gel on my belly but a device that looks like those things cops beat people with. I’ve been poked and prodded and filled with dye and bright lights and hormones.
I’ve been told my uterus isn’t the right shape and my hormones are out of whack, and oh, just so you know, this is why you have that extra belly fat and have trouble losing weight even though you do yoga 10 times a day, and this is why you break out like a teenager even though you’re middle aged.
Then the doctor, who makes gazillions of dollars a year on women just like me who were too busy partying and skiing to think about having babies when they were supposed to, sits across from you at an oval-shaped wooden table and tells you all about how he’s going to help you get pregnant. It’s like being at a car dealership when the sales guy starts going over the paperwork and suddenly that sticker price isn’t as good as you thought it was, and damn, that smug look on his face is really starting to get annoying.
But underneath all that fancy medical lingo, what he’s really saying is, “I can get you pregnant, lady, but it’s gonna cost ya.”
So while Ryan’s peacock feathers are on full display, I have this feeling I’m about to be led out to pasture.
Oh yes, when you are in your 40s and you need help getting knocked up, they call it “assisted reproductive technology” (ART), and it’s so riddled with acronyms, you feel like you’re texting a teenager. But instead of LMAO or TTYL, it’s IVF this and IUI that and people who are TTC might be suffering from PCOS and FU, which is what you say when you get the bill. When it comes to health-insurance coverage for this stuff, you are SOL, and OMG it is not cheap.
So you go to this place in Denver, and it’s like, super fancy. There is a waterfall feature in the lobby and fresh tiger lilies in a big vase, so it kind of feels like a spa. The floors are all sheened and buffed, and there’s an espresso bar. It’s kind of like a country club or a luxury-car showroom.
There are all these looking-good-for-their-age couples in the waiting room. The women all look kind of nervous and high strung, and the guys all have their noses buried in magazines, trying to hide. I can almost see little cartoon bubbles pop up over their head that say things like, “Get me the hell out of here!” and “How much did you say this was going to cost?”
Since we started this whole charade, people would always ask me, “Has Ryan been tested?” They’d share these horrific stories about people they knew who couldn’t get pregnant. It wasn’t the women who were infertile, they’d whisper, it was the men. Under their breath they’d say things like, “He smoked way too much pot” or “It was all that road biking – he probably should’ve lowered the seat a little.”
Of course I decided I would be one of the cool wives who goes into the little room with their man and does whatever it takes to turn this thing into a real live hospital or doctor-patient fantasy. I’ve looked at pornhub.com. I know what’s up.
But you go in there, and the first thing you see is this long list of everything you can’t do. Talk about sterile – I’m surprised men don’t become infertile just coming to the infertility place. Nothing makes those violets shrink faster.
Along with your little plastic cup and sticker that you write your name on and hand sterilizers, there’s a stack of Playboys tame enough to bring to a fifth-grade anatomy class (I agree with Hugh Hefner, Lindsay Lohan’s pictorial was a total disappointment) and a TV set with a DVD player and a remote control. I’m a pretty creative person, but when I read the list of what not to do and it said, NO ORAL COLLECTION in big, bold letters, I realized I’m not as creative as I thought.
“You might as well just wait outside,” Ryan said. “Otherwise this is just going to be weird.”
When he finally came out, his cheeks aglow I said, “Was the porn movie good at least?”
He just shook his head and said, “Want to go out to lunch?”
The good news didn’t come until the nurses called and explained the results.
“We like to see at least 40 million sperm per milliliter,” she said. “Your husband had 138 million.”
“I’m sorry, did you say 138 million?”
“Yes.” She went on. “However, only 38 percent were forward moving. The rest went backwards, or just stood still. But with that high of a count, we’re not too concerned.”
My beautiful man and his abundant, dyslexic sperm: Who needs a baby to be your pride and joy when you can have that?