Only Rich People Should Reproduce

Find that statement hard to stomach? Yeah, me too. But the further into this journey we go, the more I see that this system is designed in a way that really doesn’t equally support all hopeful parents. If you are queer, the cost is astronomical. It’s expensive for ANY person who doesn’t get pregnant without assistance. If you are a woman struggling with fertility, for any reason, it’s not fully-funded (in Canada), like other illnesses or conditions. Fertility is seen as an elective procedure.

It’s not really a ‘choice.’ It’s not my choice not to be pregnant – if it were I’d be pregnant right now. Some people (idiots) talk about ‘choosing’ to be gay… if that were true, I’d quickly be choosing some healthy stud to knock me up. Crass, I’m sorry. But when it comes to this: elective is a slippery word, because it isn’t about choice, it’s about need.

Yes, it should be ‘elective’ to have children. You should choose it (whether you wanted to become pregnant or not), you should know on some level as you carry the child to term, that you want to create a human being (or a few). But not being able to have children as simply as some shouldn’t mean that you have to choose between that… and rent.

Don’t even get started on the price of baby THINGS once you have them. As soon as you put ‘baby’ on the label it’s 50x more expensive. Sort of like a terrible sequel to the consumer blockbuster “The WEDDING,” where everything is way more expensive than it should be because it’s someone’s ‘big day’. That means the beer costs more, the venue costs more, the dress costs more, the cake… which obviously knows it’s ‘wedding cake’ …costs more.

I’m getting off topic. Two days ago, I got a lovely note in the mail from a friend, thanking us for hosting an amazing weekend away in Ontario’s wine country. We had a fab time. I didn’t drink. I was conspicuously booze free. They were invited in on our secret. So, when the card came and I spoke to the sender they said, ‘Good! It arrived!’ and I felt compelled to mention what else had arrived:

My period.

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Inside my body, it’s total assault time. But it’s also an assault on our wallets, at our most vulnerable, unpreventable moment. No, I’m not talking about the 17% hst (tax) on essential ‘feminine hygiene products,’ I’m talking about the failure of our government to provide access to subsidized IUI and IVF. But Viagra is covered, fully, by my work’s drug plan.

Which brings me back to a system that is systemically designed to privilege some, not others. Today, at the clinic Nurse N, always the beacon of joy and pleasant updates was there when I went in for my blood work, external and transvaginal ultrasound (the one where with a full-bladder they press the jelly-lubed wand agains your pelvis, then after you pee they put it inside and stir it up, all while on day three of your period)…

She lets me know: they are closed for the Labour Day (ironic, no?) weekend… AND… wait for it…additionally…

They’ve changed their policy on subsidized IUI. The cost of the subsidized procedure is currently $500 (plus drugs and the cost of the sperm $750).

Now, she says, all patients will only have 3 partially-funded IUIs.

So, I asked, ‘how much is the procedure without the subsidy?’

‘$1200’.

Deep breath. But, she tells me (cause remember it’s all about the bright side here), ‘I have some patients who have been here forever and they’ve had like 5 cycles and now we have to tell them they are out of subsidized ones.’

Great. That really puts it into perspective. And, she continues, ‘You’re coming up in October for your subsidized IVF cycle’. That’s awesome… except that even with the subsidy we could be looking at $10,000 for that. The ambiguous enormity of that pricetag looms over us…

To be fair, they are limiting it to 3 per patient. That is fair, but it isn’t equitable. Some people have a way harder time than others. Some of us have our significant other come and ‘cum’ in a cup, for free… while others have to buy, ship, store, freeze, thaw and test the sperm.  And others have seemingly insurmountable difficulties… none of it is fair. This funding change happened when we didn’t see it coming.

And yes, I hear some of the eye-rolling internal narrative: at least you have health care. At least you have a government that subsidizes any of it. At least as a lesbian couple you are allowed to have a marriage and babies. At least this isn’t Trump-land.

Yes, but stop there; it is possible that way worse things are happening right here, and far away, in perpetuity. But are we really going to content ourselves by aiming for the lowest common denominator as a goal?

That is where we tend to go, when things get tough. (Skip this part if you aren’t interested in a little rant about the parallels between the past teacher strike action and lack of funding for fertility): I remember the mentality that was swirling around a few years ago, with all the vitriol and teacher-hating, when we challenged the Ontario government who imposed a contract on us and took away our right (protected by law) to negotiate our contract. People immediately started the sing-song of ‘lazy teachers/summers off/paid too high already/look at their benefits/they only work ’til 3/I knew a totally terrible teacher once/I work a real ‘hard’ job’/how dare you take away your voluntary after school coaching and extra-curriculars when my kids needs them to get into university? … and the like; mostly what people failed to realize was that they remember what their adolescent self remembers about teachers (and since everyone went to school, they think they know with some accuracy what that job entails). What they didn’t realize is that we weren’t fighting for more pay, we were protesting slashes to our contracts and to protect collective bargaining (a right that future generations will enjoy unless the government erodes our ability to stand up for these gains). What kind of laws do we have, and what do they mean, if the government can choose to disregard those laws when it suits them? We were protesting the stripping of our contracts, the devaluing of the job we get paid to do and work very hard to do well, often in conditions that are adverse and made more difficult by policy makers who have no idea what we actually do. The biggest complaint I heard was: teachers have a cushy job with great pay, vacations, amazing benefits and retirement plans. We should stop whining and take a pay cut/benefit cut/pension cut… because lots of other people have none of these ‘good things’. But… Rather than begrudge many hard-working (99 percent of the people I work with are passionate and do this job so well) people the things you don’t have, why don’t we strive to ameliorate the systems that prevent ALL of us from having these things? Shouldn’t the goal be to avoid raking back the policies, pay and benefits that maintain a stable middle-class, and healthy and well-supported professionals doing their jobs well? All of us should have retirement security, health care, time off when we are sick, bereavement leave, mat leave, access to a fair income to be able to create stability for ourselves and families. That is what progress looks like. P.S. The Supreme Court found the Government GUILTY in the suit against them for the very the actions we were striking over. When you get pushed, sometimes the only way to not lose any more ground is to push back.

Government cuts to fertility mean that my clinic, the 4th my wife and I have been to, now has a new policy, unceremoniously dropped on us today, that limits our access from a previous ‘no-limit’ to a ‘for fairness sake’ limit of 3. This leaves us to ask: what will we do when the money runs out? By ‘we’ I mean my wife and I, a dual-income household. I have three degrees and have worked for almost ten years in my field; my wife has 13 years in her industry and just took a contract position in the face of massive layoffs in the media sphere. We own a house, purchased before the huge skyrocket in prices in the GTA, which we will be paying off for 27 more years. If we, the people who should fall squarely into the middle class, are struggling – how on earth could we do it as single or low-income earners? As people with student debt? If we were also faced with precarious employment?

On one hand, yes, I was sad for myself when I found out I wasn’t pregnant this past Monday. But I know we can scrape together money for a few more tries. I’m saddened for the whole process, which is so much less crucial or vital than the crushing and immense problems occurring globally; I talk about that in real life, in my newsfeed, at art and activism events, in my classroom. But this is my real. This is where I talk about how hard it is to still muster the optimism that everyone thinks I have. Because on the outside I do seem to be taking it in stride. But part of me is indignant about the injustice of putting myself into debt in order to do what others can do for free. When an arbitrary decision about three tries, might mean ‘three strikes and you’re out.’

But we are all grownups and know: life isn’t fair.

I can’t help myself

It's like watching a clock, or a pot, or whatever else one does when they cannot wait the required amount of time for the thing they want, or don't want, to happen.

My blood test is on Monday. But I dreamed of pregnancy tests. And woke up so early. So I went and peed on a stick. Only to realize in my sleepy stupor that I'd pissed on an Ovulation monitoring stick. Lol.

Not quite right. And if I were pregnant it's less than two weeks so,… so it's not likely to register anyway. But man o man, do I ever want to know. I'm telling you this, like these feelings are any different from what so many of you are going through/have gone through.

My boobs feel noticeably bigger (not a usual period symptom for me), and I feel bloated (a usual pms symptom). I just want to knowwwwwwww.

Thank you internet for being full of people who are pot-watchers in solidarity.


This is my cat. She has no problem covering her eyes and just waiting for it.

When your exes resurface and your past impregnates the future.

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Today is the first day. July 31, 2017.
I’m at a loss for words. I woke up and went to the clinic. While waiting, our credit card was declined (to pay for $500 worth of IUI procedure), which wasn’t what I was hoping for. Turns out that our past payment didn’t get processed yet, and our current balance, which includes the $2300 for sperm, and extra grand or so for ‘seeing the files on donors,’ shipping, Ubers to the appointments, storage fees ($50) and some other incidentals, exceeded our limit when added to our current spending.

We used debit instead.

All of this impersonal shit. Then we are waiting (for the sperm to thaw?) and there are cute babies in the waiting room. And another lesbian couple comes in, very pregnant, with donuts for the staff and big smiles. It isn’t like on T.V. I get called in. I wait for Allia. I feel nervous, which makes no sense, since nothing I do, or don’t do, right now will make any difference.

I lie down. The doctor introduces herself.

Last night we went to The Burdock, for a comedy show; my friend was performing. Unexpectedly, in walks an ex, one who doesn’t speak to me. She acts like the things I did in the end of our relationship are somehow different to the things she cheerfully admitted to doing to countless other girls before me. It wasn’t a good time for me, just months out of a long-term relationship, still very shaky and unsure… it wasn’t hard to tell that I was in no shape to be starting anything. She should have known. Arguably, she did know, and pretended not to see it.

Last time I saw her, over a year after our split, she gave me the silent treatment, until I pulled her aside, at a bonfire, and apologized wholeheartedly – I treated her with as much empathy and kindness back then as a broken person could muster. I did the best I could. She is not guiltless, but I definitely owned my mistakes. I paid for them before they were made.

How many times can you apologize?

Last night, coming into the bar with our friend, she said nothing. That’s how this will play out. Thirty-five and this is still the m.o.? I am too old for this. My wife looked at me and said, “It’s not about you anymore. You’ve said everything you can say… look at your life now. We are happy. This is what our life looks like. You can’t worry about the past.”

And she is right. She knows I hate feeling like I can’t fix the broken things. I crave understanding. But I love poetry and those moments of kismet are the things that give shape and nuance to the life we are breathing and building… which takes us back to this morning.

The doctor introduced herself: she has the exact same name as that ex. As she showed me a vial of sperm, she asked me to see that it matches. It did. Perfectly. Where closure is absent, maybe another kind of closure is possible.

This is the second time in two weeks that this has happened; a week ago I ran into the previous-previous exe; it was gut-wrenching. I cried in the car, after we parted, letting go of all the anger that 6 years of replaying hands around my throat has allowed to build up inside me.

I had been dreading that encounter, had given it so much mental energy, wondering when I would look into the face of a person who remains a source of anxiety and trauma – not so often now, but still sometimes, which is often enough… not wanting to be caught off guard. But… I was fine. Bothered (that this person still felt familiar enough to call me by a nickname), relieved (that face-to-face I held myself together, for all intents and purposes: fine). The moment passed and I could finally let go of all the memories and the power they used to have over me. That is not my life now.

U-turn. I am in the exam room. And now, writing this, I feel like it’s sacrilege to blend the sacred with the profane, but are they ever really absent from one another?

Death facilitates new life. Slate, wiped clean, with traces of blood, tears, … and semen (apparently). It was so easy, compared to our journey together up to this point. Anti-climactic.

It wasn’t at all like the L-Word (one of my only frames of media-reference), but on the table, as Allia held my hand, my leg muscles felt a little shaky. This is a beginning. Even if it’s not THE beginning. I feel peaceful, letting go of any control. All I can do is what is in my capacity to do… I can eat well, drink water, sleep, love, be happy.  Take my vitamins.

I am ready for this, if you can ever truly be ready for anything. And we will call this possibility ‘Cortez,’ like a Spanish explorer, a ship, a sailor; there may be a Cortez I, Cortez II, Cortez III, but we will be hoping for a new world – obviously one without colonization, and the ills of imperial domination and enslavement, but since those already exist historically, maybe our maiden voyage can be a promise to trust life’s compass and our own guts to guide us, to let go of the enslaved memory of the past, of grudges, of control itself… and think positively.

Swim little guys. Swim.

 

Okay, Crazy

This is what I looked like outwardly: 


But that was two days ago. You know that scene in The Exorcist, where the girl’s head spins around? That was me for one hot second (okay, 45 minutes) last night before I realized my insane mood swing was one of the listed side effects of chlomid. 


I feel like I was watching myself feel fully empowered to self-destruct, all the while trying to back pedal with the slim margin of my brain that was witnessing the scene in horror.  Once we finally realized what was going on, we made an action plan, I cried a bit and we figured out a SafeWord. Hopefully we can nip those little outbursts in the bud… We’ll be OK.

We went into the clinic Friday, good. On track. Saturday again, for bloodwork. My estrogen has spiked to a thousand. Good news. And today, Sunday, back for the works. In the post-exam meeting, the doctor said: 

“You’re the lucky one.” 

 (I’m not even sure where to put the italics in that sentence, but there was definite emphasis) delivered after she realized I was a Mississauga patient. It seems I’m the patient still getting monitored, but neither of us is quite sure how exactly it happened.   

 “Let’s not question the universe,” said the doctor. But I Am being monitored and it’s a very good thing. ‘Cause today is the day. It almost makes me forget the rest of this gong show, up and down, catastrophe, wild ride of emotions. 

Based on today’s results (19 and 21mm) they gave me an injection to ensure that my eggs release.  I still have two follicles, possible twin-set in the works, and I have an IUI booked for tomorrow morning!

Allia, now understandably, is cautiously optimistic and wants me to put some emotions on hold – to curb my expectations and excitement so I’m not devastated. I know the risks and stats (15% chance of success). But also given  my recent demonic possession, she doesn’t want me to be swinging out of control. I just really want to buy a crib. I’ve been waiting three years. It will feel so satisfying to put that sucker together. 

Really it’s just that I’m excited the day we’ve been waiting for is here. We step into the active ‘trying’ phase… 

“It’s the first time I will ever have sperm inside of me!!” 

Seriously. I’m not a gold star, but I’ve always insisted on scrupulous protective measures. 

Bring it on! 

Thinking of the numbers and likelihood of success, one has to ask: why not me? It could happen. 

Check-in

Yesterday we went for date night; let’s be honest, … most nights for us are ‘date night’. We checked out Locals Only and I had buck-a-shuck oysters, in the hopes of it being my last time. I was feeling pretty emotional, prior to today’s appointment.

First, a huge thank you to queerconceptional because I think you actually saved my cycle. I had asked all the obvious (to me) questions at the clinic, but not the line of inquiry you suggested: if my charts and the all important Infectious Disease screening results are being held in the CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS clinic computer… why not go right to the source. That ended up being a dead end, but it DID get me on the phone with the reception, asking if they knew anyone who used to work at both locations, or previously worked with someone who does; YES! E. was going to ask H., who knows one of their current nurses, who is not away, if there was any way to access the files. I had to wait until today to find out, but just the idea that it might all work out was smashing back and forth in my brain for the whole weekend …

Next, I went in for monitoring. Two follicles, both at 13, looks like they are in a race – which could mean a set of twins if they keep growing. Nice fluffy lining. Blood results are good. And they have my ID results on file now,… so when I surge, they are ready for me.

I go back Friday to see if the two, or one, follicle is growing appropriately (18-25 mm). I’m excited. We are going to go check out a screening of Atomic Blonde tonight – you know, to inspire my uterus to kick ass. Charlize is a badass.

How are you all doing? Thanks so much for all the support (and amazing suggestions!)

Never Black and White

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Went in to the Burlington clinic today. Nervous, though I know nothing will ‘happen’ today. I almost felt that they might turn me away and say, ‘actually, we were mistaken,’ we can’t see you. I am ready for bad news these days.

Took an Uber to the appointment. Everyone at the clinic was a ray of sunshine. Goes with the territory, I’m sure; sunny dispositions only – is probably listed on the employment description.

Had my blood taken. Ultrasound. Met with the Dr. So nice, so smiley. My follicles look to be on the right path. There seem to be 15 potentially. My levels are good. Blood work came back. All good. I’m learning a new vocabulary. Like any new language, I’m uncertain what some of the words mean, but I get nods of encouragement, so I feel like the words are being reinforced when they are the right ones. I only want to speak the right ones.

The call came back today though, midday: are your units on their way? And is it your intention to proceed this cycle? Yes, these are all things we already discussed. But, they don’t have my blood results for the barrage of tests they did to make sure I’m disease free. They will not proceed with the insemination if they don’t have the results of those major tests that were done 4 months ago. The clinic didn’t send them.

What does this mean? I might ovulate before the clinic reopens and can send that info, proving that I don’t have any communicable diseases (apparently they can’t just take my word for it). In a perfect world: I don’t surge until a few days (or more) after my own clinic reopens. They send the blood panel results to Burlington. Worst case: being on my 25 mg. of Serophene for 5 days (which insurance may or may not cover), might make my already arrived earlier-than-usual period shorter (I’m usually on a 40-44 day cycle). If today is Day 3, and I go back on Day 10 (next Wednesday) to check, they are worried that I could surge by that Friday, or Saturday. They would not be able to do my procedure.

Please cross your fingers that I keep my long cycle …. and don’t surge until July 31. So that in a pinch, they can schedule my procedure for that day in the late morning and get my disaster of a clinic to send proof of my healthy stats to the other clinic that same day.

I really just need a little cooperation from the fates.

It All Falls into Place

When everything aligns, there is magic. Or at least the appearance of it. These photos are all symbolic of how the magic happens, sometimes due to luck, sometimes intense planning, other magic moments are the result of chemistry and temperature, or hard work and saving. Try pushing the button that says, ‘yes, we will pay $750 to buy your single-use shot of sperm’… making yourself feel confident in that click is a feat of magic in itself.

I am ready to head into the clinic tomorrow to start monitoring for a REAL DEAL cycle (a miracle after the past five days of uncertainty). I captured the moon.

I pressed send on that order button and bought our sperm.

I am crossing many things off my To Do List.


I am going to eat some pizza and key lime pie. Both pies, totally different, equally delicious. I am all the good, tasty things that I want, and working out to keep it all in balance.


I am being upstaged by a tiny chihuahua named Daisy. I sometimes look at small creatures and wonder 1) how they can exist and be so mini. 2) why a common reaction to small adorable things is to want to squish them and make high pitched sounds.

Sometimes the simplest moments are the most surprising when they happen, they can be challenging to capture, while other seemingly simple tasks represent the biggest leaps of all. Like the click of a button. The cycles of the moon. The science of cells dividing successfully over and over again to create a tiny human. Or dog.