Six (6) ways to cope with infertility stress

There was the time I asked an ultrasound technician if I had an ugly vagina, self-conscious that out of all the many vaginas she had seen that morning, mine somehow stood out in a terrible way. And just about every aspect of sperm donation—whether it be reaping my husband’s or buying it over the internet—is absurd.  While I wanted to sympathize that he had to pleasure himself in a cubicle in a doctor’s office, I was also super curious about what pornography he watched, exactly, to make our future baby. It’s an answer I have yet to receive, so I guess in some ways infertility does have some of the magical mystery that comes with making a baby the regular way.

What I found funniest, though, was how easily and quickly embarrassment and awkwardness gave way to the ordinariness of routines and small talk. Once, the ultrasound technician and I discussed at length the best products for curly hair: do you prefer cream or a gel? Diffuser or air dry? Suddenly, she interrupted what I thought was a productive discussion about applying leave-in conditioner to point out one of my follicles on the ultrasound monitor.

“I think I’m looking at a future Prime Minister,” she said, while holding the wand inside me, a comment that made me both laugh and cry.

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It’s this tension I’ve tried to capture in How to Buy a Baby—how hope can comingle with endurance to create this strange reality in which doctors, nurses, ultrasound technicians, embryologists and financial advisors are all involved in the intimate act of making a baby.

People love to talk about the “miracle of birth.” While ultimately I was unable to conceive, for me the miracle of it all was finding a way to laugh at the process and to tell the story. The marvel wasn’t a newborn with my husband’s blue eyes or my curly hair but mine and my husband’s ability to face the loss of our shared biology, let go of the way we thought we would become parents, and channel that love and laughter into a series about infertility. That miracle, to me, is no less meaningful.

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