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Deeeear kindly social worker

Hey, I owe you a story, don't I?  About our meeting with the social worker at the new clinic?  Yes.  But first a few links you might find intriguing:

  • Lesbian sues crappy doctors for being totally crappy and crappily refusing to perform an IUI due to their religious beliefs.  Guadalupe Benitez, who brought the suit in 2001, charges that the doctors violated California's anti-discrimination law, claiming she was turned down due to her sexual orientation.  (The doctors say they refused to treat her because she's single.  Yes, that's muuuuuch better, Doctors Crappy and Also-Crappy, especially since in California lesbians can't marry.)  Benitez is now a mother of three, having sought treatment with other, not-crappy doctors.
  • The Duggars now number 19, and say they hope for more.  Michelle Duggar has now been pregnant for at least 153 months of her life (not counting the miscarriage that caused her to cast away her pill pack as if it contained Satan's own abortifacients).  I know women who've been trying that long to have one.
  • Martha Stewart's daughter Alexis, age 41, discusses her infertility in the current issue of People.  "My mom's just desperate. She has wanted grandchildren forever. Forever! She's always like, 'For my birthday, I would like you to be pregnant.' And I'm like, 'Me too!"'
  • Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All.  Well, float me a tampon, who knew?

But enough about not-me.  I've been wanting to tell you about our talk with the social worker, which had been the source of a great deal of anticipatory anxiety for me.  I spent a lot of time imagining it: I'd be sitting there with all the wrong answers blithely coming out of my mouth, not even realizing they were wrong, while she sat there with a clipboard, held, of course, at a secretive angle, writing, "Patient bugfuck crazy.  Decline treatment, notify authorities, present as shocking case study at next ASRM conference."

(I guess I couldn't blame her if she wrote, "Patient has exaggerated sense of own importance," huh?)

My fears were entirely unfounded, which in the reproductive sphere is unusual for me.  As it turned out, the meeting's main purpose was for the social worker to discuss their donor pool — how the clinic recruits donors, who the donors are, and how they're screened prior to acceptance.  I'll talk about this in greater detail later, because I also want to write about what's important to Paul and me as we consider donors, but for now I will simply say that I approve of their stringent policy that all potential donors must possess two ovaries and an ass for that all-important hCG shot.

We also talked about the question of disclosure.  It is commonly accepted that if anyone is told, the child should be told as well.  And apparently the order of things is important: She suggested very strongly that if we choose to tell anyone, we need to tell the child himself before telling Charlie, to minimize the potential for sibling conflict.  That seemed like sound advice.  Can you imagine it otherwise?  "You're stupid."  "Oh, yeah?  Well, you're a big doodoo."  "Well, you're a big doodoo who likes to eat doodoo."  "Well, you're the greatly desired much loved hard-won product of an anonymous egg donation!"  "[Sobbing]  Moooooom!"

We talked about how to go about telling a child of donor gametes how he came to be.  The social worker reassured us that although there's not much in the way of guidance available now, since the first wave of donor egg children are only 12 or so, by the time we're facing the more complicated questions, those children will have discussed their experiences in print (and certainly in pixels), providing a useful blueprint for our own approach.  Thank you in advance, designer genetic cybersupertechnochildren!  Now get blogging.

"But then this is something you can discuss in the simplest, most everyday way," she finished.  "It doesn't have to be a surprising revelation.  You'll have pictures of your embryos, and if you show those to your child along with all his other baby photos, he can know from the earliest age.  You already do that with Charlie, I'm sure."  Since this blog is the closest thing I've compiled to a baby book, the answer to that is a disbelieving cackle and a loud, rude no, but of course she's right.  So here goes: Charlie, look, here's a picture of you with the one that, uh, went to live on a farm so it could romp in the sun-kissed fields of everlasting daisies.

"You're a writer," said the social worker to Paul as we gathered our things to leave.  He confirmed that he is, and said that he's a science journalist.  I expected her to ask what his beat is — computers, privacy, and technology — or even to ask about my work, but no.  Instead, her face lit up and she said, "Oh!  That's wonderful!  Then you should consider documenting your whole infertility experience."

So, Paul, get on that, would you?  I wouldn't want the last four years of our lives to go completely unrecorded.