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Strangely enough, no one has asked me, "Why Minnesota?" Maybe you know how much I love Prince. But no: I know the chances of my encountering His Purple Highness in the corridors of reproductive medicine — which are kind of like the Halls of Medicine but with slightly less mentho-lyptus — are limited. Maybe you think it's because I simply can't wait to visit the Mall of America again, what with its five Victoria's Secrets, eleven Gaps, three Orange Juliuses, and four Build-a-Baby Workshops. No; I do not approve of designer babies, and the big needle they use to sew up that stuffing hole strikes fear into even my calloused, track-marked heart.
It will help, I think, if I contextualize this a bit. I did a fair amount of research before settling on our clinic. The information packets kept coming and I kept reading. My desk fairly groaned from the weight of deliberation.
First I considered the obvious choice, Cornell. We were successful there with Charlie, after all. But although I truly believe they're the best clinic in the U.S., I've always been sure that that was almost entirely a matter of luck, and not any particular institutional magic. I did have a prior track record of getting pregnant, after all. Why, all a reproductive endocrinologist has to do to get me pregnant is look at me!
Oh, how I love to laugh.
Anyway, Cornell had a wait time ranging between 12 and 14 months, with about 41% of their 2005 donor cycles resulting in live births. They primarily do split cycles, where the eggs from any given donor are divided between two recipients. Because this is America and more is better, I was uneasy with the idea of getting only half. What if, out of a haul of 10 eggs total, our 5 performed badly? 3 fertilized, 2 divided, 1 transferred...and a negative? Sure, donor egg cycles work 3,894,256%* of the time. But someone's got to be in that .00000000000000000002% who don't get pregnant, and past experience has shown that it could easily, freakishly, probably be me, with nothing left to freeze. And I don't love to laugh that much.
For the sake of convenience, I could have chosen our local clinic, whose doors, inexplicably, have not been barred against me. (Even when I'm walking through the hospital on other business, I totally expect my doctor to leap out from behind a potted ficus commanding, "Do not bring your evil here.") I'm not especially superstitious, so the fact that I've attempted six miserable cycles there that ultimately failed didn't deter me. Wait, maybe that should say, "I'm not especially smart."
Anyway, they seem to do a good job getting people pregnant — you know, other people — and for our purposes it probably would have been good enough. But their wait time was the same as Cornell's, and they only do a few donor cycles each year.
So I checked out a larger clinic in a nearby city, and quickly ruled them out. Although their price for a donor cycle seemed at first glance to be commensurate with Cornell's and my local clinic's, they have no in-house pool of donors. Add an agency fee to the clinic's charges and I might as well have gone to...
CCRM. When people on message boards discuss top-ranked clinics, CCRM's adherents emerge as the Sharks to Cornell's Jets. Then everyone breaks into a ferocious mambo of long-sublimated rage and before you know it that nice Natalie Wood has gone and got her heart broke and there's a perfectly good white boy lying dead on a soundstage.
What I mean to say is that both clinics seem to inspire a rabid devotion; with a 3-6 month average wait for a match, and a 70.3% live birth rate on donor cycles, it is easy to see why so many people are attracted to CCRM. It's also tempting to wonder exactly what they're doing that's so different from other top-ranked clinics. Cornell's live birth rate, for example, for donor cycles in 2005, was in the neighborhood of 40%. How to account for that 30-point difference? In no way do I mean to suggest that the good doctors of Colorado are selling snake oil, or even snake-related essence of oil-like product. I just...wonder, is all.
Given that CCRM's costs are nearly twice Cornell's, I had to ask myself whether I was feeling lucky. (The laughing. It does not stop.) Specifically, did I feel I — messed-up gambler that I am — needed that 30-point edge? And here is where I threw my hands up in the air in frustration, breathed, "Fuck if I know," and shoved CCRM's packet to the corner of my desk, where its sheer mass is currently making the foundation of our home sink into the earth's very mantle.
(This packet, by the way, contains 100 pages, easy, and includes a sample donor profile. "What is your favorite book and/or movie? My favorite book is Great Expectations!" Cornell's packet, by contrast, includes kiiiind of a creepy photo of Zev Rosenwaks. Doesn't he look rueful? Sad? Baffled? Maybe he just...doesn't...know why you're not pregnant yet, and it pains him grievously, and he wants you to know he thinks of little else, loves a puzzle, and will be with you every step of the way as you solve this conundrum once and for all...together. Or maybe he just can't figure out the CCRM thing, either.)
So that is why we chose Minnesota.
Wait, no, I've left some stuff out. Tired, I am sure, of hearing me debate the question yet again, one day Julia suggested I consider her clinic. I ignored her, as I often do when she blithers like a madwoman, until she presented me with the shocking news that she'd spoken to the donor program coordinator and learned that they had no wait for in-house donors. And that their price was the same as Cornell's or my local clinic's. And that their 2005 live birth rates nicely bridged that 30-point chasm with success to spare.
Fast forward a few short weeks, and there that same coordinator was yesterday, calling to offer us a match.
As to whether we'll take it, I do not know. What with one set of houseguests leaving and a new set arriving, Paul and I haven't had any time at all to discuss the profile we were sent. And I'm awfully sorry to leave you with this cliffhanger of sorts, but since my parents come tomorrow, along with my brother, his wife, and their three children, I won't have time to post again for several days. Which is really all right because I want to present the profile to my family and give them all ample opportunity to weigh in on whether they truly believe that this path, and more specifically this donor, is the right choice for us.
Did I mention I love to laugh?
* Figure unverified.