March was flying by, and the mildest winter in memory persisted with sunny, snowless days that found us busy but not too busy to enjoy things. I took a four-day trip to visit Karen and Stephen and the kids in Virginia, where our first kid talk had been sparked, and managed to squeeze in a night in D.C. with Hope, who'd had twins through IVF a year before. Lin and I were also finishing up the insane endeavor of The Clean Program, a 21-day cleanse involving supplements, nutritional shakes, and a limited diet. Severely limited, as in no red meat, sugar, wheat, alcohol, caffeine, dairy or soy. The first few days are hell, then suddenly and continuously you feel better and even great, until you almost wonder why you ever loved bacon cheeseburgers.
What was really going on, though, was Lin and I being freed from the daily charge of monitoring junior project progress. And it felt good. Things were on track, later than we'd hoped for, yeah, but on track and the fact that we can make a baby at all is pretty goddamned remarkable, so why don't we quit bitching for a half-a-second, ok? I thought things like this to myself.
The last weekend of the month I was in the Bahamas for a quick work trip. That Sunday, Lin met me at Teterboro Airport and from there we headed directly to Somerville, and a night with Tom and Heather before the screenings began the next day. And to the extent that a drive through the clenched fist of the tri-state area followed by 3 hours negotiating the craterscape of I-95 can be joyful, it was. For me there is something about travel accompanying big events in life, probably because I spent about 50% of my childhood being shuttled about in a car. If our IVF clinic was down the street, something would be amiss. The kinetic energy of it all, against the backdrop of long-suffering northeastern infrastructure, said we were earning this.
Tom and Heather's has been our Massachusetts base at every stage in the process. It's hard to say sufficiently how great it's been to have old friends and understanding faces - not to mention clean sheets and strong coffee -- to help see us through. And for me, being able to share the experience in real time with two of my oldest friends puts things in a historical context -- even if it's a context through which it seems unbelievable that I'm now doing any of this. But it's nice to appreciate from time to time how you got to now, with people who helped you get there. Also, Tom and Heather are parents, great ones, and it's a pleasure to watch them sail those seas with humor, humility, and the occasional aid of adult beverages.
On the morning of Monday the 26th, we picked up Jeanne at her hotel and headed to the Quincy office of Boston IVF. She went in for an ultrasound to assess the suitability of her uterus, after which we met with the doctor. There's no other way to say it, he was wild about her uterus. Extremely hospitable, there was no doubt. That, plus my sister's 22-year old eggs was a fine recipe for a baby, or maybe two. He told us that the chances of getting one were about 70% on average, though a little higher for us given the circumstances. The chances of twins are usually about a third, but for us 40 to 50% was more likely. Holy shit.
Next we all headed to the Waltham office, a larger, impressive facility where all the medical procedures take place. This is where Junior would be conceived, we thought. It was pleasant in a medical facility way, with a gentle color scheme and round-ish baby-bump angles abounding. Some of the other folks in the lobby had slightly greyish demeanors that were in sharp contrast to our Wheeeeeeee!-like energy, happy to finally be at the dance. While Jeanne underwent medical and psychological evaluations, we had a four-hour meeting with a social worker.
I wanted to be a therapist myself at one point, and owing to that I probably felt an affinity for the task at hand. But whatever it was, I loved this part. It helped that in answering the "big questions" it became clear that we had the support of each other and our families, and that many of the issues that often arise had happily not done so in our case. In the most basic sense, after all, there are no straight couples whose experience at an IVF clinic isn't tinged at least slightly, if not heavily, with sadness. We felt comparably like lottery winners.
We finished up and headed out to the mall in Braintree, where we were taking Jeanne, Frank, and their kids Stacy, 4, and Billy, 7, to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. It was nice to see Frank again, and he was raffishly sweet as ever. The kids were incredible - sweet, well-behaved, smart, and so happy! Stacy actually told Jeanne she loved her eight or nine times over the course of the meal, each time more genuine and unforced than the last. They knew them some child rearing! We took mental notes, and ate lots of focus-group tested, universally-appealing food, followed by an abundance of the namesake cheesecake. It'd be easy to trash the place and say that everything was awful, but it was was good! And the conversation was easy and real and enjoyable. The only minutely awkward part was as we were leaving, when Stacy asked Frank as we were walking out the doors why they were in Boston in the first place. We smiled the smile you do when a kid asks a simple question with a complicated answer.
Back to Tom and Heather's for a re-cap, a nightcap, and bed. Day 1 had been a success.