On the second day of the screenings Sara had a physical exam, a solo meeting with Terry the social worker, a run-down of all the various hormones she'd be on and how to administer them, and finally another meeting with Terry for us all. Jeanne was also there for Day 2, undergoing among other things a rorschach test, to her surprise and I think annoyance. But we were all of pretty good cheer, and it was cool when at one point in the afternoon, Sara got to meet Jeanne, and we all sat in that pleasantly colored, gently rounded lobby and made small talk for a few minutes. From Jeanne's perspective, I imagine it was comforting to see that the woman whose eggs would be fertilized and placed inside her was delightful and adorable, and appeared to bathe regularly.
Jeanne and Frank ended up having their kids with them for the day, as their would-be babysitter came down with the flu. Frank took care of the them mostly, and also had a meeting with Jeanne and, you guessed it, Terry. At lunch the whole family, plus Terry, Lin and myself took over a conference room for a social-working lunch. This is a pretty heavy duty meeting, so I asked Terry if it was okay that the kids would to be with us, given the conversation topics. Oh it'll be fine, but aren't you just so thoughtful for thinking about that, she related. Then, I swear to you, the third word out of her mouth as soon as we'd gotten our paper plates filled with Bertucci's and greek salad was "abortion", and whether or not the kids' mother Jeanne was okay with having one should that possibility should it arise. There was no drama in her answer -- it's talked about incessantly at every stage -- but I nearly choked on my pepperoni, with those cherubic kids at the end of the table, until I realized they probably didn't know an abortion from a tennis racquet, and were prety well occupied with pizza and crayons to have absorbed much else. So it went well, and Terry shared with us in her special, sensitive way, how well-suited she assessed us to be, and how we had the makings for a successful relationship and outcome.
I was happy, and even managed to allay the urges I'd had the day before to say outrageous things to Terry just for the hell of it... Now tell me Marc, and tell me Lin, how is it that you first came to consider surrogacy as a means of growing your family? Well, Terry, I'd say, first we considered abduction, but that started to seem impractical... Her face would scrunch at that point, and dark notations would be scribbled in our chart. I made what Terry would consider a good, pro-social choice by not indulging in that particular impulse. Would've been fun to see her face, though.
The last meeting of the day was us, Jeanne, Frank, and our newly appointed "cycle coordinator," Sharon. Her accent was a variation on the Massachusetts classic, filtered through what seemed to be a mouthful of soft marbles. "Chart" was "chahuert", "period" became "peeuhrwhiod", She seemed competent, though, and that was enough. And we were so excited to finally be getting a schedule of when actual babymaking things would occur! There was talk of estrogen gels and patches, progesterone suspended in sesame versus olive oil, and "trigger shots" from a space-age pen. In theory, I really wanted to know about all of this, but in the moment I just wanted to know that other people, and mostly Lin, had a handle on it so I could check out and worry about things I actually comprehended. The science of this process is miraculous, until the details almost put you to sleep mid-meeting.
We finished up, and with that, the screenings were over, and another flaming hoop had been leapt through. Whether or not it was all successful, we'd have to wait to find out. We knew that Terry pretty well had our backs, but it would take two weeks before Jeanne and Sara's genetic testing results came back, and only then could green-lighting occur.
We drove Sara back into town, where she lives on Hanover Street in the heart of the North End. It's a charming strip that reminds me a lot of North Beach in San Francisco, home to our budget pied à terre. We had plans to meet Patti, Sara's mom and my step-mom for dinner at Giacomo's, a wildly popular red sauce joint where you have to wait in line for 45 minutes before opening just to get a table. We popped quickly up to Sara's apartment, just long enough for me to remember how socially awkward college roommates can be, especially when there is a brewing feud about dirty dishes left in the sink. (It's always about dishes, isn't it?) We got in line at the restaurant and before long Patti arrived and we'd been seated. It was great to see her. She and my father are in the midst of a divorce that's ending their thirty-year marriage. It's a sad and difficult thing for all involved and it was nice that something equally momentous yet positive was there to rally around and be distracted by. The portions were also distracting in their enormity - a pound of pasta, nineteen shrimp, a head of garlic, a bunch of parsley! -- but delicious and perfect and timely. After dessert at Modern Pastry, a classic old cannoli and coffee joint, we said our goodbyes and hugged our hugs and off we went back to Somerville and not long after, bed.