Thursday, December 14, 2017

Spinster diaries

Jahine held her breath and felt the individual beads of sweat suddenly escaping from the pores in her back. She chuckled under her breath as the medical assistant squinted at the clipboard. That was her cue - she was up next. But she wanted to give the MA a chance to butcher her name and butcher she did.
"JAH-HI-NEH NNNN-FON" she said with that lilting pitch to her voice which conveyed she wasn't sure about the pronunciation.
"Jay is fine, yes that's me" Jahine said with a smile as she rose to her feet.
"Did I say it right?"
"It's pronounced Jane Nfon. My parents wanted a timeless name for me but with a special touch" she said as she again flashed a smile that masked her anxiety.
"Ah I see. My name's Britnay, with one t and an a instead of an e and nobody ever spells it right so I can understand that" she says as she walks Jahine back.

 In the hallway they stopped by one of those big scales with the sliding parts and the MA gestured for her to step on. She took off her coat, set her purse down and wondered why a practice this fancy didn't just purchase a high tech electronic bathroom scale instead of this loud device that looked like it was made for weighing cows. Eh who knew? Probably something or other about this one being more accurate [snort].

As she stepped on, she insinctively looked down to find a screen with digital numbers - oh wait yeah she couldn't because medieval scale. Britnay announces "130 pounds". Jahine is pleased - she had been the same weight since junior year of college. She worked hard for her svelte figure - 1 hour of cardio and 20 minutes of weights every other day. Eating fruits and vegetables every day, avoiding sugary drinks and fastfood, cooking her own meals and making a point of eating only half of every sweet treat when she did allow herself to indulge. So yes, she was proud of her work. Her blood pressure and heart rate were the picture of good health. She felt like a student eager to show off her thoroughly completed homework to the principal as they walked to the doctor's office. 

Dr. Cain was, if the Internet was to be believed, the best reproductive endocrinologist there was in that part of town. She'd happened upon him just a month ago when she'd seriously begun contemplating donor sperm IVF.
It was the night before her 35th birthday and she found herself deep in thought as she sipped on a mixed red wine that had been in her kitchen for way too long. Nights like these were not uncommon for her since she turned 30 - they were usually during milestone events such as a birthday but more often than not would occur out of the blue or after scrolling through her various social media.

She considered herself to be accomplished and fortunate in many ways - her parents, being both educators had been very supportive of her pursuits and with her smarts, school had been a breeeze. The connections she'd made while in law school and her vibrant personality earned her a job at the top law firm in town even before she graduated. She had started her own NGO which was rewarding work outside of work. She was satisfied with where things stood thus far.

All along the way, she'd had people say "Don't forget other aspects of life o, it is not always about book". She knew those comments came from a good place but they rubbed her wrong - did they expect her coax men to fancy/date/marry her? She had continued to date during college and law school. She'd met almost equal numbers of Fboys and "husband material" guys. But there was always something - they were too young/old, not ambitious enough, too far away, not progressive enough in their thinking. Or sometimes they were just right, but had eyes for someone else. She'd had her fair share of heartbreak even as she had herself broken hearts.

On her 27th birthday, a guy she'd been seeing for just over 6 months proposed to her - he had a very imposing nature and had seemed more interested in the idea of her (lawyer wife for a doctor) than in her as a person. On their first date he'd thrown a mini fit when she expressed her non-desire to take on a man's last name if she ever did marry. He'd spent more than half the time since then trying to guilt and force her into changing her mind. She'd said yes to his proposal because all of their friends and family were present. As soon as they got to his car she took the ring off and handed it back to him. He never spoke to her after that.

Friends and family were always looking to hook her up with someone "because a fine geh like you should not be going to waste". Initially she'd said no to all their attempts but when she did finally cave, she had little to no chemistry with the guys they chose - her people didn't know her taste in men it seemed. So she shut that down too.

On that day, the eve of her 35th birthday, she had been scrolling through Facebook. Another engagement. A trip to the motherland for a traditional wedding. A church wedding - ah, what pretty colors. A baby bump - wow, 3rd child! She clicked "like" for most of the pics; "love" for the ones that were particularly cute. As she set her phone down, she stared into her wine glass. She felt that overwhelming sense of fear + mild envy + anxiety + self-doubt with which she was all too familiar. She hated that feeling. She thought about her own accolades and all the things that made her feel good about herself. They all some how seemed small and irrelevant on nights like this. So when a co-worker shared her own IVF story with her, it was no surprise she'd considered it strongly enough to make this appointment.

"Jahine!", bellowed Dr Cain as he knocked and opened the door. "Hi, Dr Cain nice to meet you".
"Nice to meet you as well", he smiled and they shook hands. He was a middle-aged white male with a handsome face but quite some girth on him. She briefly wondered if and how he could sincerely counsel his patients on weight loss. He probably used the tired line "do as I say not as I do". She was careful not to let her eyes linger on his rotund belly lest he catch her judgemental look.

They talked about her woman parts and history. Yes she had regular monthly periods.
No she had no issues with cramping or painful sex.
No she wasn't on birth control.
Yes she had a regular gynecologist and a recent normal pap smear.
Yes she had been to the sperm bank's website and already chosen a potential donor, all was set.

He asked about her social history - he was impressed at her career success given her relatively young age. She did that thing where she downplayed her achievements but was quick to catch herself.
No she wasn't in a relationship right now. She sighed a sigh of relief when he didn't pursue this further.
Yes she was aware of the financial commitment and that won't be a problem.

He suddenly jumped to his feet and clapped his hands gleefully: "Let's get you started then! I'll step out so you can get undressed for an exam and an ultrasound and we'll come up with the plan".

The rest of the visit was uneventful - she had normal anatomy. Starting with her next cycle, she would take medications to help her produce many follicles which would subsequently be harvested, fertilized with the thawed sperm and any healthy blastocysts obtained would be placed in her uterus.

She picked up the prenatal vitamins and other medications he had prescribed for her and drove home. She was never too fond of the female pelvic exam - the sticky and cold gel from the ultrasound probe somehow made it to every nook and cranny. She took a shower and poured herself a glass of wine. She remembered having read something about fetal alcohol syndrome on the elevator and promptly emptied her glass down the sink. She opted for green tea instead.

As she settled in front of her computer she revisited the sperm bank page. She looked over her potential donor. He was a very handsome black man - white teeth, impressive jawline, tall, healthy, educated, no family history of anything scary. She imagined what their composite baby would look like. She wanted a girl - with pearly whites and a smile like his, maybe his height and her figure when she grew up. Her full lips and afro, his confident nose. She would be an adorable little girl who would grow up to be her best friend and confidant.

She thought about how her own life would change. Would this make her more or less eligible? Would it change her career path and potential? Would it make her ripe fodder for gossip? The same people who'd diligently reminded her of her ticking clock would surely be the ones to snicker behind her back for using frozen sperm from a man she didn't even know.
It be your own people, she swore.

She had never felt any particular urgency to have children . In her mind, having children was akin to randomly meeting Barack Obama or Oprah in Chicago. It would be cool if it happened but she never actively went out of her way to make it happen. It would also come in handy at one of those work functions where they asked you to introduce and say one fun fact about yourself.

She'd mulled over the various reasons people had given for wanting children:
Because the Bible said so (what about those who were not Christian? Also, was the "go forth and multiply" commandment still applicable nearly 8 billion humans later?)
Because it gives you the opportunity to nurture and care for another human being (sounded cute. Made them sound like real nice selfless beings. Did they feel similar when they drove past the homeless man on the corner?)
Because you can have a companion/caretaker when you get old (lol, they'd certainly never heard of kids turning out wrong. Also, maybe a bit selfish? Did the kid have a say in this?)
Because don't you want to pass on your genes?? (Err yeah she was dope but certainly the earth won't stop spinning on its axis if her genes were lost from the pool)

She pondered on the people who for one reason or another were incapable of having children. Were they doomed? Were their lives by definition empty and without meaning?

She abruptly stood up. She rummaged through her purse for the medictions from Dr. Cain. She walked to the bathroom, uncapped the bottles and flushed the pills down the toilet. She wasn't ready for this and probably never would be.

San Antonio, TX

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