Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Getting Pregnant for the Tenth Time

I promised to participate in #gishwhes and apparently Misha promised someone else a SFW 2000-word essay on getting pregnant for the tenth time, and seeing as I’ve had a lot of practice (minds out of the gutter now), I figured I’d give it a whirl. A shot in the dark, if you will.

I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the basics, since this essay is about getting pregnant for the tenth time, not the first time, so the previous nine times ought to have given you some life lessons. Also, you’re going to need to make sure you have all the right equipment. Like any science project—and any science teacher will tell you that human physiology is in fact science—it’s good to start with proper preparation. To that end, you will need a uterus. Preferably inside a living human. It doesn’t need to be you, but it does need to be someone willing, who has completely consented with full mental capacity and education up through and including high school, maybe even college, and at least two units of sex ed taught awkwardly by instructors who blush when they say body part names.

Along with the uterus, which will function as a mobile baby home for the next ten months, give or take, you will need an egg. A human egg, not a chicken egg, because first, eww, and second, I’m unaware of any successful human sperm-chicken egg pairings although the idea of 3D-printing machines in everyone’s home is not in the too-far-off future and we can scan our feet with some nifty new app and 3D-print shoes to exactly and precisely fit our own feet, which would be, to coin a phrase, both a load off and an amazing feet (feat?), but I digress.

The egg must be viable, meaning that it is capable of being fertilized, and sadly, one cannot test this the way one can test whether chicken eggs have gone bad or not. So we will have to assume it is until proven otherwise, though if the attempted pregnancy is unsuccessful, there is no way of knowing which of the many steps and processes were to blame. If I did know how to do this, I’d be writing a book, which I could sell for $29.99 plus tax and make enough money to retire early and set up a quaint B&B in Vermont, but I don’t, so I can’t, and I’m here instead, trying with all of my tact and diplomacy to help you through this on Twitter.

It's okay to have more than one egg, because if one turns out not to be viable, then another might be. Although, if you have two and both are viable then you could wind up with fraternal twins, which is cool in itself, but doesn’t lend itself to easy shopping for matching outfits. If you have three eggs, and they’re all viable, well then, my friend, you have an organization and you’d better name them all Alice.

The whole viable egg thing is really kind of like one of those carnival balloon-and-dart games, where you throw the darts and try to pop the balloons and it’s really hard when you aim, but if you just throw a whole handful of darts in the general vicinity of the wall of balloons, one just might hit and you’ve got yourself a prize. Except the carnival prize doesn’t have to be fed and changed and educated for the next eighteen-to-twenty-two years. Unless the carnival prize is a goldfish, but even then, you’re looking at a few years, not two decades. Are you sure about this baby thing? Sure you don’t just want to get a goldfish? Okay, well… On we go then.

You will also need sperm. Lots of sperm, because they are like cats in a way, and never go exactly where you want them to go, and sometimes don’t go anywhere, but instead hang out, lazily flicking their tails like a Maine Coon sunning itself in that warm patch of light on the window seat in a cozy north-facing bungalow in an older neighborhood east of the Mississippi.

Really, you want active, excited sperm, who are all ready to go, pumped up after that pep talk by that one charismatic coach who would give both King Henry V and William Wallace a run for their money, and who loves the kids too much to leave for a better paying job even though he’s barely making ends meet and he’s going to be six days late with his rent next month.

You’re also going to need some way to get the egg into the uterus, as eggs don’t grow in uteri any more than money grows on trees, and do not give me that argument about money being a combination of cotton and linen, both of which grow on plants, which are similar in some ways to trees, but not enough for this argument, which is really about the availability of money and the frequency in which it is needed, which brings to mind the fact that the US one-dollar bill only lasts 22 months on average, making it necessary to print new dollar bills fairly frequently.

But back to the egg. You need to get it in the uterus, and with the egg being microscopic and all, it’s both easy and not. If you have (or are) a cis-woman who has consented willingly (with education, etc.) then she (or you) comes with the necessary parts to make this transfer happen without you needing to do anything other than ply her (and yourself) with plenty of chocolate at prescribed times of the month. If not, then there are other options, but they involve scary-looking scientists with gloved hands and masks over their faces, and if you need to go this route, you should really talk to your obstetrician rather than reading satirical essays on Twitter.

I neglected to mention earlier, this egg you need must be at full maturity, as immature eggs do not respond well to sperm knocking on their doors at two in the morning, and are more likely to egg the sperm’s cars and TP their yards and send them anonymous cyber-bullying messages via Sarahah. Mature eggs are welcoming and will invite sperm in for tea and cookies with a reasonable expectation that neither are poisoned and the egg isn’t a psychotic serial killer in an egg disguise.

So, now you have a mature egg, finding its way to the uterus through either some mystical Chutes & Ladders framework built into the female physiology (presuming, of course, that said physiology is all in good working order) or via the scary-scientists-with-masks-over-their-faces. And you have active, pumped-up, ready-to-rumble sperm, some of whom may or may not be cat-impersonators.

Thus comes the hard part, which is also difficult. You must introduce the sperm to the egg, and it’s important to do this with delicacy and grace. Mature eggs do not care for speed dating, and are finicky, also much like cats, but less like the lazy Maine Coon and more like the very loud and vocal Siamese who turns its nose up at every affordable type of cat food you can buy and will only eat British Banquet brand cat food, containing caviar, line-caught salmon, lobster, and crab at $16.27 per serving, based on the conversion rates of British pounds to American dollars at the time of this writing.

There are lots of ways to do this correctly, and several wrong ways as well. Since this is the tenth pregnancy, one assumes that you have found at least one way to do this correctly, and possibly nine different ways, not counting all the ways in which one may have tried but was unsuccessful in getting pregnant, which can be fun too. I will not spend too long on this step, as instinct helps here as well, and even when the brain isn’t sure what to do, the body usually does. Except when it doesn’t, which does happen from time to time, but they make pills for that now, and then one’s good to go for up to four hours.

It's kind of magical—or can be, at any rate—at this point in the process. The sperm get to party, the egg gets to check out all the merchandise and make a selection (or pass altogether), and some humans, though not all, say they enjoy this part. Everybody sings a round or two of “put the lime in the coconut” and maybe does a conga line, and while nobody gets to watch this selection process with the naked eye, it will ideally result in a tiny human that will make you question all your life choices up until that moment when it makes googly eyes at you and then you will be back here on Twitter looking for advice for an eleventh because they are just too cute and cuddly even when one has to feed and water and change them and educate them in the ways of humanity.

I know I said I would not spend too long on this step, and I must not too soon make it overly simple to say that humans, and really all reproducing species, have been doing this for a great many years, even long before Twitter was invented, or instructional data stored on floppy disks, or even mass-produced, printed and bound books with pictures and diagrams and all manner of useful information, shelved in the Parenting & Family section at Barnes & Noble.

Because this is an eighteen-to-life sentence…er…commitment, on the one hand it behooves one, even though we’re still talking about human pregnancies, and none that I know of involve hooves, to have other things ready too, such as appropriate prenatal care and a trustworthy doctor and a safe place to put the baby when it finally, at four in the morning, decides that it wants to sleep, and diapers and soothers and toys… Well, let’s just say that you may find that such a tiny human often requires more supplies and accessories than it will move into a dorm room just eighteen years hence.

Many say that they want to wait until a good time or until they have saved enough money, and this is wise and appropriate forethought, except that it is also impossible. There is no such thing as a good time or enough money, especially where tiny humans are concerned, as they require more hours than there are in a day and further require that you spend money as if it grew on trees, which we’ve already covered, and thus you remember it does not.

But we are not there yet, as this is only the preparation and creation stage, not yet to the what-the-heck-did-I-sign-up-for stage. So, once the lime and the coconut have done their conga dance, it can take a little while for the egg to go through the various choices that the sperm have offered, similar to a college admissions officer or corporate hiring manager going through applications for one coveted spot, except that both the admissions officer and hiring manager ought to have pretty good ideas of what the job will require of the applicant, and the egg has — we suspect, based on interviews with eggs who did not immediately tell us to shove off — no real idea what will happen once it joins forces with the sperm. In this way, it’s very much a science experiment, mixing solutions and not knowing if one will wind up with the very useful and necessary H2O or the less friendly H2SO4. It’s exciting, I know, but all for the best to give the egg time to make a careful and measured decision, as if the life of the yet unborn human depends on it.

Lean back and relax. The hard part is over, and the difficult part has just begun. Stay tuned for the next essay: Olympic Hurling — Morning Sickness as a Professional Sport.




Originally posted in 86 consecutive tweets on Twitter. 
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