This clinic is far away from where we live/work/exist. It is so far away from where we live/work/exist, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in a different timezone. My fairly informed not-terrible doctor hadn’t even heard of this clinic, though was happy enough to refer us anywhere. We wouldn’t even be bothering to visit, except for two features. 1) They have an onsite sperm bank, so a wider range of potential donors. 2) They have an at-home insemination program. You give them the money, they send you some sperm, some ovulation predictor kits and a how-to kit. I’m not sure that I trust myself with this, but I like the idea of not having to leave home.
This clinic is far away: travel to the end of the universe, take a left, keep going to the sidewalk ends, walk a bit further far away. A tumbleweed might have rolled by, but even they don’t travel that far. Seriously though, travelling to this clinic would take at least an hour from our home each way. Which is a long way to travel to make a baby when you live in a decently sized city with more urban sperm available.
My first impression of this clinic (after how far away it is) was the nun. Yes, a nun. Moments after we stepped in to the non-descript office lobby, outdated in a sort of timeless way, a nun in a gray habit followed after us and stepped into the elevator. I wondered vaguely where she was going, but mainly just appreciated an even stranger moment in an already strange journey.
The clinic itself was fine– a little shoddier than Clinic Three, perhaps, but with the same soothing atmosphere. Music was playing in the background, though it was too loud to really be background music. Vases of decoratively placed twigs were everywhere. A bowl of mints sat on the front desk, the clinic name neatly printed on the plastic labels. There were magazines, Allergic Living was featured prominently among the other home and celebrity magazines, but the lighting was too dim to read them. Besides, we had paperwork to fill out. The paperwork was similar to Clinic Three’s, though with an appreciated “If Applicable” following questions that related to a male partner. The questions about stress, “emotional, marital, or sexual problems” were new, and I didn’t know how to answer. How stressed was I allowed to be? Supposed to be?
I was more stressed by the time we finally got in to see the doctor– the appointment was 45 minutes late. We sat with the soothing music until we were shuffled into an office by a receptionist who looked ready to leave for the day. The office was bland, decorated with light pine furniture and beige abstract art in lieu of a collage of babies. Another container of the mints sat in front of diagrams of IVF on the desk, which we had plenty of time to look at as we waited, whispering occasionally to each other. The doctor finally arrived, with little apology for being so late. I’m not sure that I looked at his face, I was so distracted by his outfit: a vaguely garish checked suit, with a mismatched blue tie and pocket square. He had the same hair as Donald Trump, though Partner would later say that he reminded her more of Willy Wonka. He spoke to us about cycle monitoring and saline ultrasounds. He didn’t suggest a trigger shot, which I appreciated. He acknowledged that we were there for “alternative insemination” not infertility, which I appreciated more. He was fairly ambivalent about the at home insemination procedure. The basic message was that it would probably work, but it would probably take longer. It was this ambivalence that finally turned us away from Clinic Two. We left there turning our thoughts back to Clinic Three and on to Clinic One. Clinic Two is just Clinic Too Far Away.
Clinic One on Monday, and then decision time.