Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Update for the soap fans - Part 2

This is my longest blog post ever... possibly THE longest blog post ever. Proceed at your own risk - there is no lifeguard on duty. ;-)

The situation is not yet resolved, to my knowledge, but I think it's as close as it's going to be for the next day or two. People's uniform response to the story has been that someone will need to write a book about all of this someday, so here's the rest of the details, before they are mercifully erased from my memory.

On Thursday afternoon, I came out of a meeting to find a voicemail on my phone at work. It was the office manager at my NP's office, a man notorious for spreading agony and ill will everywhere he goes. (I think I've mentioned this before, but my NP and I work in the same small field, meaning I interact with their office staff on a professional level frequently. As you might imagine, this does make my personal endeavors there a bit awkward at times, but she's the only NP in the city who will do what we need which is, ironically, ignoring the federal booby trap we've just fallen into for "directed donation." This office manager - E - is by far the most hated man in our system. He has made my colleagues cry. Seriously.) So, E left me a message saying I needed to call him back ASAP, which I did. E explained that the cryobank had called him needing some information from my file and he wanted to get it from me to avoid having to pull my chart. However, when I didn't call back within 20-30 minutes, he got my chart out so he was good to go for calling them back. I asked if he knew what they were wondering and he said the message they left was unclear, but he'd call me back if he needed more information or if there were any problems. As soon as I hung up, I started to worry just a bit - ours is a carefully constructed story. I decided I was just being paranoid though, and it's not like I could give much information over the phone anyway. I was on my work phone and I work in a cubicle. Surely he knows the legal atmosphere in which his clinic functions. I called M and we talked ourselves into believing it was probably nothing. We were wrong.

E called back within a half an hour and stated he was really confused now and wanted me to speak to the lab director myself. He mumbled something about our vials not being shipped, a six-month quarantine, and a physical exam for KD, but then said he had no idea what they were talking about. I explained that those things he was mentioning were what they required for cryobank clients who are not intimate partners, which is why the NP instructed us to tell them otherwise, but it sounded as though they had found out the truth. I asked E if he was given any indication of how this could have happened, since I clearly needed to call and lie through my teeth if we had any chance of going ahead this cycle, and after a long pause he said, "Well, me. I told them. I didn't realize that was a secret." He went on to say a bunch of other things about thinking M was KD's wife, then realizing she was my partner and how confusing my chart was with all these names and something about my "special arrangement" with the NP and blah, blah, blah... I couldn't hear much. My mind was racing with if and how this could possibly be cleaned up. As he realized the magnitude of his disclosure, he started apologizing, but he didn't offer to do anything to fix his little disaster. I took the woman's phone number, hung up the phone, grabbed my ttc buddy at work (who is more than familiar with E) and headed for the conference room to freak out. In talking to her, we came up with the following strategy: I call the cryobank the next day to place my shipping order and play dumb. When they tell me that my vials are in quarantine, I come unglued (as your average heterosexual woman would when faced with this situation) and demand to know how this can be fixed because SURELY it can be fixed. I figured the NP would probably need to become involved, but it was too late at that point to call her office back to find out when she would be back from vacation. I just started crossing my fingers that it wasn't any later than Monday.

I had sent an email to KD to give him a heads up and he called a little while later. He said that nothing had been out of the ordinary on his last visit and he was as surprised as I was to hear they'd started digging around in our file. I gave him a run down of "the plan" and agreed to keep him posted.

M and I strategized that night and came up with responses for everything they might be able to throw at me. The one thing we didn't have a ready response for was the existence of KD's wife. What if they had found out about her? What if they have some crazy search program that pulls up marital status and spouse information? If such things exist, it isn't unthinkable that they might have access to it, given the federally regulated field they operate in. Eventually, M pointed out the key: They don't require that I be married to KD, or that he not be married to someone else, only KD and I are "sexually intimate partners." The fact that he's married to someone else doesn't mean we can't be in a relationship or trying to become pregnant. *Sigh* So true. Isn't it amazing that people trying to have children within their extramarital affairs manage to escape moral judgment, but not single women who are attempting to get pregnant with the help of another fully informed and consenting adult? Which atmosphere is likely to be more nurturing to the resulting child? Whatever. The double standard could work in our favor here, so I'm not about to challenge it.

The next morning, I called the NP's office first to find out when she would be returning - Monday. Hallelujah. Then I called the cryobank. I initially tried to do it while driving, thinking that having to focus on something else would help disguise my anxiety, but I was shaking too badly from nerves so I pulled over. I got B (our regular lab contact) and tried to place my shipping order. "Ohhhh," he said slowly when I identified myself. "Um, you're going to need to talk to B2."

"OK," I answered cheerfully.

B2 came on the line. She calmly and politely explained that it had come to their attention that KD is not my partner, which makes him a "donor." Not a donor in the cryobank sense where you call up and give them a number - she was quick to add - because clearly I know KD, but a donor in the legal sense nonetheless. And so, this means that their lab has to... blah, blah, blah.

I knew I needed to interrupt her quickly, if I was to have any credibility, and demand to know how she had come to this ludicrous conclusion, but (1) she was talking really fast - I think she might have been as nervous as I was, and (2) I still didn't know how she had come up with this information and I needed to know what I was up against. It was a balancing act between wanting to show my own righteous indignation and needing to give her a chance to show her cards. I let her talk a little bit longer, then dove in head first.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you," I said, cutting her off. "I'm just confused as to what might have given you the idea that KD and I are not intimate partners." This silenced her for a split second. She wasn't expecting that. She explained that something in our file had tipped them off, and when they called my doctor's office for clarification, their suspicions were confirmed by someone named E.

I won't bore you with all of the details here but in the end, they knew about both KD's wife and M, and I had a lot of explaining to do. After I denied being in a same-sex relationship, she said, "so you don't know an M?"

"Know her?" I shrieked. "Of course I know her, she is KD's sister, but I'm not in a relationship with her. That is absolutely absurd!" I think I even laughed a little, in a totally dumbfounded way. This was the moment that secured my Emmy, and my farthest departure from reality. I may have even bordered on homophobic. Perhaps it was too much, but I just reacted the way I thought the average heterosexual woman would react if falsely accused of being in an intimate relationship with the sister of her male partner. It worked. B2 was clearly embarassed, and I felt bad for that.

When asked about KD's wife, I declined to comment and said I'd have to have KD call because "his personal life may be complicated but it is certainly not my place to discuss it with you." She said that speaking to KD would definitely help.

She asked why we were living in different states and I said that people do it all the time. He is working there, I am working here, and our plan is to be living in the same place within the next year, but we would prefer not to have to wait until then to start a family.

As I type all of this, my comment above about denying my relationship with M being my biggest lie seems strange - the whole phone call was so far out on a limb, it seems silly to quantify degrees - but if you think about it, everything else had some element of truth to it. Are KD and I sexually active in the way she meant it? Of course not. But is there much difference between that and having nearly a year of inseminations under our belt? I think not. If the purpose of the law is to protect my health (which is the BS claim they make), I've already been exposed to whatever it is they're worried about. Seven times. Oops. It is also not a lie that my intention is to be living in the same place as KD a year from now - that's the current plan - or that this family that we are creating is "ours" if you look at the big picture. KD will just be the uncle rather than the dad. There were significant departures from reality to come in explaining KD's relationship with his wife, but those unfortunately fell to him. For my part, my feigning shock and - I hate to say it, but a little bit of disgust - at the "accusation" of being in a lesbian relationship was the hardest pill for me to swallow. I just have to keep reminding myself that I did it for M and I, and it's only a means to an end.

M and I have both been struggling with the "rule breaking" aspect of all of this. For better or for worse, we are the type of kids who like to stay out of trouble and do what were told to do. The decision to throw caution to the wind and GO for this was a scary one, but we felt it was worth a shot. I kept thinking of the King quote about breaking an unjust law openly and lovingly. I'm not putting this miniature act of resistance to discrimination anywhere near on par with the Civil Rights Movement, but it was the "some laws must be broken" nudge that M and I needed to feel comfortable with pushing forward. Up to that point, we had been able to get by using semantics and lies of omission, for the most part. This was going to call for a full scale deception, and would surely carry more serious consequences if it were to blow up in our face.

The other thing I have held in my mind that has helped me stomach all of this is the belief that B2 - who is actually a really nice woman - knows what's up and is cool with it. The idea of her as collateral damage is too unsettling to me. I like to think of her as someone who knows this law is a bunch of BS, but she's got a job to do and she needs to dot her Is and cross her Ts. She wants this all to work out for us, just not at her own expense, which means we still have to get all the documents to her and declare to the death that our relationship is what she needs it to be, but deep inside, she's glad we're sticking it to the man. Perhaps I'm kidding myself, but it makes me feel better about both her and I, so I'm going with it.

But I have digressed, and badly. In the end, B2 agreed to lift the quarantine if and only if I would have KD call to testify about the respective roles his wife and I play in his life, and our NP would write a letter declaring that we are indeed "sexually intimate partners." She said to be sure it used those words exactly. She initially said that it would need to be an original signature, so it would have to be mailed. I insisted this would be impossible for us because I am due to ovulate next week and I couldn't afford to miss this cycle because I had an HSG last month. (At this point, B2 said "awwww" in the most genuinely sympathetic way. Apparently she is familiar with the hell that is an HSG.) She put me on hold for a minute while she asked someone else about making an exception. When she came back to the phone she said they would ship upon receipt of a faxed copy, but I had to promise to have a hard copy mailed as well for my chart. I said I would make these things happen as quickly as possible and we ended our conversation.

After I hung up, I immediately called KD. I recapped a couple of key points from my conversation and asked KD to think about whether he would be willing to call and support the story I'd put out there. He sounded appropriately stunned by the whole thing and said he'd figure something out. A few minutes after getting off the phone, I realized what an idiot I was. Perhaps I should fill him in on some of the details I provided about our life together, huh? We talked again, briefly, to compare notes, and KD said his current plan was to call back and say that he and his wife are amicably separated and pursuing divorce, and she is aware of our relationship and our plans for me to become pregnant. (Is it even necessary for me to say something at this point about how amazingly lucky M and I are to have KD in our corner? Are there even words that would come close to expressing it?) KD agreed to make his phone call by the end of the day, and I left a message for the NP stating I had a logistical emergency and I needed her to call ASAP when she returns from vacation.

KD called later to let me know B2 had been receptive to his call and his side of the story, and now we were just waiting on the letter from the NP. This is where we sat all weekend. For most of the weekend, my mind was at ease, knowing the last piece of the puzzle had to come from the woman who taught me the lie in the first place. By Sunday night, I was a ball of nerves again. For some reason, I decided that the NP was going to say that putting that information in writing was where she would draw the line. She was with us to that point, but that was a threshhold she couldn't cross professionally.

On Monday morning, I called her pager for my standard day 10 check-in (I have to call her daily from day 10 of my cycle on to update her on my ovulation indicators) and left an extra message that I needed to speak with her ASAP about some documents the cryobank needed. She called back about five minutes later. I explained that E had told the cryobank that KD was not my intimate partner and had gone so far as to give them my partner's full name. After a pause, she said that she hadn't talked to E to hear his account of this yet, but she hoped he would not have done that. I recapped my conversation with E in which he admitted it, and she was clearly disappointed. She apologized and asked if she needed to call them. I said that they actually had requested a letter from her and I gave her the specific wording to use. I explained that she needed to fax a copy and put the original in the mail, and gave her all of the relevant contact information. She agreed to do it that morning.

At 12:45pm on Monday, I called the bank to confirm everything was resolved and place my order. I got B, again, who was clearly uncomfortable speaking with me, again. He said that the fax was received, but he could not speak with me further or take my order until B2 had a chance to approve it. I asked if I could give him the information for my order and he could just call me if there was a problem and he said no, but reassured me that B2 would be in within half an hour and he'd leave her a message to call me ASAP.

I called them again at 5:30pm, having stared at my silent cell phone for hours. This time I spoke to B2 who explained, nicely as ever, that they had received the NP's letter, but could not accept it because she is an NP and the letter needed to be from the supervising physician. B2 said she had spoken to the NP and she was working on arranging this, and they expected to receive the fax that afternoon or the next morning. As long as this occured, my shipment would arrive at the NP's office on Wednesday morning. She said that they would confirm a ship date with the NP once the fax is received. Why with the NP and not me? Who knows. I was so DONE talking to these people, I just let it go. The NP is nearly impossible to get messages to unless I use the pager (which I'm not supposed to except for my daily check in) and she doesn't call me for anything, so I know better than to expect to hear something from her to put my mind at ease. I could call the cryobank this afternoon to find out what happened, but frankly, I don't have it in me to call them again. I feel like every phone call to them is a roll of the dice and the whole thing might blow up in my face at the slightest misstep on my part. I've kind of accepted that everyone knows what needs to be done and no amount of hand-holding on my part is going to make that happen any faster. It will come together or it won't. I've done all I can do.

All signs are pointing to early ovulation (hmm, could it be from STRESS??), so I expect I'll be calling in the next day or two to schedule my IUI, and I guess I'll find out at that point if the vials have arrived. M and I just keep saying how much better we'll feel once the vials are here in our own time zone. Perhaps they are already en route. I think that if these 4-6 vials (yeah, I don't even know how many they are shipping) don't do the trick, we'll have to move on to another plan. I think our relationship with the this cryobank may have run it's course. Here's hoping this all becomes a moot point soon.

My apologies for the excessively long update. I should have put an intermission in there somewhere. LOL! I can not WAIT to tell this story to our teenager the first time they throw a fit about how we don't appreciate them enough. :-)

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