When does an organized group of cells become organized enough to do something? Beat a heart? Synapse a brain? Wiggle a finger?
When mike and I made the decision to harvest my eggs before starting chemo, I wasn’t really focused on what we’d do with the embryos. I was focused on surviving. And, mostly, laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation. The shots, the blood draws, the vaginal wand – god they need a different name for it – to test my ovarian function for when it was go time to vacuum out the eggs. The porn cds in the doctor’s office for mike to use, some assistance assuming he had never having before masturbated in a bright white and neon-lighted doctor’s office. the day his sperm needed to get tested, he could masturbate at home and put it into a doctor-provided cup, race the cup to the doctor’s office, keeping it warm between his legs. His inner thigh muscles only failed once and the cup went tumbling onto the driver’s seat floor. His sperm still checked out as workable, not perfect, but it would do.
So we have 11 of these organized groups of cells over on 3rd street in the basement at UCSF.
Because turning those organized groups of cells into a person would be a medical intervention and require so many steps, there seems to be only time to stew.
I cannot stop day dreaming about it. Or them. Or that.
Not about the positive possibilities. But about the negative ones. We’ve gone through the list of what – ifs. All the unlikely scenarios that I just want to be prepared for – the sociopath who kills us in our sleep. The addict. The physically disabled. Emotionally stunted. Socially awkward.
I was listening to a podcast this weekend and the story was about parenting – how it’s only since the 1970s that parenting became an active verb. Think about it, we don’t aunting or sistering or wiving. The parent-industrial complex is real.
And the United States, and my peers have largely moved to become carpenter parents. They find the nails and the room and the layout and hammer away until there is a frame under which the child can move through the world. Prescriptive, yes. Narcissistic, likely.
But I want to be the gardener parent. Fertilize the soil with compost, stick my thumb in the air to know which way the wind is blowing and then spread the seeds so they don’t blow back in my face. Be curious about what will sprout and where, if one end of the garden doesn’t get enough sunlight and the other end too much water. Test, learn, adapt, wait until the winter turns to spring to start all over again.
Back to the what-if game.
My recent epiphany is that all of those what-ifs are small and unlikely. There are much more likely scenarios here. What if my child turns out to be horribly unmotivated, lazy even. And not just a messy room. But a slug life. Mike and I would be so confused, who is this foreign being in our garden?
I’ll just have to learn.