Part two in a hopefully lifelong series about fatherhood. (Click here to read part one: Epididymis isn’t a Greek Philosopher and Other Lessons I Wish I learned in Health Class)
The IVF process is horribly unbalanced.
The woman visits the hospital on an almost daily basis for monitoring and blood-testing, takes a slew of medications via injection (each with its own warning of side effects that eerily mirror PMS), and feels changes to her body that make it impossible to find the process anything other than all-encompassing.
The male, on the other hand, is responsible for much much less.
In my case, I was responsible for parking the car near the hospital, guarding our coats in the waiting room, and making terribly unfunny and inappropriate jokes when I was allowed in the examination room. (An example: “You could have at least bought her a drink first.”)
Speaking of inappropriate things…that reminds me of the other task I had during the process. As a male donor, I had to visit the “Boom Boom Room.”
The Boom Boom Room
I visited the boom boom room (“BBR”) three times along the way. If you’re not familiar with the BBR, it’s a magical place where male patients “provide” a “sample” of “specimen” that a doctor “uses” “for” “IVF.”
In Japan, there are industries built around the BBR—even for the ladies. Although it sounds like the kind of place that one might want to visit every day, the room is actually equal parts terrifying and uncomfortable.
A typical visit to the BBR proceeds as follows:
First, you’re led to a waiting room where you and other patients desperately try to avoid eye contact.A drawing by Rob Pollak
Then, you wait for the nurse to
come return to the waiting room and summon you to your stall.
The nurse then leads you to the room itself and explains the logistics of the room. For the most part, it looks like a regular hospital room. It’s cold. There’s a sink and a generic painting of a tree. For the fetishists, there’s a blood pressure machine and a stethoscope hanging on the wall.
The primary differences between the BBR and a regular room are that:
- the sterile hospital table has been replaced with a big brown Barcalounger. It has a small sheet of paper that “protects” you from the nude man-ass that previously occupied the seat, and
- there is a wide array of “recreational materials” around the room.
The office I visited included an assortment of sources to help stimulate the imagination. These included fine magazines such as Cherry, Barely Legal, and the aptly named, Juggs.
Or, for those with a more refined taste, a closed circuit television played a constant loop of three movies:
- The DaVinci Load,
- Spanish Asses (en espanol), and
- Something that terrified me and is impossible to describe in either words or stick figures.
Once the nurse leaves, you try to figure out a way turn on the television without touching the remote or read the magazines without touching them.
If you can accomplish either of those tasks, then the anxiety kicks in and your mind fills with weird questions:
- >>How long is too long to spend in the BBR?
- >>Is the volume a little loud?
- >>What does Chupas mis huevos mean?
- >>Was the doctor serious when he said that if there were any problems that there’s a surgical procedure to remove the swimmers from the scrotum?
- >>Isn’t scrotum a funny word?
- >>Why can’t I have a room like this in my house?
- >>Was there a DaVinci Load book? I bet it was better than the movie.
- >>Did I lock the door?
- >>What’s in the garbage can that says “do not put garbage here?”
- >>If I finish now, is the nurse going to judge me?
Next thing you know, you’re all done, so you complete the survey the nurse left with you and place the cup of specimen into a secret panel in the wall (seriously). A magical fairy—(Please God let it be a magical fairy and not the andrologist who was sitting mere inches from me on the other side of the wall)—removes the sample, and then it’s out of your hands and up to science.
All that’s left to do is hope for a happy ending.
(Get it?? Happy ending?)
(No, not the ABC sitcom.)
(Like the massage parlors.)
(The illegal ones, not the real spas that people reading this probably go to.)
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta.
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