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Hysterical Infertility
By Dani Klein Modisett

"We start treatment now. Come."

He pushed aside one of the muslin screens revealing a massage table, the kind with the hole at the top to stick your face in when you are lying on your stomach. I'd laid on one of those before. It made the skin on my face feel like it was being stretched over a bowl, like Saran Wrap. "Put your face in here," he said, pointing to the hole.

He was so confident and I noticed, before I lost my peripheral vision, that he was wearing a lovely, soft, button-down shirt in deep rose. Anyone with the taste to pick out that shirt obviously had vision.

"I stick needles in your low back." He felt around my lower spine with his big, strong hands. "Interesting."

Thank you, I thought but didn't say, like a peacock very proud of her tail feathers. "What? What's interesting?" came out instead.

Whatever he said was bound to be a tremendous insight because he appeared to be reading my back like Braille.

"You do gymnastics as kid?"

"Yeah." I said quickly. If you count cartwheels on my front lawn hoping to get discovered, I thought while he kept feeling up my spine.

"Your back grow funny. Stick out at lower part."

"You know, I had always wondered about that. It is very hard for me to lie flat on my back. I always thought it was my fault." This man really gets me. Wang moved on to my feet.

"I stick needles in now. No hurt. Some people like to hurt, not me. You tell me how needle feel, 1-10. I like it 2-3 to start. We work up to rest."

"Okay." I muttered through the face hole. I love this guy. I feel more fertile just laying here. Speaking of which, he's kind of sexy. He is. That shirt, the thick neatly trimmed hair. He's so tuned in and sensitive and…ARGHHHHHH!!!!!!

A pain shot through my left foot like a machete had been lobbed at it.

"Oh fuck! What the fuck?" Tears burst out of my eyes like capitalists in China, missing the last boat to Taiwan.

"That too much? You very sensitive, look at you crying. You big baby crying like that. You cry like baby. I took needle out. Why you cry like baby? You cry like baby. I leave you for ten minutes."

I lay there recovering from the shock of that amount of pain inflicted on me and the fact that I was paying for it. What am I doing here? Then I thought about how Gabriel's arms are so fat there is cleavage where they meet his hands. I love him more than anything in life. The screen moved a few inches; Jin poked his head in, "Come back to office now." Putting on my shoes I felt ashamed, the class wimp. I sat on the stool opposite his table, careful not to brush my perforated foot.

"You no good candidate for needles. Some people, they can't handle the needles. Is no good for me to give treatment because is no fair to pay me when I can not do full treatment."

Clearly, not an American doctor.

"I no see you again."

Excuse me?

"I go to China on Saturday, I come back in six weeks, but I no see you again."

"But… what… shouldn't we give this another shot? I mean, I… I'll… I'll work harder not to feel pain… I can change… I'll…" My foot twitched. Jin stared at me blankly. I pulled myself together and whipped out my checkbook. "For the record, I no see you again!" Noticing the plastic "Come Again" sign hanging on the door I added, "And while you're in China, why don't you pick up a little ambience, maybe a Pagoda shaped lamp to brighten the place up, help you see what you're doing a little better, invest in your drive-by needle shop."

Of course, I didn't say any of that out loud, because I was raised in Connecticut. I wrote him a check for $125 dollars.

"Just take herbs," he continued, "maximum dose, and you should be fine. Pretty soon you have other baby, right? We hope!" Laugh, laugh.

In the next six days I took the pills perfectly. I was determined to prove that, although I cannot take needles, I could take pills like Judy Garland.

On the seventh day, I couldn't get out of bed. Except to sprint to the bathroom to shoot every fluid that wasn't encased in a vein out of my ass. It was the most horrifying experience of my life, and I'd given birth. I have never been so sick. Those fucking herbs. Laying on my bed in a pool of sweat, bracing for the next intestinal revolution, Gabriel running circles around me with his hands in his pants wondering why Mommy wasn't moving, I made an appointment to see my Western gynecologist, Dr. Chin.

"There's nothing wrong with you," he said holding test results in his hand, characteristically unenthused.

"Really?" Easy for him to say, my rectum was still stinging.

"You're perfectly fertile. You just need to relax and give it some time. Let's wait another six months."

"Six months! In six months I'll be really old. And what kind of prescription is 'give it time?' Granted, I was relieved that I didn't need the extensive hormone replacement therapy treatments I had mapped out for myself, but beyond that, I felt lost. Doing nothing is nothing I have any experience doing.

This morning I was back on the toilet with no pregnancy paraphernalia to unwrap, no task to keep me distracted. I was "relaxing". So of course I started thinking. I was reminiscing about the days when pee was just some shaded yellow liquid and not the informant it had become. How I used to feel relief when I got my period, not depressed. The door to the bathroom flew open and Gabriel barreled in waving a plastic stick in his hand, shouting,

"Mommy toy! Mommy toy!"

Last month's pregnancy test must have gotten stuck in the bottom of the wicker basket. I grabbed it from him quickly. Still negative. Oh well. I decided to tease him a little with mock incredulousness, my life a series of Children's Theater moments. "Gabriel, where did you get that?"

He looked at me blankly, pausing to consider his options.

"Mommy Toy. Mommy Toy," he's 20 months, that's all he's got.

"Yes, honey. That is Mommy's." Gabriel laughed hysterically and ran doughnuts around the bathroom. He loves being right. His giddiness was contagious. So I got up and ran in happy circles, too!

No I didn't. I just can't find a way to end this story. I was hoping to be able to write a cute little post-script about how now I'm pregnant. But I'm not. And I don't know what's going to happen. I can't write the end of the story because I don't know it, and that is the biggest and most uncomfortable change since I made the choice to join my life with someone else's. I don't know the end of the story of my life, and right now it's a fucking nail biter.

I don't know the end of the story of my marriage, the middle or end of the story of Gabriel's life, or if there will be any story at all of me and another baby. I knew the end of the story of my previous life. I will live alone in one room; I will date many men for three months at a time. I will eat popcorn in the dark. These were all things I could plan and control.

Family life is none of that. It's one huge question mark after another from the moment you bring the baby home. From, "Will it breathe if I don't stare at it?" to, "Will he at least take his hand out of his pants to eat?" to, "Will he get into a college I can brag about?" So I hate it.

I just thank God I didn't alienate Wang. I may need him as an adoption reference.

To be continued.

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