Prior to Emily (EmBen) starting chemotherapy this week she underwent fertility treatments to preserve her and Miles’ dream of one day having a family. Her mother-in-law (MIL) Michele was there for support every step of the way. While Michele probably never imagined that she would be so intimately involved in the creation of her future grandbabies, the story is something that we can all laugh about.
What you will read below is not the script of a Saturday Night Live skit. It’s the tale of Day 2 of EmBen’s fertility treatment told by Michele.
To set the scene, we need to go back to Day 1. We are all in EmTay’s (sister-in-law) apartment, gathered to celebrate the news that the cancer is confined to the lung and has not spread to the brain and liver. Music is playing, wine is flowing, steaks are being carved and the sun is visibly setting over the Pacific Ocean from the floor-to-ceiling balcony windows. Then seven o’clock rolls around and Miles and EmBen retreat to the tiny bathroom determined to overcome their major needle phobias and inject EmBen with the fertility drug that will bring them the large family they always desired. No such luck. They call for help; EmBen ends up keeled over in pain while Miles lays face down and lifeless on EmTay’s bed.
Realizing that we have another two weeks of this, we all gear up in our individual ways for Day 2. To re-emphasize what we are dealing with here, my pathetic family melts at the mention or sight of a shot, syringe, vaccination, or needle. They physically turn ghost white and disappear into the floor. This includes Miles, Rich, EmTay, and to a lesser extent, EmBen. Personally, I don’t get it; I could shoot up all day long. However, I am determined to make this as comfortable as possible for my daughter-in-law, so I spend the day researching the art of follicle stimulating hormone injections. I learn that this drug can be painful as it enters the body and so I watch hours of YouTube videos of women inserting needles into their “muffin tops” and take notes on tips for reducing the discomfort (all the while wondering how my life evolved into this in two short weeks).
But resigned to do anything for the woman who brings absolute joy to my son, I walk from my daughter to my son’s apartment the next night armed with insider tidbits for executing a less painful injection. We position EmBen up against an array of pillows on her king-sized bed, her mother resting alongside her, holding her hand. I have the needle positioned to insert when Miles decides it’s a Kodak moment and we all plant fake grins on our faces, mine the most bizarre as I am holding the needle Dr. Kevorkian style.
Take 2, I tell EmBen I will be rotating the needle after insertion to disperse the medicine. She tries to pay attention to what I am saying, but is distracted by the music emanating from the laptop computer that Miles is holding at the base of the bed. The screen displays a slideshow of Anne Geddes baby photos, meant to comfort EmBen as she is shot up with hormones. The moment is brief, as Miles starts to pale, EmBen worries that their pricey laptop will come crashing to the ground, and she redirects him to Stage Left, into the bathroom, where he can lean against the sink and continue to safely play his baby video while keeping eye contact with her. Did I mention he also has photos of morphed baby faces that he has created using software that combines both of their faces together?
Take 3: I ask EmBen to grasp her abdominal muscles and apply pressure to the point of pain to supplant the pain of the injected fluid. She grabs hold, her mother is steadfast at her side, I position the needle, and then out of nowhere, Miles starts singing, loudly: “Si-i-lent Night, Ho-ol-ly Night.” We stop, look at him, his face in a grimace, eyes clenched shut in denial, unaware that he has interrupted the process, trying only to block out what is happening so as not to collapse into the shower stall. EmBen screams, “Stop, wait!” (to prevent me from poking her) as she throws her head back in gut-wrenching laughter. EmBen’s Mom smiles good naturedly but had to be wondering if it is wise for her daughter to procreate with this weenie. Personally, I’m impressed because I thought the only song Miles knew the lyrics to was “Happy Birthday.”