Hi. Yes, hello. I am a man. No wait, come back!
Playing the role of The Man in the process of trying to force a baby into an unwilling womb is a peculiar one. It seems it is often the aim of those involved in intervention to entirely ignore you. That’s not something unique to fertility meddling, I should say. Preparing to get married was a similarly strange experience, of wondering if I’d turned entirely invisible. People showing us around a church’s facilities would go to some real efforts to never look at me, or speak to me, to the point of addressing Laura when answering questions I’d asked. It seems another place where men are often an irritating aside is making a baby.
I want to stress here that the doctor who’s helping us is completely different. He’s superb, acknowledges both of us, and allows me the dignity of existing. But beyond this, it’s all about ensuring you realise your role is entirely perfunctory and secondary. My name barely appears on the paperwork.
Okay, so I want to be clear about this – I think it’s fantastic that it’s possible for a woman to go through this process without there being a requirement for a man’s name to be written on everything. Last time we were at the clinic we sat in the waiting room with a lesbian couple, and I can imagine a patriarchal version of the events would be extremely offputting. What I’d prefer is just that, if I am involved, that I get to be at least acknowledged.
Begrudgingly when giving a semen sample they were forced to recognise me. So a form addressed to “MRS LAURA WALKER” allowed me the honour of having a “Man’s Name”! I felt special! I felt involved!
But the results are sent to the woman’s GP, only available for the woman to collect. None of the man’s business.
On our second visit to the clinic, this became its most parodic. As we arrived, I went in first, and approached the reception window to let them know we were here. “Hello,” I said to the lady. “We’ve an appointment for Mrs Walker?” I thought I knew my place. But no, I’d rather got above my station. Not even glancing at me at any point, she was looking directly at Laura, who was walking up behind me. “An appointment for Mrs Walker?” said Laura, and the lady smiled at her and told her to take a seat.
I feel fairly certain I’m involved at key points in this whole arrangement. I realise that my direct, plottable-on-a-graph role in the business is perhaps limited to a short while at the start, and I get that after that it really is rather about Laura. But, you know – hello? Hi? I’m at least participating. Can I, you know… No? Oh. Okay, sorry.