The Baby Chase

One woman’s powerful, sometimes comical story of how she became an accidental pioneer (and guinea pig) in the ever-evolving science of in vitro fertilization.

  1. Chapter 1: Woman with a Syringe

    IT’S A BREEZY MONDAY MORNING. The city’s dipped in gold, people are starting to sip their fair-trade coffee, and I’m shooting up in a parked car. This spot, beside the pebbledash wall of an apartment building erected decades before there was a thing called “in vitro fertilization,” is almost on top of Lafayette Heights. From here I can see straight down the steep grade of Laguna Street, past the flirty fronds of a palm tree, all the way north to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. I double-check that the parking brake is on. Then I get out my kit.

    A woman with a dog walks past and tries not to notice. The car shivers in the wind. I swab the top of a vial with alcohol, then unwrap the needle. This one, from Oakwood Laboratories (28 gauge, half an inch long), looks like a Barbie syringe, it’s so small and jaunty with its bright orange cap. I suck up ten units of Leuprolide Acetate from the vial, unbutton my navy blue linen dress, and inject the stuff just below my belly button. To prep my body for embryo transfer, I will do this every day for three weeks—though not always in my car. It makes me feel like a badly behaved chauffeur.

    For these drugs to have even a chance of working, I need to administer them at the same time each day. I’ve shot up furtively in my office, in restaurants, and at the gym. Two years into IVF treatments, I’ve grown accustomed to this stealth. It’s become a fact of my life. Here’s another fact: I’m a single woman in her early forties. The odds of getti...

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