Body Map: Eggs

Lorian Long


A foot-long needle attached to the side of the vaginal ultrasound probe is guided inside my hole and travels the speed of light through my tunnel retrieving twenty-nine eggs to be mixed in a dish with vanilla jelly and put up inside the surrogate hole to overgrow as a seedling vessel for cellular divisions and thoughts I will never know. Legs spread, Monet on the wall, I am on a very good drug. I am told to count down from one hundred inside my head. I think of one hundred chunks of pink meat; ninety-nine fistfuls of bruised fruit; ninety-eight teeth; ninety-seven magnets; ninety-six black boxes; I fall asleep. I wake up with the doctor’s hand on my knee and a check for eight thousand dollars. I am told to wait for the friend to arrive so I can leave. The friend arrives and I watch her tie my boots and the way her hands look pale and extended makes me dread the remaining days I have left to live inside old doors, old windows, old rooms. The pad stuck to my underwear catches what comes out of me and is sopping wet. There is so much light coming through the lobby windows reflecting magazine covers in the awful air swirling with glass cleaner, medicine, Starbucks lips, perfume. I am terrified and have lived many years in just this hour. I am a hole, a nothing, a gape, an empty hive made even emptier but now with wider vision. The receptionist with the smile calls me by my fake name and tells me to have a good recovery. I leak for three days.

Egg donation, also known as ‘oocyte’ or ‘ovum donation’ consists of blood tests, drug tests, urine samples, ultrasounds, instructional videos, paperwork, handouts, applications, personality profiles, mental health screenings, restrictions, pictures, pap smears, pills, injections, questions, days inside days, humping hard meat against a curve never slipping inside to penetrate or ejaculate, craving prunes and pickles and oatmeal with peanut butter, kefir but not too much kefir because the live cultures are too alive, cocoa powder, zero cocaine, zero marijuana, zero alcohol, zero cigarettes, zero citrus, minimal bouncing, bulging tits, swollen belly, ten pounds, reimbursement, compensation. My doctor wears a bow-tie and refers to my eggs as ‘real estate.’ He talks about ‘overstimulation,’ a condition where the ovaries twist around themselves like big balloons, and he demonstrates this with a string around his index finger, wrapping the string around and around until the tip of his finger turns purple. He smiles. ‘Like that,’ he says, ‘your ovaries can get like that.’ ‘That is bad,’ I say. He passes me a sheet of paper and I sign, acknowledging the Doctor has informed me of ovarian hypertension and I am aware that the ‘outcome’ might include death. ‘Wonderful,’ he says. I smile. Death by ovaries, au naturale.

A series of psychological screenings from a woman with heavy buttocks and the first question she asks inside an office lit by loose light is: Do you know your capacity? I spill the bottle of free apple juice she gives to me. Her name is Barb. She sighs and gets on her hands and knees and cleans up my mess with a tissue. She has the skin of babies. She sits down and says the number of people who have had sex with me seems unusual with my Mormon upbringing and I say, I have a bottomless candy dish and that is my capacity. I can see the water in the bay along the Embarcadero from Barb’s office. She asks me about my childhood, my credit card debt, Am I doing this for money? Absolutely not, I answer, despite the fact that I have seen my body a fucking slot machine bent back hog-tied accepting wads of dirty metal money shoved in all my holes while men amuse themselves in high-end lofts laughing at an oil-soaked swan. Of course I’m doing it for the money. Barb asks me every question there is to ask. Then Barb reads me a letter from the prospective parents. ‘A same sex couple,’ she says. The letter makes me cry. I say, ‘That is very nice.’ The air in the room shifts and I feel the bitchsack inside of me struggling for defeat, a beatdown, a glut struck day that will leave me chugging gasoline in the sea but I sit still in my blood and concentrate differently. I will be a good host. I will not fuck this up. Barb hands me the letter. I go outside and wait for the hormones to arrive in the mail.

Birth control pills are the first to come. We are old friends. It’s been five years since I made the decision to replace the pills that made my cunt a desert and my brain a wild self-eating system with my IUD, a T-shaped best friend. This time the pills will regulate my cycle to coordinate with the surrogate’s cycle. Two weeks. Two women processing. Then the Lupron. I take the ‘Injection Training Course’ to learn how to inject my stomach with needles. I have never administered an injection before. In the training course a nurse holds a square shaped like a sponge, and she pushes needle after needle into the square’s squishy side. ‘This is your stomach,’ the nurse says. I am given bags of hypodermic needles and told to wait for the shipment of medication to arrive on my doorstep. When the medication arrives, I refrigerate it. Silver and blue boxes of billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations sitting next to wilted kale, yogurt, pickles, packets of soy sauce. Three different hormones: Lupron, Follistim, Menopur. The suck of sound before I am able to stab my pinched fat. It’s fake, it’s fake, your skin is fake, special effects, it’s putty, it’s a movie, your skin is not real, the light in this bathroom is staged, coarse light, do it do it do it do it now now now, your hand hasn’t moved a fucking inch. Pussy. But there. There we go, the Lupron goes in and it is the easiest. Tiny needle, tiny sting, fast machine. The Follistim comes in a blue and yellow pen cartridge. It is bulky. The pen cartridge is a longer pinch than the Lupron; it takes maybe ten more seconds to insert, with twice the amount of medication to insert. I bleed  The last hormone, the Menopur, causes a stinging sensation so incredible that my eyes water and I say, ‘Jesus Christ’ over and over again until it passes. I do this every single night until my stomach swells to the point of looking with child. The night gnaws and my mother’s face skin comes to me in dreams slow stretched to an older version of my grandmother’s face skin and then my sister’s face skin becomes her daughter’s face skin, the daughter whose name I chose as my own when the clinic told me to change names and this child’s face skin is greased with animal heat and I can no longer tell the difference between the face skins until tiny teeth chomp through the layers and strings of sebum leak out like oily tears and I awake sweating through the back of my shirt and feel my stomach for movement but there is no baby there only balloons.

Pregnant once before, I puked calmly. With no blood, I called my boyfriend managing the downtown Borders and said, You need to come home there is a guinea pig growing inside of me. He came and cried. We smoked weed and ate hydrocodone and we went to the clinic across the street from Burger King and I did my thing. He bought me a heating pad and fed me blueberries. My love for him ran slowly out of my slack mouth and the sidewalks were covered in autumn leaves. I named the fetus World and used the pre-abortion ultrasound as a bookmark.

Every week of egg donation consists of ultrasounds. A probe the size of a microphone goes inside me, I lift my hips, exhale, let it slide in. The microphone looks inside my uterus. The television screen projects me to me and I lay in the electric light looking at the cage of the city inside my murk. ‘These splotches are your egg particles,’ the doctor says, and an electronic red pen circles every gleaming pea-size splotch. An ovary hides. The doctor pushes harder with the probe causing me to close my eyes and orbit around the painful humming as the probe searches each bloated corner. How the word ‘Pressure’ applies to all bodies on all backs with legs up to receive a thing pressurizing us into great fevers unveiling new moons that will drip with blood throughout the years and our fortress empties itself to accommodate such space. I sing a song. ‘Your uterus is incredible,’ the doctor says, touching my hand. I stare at his bow-tie. My innards on-screen are pulsing, maybe laughing, galactic sinkholes collapsing beneath floors I never knew were there but today I see them in their mirrors of terror.