After my egg collection procedure, I was in and out of consciousness for, oh, like six or seven hours. (They said this was normal.)
Steve had rented a hotel room close to the clinic so that immediately afterward, I could lie down in a bed.
But when we got to the hotel, the front door was locked.
"Hello?" said Steve. "Are you there?"
I couldn't remain upright because I was still so drugged, so I was lying on the edge of the gutter. The air smelled like grime, cigarette smoke, and all I could think at first was of the myriad microscopic London pathogens that were soaking from the filthy concrete into my hair.
Finally, a voice answered Steve's incessant knocking. "It's lunch hour!" it said. "Come back later!"
Everything in my body hurt. My stomach, my head, the corner of my shoulder wedged into the concrete that I couldn't move because I was too drugged.
Steve said, "But we TALKED about this! My wife just had SURGERY! You were supposed to help us get her into a bed!"
The voice that answered just seemed annoyed and maybe a little defensive. "People have to eat!"
"Come back in an hour. We'll help you then."
That's when I started hallucinating again. A girl--young, maybe sixteen at most--came and sat down in the grimy gutter with me. Because of the fact that IVF is technically an immaculate conception and so I'd been thinking about her all week, I immediately recognized her: it was the Virgin Mary.
I wanted to ask her a hundred things.
I wanted to ask her if she knew. When that angel came to her, I wanted to know if she had any idea what he was really asking. I wanted to ask her if she knew that conception, no matter how miraculous, would drag her straight through the shadow of death. That she would have to go through something that even Joseph, as sweet as he was, could never understand.
But I was too drugged to ask anything. (Even to my own hallucinations.)
Steve was standing helplessly on the front steps of the hotel, looking back and forth between the locked door and me, next to the gutter.
That's when the Virgin Mary put a hand on my ankle and smiled.
"These immaculate conceptions," she said, right on the edge of a laugh. "They just never let you into the inn afterward, do they."
And for a tiny moment, all of the filth, pain, and grime around me lost their menace and I started laughing right along with her.