In Now Voyager, Bette Davis responds to her long-time would-be lover’s expression of regrets with the classic line, “Don’t let’s ask for the moon; we have the stars.” Translation: be grateful for what you have. And yet, despite being blessed with serious sparklers in my two little boys, I’ve always longed for that Luna of a daughter. There is no sympathy for me. I’m facing down forty and have two healthy toddlers, which is all that many women my age hope for. No matter. Give me that moon.

My husband, easy-going, tolerant of my obsessions and endowed with a the-more-the-merrier attitude toward building our family, took no convincing to try for number three, until I elaborated on just how we would go about it. How there would be no sex involved, just injections for me, and in-clinic masturbation for him. Oh, and when all was said and done, we’d likely be out about $6000, plus days off work and travel expenses. “What?” Well, in a late-night fit of mad Googling, I discovered an FDA study being conducted for the efficacy of Microsort, a scientific gender selection method by which, put unscientifically, semen is “dyed” in a gizmo, and the sperm with the heavier X chromosomes “light up” for easy separation, retrieval and eventual insemination or in-vitro. The result is an 89.5% guarantee of a girl from any successful births.

To qualify, a couple had to be married, have no girls and at least two boys, be free of the major diseases, and the woman had to be 39 or under. I sent for the information and discovered the unspoken requirements: flexible time - there were only two locations (Alexandria, Virginia and Laguna Hills, California), and the couple would need to verify an appointment the week before the woman was expected to ovulate and be at the ready during the fertility window, which could seriously lengthen a trip if the woman was at all irregular or if she miscalculated her cycle - and the money ($1600 per cycle, not including travel expenses or the $350 registration fee, with it taking an average or 3-4 cycles to get pregnant via intra-uterine insemination). It would take far less time to get pregnant if the in-vitro fertilization method were chosen, and the gender would be a near 100% guarantee. The cost for in vitro was around $6000.

For me, the in vitro route felt extreme as I wasn’t infertile and it smacked more of Brave New World to select from actual embryos. Also, I had already had two C-sections and the prospect of a 35% chance of multiples seemed dangerous. I got pregnant very easily with my sons, so we felt bold about our odds with the $1600 per IUI. Luckier still, we lived in California and my parents lived only 45 minutes from the clinic, so we had free lodging and babysitting services. This just seemed tailor-made for our situation. In any case, this is the light in which I presented my case to my astonished husband. Like I said, he’s very tolerant and has always wanted a big family, so six weeks later, we headed south.

Day One entailed making sure I was near ovulation, while in another part of the building, Hubby was making his “contribution.” This took some doing on his part, as he was getting over a horrible sinus infection and his mind kept wandering to things like how thoroughly the staff cleaned these rooms, if they were keeping note of how long he was taking, and man – how old were these videos that they star Ron Jeremy? Before we were sent home, my husband was instructed on how to inject me in the groin with a syringe of hormones to trigger my ovulation for the following day. This, strangely, was the most intimate part of the process.

We drove back out to Laguna the next morning and spent most of the ride thinking up names and counting our chickens - our hens (?) - before they hatched, or um, before they were fertilized. When we arrived, we were told there was a “problem” with my husband’s sample, probably a glitch, and that he needed to visit Ron Jeremy a second time. During the five hours until my part, we wandered around the Irvine Spectrum Center and took in Music and Lyrics. Despite featuring two of our favorite actors and possibly the catchiest soundtrack since the actual eighties, the movie was a complete waste on us as, instead of counting hens, we were now calculating our chances of having any babies with our new set of possible circumstances.

By the time we were headed back to the clinic, we were both feverishly talking over one another with declarations of love and how Nature has its own design and overriding it should be reserved for those who face futures more dire than the 50/50 gender toss-up of their kids and how foolish and selfish and possibly evil of us, and please God let us make one more the old-fashioned way, like we were hoping the Almighty had rigged our Honda with a hidden microphone. A psychologist would recognize it as classic bargaining. We walked up to the receptionist’s counter contrite and resigned to bow out of the study.

As it turned out, my husband’s fever from the sinus infection had killed his “guys” – temporary fertility issue. But we’ve concluded there’s something tacky about trying to improve upon a miracle; like putting braces on the teeth of a unicorn. It’s been a year since our venture into better living through chemistry, and I still want my moon, but I’d be just as grateful for another little star. Are you listening up there?