We’re just a few days away from our 4th iui attempt. Hopefully the 4th will be the last, but it’s certainly the last one for this year. Everything looks great so far. My early-recruiting, ovary-achieving tendencies have already produced 4 follicles that measured 9mm to 16mm on cd 5. A few of you just re-read that last sentence twice, googled “follicle size,” and still don’t know what I’m talking about. But suffice it to say: my eggs are huge already, and should be a great target for the new swimmers to aim for. We also got a 3rd vial again this time, just in case I have another early hormone surge. If I surge at the appropriate time, we’ll just use that 3rd vial in one of the planned iui’s. So here’s what we’re thinking: big follicles (and more of them!) + new donor (and 1 more vial of swimmers!) = better chance for success.
It’s been fascinating to hear everyone’s feedback after the 3rd unsuccessful attempt. I think we’re getting more questions about the process now than we did when we started. When we started this, we’d get fun questions about how to go about ordering donor sperm, whether or not the procedure hurts, will our kids call us both “mom” (we still haven’t figured that one out yet!), and of course we entertained the inevitable “turkey baster or doctor?” discussion. We were happy to answer those questions, and still are. We know that for the rest of our lives as parents, we’ll hear questions like “who’s the mother?” and other inquiries of a more sensitive nature. [For the record: it’s considered poor taste to ask a same-gendered couple “who’s the baby’s real mother” or “which one of you is the father?” The correct answer will always be “both of us.”] Regardless of the fact that they don’t intend to overstep the bounds of curiosity, people can ask some really invasive questions. Here’s a sampling of the inquiries I’ve fielded since announcing our lack of success in round 3:
- Why don’t you just adopt?
- How much does each attempt cost? This has got to be wearing on your checkbook. I don’t know how you’re affording this.
- What can you do to reduce your stress? That has to have an impact on whether or not you conceive.
- When will you just stop trying? I mean, how many attempts will you do before you decide to call it quits?
- And my personal favorite: Does the doctor know what’s wrong with you that you haven’t conceived yet? Are you sure you’re fertile?
If you’ve asked any of these questions, know that you’re not the only one. Also know that I love you anyway and am not offended. I get that this is unconventional in the grand scheme of things, and the questions are natural. But stop and think if you’d ask these questions of the straight couple next door who just got married last year and is trying to start a family. After 3 months of newlywed sex still doesn’t result in a positive pregnancy test, are you going to ask them if they’re ready to adopt? Probably not. You probably won’t suggest meditation or ask if the wife has seen a doctor. You’ll probably just tell them to be patient and it will happen when it’s supposed to. The same goes for us.
Last week after our bfn, some of these questions started to creep into conversation with our merry band. Last week was too soon – I was still on hormones and my only response to most of the inquiries was to cry. So now that I’m processing thoughts a little more clearly, here are a few answers:
- Yes. We would certainly consider adoption. Some of our favorite families were created out of adoption and we are 100% in favor of giving a needy child a home. The phrase “why don’t you just adopt” is a funny one, though. People make it sound like there’s a social worker stationed at each Starbucks, giving away babies to gay couples – free with a latte purchase. There is no such giveaway. Trust me….I checked. The reality of adoption includes waiting lists, lawyers, home studies, interviews, more lawyers, and more waiting. I have the utmost respect and admiration for any couple who adopts. They are far more patient than we are. We haven’t ruled it out at all – it’s just not our first choice for starting our family, for a variety of reasons.
- Yes, iui costs money. The kind of money you don’t find in your couch cushions. The kind of money that can get someone a decent college education. The kind of money the average couple saves for a down payment on a house. How much? It varies by the couple, doctor, insurance, and other factors. But since natural conception isn’t an option for us, there’s no legal/ethical way for us to start a family for free. You wouldn’t ask how much we earned last year, so why would you ask how we choose to spend our earnings?
- I love my friends and family who think I’m just too stressed out. Their care and concern for MKL and me is genuine. However, the idea that I can somehow find a way to melt away the stress is, frankly, laughable. 5-8 times a month, I go to the doctor for an ultrasound; at any time, what she sees on the screen could result in doc saying, “nope – not this cycle.” I spend all but 72 hours of each month on some sort of hormone designed to make me a crazy person. On the flip side, I don’t work out as hard as I like for fear of overheating my insides, and have turned down multiple performing opportunities so my schedule isn’t too packed with extras. So while the process itself causes more stress than I’ve ever known, two of my favorite stress relievers (exercise and singing) are enjoyed with less frequency and/or intensity. But I’ve been working from home when the stress of the day gets to be too much, meditating, taking long walks, and spending my down time at the piano, watching Bravo, or writing this blog. If I take any more measures to reduce my stress, I’ll be legally comatose.
- The idea that we might someday have to “stop trying” is not something we’re quite ready to face yet. You don’t suspend your entire way of life in an effort to make a family and then just give up when 3 attempts fail. You rally, you pray, you hold each other close, you find the motivation and the money, you vent your frustration to the blogosphere, and you try again. That’s how we’ve gotten this far, and that’s what we’ll continue to do until this works…or until we can’t anymore.
- Before we embarked on the actual insemination portion of this journey, there was the testing phase. There were 12 vials of blood taken from me and analyzed like crazy. There were several ultrasounds and a hysterosalpingogram. I had to consult with my regular gynecologist and primary care physician, and I disclosed about 10 pages worth of medical history. It’s true that there may be something physically wrong with me that’s preventing me from getting pregnant, but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now. Infertility is usually defined as more than one year of failed attempts at natural conception. I’m not infertile – I just don’t attempt natural conception…so to speak.
Contrary to how it may appear by my answers above, I don’t want people to stop asking questions. Making a baby is the topic that occupies the most space in my brain, so I’m more than happy to talk about it. Plus the only way this process becomes more “normal” is if more people understand it. So I will still gladly answer anything thrown my way, and I promise not to take offense. I can only hope that people will consider the tone of the questions they ask. Optimism is really important right now; you can help us stay positive by not talking about things like money, stress, or giving up. In return, I promise not to ask any of you about your annual physical, net worth, or the paternity of your first born. Deal?