Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Starting in the Middle, at the Core

James and I got married two years ago today, and a few months later started trying to get pregnant. What ensued wasn't nearly as fun as everyone says.

So far, we have paid almost $40,000 out of our pockets, gone to the doctor about 35 times, learned how to administer subcutaneous and intramuscular injections into my body, and undergone innumerable probes and procedures that would have been humiliating if we felt that kind of thing any more. We have been diagnosed and rediagnosed, fertilized and inseminated, X-rayed and acupunctured.

We have learned a lot about human reproduction. For example, our doctor told us a couple weeks ago that "Assisted hatching is often used on Day 6 blastocysts, simply to help ensure quick implantation before the end of the luteal phase, which at that point is considerably shortened." He stopped himself and asked if he needed to explain what that meant. No, we knew.

We have learned a lot about our bodies. We are completely normal. After having been diagnosed with several maladies each, James and I now know we've always had a completely clean medical slate. Turns out we're just a couple with "unexplained infertility." But for all our infertility, we can tell you with absolute certainty every detail about how our reproductive systems work.

We have learned a lot about the infertility subculture. A couple is "infertile" if after a year of trying to conceive, the woman has not yet become pregnant. It doesn't mean that pregnancy is impossible, but it does become a lot more unlikely without medical intervention. Infertile couples struggle trying to overcome medical, social, financial, and emotional strains that they never knew existed. They try to maintain normal relationships with the people around them. All the while, they are shouldering an existential fear that they will die childless, with no one to pass their lives onto. Needing to have a baby is human instinct; it's as important to the preservation of the species as needing to eat. And that makes it impossible to ignore. It makes it impossible to "just relax." (And by the way, "just relaxing" is not a cure).

In the last two years we have learned a lot about how our society and infertility get along. Not well. The purpose of this blog is to introduce the two.

I hope that by the end of this project:

  • More people will understand infertility: what it is, and what a big deal it is.

  • More people will know how best to support infertile couples... and what to say and not to say to them.

  • My friends will understand why I have become so distant, and my writing will be a way to keep them close for the duration.

  • I will get pregnant with a healthy, beautiful baby.

In a few weeks we start our second cycle of invitro fertilization. IVF is the two-month process by which doctors stimulate production of lots of eggs inside my body, surgically remove them when they appear to be ready, add them to a processed version of James's sperm, incubate them as they fertilize and form embryos, return them to my uterus, and then wait for two weeks to see whether it worked.

Four years ago I was in agony, despairing of ever meeting anyone like James. And then I did, and he has made me happier than I've ever been. But the same old despair has crept back into my life as I go through so much, and hope so desperately, for just a chance to have a baby to love. I'm hopeful that it will happen some day. So join us as we spend the next few months, or maybe years, trying to grow our family even more.


James said...

You nailed it.


bzzzzgrrrl said...

Amen to James.
And also: Love you both, but even if I didn't, loooooooooove your writing. You can bet I'll keep tuning in. Hahahahahaha. I said "tuning in." Like it's way back in the 20th century.

Aimee Weinstein said...

My heart and love go to you both. There is just nothing else to say, but please know that you are in my daily thoughts and prayers.

Mary said...

Kay, Thank you for such wonderful insight. Your words portray the realities of this agonizing pursuit of creating a family. Grayson and I love you and James very much and are there for you in any and all ways you feel are helpful.

Karen said...

We're rooting for you Kay and James!! We love you, Karen & Eric

Jenna said...

Having had a fairly easy time conceiving the first time, I was surprised to find myself having difficulty getting pregnant again. We have been trying for almost a year with no luck.

I can't say that I know how you feel because I have David and he is fantastic. I can't imagine my life without him. I have been so busy with him that I haven't felt too bad about not conceiving. However, now that he is so independent, I am starting to feel the pressure again.
I am so glad that you included me in your e-mail. Please know that my prayers are with you and James.