Noah and I picked up a camera and started to document our journey to parenthood exactly two years ago today. April 20, 2012. We had already spent over a year trying to conceive and were about to have our first appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). We started filming as a way to process what was going on and because somehow I knew that parts of our story would be important to share, in order to increase awareness of what living on IF Island is really like. As you can see from this clip from the very first interview we did with each other, I didn’t know whether we were at the beginning of our journey, or about to cross the finish line. Looking back at it now, two years, multiple ART cycles, and over $40,000 later, I’m not exactly sure how to feel about what these last two years have been like.
I’m shocked, to say the least. I had NO IDEA so much could happen and the mystery of how we are going to create our family is still unsolved. I’m sad and angry, for all the obvious reasons. But I’m also amazed. I’m amazed that I’ve learned so much about how families are built, about the strength of the human spirit, about the determination of the biological urge to procreate, about the love of my husband and family, and the generosity of a community of people who struggle so much to have a child. I’m also amazed that I’m still standing, jeez.
Today, April 20, also marks the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week dedicated to spreading the word and educating people about the various aspects of infertility. I’ll be writing throughout the week on various topics under the headline Resolve to Know More, and I encourage anyone out there seeking more information about infertility to check out RESOLVE.
Starting our journey to parenthood close to four years ago, there was only one way I could fathom making a family. The old fashioned way. I was armed with ovulation test strips, a digital thermometer, and that gigantic pink book by Toni Weschler, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I was ready to take charge! After 15 months of that insanity and being told by various doctors that I was young (30) and that I should “just relax,” we finally went to the RE. Suddenly, we entered the very confusing and elite world of assisted reproductive technologies. That’s when I discovered that there are actually several ways to make a baby, and even more ways to construct a family. Over the years we’ve tried many of them.
We tried the rounds of clomid and IUI’s, then moved to IVF. When IVF left us empty handed, we thought all was lost. With diminished ovarian reserve, (and diminished cash reserve) we knew we simply couldn’t afford to do multiple rounds of IVF until it worked. Then we began to explore the possibility of donated eggs. At first I was terrified and upset that at age 32 I was being told I had to outsource my eggs. But when my younger sister offered to donate, hope was restored. Another option to building a family arose like a ray of sunshine through a dark cloud, and something I could never have fathomed when we began our initial quest for a child, suddenly became a beautiful gift. When my last beta HCG from that round came back negative, Noah and I were crushed. We knew adoption was always an option, but we didn’t feel totally there yet. We couldn’t afford an anonymous egg donor and I really wanted to experience pregnancy. Thus we discovered embryo donation/adoption, which we are planning to pursue in a few months.
It’s incredible that we in this country do actually have some choices in how we are going to construct a family. Egg, sperm, embryo donation, surrogacy, adoption—none of these are many of our first choices, but after trying one way and not succeeding, we all have to hit the reset button. We have to assess what we have left, what we’re willing to sacrifice, and what our end goal is. For Noah and me, that goal has become finding the best chance of a healthy child that I can carry, that is within our budget. It sounds insane, but it’s not. It the place you get after you’ve tried almost everything you can. It’s the hope you have when you find a new possibility, while your heart is still healing from your last disappointment. It’s the unyielding belief that one day, some how, some way, you will be a parent.
Some how, some way, Noah and I will be parents. Two years ago when we picked up a camera, we had no idea where we were going with it. We had no idea how our story was going to evolve. We still don’t know how our story is going to unfold, but we are more open and accepting of the process and the various ways we’ve learned that families are made.
We have resolved to know more about our family building options, and the ones that are the best fit for us. An unintended consequence is that we've also learned more about ourselves, each other, and the kind of parents we wish to be.
For more info on infertility, check out: