R and I have been wrestling with indecision over whether or not to continue updating this blog as our struggle grows more painful and lengthy. It’s difficult to remain your plucky correspondent these days, and we both tire of telling the story. But today I remembered that one of the reasons we started this blog is to help others have a better understanding of the unique challenges GLBT families face as they grow. We also wanted our friends and family to have a way to read about our choices and experiences when we don’t feel like delving into all the details. So in the spirit of our original intent, I’m writing to update you on the goings on of your favorite infertile Myrtles.
[Imagine witty commentary about Christmas vacation here]
In the middle of our annual pilgrimage home to the Midsouth, we made a 24 hour trip to Ohio to see a new fertility specialist, Dr. A. The long and short of this sudden move is that our adoption prospects seem dim, and we certainly cannot afford to undergo IVF here in the Pacific Northwest. We looked into treatment options in Canada, Israel, and…Ohio. Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter turned out to be the most sensible option. We have relatives we can stay with in Ohio, and Dr. A came highly recommended by a family friend who is currently prego thanks to his medical intervention. On a whim, I called Dr. A’s office to ask if they happened to have any appointments during the short window of time we were planning to be in the Midsouth. They did, and so in the midst of finishing up the maddening preparations for Handmade Christmas, Part Two, we scooped up all of R’s and the KD’s medical records from various and sundry clinics (four in all). Armed with a mountain of papers and a healthy dose of skepticism, we arrived at Dr. A’s office ready for a grueling four hour visit.
I wanted to leave as soon as we stepped through the door. The other patients were reading Redbook and Ladies Home Journal. The penholders said something about miracles and God. I was petrified.
Well, either my fears were unfounded or the staff flagged our chart with a big fat LESBIAN sticker because every single person treated us like the couple we are, and I give them mad props for that. The only hiccup was when T, the financial coordinator, asked R and I to pose for our “mom and dad picture.” She quickly corrected herself and we all had a good laugh. After we had our picture made Dr. A came in to greet us, starting off the conversation by congratulating us on our newly won freedom to marry. This, from an avuncular Egyptian-American man casually sipping on a caffeine-free Diet Coke. Well, alrighty.
After a perfunctory review of the stack of records I brought, Dr. A put forth his hypothesis on why we haven’t conceived, and declared his optimism for our chances of success with IVF. We were led to the exam room, where R endured the usual poking and prodding while I made a half dozen phone calls to Dr. T’s office in the PNW. Four hours and a mountain of paperwork later, we were all set up to start the treatment protocol in about two weeks.
Then we came home. I looked at the prescriptions for eight drugs R will take over the course of three weeks. I contacted the pharmacy for price estimates. I calculated the nauseating cost of one fresh cycle of IVF. Even though Dr. A’s price tag is roughly half what it would be here in the PNW, I felt sick. And today my queasiness has turned to rage mixed with incredulity.
Pause and try to picture this. You want something very badly. You’ve practically tripped over yourself to make it happen, spending one year’s salary and at least 20% of your time on the effort. You haven’t succeeded, and whether you ever will is anyone’s guess. Over the course of two and half years you meet with multiple experts who try to help you solve the puzzle. You watch your spouse stab herself in the abdomen with hormone injections, drink wretched potions of Chinese herbs, cut out all manner of tasty food, limit her intake of alcohol, cut out caffeine, avoid vigorous exercise, and go to acupuncture on a weekly basis. When you are finally told that none of these measures is going to cut it, you look into other paths to your goal. They all appear blocked. You’re getting desperate, and all around you other people are easily (and cheaply!) succeeding at the very thing you want so much.
And then you meet someone who proposes to help you. He sits behind a desk and makes small talk with you. He is confident when you are not. He tells you exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal. It won’t be easy. It will involve many more injections and significant physical discomfort. You are willing. More than willing. And then he asks you to give him $15,000, and promises in return, a 35% chance of taking home the thing you’re after. Do you say “Where do I sign?” or do you laugh maniacally?
On the bus (AKA Tax Payer Trolley) this evening I was chewing on this very scenario, and wondering what on earth possessed me to ask where to sign. I became enraged at the whole business of fertility. I can’t imagine another (realistic) scenario in which I’d be willing to part with tens of thousands of dollars for a 35% chance of getting something that other people get for free. I can hear my mentor clucking her teeth and saying, “If you’d go for that I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell ya.”
I don’t know what the “right” course of action is. I only know that I keep getting the sneaking suspicion that we are trying to force something that simply wasn’t meant to be. And I don’t even believe in “meant to be.”
Nor do I believe in special messages from God, and yet today I’m reminded of that scene in The Color Purple in which Shug hears the choir singing from her estranged father’s church. When she can no longer ignore it, she joins in the refrain
If you can’t sleep at night
And you wonder why
Maybe God is trying to tell you something
Cried all night long
Something’s gone wrong
Maybe God is trying to tell you something…
The tearful and hesitant reunification of Shug and her father gets me every time. And anytime I’m unsettled, her song reverberates in my mind. And now I’m left to wonder, is God indeed trying to tell me something?