It has been a week since our most recent IUI, and while we have been plodding through what is undeniably the slowest two week wait we have yet experienced we have also been thinking about what the next chapter in this story might look like if it is not the long awaited “Pregnant” chapter. As I mentioned, La would much rather suspend the conversation until it is absolutely necessary, and I would prefer to get all the dominoes set up so they can be promptly put into play. So we have been striving for a balance and, mostly, succeeding.
This week I scheduled two conversations – one with an alternate donor, The Director, and the other with a Reproductive Endocrinologist a friend of mine saw for an IUI (and ended up getting pregnant.) I was mostly curious if they would have the same rules about non-partner known donor sperm – which they do because, well, its an FDA rule that mostly RE’s seem to adhere to without any acknowledgement of the ways it is sometimes really absurd.
The conversation with The Director was great. He is a very sweet dude who loves babies and loves community and is so genuinely interested in helping us. We talked about logistics, about relationships and roles, about his donating to another couple who we know but aren’t close to, and about how his child(ren) and our potential child(ren) might understand each other. Plus, there were two babies – The Director’s son M and our nephew Liam, who both got passed around and loved on and generally made the conversation less awkward that it could have been. We agreed to keep in touch about if this try worked, the legal pieces that still need to be worked out, and conversations that remain.
The conversation with the RE didn’t go so well. I mean, she was very nice, and very direct, and gave me some excellent numbers. But I definitely left that conversation feeling pretty lousy, which was not the case with The Director. After getting a basic rundown of my medical stuff and BFF’s medical stuff, she let me know that if it was her, she would just choose another (anonymous) donor. She did say that she could work with us, but would have to go through the testing-quarantine-testing 6 month wait deal, and kind of implied that our OB was fucked up for doing IUIs without this quarantining. When I asked about success rates for IUI with the kind of issues we have currently, she quoted me at 5-8%. When I asked about IUI’s with my PCOS + clomid + anonymous donor sperm, that only bumped up to 12-15%. With injectibles and anonymous donor sperm, she said 20%. So, basically what I heard was: this is hopeless.
So, last night felt kind of hard. On the one hand, the conversation with The Director felt good . . .but in light of the statistics about IUI and my PCOS, it felt like such a potentially long hard road. But what other options existed? Anonymous donor sperm, which just isn’t what we want to do (and doesn’t exactly have any better success rates), injectibles (which our OB doesn’t do, so back to the RE and the anonymous donor option), IVF which would require the waiting period, or . . .or . . .or . . .All of a sudden, the necessity for this cycle to work felt so much more urgent.
At some point, we remembered that the RE/Fertility clinic we went to last weekend when our OB couldn’t do the insemination already had BFF and I listed as ‘partners.’ This was because when BFF was sent for his initial sperm analysis in July, it was MY OB who made the order. And because of the assumptions that get made, that automatically entered us into the system as partners. So, when we showed up last weekend, no one asked a damn thing – they just told me to send my husband to make his donation. And none of us corrected those assumptions. Which means that those assumptions would already be in place without us having to say a thing. Is this ethically questionable? Maybe. Do I have reservations about putting it on the internet? Yes, I do. Do I believe that it is appropriate given the reality of the situation? Hell yes.
Which meant there was one final conversation to have before our next path could be picked. That conversation was with my Mom.
I’m going to take a minute to interrupt the trajectory of my story to tell you this: My mom was a teacher, principal, and school administrator (at the end of her carreer, at an exceptionally high level) in the same school district for over 30 years. She is smart and was really good at what she did – she also loved it. Because of her length of service to a public education organization, she has ended up pulling in a pretty great pension – and I do mean pension in the traditionally awesome sense of the word. Then, after retiring from the school district, she took a job in the private educational research field making even better money. She would probably still be doing this if she hadn’t had some serious medical complications, including back and hip issues, that made it impossible for her to travel and train as much as she needed. Because of the back and hip issues, and the years she put into THAT job, she is now on long term disability. Long story short – my mom has made a career she loved into something shockingly lucrative for herself. The fact that she is smart with investments and saving has only amplified this.
I’m telling you this so you know that my parents have a good sum of money which they mostly don’t spend, because they never expected to make that kind of money in the fields they chose. My parents have been incredibly generous and have been very helpful when I have been in tight spots in the past. When we started working with the OB and knew we would be incurring some costs, my mom offered to pay for some of those costs to offset our expense. We knew that *if* IVF was an option depended not only on the doctor and the donor issues but also on if my mom would be willing to help us financially in some way or another – whether that was co-signing on a loan, loaning us some or all, or gifting some or all.
So today we went to lunch with my mom and told her where things are at with the baby making business. I wanted to get her perspective for a lot of reasons – not just because she could help us with the cost of IVF. We told her the numbers, the medical pieces, the potential of other donors (side note: My mom ADORES BFF. Like, serious LOVE!) success rates, and estimated costs. And she looked at us with tears in her eyes and said, “You deserve to be parents. And we spent that much on your father’s teeth this year, so . . .” Which really makes you consider things, you know? That this amount of money, while certainly still significant to my parents, was a potential, a realistic amount. To La and I, it is a huge and looming terror. To many others, I know, it is a(n appalling) yearly income or an impossibility to spend.
So, it appears that if this IUI is unsuccessful, we will be moving to IVF, thanks to assumptions, our willingness to be less than 100% honest, and the incredible gift of my parents. I feel humbled and incredibly grateful to be able to make this decision without having to think about loans or financing, waiting to save or balancing credit card balances. I know that this is an incredibly rare experience for most people going through this kind of thing and I feel so very blessed.
For us, this makes sense. With my PCOS and our deep desire to know and have a relationship with our donor, IVF with BFF is the best choice. Of course, the hope remains fierce that all of these conversations will have been for nothing. That the next chapter is not injections or protocol, its just a beautiful baby.