Nothing as Planned – Part II: Making a Baby
Originally published 2-28-08
It took me a while to find my baby daddy – a gay man who agreed to be an “uncle” figure in my child’s life but without any legal or financial responsibilities or rights. After getting to know each other, agreeing on our expectations of parenthood, getting the necessary STD tests and signing the required legal papers, we both thought the hard part was over.
I thought high school sex ed had taught me all I needed to know about fertility. About mid cycle, it was time. Sperm met egg, and that was it. Not quite.
In our case, we had to decide on the method. Oddly, this was not something we discussed until the night the ovulation predictor kit indicated an LH surge, and it was time. I suggested a medicine dropper syringe, which would work fine, according to an article I read online. I sent Sperm Donor into the bathroom with a magazine and waited.
Two weeks later I took a pregnancy test. Negative. The saddest minus sign I had ever seen. It was October, the month I would turn 42. The clock was ticking. I didn’t think I could handle another failure.
Sperm Donor looked at the syringe and scoffed. “That won’t work. It’s what, four inches? We must do what we must do,” he said, matter-of-factly.
After a few dress rehearsals, we did what we had to do. But two weeks later, again, a minus sign. My heart sank. Were we doing something wrong? Was something wrong with either of us?
We went to Dr. V, a well-known fertility doctor in the Valley. He had one of the highest success rates in all of LA. But Sperm Donor was not comfortable being “out,” and he feared the doctor might not understand our situation and would treat us differently than other patients, so he asserted once again, he must do what he must. He told the doctor we were a heterosexual, married couple.
The charade made for some amusing moments, like when the doctor told me to undress and then closed the door with Sperm Donor in the exam room. Sperm Donor faced the wall, but just as I slipped off my Jockies for Her, he shrieked, realizing he could see my reflection in a hanging picture. At this point, it was nothing he hadn’t seen before. But that changed when I was in the stirrups and the doctor decided to teach Sperm Donor a little OB/GYN 101. “Let me show you the cervix,” he said, calling Sperm Donor over for a closer look.
The doctor explained that conceiving was not so easy, and that each month a young, healthy couple had about a 25 percent chance of success. Being over 40, my odds were less than 10 percent, and at my age, he said, I shouldn’t leave it to chance. He advised a course of treatment, and he told us to talk to the lady in the corner office about prices.
After a whirlwind sales pitch, the lady presented a price sheet. She said three “cycles” of in-vitro fertilization was the way to go. She went over the doctor’s fees, the medications, the OR fee, and of course you’d want the anesthesia. Add on the special procedures to fertilize age 40+ eggs, and the whole thing would cost around $18,000, with no guarantee of pregnancy.
But then the lady offered a deal. Three IVFs for the price of two. Payable up front. If you got pregnant after one try, no refunds. “After all, you don’t wait until you have a car accident to buy insurance,” she said, pushing the papers toward me to sign. Oh, and I had to act now, as the offer expired that day.
I chose “no deal,” and left the lot without a used car.
The good news is that there are other excellent fertility doctors in town, and my next stop was Dr. V’s former partner, who shared his high success rate but not his high prices. Dr. B was not inexpensive, but she did not make me feel cheap. She also had a photo gallery of lesbian and gay men couples as well as hetero clients and their babies proudly displayed in her office. I had found my doctor.
Now, with trusted medical advice and a cache of hormones, I began what would be a year of fertility treatment. Twelve months of anticipation, anxiety, excitement, anguish, hope, despair, elation, desolation, joy, tears and then, finally, success.
My quest to have a baby took me to the brink of emotional breakdown. And it took all my inheritance from my late brother, Stephen, to pay for it. In his last days, before he died of cancer at age 37, I told him I wanted to have a baby. He was weak, but he mustered a smile. He said I would make a good mother. As my bank account dwindled to zero, I took heart that Stephen would have approved of me spending the money this way.
Six weeks into my pregnancy I told my parents the news and they both cried. They would be grandparents after all. And I would be a mother after all. I took a DNA test when I was six weeks pregnant to determine the baby’s sex. The results came back announcing, “It’s a boy!” My hearts was full of joy as the months counted down and I awaited the birth of my son, baby Stephen.