It’s such an out-of-body experience to be told after two years that everything you and your husband have done in order to have your own baby, get you back to square one. As Steffan said, our doctor said we still had plenty of options, but as I heard them rattle off of his tongue, my mind began to race. I barely remember being in the room, except for him drawing a doodle of where they would implant a fertilized embryo if we decided to go along with IVF. It looked like a form of ancient hieroglyphics. We smiled and nodded as politely as we could could and then stepped out of his office and followed him into the equivalent of the principal’s office…FINANCE! Oh yes, don’t forget friends, if you can’t lie down and make a baby yourself (or stand up — whatever your preference may be?), you better start forkin’ out the cash…co-pays, lab slip pays for blood draws, and not to mention whatever shenanigans this finance office was going to come up with.
Out came what I like to lovingly call the “folder of doom” and looked at the papers, projections, and numbers.The price for medication for one round of IVF was about $1500. The entire cost came to about $30,000. After that, any that we didn’t use could be put in cryopreservation (eggs, embryos and sperm) if it didn’t take and that would cost $7,000 and then an additional $700 a year, every year, until we used them. Before we left, the finance lady made sure to remind us that none of this would be covered by insurance as I would be carrying an embryo fertilized with sperm from a donor who was not my husband. A stranger. Family or not. He would never be Steffan; never have his laugh, his eyes or the one side where his eyelashes curl up like a curling wand has been taken to them. This child would never have those eyes that go from brown, to green, to hazel depending on the sun or his mood. And this child certainly wouldn’t have his ridiculous, sometimes vulgar sense of humor.
We left her office and said we would be in touch and that we would think about all of the options she presented. We got in the car and we were silent. It was morning, and again, I had taken another day off from teaching my actual kids to focus on having one of my own, now seeming ever more out of reach. Before we got out of the parking garage, I broke down crying…I was doing that a lot those days. All I could say was, “It won’t be yours. It won’t be yours.” Damn the insurance companies, I don’t really care about the cost, but I couldn’t believe after all that we had been through: surgeries, blood draws, the ups and downs of telling our families that we thought this could be the time we get good news! I lost it. I cried all of the way to the diner we typically go to after our appointments. I pulled it together long enough to order breakfast, which I just pushed around the plate.
On the way home, Steffan tried to reassure me that he didn’t care if it wasn’t his sperm, he would love the child as if it was his own biologically, but I couldn’t help thinking like I was just the oven to carry a child that would never really be mine…never be ours. I made the decision at that point that it was either going to be a child from both of us, or neither of us; one of us was not going to have a greater genetic link to the child than the other. In my eyes that just wasn’t fair to him.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the generosity of my brother and sister-in-law for their awesome gift if we wanted it. I was on board with it for a while. But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the knowledge that what would be growing inside me would only have a connection to me and not technically to Steffan. I didn’t want that for my family.
Each day my anxiety began to grow, like I was somehow a letdown. I’ve always tried to be a strong woman, my parents instilled that in me. I lead in the classroom, and I lead in life. And for once, I couldn’t lead. A woman’s body is designed to have a child, and I just made the ultimate decision that mine would never do what it was intended to. I started to feel this failure complex I had never experienced before and didn’t know how to handle. I came home every day after work crying. I would blame it on a bad day, tough kids, you name it; in all actuality it was me coming to terms with my own reality. I still am. There is an ebb and flow to a situation like this. I have my good days and my bad days.
There are times where I daydream about what Steffan and my biological child(ren) would have looked like, what they would have been like. Would she have my blue eyes and his skin? Would he have my laugh and his athleticism (let’s hope so, because if I’m running, you better follow!) I get mad at those times. I feel cheated at those times. I cry at those times.
Other times, I imagine the possibilities of who is out there, waiting to be our son or daughter. Maybe this is why Steffan and I were meant to meet. Was it kismet? Was there something in the beyond pushing us toward each other, knowing we were supposed to be together because we would only be able to handle this tough of a situation together? Perhaps. I’ll never know. I’m not supposed to.
What I do know, is that we’re ready. Someone once told me, as she laughed, that she couldn’t wait until we had our child, because she wanted me to see that it wouldn’t fix all of my problems. That it wouldn’t be a “cure all”. I know that. But for both of us (and I’m speaking for Steffan here), there is an emptiness that is waiting to be filled with the love we can give a child.
Who knows, maybe that kiddo is already out there…