Our search for another infertility clinic wasn’t easy. We weren’t sure where to start. So, we started with the obvious. We asked our friend’s. We trusted the opinion of an Atlanta lesbian couple who had two children through inseminated. In fact one of the partners was the awesome woman at the Rainbow Center who helped us with our adoption. So, we valued this couple’s opinion and their friendship. They loved their doctor who did their procedure and they suggested we come to Atlanta to see her. We made an appointment. Listen, we were nervous to think we’d have to drive that far for our procedure. Atlanta was three hours away. However, we knew if we could have a less stressful experience, it would be worth it.
The earliest we could get an appointment was three weeks later. We hated the constant wait but what could we do? The day we headed to Atlanta, we were excited. We knew the facility to which we were headed was accustomed to having lesbians as their patients. This meant we wouldn’t have to go through some of the added crap we had to at our other clinic. That alone was very reassuring.
When we got to the doctor’s office the waiting room was packed. Judah was with us so we brought lots of stuff for him to do just in case we had a long wait. And thank goodness we did because it was a good hour before we were called to the back. Finally, when a nurse called my name, we were relieved. We only had so many activities for Judah and filling an hour wasn’t as easy as we had thought. Right before we were called back Carol started on her magic tricks. It was then that I knew we were at the bottom of the barrel. Folks, Carol’s magic tricks consisted of holding a coin in her hand and pretending she was pulling it out of Judah’s ear. It was so obvious it was hysterical. However to Judah it was awesome (which made us laugh even more).
Anyway, our friends told us the staff and doctor were terrific at this facility and they were right. Also, it was like a well oiled machine. I couldn’t believe the amount of staff that was in the back with everyone busy doing their individual jobs. It was incredible. We met with the doctor for a good 20 minutes. She was caring, compassionate and even though very upbeat, she was realistic about my chances of getting pregnant because of my age. Even so, the air of the place was refreshing. After speaking to the doctor Carol and I had decided we’d use them to do our next procedure. It seemed perfect. Well, perfect until we started talking to the doctor about the vials of sperm we had already purchased. And that folks was where we hit a huge snag. Carol and I had not realized they didn’t do IUI. Instead they did the other procedure which was essentially what Carol and I had done at home and it didn’t work. The sperm we had had already been washed and could only be used for IUI.
We felt as if we were so close in finding another facility and we liked this one. The doctor suggested we could have a facility that was 45 minutes away prepare our sperm. We could then pick it up and bring it to them and they would do the IUI. However, she told us there were problems with that idea. We’d literally be rushing against the clock, depending on the time it could be rush hour and there was danger the sperm could get damaged in the traveling. Listen, as much as we liked this place we knew we couldn’t jeopardize our sperm. We needed the highest chances to get pregnant. And so, unfortunately, this facility was not an option for us. We walked out that day thinking, “DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! Back to square one.”
While driving back home that day Carol and I started brainstorming. Where could we find another infertility clinic and one that we would feel comfortable. If this was going to be our last blow out try, we wanted it to be a good experience. We wanted to end on a good note sort of speak. Well, funny enough when we got home Carol had a thought to look in the phone book. What an antiquated idea. Of course there were the two local ones but then there was a listing for one other. It was a woman infertility doctor with an address in just the county next to ours. Carol researched her on the internet and discovered she had nothing but raving reviews. However, we had not heard about her. If our local facility was so bad why hadn’t we heard others going to this doctor’s infertility facility? We had more questions than answers. Then I remembered something. I had forgotten that we had a neighbor who’s husband was an OB/GYN. We met as our kids played in a park next to our homes. Over the years I had enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her. I really loved her family- really sweet kids. And the best part was she never ever thought twice about me and Carol. So, I told Carol that I would speak with her to ask her what she (or her husband) may know. I knew I could trust her and more importantly I knew she’d be honest with me. And so, that was what I did. Now, she wasn’t familiar with that infertility doctor so she told me she’d ask her husband and get back with me. The one thing she did know was she felt that doctor was actually based out of Columbia, SC and she wasn’t sure why the phone book had her listed with an address in the county next to us. After talking to her husband, he confirmed what she had thought. That infertility doctor was based in Columbia, SC. The other thing her husband said was that he had only heard good things about her. Well, folks that was all we needed as the go ahead to contact that facility. Listen, honestly, it wasn’t as if we had a lot of options. And the other thing was Columbia, SC was only an hour away at the most. It was definitely more doable than Atlanta was. It was farther than we wanted but certainly doable.
We contacted that facility to make an appointment. It would be another 2 weeks before we could get one. However, what could we do? WAIT, WAIT, WAIT and more WAITING. That was the story of our infertility life.
The drive to the infertility clinic in Columbia wasn’t bad at all. The facility was located just a little ways off the main highway. And it was centralized in what appeared to be where many of the medical buildings were located. It was nice. No back alley location at all! When we walked into the medical building we headed to the upstairs floor where the infertility office was located. Just off the elevator was the door of the infertility clinic. When we opened the door their waiting room was fairly small and filled with people waiting.The diversity was awesome. There was every kind of person represented which something we had NOT seen at the infertility clinic we had previously used. Folks, I know I keep harping on our past infertility clinic. But, you had to admit. THEY SUCKED! But more than the way they ran their facility and the conduct of one of the doctors, I realized when sitting in this infertility clinic in Columbia, SC that there also wasn’t any diversity in the patients who were there. That to me spoke volumes. Meanwhile, the patients in this place were beautifully diverse. WE even noticed another lesbian couple. WOW! Really? Alright, maybe this would become a good option for us. The doctor came well recommended AND there was another lesbian couple there. Very good combination. The other thing we noticed was a large photo hanging over one of the couches. It was of the doctor and all of the families (and their kids) she had helped to get pregnant. Carol noticed a LOT of multiple births. Apparently, this doctor was known for doing IVF and women having triplets. OY VEY! That was not something Carol and I knew we wanted. But, one step at a time. Not to panic yet.
After we were called to the back and once we met and spoke to the doctor we knew that was the place for us. The feel of the place was like a breath of fresh air. It just felt right. While speaking to the doctor we developed a plan of action. I was to have a vaginal sonogram to see how many eggs I was producing each month. I already knew that I produced two viable eggs but the doctor wanted to see if she could increase that number (even if I did indeed produce two). This doctor felt if we could increase the number of eggs per cycle then we could increase our chances to get pregnant. And since we only had two vials of sperm, lets increase our chances as much as we could. Her plan made sense to us and didn’t seem arbitrary (which our other infertility clinic seemed when they suggested doing different procedures). Oh, sorry. They weren’t arbitrary they were up selling. Anyway, we followed the advice of this doctor. Every procedure she suggested she always backed it up with a logical reason. And so we felt good about using this facility. The last thing we had to do before leaving the infertility clinic was to go to the check out counter. Once there the first thing the woman said to us was, “How are you?” And then she told us she already had our insurance information (which we had given when we had first arrived) and then told us the amount of our copay. We wrote her a check and handed it to her. She complimented us on the design we had on our checks, told us she would file with our insurance and told us to have a great day. Carol and I were so stunned. We ended up just standing there like two idiots starring at her. You mean that’s all? We’re done? You don’t need to yell at us for this payment or that payment? Folks, it was true. We were done and it was that easy. INCREDIBLE!
A couple of weeks later I returned for my vaginal sonogram and some blood work which was all done at their facility. Everything went without a hitch. Can you believe it? It was so easy and without any stress. OK, I was nervous but there was nothing added by the infertility clinic. In fact they did everything humanly possible to make me calm and to include Carol. I know I already said this but it was incredible! Now during my vaginal sonogram the doctor could see two good follicles (where I produced two eggs). She felt if we could increase that number it would be a wise thing to do. We agreed with her. She suggested starting me off with the drug clomid. I had heard not great things about that drug but she told me it would be a low dosage. She told me to start taking it and to come in for my vaginal sonogram during my next month’s surge. If I had produced enough eggs, we’d discuss doing our first insemination at that time. we agreed and off we went. Of course though we had to check out first. And of course there was nothing to it. Gave the woman our co pay and we were able to leave. No hassle at all! I don’t know why but we were surprised each and every time we checked out of the place.
During my next month’s surge we returned to have another vaginal sonogram. Luckily, it was during the week which made things a whole lot easier since the office was open. When the doctor did the procedure she was disappointed to only see that the Clomid only increased me to having three good follicles and possibly four. She had hoped for many more. The doctor spoke to us after the procedure. She really felt I needed to go one more month on the Clomid. First of all, it was a cheaper infertility drug. And the fact I had only been on it a month, she felt I needed to stay on it for one more month with hopes it would increase my egg production. And so, we took her advice and did just that.
I have to tell you something about the Clomid. At first while I was on it, I was fine. But as I entered my second month of taking it, oh, things didn’t go so well. My moods were TERRIBLE! I was sad one second and so mad the next. I was ready to hit my next surge and be done with the Clomid. I HATED the way I felt and I’m sure Carol wasn’t so happy about it either. In fact I know she wasn’t because I was driving her crazy. We fought a lot during that time. I had wished she had noticed it was the medicine doing a lot of the talking but you know what? I didn’t even know until I wasn’t on it anymore. Here was the thing even without the Clomid in the mix. All of the waiting and anticipation was incredibly stressful. It was more than we had ever thought. AND it was during this time the stress had hit it’s peak. The both of us I think needed the experience over and done. We were exhausted. Either I needed to get pregnant or if I couldn’t, we needed to move forward with our lives. Being in limbo was NOT a good thing for our relationship at all and nor was it good for us individually. Our infertility days needed to come to an end and soon.
When my surge hit the next month and we went back to the infertility clinic for yet another vaginal sonogram we were disappointed to see that my egg production had not increased. I had many more follicles but only three that were viable. And so, it was at that point that Carol and I decided to go ahead and have the insemination. Hell, I had gotten pregnant with two viable eggs with Judah and here I had three, so why wouldn’t it work? The doctor supported our decision. She also knew the stress was a lot on us. Our insemination was scheduled for the next day.
By the next morning as we were taking our hour drive to the infertility clinic I felt OK. Listen, by this point I felt like a pro. I knew the ins and outs (no pun) of what was going to happen. I was nervous. I won’t lie. BUT, I have to tell you. I was not at all as confident as I was when we got pregnant with Judah. In some ways I felt as if I had one of those kid toys where you have a box with the triangle, square and round shaped openings and you put the appropriately shaped blocks in their right hole. Well, for me I felt as if I was trying to SHOVE the square block in the circle hole. It just wasn’t fitting. In the same light I was trying to get pregnant but I just didn’t feel as if my body could do it. AND yet I kept trying. How many more times did I need in order to see it wasn’t going to happen. That square block was never going to fit in that circle hole.
When we arrived, we checked in at the front counter. We had fully expected to have to pay for our procedure the second we walked into the door. You know like the other facility where you had to pay before you could pass go. When the woman at the from desk told us it would be a 45 minute wait while they prepare our sperm, Carol asked her, “Do I pay you?” The woman looked at Carol funny and told her that was all handled at the time of checkout. NO FREAKING WAY!? You mean like other doctor’s offices? How humane to do that and to NOT do it in front of a filled waiting room. What a freakin concept.
Anyway, when it had come to preparing the sperm… they only began to prepare it once we had arrived which made sense. Never wanted to waste it. After we waited our 45 minutes we were called back to one of the rooms. Once in the room the nurse asked me if I was ready and then told me to try to relax. She told me to undress from the waste down, put on the robe they had and lie on the table. As she left she told us the doctor would be in shortly. Once I did all of the things she told me to do, Carol took my hand. There wasn’t much we needed to say at that point. We just both hoped it would work. A few minutes later the doctor came into the room. She asked how I was doing and also asked if I was ready. Listen, I have to tell you. There was a kindness and calmness to this doctor that was wonderful. It was evident she cared for her patients and I really needed that especially at that moment.
The doctor was ready to go so she told me to wiggle my bottom closer to her and place my feet in the stirrups. She confirmed our sperm donor and then she started the procedure. Everyone was very quiet. As she entered my vagina (with what Carol and I now knew was called the inseminator), she told me the sticky discharge I had made it perfect conditions for the insemination. That made me feel good and it made me feel relaxed. When the doctor was finished with the procedure she did something that was so sweet and special. After she was done she rubbed my leg and said, “We’re going to think positive thoughts that this will work.” The doctor then extended the bed I was on and rested my legs down. She explained how I needed to lie there for so many minutes. Before she left the room she placed her hand on my arm and said with a smile, “You did great.” Just before she left, she turned off the lights and left the room. It was funny because there was a timer on the outside of each room. It was just like an egg timer that goes tick tick… so I could hear her setting it and then it ticking.
And so there were Carol and I once again being left to our own demise in a dark room. Well, no worries folks. We were good. Carol just rubbed my tummy wishing good thoughts as I lie there for what seemed to be an eternity. After the clock outside the door went “ding” I got up from the table and got dressed. While we were walking to the check out counter the nurse wished us luck. Then once we paid for the procedure and were about to leave, the woman at the check out told us she was going to keep her finger’s crossed for us. We were just amazed by everyone’s kindness. Sadly, we hadn’t been used to it.
Well as many of you know by now, I had to wait another two weeks before I would know if I was pregnant. And as y’all know, it seemed to be an eternity for me. However, this go round I wouldn’t make it to the point of taking the pregnancy test because this go round I got my period. I was incredibly disappointed I was not pregnant. And yet in my gut I knew very early I wasn’t going to be. However, one always hopes to be wrong.
It was the first time that we had tried and it hadn’t worked. It was hard but I felt OK about it because I knew we had one more shot. Unlike the other infertility clinic this one wanted me to call whether pregnant or not. And when I called the nurse to tell her, the first thing she asked was, “Are you ok?” When she asked that question, I couldn’t help but cry. The nurse was amazing. She spent a long time with me on the phone. In fact she wouldn’t hang up with me until I was no longer crying. The nurse knew we were going to try one more time, so that was what she kept reiterating to me during our conversation. She also offered to make an appointment for us so we could meet with the doctor to go over our next course of action. I just can’t even begin to tell you how that infertility clinic stepped up especially when the reality of infertility became so hard emotionally. But, they got it and they understood. They were amazing.
My appointment with the doctor was going to be in a week. It was important during that week to grieve the last insemination and then move forward so that we could be positive for our next one. Listen, I had always been able to grieve quickly (if at all) and then move forward. Damn, it was the story of my life. However, this was getting harder and harder to do.
It was around this time I started to feel guilty for putting Carol and our son through all of this shit. Truthfully, Judah was a bit clueless about what was happening but he picked up on our stress which wasn’t good. Why did I have to have another child? Why was it SO important to me? Dammit, I had Judah who brought so much joy to my life. I should have been happy to accept just him. I should have been happy that I was able to have at least one child. But, G-d dammit people! I hadn’t realized how emotionally hard it was going to be to watch my baby grow up. And as he was growing up I hadn’t realized how much my heart would ache for another one. DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Why did I have to have another one? Why did it mean so much to me? AND WHY COULDN’T I LET IT GO!?!
I tried hard to put all of those thoughts aside and focus on our last and final insemination with hopes of all hopes this would be the one to work.