I wanted to be a mom but would not settle for the wrong relationship just to have a baby. This desire for single motherhood leads me through 6 IUI procedures and eventual IVF. Spoiler alert, at the end it was all worth it; but the journey, however, was an emotional roller coaster. My story is not unique; the lows are shared by other single women and couples desperately trying to be parents. I did virtually no research before jumping in, I was not prepared for the toll. I hope my story can prepare and inspire at least one woman to take the leap.
“A Grand Adventure is About to Begin – Winnie the Pooh
Jumping Right In:
I did a search for fertility clinics in my area and made an appointment. I can’t even remember if I had even read any reviews of the clinic! The good news is I chose very well. All the rigor I had lacked in my decision making was covered by an efficiently and ethically run clinic. In hindsight I can say a clinic should have a drastic amount of red tape to protect all parties involved; there should be excessive amounts of screening for the health status of all participants, and there should be a very clear plan or protocol.
The first appointment was with the primary physician which served to kick off my physical and mental health screening. Sometimes I wonder how many women or couples never come back after the first consultation. The daunting paperwork alone could determine prospective parents. There were contracts to protect a donor from future financial responsibility, contracts to protect privacy, and of course, there was no guarantee of a healthy baby at the end of the procedure(s).
Choosing The Donor:
The next step was probably the most surreal part of the whole procedure – I call it “Catalogue Shopping for a Donor”. I took my sister with me for this part of the process. We met with a specialist who helped review profiles and determine what characteristics I was looking for in a donor. The donor I searched for shared the same ethical background as me. As a future single mom, I was going to have a lot of explaining to do and I didn’t want “why do I look different” to be one. I also excluded donors who had pronounced physical attributes not already in our family (like a large nose). Again I was looking for homogeny. I gave little merit to education, careers, and hobbies while choosing – I think I lean a little more nurture vs. nature.
At the end of the session, I had chosen a donor who looked like he could be family.
The method artificial insemination I opted for was IUI. This link has a very easy description of both IUI and IVF.
I started with an insemination protocol. There were tests and medications to increase success. Blood tests and ultrasounds were part of my day-to-day life, you quickly lose any sense of privacy or modesty when there is a team evaluating your body repeatedly. After a nurse performed the in-utero insemination, there were two weeks of wait and see. It was not successful.
I remember clearly getting the call from the clinic a few hours after the pregnancy test with the news. At this point, two weeks of me thinking I could be a mother, making decisions on what to eat or drink for the health of this baby had passed. When the call on my cell came in I was at work and it took everything in my power to make it down four flights of stairs and out to my car before bursting into tears. I cried and cried. There was a terrible loss, a loss for something I had never actually had but still loved with all of my heart.
I did IUI five more times after that and each time it was harder and harder to try again.
The doctor recommended moving my protocol to IVF, which was a very good thing because I was at the point of giving up on IUI and the emotional upheaval every month. I knew I was only going to try IVF once so I put al little research into this time, and discovered the correlation of acupuncture and increased success with IVF.
I sought out a fertility recommended acupuncturist. The acupuncturist I chose came highly recommended but it was a little unnerving going to this rather dank basement clinic every day. But not to judge a book by its cover I fully embraced the acupuncture, wheatgrass drinks and a horribly tasting tonics the Eastern practitioner cooked up for me to drink several times a day. I joke with the children now that I drank trees and mud to have them…but it was not funny or tasty at the time.
IVF requires a lot of injections- at least daily! The first needle I gave myself I learned an important lesson; it hurts more when you hesitate, after that, I was ruthless in my daily routine. My belly and hips were bruised and tender from the repeated shots. For a month my life circled around a schedule of shots.
The harvesting procedure took place in the clinic. While awake for the harvest you are heavily medicated and on an IV to inject more as required. Honestly, I don’t remember much except having orders barked at me to “push like I had to poo” apparently one of my ovaries was really high up can the suction/harvesting tube could not reach. Despite my pushing (maybe, not 100% sure I followed orders in that state) only one ovary could be harvested from. I was lucky that eight healthy ova were collected and all took to fertilization well. A couple of days later I was back at the clinic to have them implanted. The doctor gave me a picture of the two bundles of cells that were being transferred to me and said they scored a ten for feasibility.
For the next few weeks I was terrified to move in case I somehow jeopardized my last attempt at biological motherhood. I continued with acupuncture but after one visit the smell of the clinic’s parking garage had me tossing my cookies; “Could this mean I was pregnant?” I did not want to get my hopes up and repeated over and over again that all of the injections, medications, and stress were probably making me nauseous. From about a week after the procedure, I never went anywhere without a pail.
A few weeks later I went to the clinic for the pregnancy test and ultrasound. I didn’t have to wait a few hours for the pregnancy test to come back because there were two little single chamber hearts beating in the ultrasound. My heart overflowed with love and a whole bunch of emotions I can’t even articulate. Actually for about 10 minutes after finding out I couldn’t talk, I just held up 2 fingers to my sister who waited in the reception area.
You can read more about why I chose to be a single mom and my wonderful children here…but most of all I want to hear from other people getting ready for this adventure or who took the trip (scars and all). Please feel free to comment or reach out to me one-on-one, Kim.