I dumped my first sperm donor and went on to one with a success rate. Now my RE wanted to up the ante on the follicle promotion and put me on injections. Twice a day I’d give myself a shot of follistim to increase my egg count more than clomid. I’m someone who has to turn my head when I have blood drawn. I asked a married friend who’d been down this road if she had to, could she have given herself the shots. She said, “no way.” Her husband would leave work to come administer them to her or she’d have to enlist the help of a neighbor.
The first shot I did in my RE’s office. The nurse held my sweaty hand gripping the needle. “Okay, on the count of three. One, two, three.” I couldn’t do it. We’d start over again and again.
“I’ve jumped out of an airplane and bungee jumped five times. Why can’t I do this?” I said, now sweating profusely. It was more the psychological factor of stabbing myself in the stomach with a needle. I’d always thought it’s a good thing I wasn’t diabetic and had never been bitten by a rabid animal. Death would be imminent.
On the next count of three, I asked myself how badly I wanted a baby and plunged the needle in my stomach. “Ow!” I said.
“Did it hurt?” the nurse asked surprised.
“No, I guess that was just a reaction,” I said, taken aback that it really hadn’t hurt.
By the next week, I was giving myself the shots while talking on the phone, not even interrupting the caller to tell them what I was about to do. I’d give myself shots at work in the restroom. I wondered if those in neighboring stalls, who might have smelled the alcohol swabs or spotted the needle in the feminine hygiene bin thought I was a heroin addict.
Sometimes I’d be told to administer the shot in my thigh. The trigger shots went into my rear end which demanded more skill, a mirror, and good aim.
I named the donors based on their baby photo. Mr. Right donor #1 was referenced as Kitty Boy as he held a kitten in his photo. Roll of the fertility dice #2 was Overalls Boy, my second IUI, but first medicated one. This popular fertility clinic had standing-room-only in the waiting area on several visits but was riddled with sloppy mistakes.
After my first failed IUI the RE said, “It’s too bad you didn’t respond to the estradoil,” a medication intended to thicken my lining that the clomid thinned. No one had ever given me a prescription for this. The blood work technician repeatedly drew blood for more tests than needed, which was more gauging as I was paying a la carte. I’d been waitlisted for a reproductive endocrinologist whom I had seen giving a speech at a fertility conference at Cedars Sinai, months earlier. Then I finally got in to see Dr. Najmabadi. On his desk was a plaque of the serenity prayer. He ran a private practice, also in Beverly Hills, but with less fanfare than the other place. I was a few days into my protocol for my first IVF (invitro fertilization). Dr. Naj. thought an IVF might be premature and switched the cycle to an IUI with donor #3, the water polo player. I figured if the sperm donor was into water sports, maybe his sperm could swim stronger and faster. I figured wrong.
Roll of the fertility dice #4 was an IVF which increased not only the odds of getting pregnant but also the cost, from roughly under $1k to $15k. In invitro fertilization, the eggs are removed under surgery, fertilized and grown before being put back in a few days later. And in the case of older eggs, ICSI (another $1500) is also performed where they inject the sperm into the egg with a needle because the egg shell hardens in older women’s eggs, making it difficult for sperm to penetrate.
This round, I decided to have a duel. Every donor thus far had been from the California Cryobank. This round, I enlisted a new candidate from the Fairfax Cryobank based out of Virginia. I had Dr. Naj thaw both vials and review them in the microscope to see which vial had better swimmers: the water polo player or the rugby captain. It was a close tie. We went with water polo player. He sank again.
Now, feeling the toll of being jacked up on the roller coaster of hormones for four solid months, I took a break for a month. I met a guy.
My friend Nancy returned home from taking me to get my eggs transferred. Her husband and houseguest, a guy named Bruce, wanted to know where she’d been. Bruce was so intrigued with this bold single woman wanting so badly to have a child, she’d brave it solo, he wanted to meet me. Nancy and her husband had known this guy for years and years. He’d joined them on their trips to Telluride in the summers where they’d had long hikes and he’d talked about wanting to be a father.
It was a storybook beginning. I could hear myself a decade in the future talking about how I met my husband. It made for an interesting first date for him to already know I clearly wanted children and that I was on a very immediate timeline. This gave all new meaning to term speed dating. The relationship ended even more quickly than it began. I didn’t miss a beat. My one-month holding pattern was finished and I was ready for the next roll of the fertility dice.
Donor #5 was Mr. Tie-breaker from the previous spermathon. He was 6'2", adorable (rated in the top five best looking at Fairfax) blonde-haired, blue-eyed, captain of his rugby team and as best I could surmise an alumni of my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. Besides the stellar medical history, scoring well in optimism and extrovertedness, he was smart and seemed likable. He was both athletic and musically gifted. Well, at least he played the guitar. He had a nice voice with a hint of a southern accent if you listened carefully on certain words.
His audiotape interview indicated the one celebrity he’d like to meet was Marilyn Monroe. I was born the same day and year Marilyn died. Under “best vacation,” he mentioned a trapeze school at a resort he went to. The only Club Med I’ve ever been to had a trapeze school, and after mastering a simple knee hang trick, they put me in the show. I’d liked it so much, I took a few trapeze classes when I got back home. It was meant to be. We were sperm mates.
I’d now sunk forty grand into this endeavor. My mother would say, “You can’t just keep dolling out fifteen thousand after fifteen thousand on IVFs.”
Other people would ask, “So how many times are you going to try?” or “Have you considered adoption?” Both are some of the worst things you want to hear when your goal of a baby of your own is all you can envision. My older brother, upon learning my decision to have a child on my own, stopped speaking to me.
Read Part Four
photo: Classic Kids Photography