Hi there, I’m Sarah. For some inexplicable, biological reason, I’ve always wanted to have kids – and by have kids I meant the whole shebang, conceive, gestate, birth, raise, try not to screw up too badly. It’s very weirdly animalistic, this urge. That fact that I’m a lesbian seemed (and still seems) like an insignificant detail.
When Tammy and I started dating 4 years ago, I was pretty clear from the beginning that I wanted to have kids. Tammy also wanted to have kids, but had absolutely no interest in giving birth, and she also wanted to be married first. I truly did not mind the idea of birthing a couple of bastard children, but Tammy didn’t find that idea as funny as I did. So we did the square, conventional thing and got married, then bought a house (although we did live in sin for a few years before the marriage).
For my birthday this year, Tammy bought me a vial of sperm and a date with a piece of cold medical equipment (cue the doctor saying “relax your knees. You’re going to feel cold and pressure”). And then…nothing happened. We did four rounds of unmedicated IUI (Intrauterine Insemination, where the doctor runs a catheter through your cervix and deposits washed sperm directly into your uterus), and then two rounds of IUI with clomid and triggered ovulation. Clomid is a drug used to make you ovulate (if you don’t on your own) or produce more eggs (if you do). It comes with some charming menopausal side effects (hot flashes, night sweats, bloating…)
At first, all of those negatives, while disappointing, didn’t seem that worrisome. We would chant to ourselves about how young I am (mid twenties) how healthy, how all of the tests (including the excruciatingly painful HSG) came back with the all clear. But that shit just wasn’t working. And the doctor didn’t know why, except to ever so helpfully point out that maybe I wasn’t “the most fertile person” she’d ever seen.
Then we came to try number 7 (the third medicated cycle), and during the two week wait I did my ritualistic christening of the pee stick, obsessive message board and blog reading, and careful (hysterical) interpretation of every twinge and burble. This symptom interpretation was harder this round, as I was on progesterone supplements for the first time. Progesterone supplements (or naughty pills as they are known around these parts) are either intramuscular injections or vaginal suppositories. Guess which kind I had? Progesterone supplements will drive you out of your damn mind, because they give you every pregnancy symptom in the book – exhaustion, nausea, cramping, tender breasts, etc.
And then, the day before I was supposed to go in for my pregnancy test at the doctor’s office, I got a positive one at home. I almost didn’t believe it. But sure enough, my blood work at the doctor’s the next day was positive. Seeing that beautiful second line was one of the best moments of my life.
…until I started to google my HCG number and saw that it was low. Really low. And subsequent beta testing showed that my HCG wasn’t rising at all. My doctor called it a biochemical pregnancy, but I hate that term. It sounds like it wasn’t a real pregnancy, but it was goddammit, it WAS. I’ve chosen to call it what it is, without any qualifiers: a miscarriage.
It may seem strange to you to mourn something that wasn’t even a baby yet, and something (what?) that was only a few weeks old. But I grieved like someone I had known all my life had died. I’m still grieving, in fact, even though we tried again right away. I’m grieving for my baby that never was, I’m grieving for the toll this has taken on Tammy and my relationship, I’m grieving for the stress the drugs and crippling anxiety have put on my body. And I’m grieving for myself, for this idea of myself as a healthy and complete woman, whose body had never let her down before. I’m grieving because of the questions that pop up in my head at particularly bad moments; questions like “am I really a woman if I can’t even perform a basic goddamn biological function?” Questions like “are the haters right? Is there a god, and is s/he punishing me for being a lesbian?” Questions like “All those stupid things I did in high school and college – did I somehow damage my eggs and they’re all shit quality now?”
I wish I knew. I get the results of our eighth attempt tomorrow (fourth medicated), but it doesn’t look good. If it’s negative, Tammy will call for my file from the doctor’s office (I’m too much of a wimp) and we’ll make the switch to a new doctor (which is a discussion worthy of a post in and of itself).
This is where our story starts.