One of the most challenging parts of this whole experience is something I never really thought about before I started trying to get pregnant. I was worried about the financial strain, physical discomfort, the emotional roller coaster of possibly having to try again and again. But I never really thought about how much I would rail against the fact that I have to rely on so many other people to help me make this happen.
I am one of those people who groans every time I'm forced to do something as part of a "team." I dreaded group projects in grad school and I have to give myself major pep talks in order to participate in group efforts at work without having a grumbly attitude. Although I have loved ones who would be willing to help me with various tasks, I always prefer to do it myself. I'd rather strap that full-sized Christmas tree to the top of my own car, lug it up three flights of stairs, and wrangle it into the tree stand all by myself rather than rely on someone to help me. (Instead, I invite them over for cocoa and snacks to help me decorate - the fun part!) Most of my furniture has at least one major ding in it from my struggle to get it from the antique store, into and out of my small car, and up to my third story bedroom all by myself. I hate asking for help because I feel like people are thinking, "How sad! She's single and all alone, so I guess I'll have to pitch in to help her." Like I'm a little old widow whose kind neighbors offer to get her mail from the end of the driveway when it snows. Probably I'm the only one thinking this, but it's a stubborn thought. I don't want to be pitiful and all alone.
Recently, my boss pointed out, after first asking if I was the oldest child in my family, "It seems like you think you have to do everything yourself." Without coming right out and saying so directly, it was obvious that he thought I needed to collaborate more with my colleagues in other departments to solve problems. Given that I had come to him asking for resources to hire another person for my one-person department, I was not in the mood for such a comment at that moment. But the more I thought about it, I realized he was probably (at least partly!) right and have since taken steps toward more collaboration.
But I've thinking about this whole idea of collaboration in other aspects of my life, too. Several times throughout this process of trying to conceive, I have been frustrated with all of the logistics involved and with all of the scheduling required, with having to let so many people in on very personal information, with having the tools I need held by other people and having to beg and cojole them into letting me use them. "I wish I could just get pregnant by having sex and leave all of these other people out of my business!" I have thought. But I'm the one who decided this was the better route. I could have tried to get pregnant the 'old-fashioned way,' but since I haven't met the person I want to raise a child with, that seemed like a good way to invite a lot of drama and heartache into my life and the life of my child. So as much I sometimes hate it, I've decided to make this a team effort, inviting a full roster of helpers onto my journey:
- A young man I've never met generously donates his life-giving little gametes to the sperm bank.
- A technician at the bank does some magic to turn them into a beautiful vial of healthy swimmers, which are then frozen.
- Someone at the bank processes my order on the back end and arranges delivery with the lab at my clinic.
- Meanwhile, I also give the lab a heads up and the lab manager documents everything, making sure all authorizations have been signed.
- One of the young women at the clinic front desk takes my call when a new cycle starts and gets me scheduled for a mid-cycle follicle check ultrasound.
- My nurse practioner's medical assistant discusses next steps and calls in prescriptions for Letrozole (to encourage timely ovulation, which has been off due to stress :-/) and an hcg trigger shot.
- A local pharmacist prepares the Letrozole and a pharmacy tech hands it over and takes my payment.
- An out-of-state pharmacy rep takes my call to order the trigger shot, takes my payment over the phone, and schedules the FedEx delivery.
- Another pharmacist prepares my trigger shot package.
- Several other pharmacy and FedEx workers are involved in delivering the package to my home a few days later.
- A driver delivers the sperm to the clinic where it is received by lab staff.
- Technicians at the lab make sure the sperm is kept frozen and correctly labeled.
- My acupuncturist inserts those tiny needles in exactly the right places to boost egg quality, blood flow, and overall awesomeness.
- My therapist helps me to process all of the emotions involved in trying to create a life.
- Front desk staff at the clinic check me in for my ultrasound appointment.
- A medical assistant escorts me to a darkened room and cheerily instructs me (as if I haven't been there fifteen times before!) to undress from the waist down.
- A nurse or sonographer searches for good follicles on her screen and instructs me when to trigger.
- The front desk staff schedules me for an IUI and directs me to the lab.
- The lab manager schedules a 'thaw' for my vial of sperm.
- A couple days later, technicians at the clinic lab thaw out my sperm and prep it for the big moment.
- The front desk staff and medical assistant herd me along again.
- In the grand finale, a nurse practitioner delivers thawed sperm right into my uterus, where they begin their journey toward that eager egg.
- And I haven't even mentioned all of the support being given throughout this process by friends and family members. I have only told a few but those I've confided in have been loving and supportive and generous with prayers, cheers and open ears.
But I think this is one of the lessons I'm meant to learn before a child comes into my life. I think I'm supposed to learn that being a fully present and contributing human on this planet involves both giving and receiving, and it involves complex connections with others, and a willingness to rely on other people. Much like the folks in that photo of the wall-climb, I need to be willing to let others push, pull, guide and encourage me on the path to my goal. (I recently did a wall climb similar to that, though I can't find the pics, unfortunately. It was a scary, painful, vulnerable and amazing experience!) Whether on the ropes course or in everyday life, sometimes it's important to give up control and allow others to take on parts of the larger task. Sometimes it means having faith that my partners in this project will not let me down - that the sperm will arrive at the clinic by the right day, that the prescription will be ready in time, that the providers know what they are doing when they say no more Letrozole. As much I would love to have it all under my control... I don't think that's what God or the Universe wants for me. I've faced this lesson before - on the ropes course, for example, or when I had a serious injury and had to rely on others to help me do everything. But I've never really permanently learned the lesson I think I need to learn.
I'm really, really trying this time. I have an appointment on Monday to 'check in' with my nurse practitioner at the fertility clinic about next steps. I've used Letrozole six times already and they usually cut patients off after four. I'm worried that my cycle will get longer again without the drugs, mostly because I'll be anxious about that possibility! But I am trying to have faith that things will work out. I have an amazing acupuncturist, who woke up my Rip Van Winkle-y left ovary after only two visits and has moved ovulation up to Day 15 (it had been as late as Day 22 when I was in full-on stress mode at the beginning of this process). So, I am going to be open to what my ARNP says on Monday, and know that I will continue with IUIs regardless. Sometimes, it's easy to focus so narrowly on one particular way of getting to a goal, and to panic when it appears that pathway may be blocked. But I am reminding myself that there might actually be different paths that I haven't even considered yet. Meanwhile, I'm going to try really, really hard not to let myself worry about them, one way or the other!
May we all be open to new possibilities and willing to receive assistance from unexpected corners,