The process of starting a family has felt abstract for years. Well, truthfully, it wasn’t something I ever anticipated doing. When my husband and I met, we both sighed with relief that the other person didn’t want to have children. Ten years ago, sitting at a party and drinking cheap vodka, we were young – just a handful of years out of college, although we felt like total adults. He worked for a hotel, I worked as a secretary. We went to baseball games on summer evenings after work, played Nintendo in bed, and ate food that came through drive-up windows. We were happy and carefree and blissfully unaware of the road that lay ahead.
As it turns out, that road was shit for many years. And as it also turns out, those early days of romance weren’t without their problems – including the fact that sex was intermittently painful for me and resulted in a stomach-turning amount of bleeding. But my gynecologist said such things were normal and sent me home with the advice to “relax,” plus a bag of KY. But lube and mindfulness weren’t the answer, and things got progressively worse over the years. Some of my darkest days have been lived out with this devoted, courageous, selfless man standing (or laying) at my side. He has seen me through hell without flinching in his devotion to me.
Because this post isn’t about my pain story, I’ll fast-forward through a few years here to the point that we want to have kids. I’m totally healthy, as is our relationship. We’ve fortified it and worked on it to ensure it’s healed from the damage that years of illness inflicted upon it. Anyone who’s battled through such devastation knows how it impacts relationships; pain guts you, and then it begins to gut your relationships and those you love. It’s a horrific thing to experience and watch, but also to remember. We had to heal from that. And when we did, we built a business together, we made a home together, and we fell more deeply in love.
This man is my best friend, and I trust him implicitly. He’s held my life, my essence, in his hands – and he’s protected it and me with ferocity and love. And for all of these reasons, I want to have children with this man. I want to teach those new little lives about love, tenacity, dedication, perseverance, and sheer, unadulterated joy. So, when we wrestled with how to start a family and settled on surrogacy, that was an exciting and empowering choice. I could have biological children with him, but I didn’t need to put my body through anything else – well, aside from a quick little egg-freezing procedure, but that’s nothin’. Right?
It’s felt very abstract, and I’ve been routinely forgetting that it’s scheduled to begin in just two weeks. Until yesterday, when I saw my therapist, as I do every Tuesday. See, my therapist has long planned to take leave from today until mid-May to address a personal matter. We’ve discussed that she wouldn’t be available while I’m going through IVF, and we’ve talked about how that felt. I felt ready and prepared and totally cool about it all. Until I realized that it’s really happening. When we bid adieu yesterday, her parting words were to take care of myself, and she’d see me when I’m just a few days from retrieval.
Hold the fu**ing phone. You mean this is really happening? At that moment, a colony of butterflies flew into my stomach (already weakened from food poisoning last week), and they haven’t left.
All of a sudden, I’m freaked out. I’m scared of: the needles, the labs, the frequent vaginal ultrasounds, the anesthesia (which often makes me puke), the unknown emotions I’ll feel, the quantity of eggs they’ll get, the possibility of ovarian torsion or hyperstimulation or something else about which I haven’t even been warned yet, the discomfort of having a bloated belly, the way my clothes will feel, the impact on my exercise routine, my sleep, and those needles. This is really happening.
Because my fertility doctor is wonderful, she also completely anticipated this would happen. It’s the reason why she scheduled all of my so-called “boot camp” visits for next week. She said there was no reason to worry about it all in advance – it’s better to just get in and get done with it. I feel like, in a way, this was my last week of summer vacation, and somebody ruined it by reminding me of what’s to come next week. But that’s not really accurate, is it? Because I chose this. I choose this. This gets me and us what we want so deeply. I’m strong now, and I can do this. My body is the strongest it’s ever been. My partner and relationship are strong too, as are my friendships. I have some really badass girlfriends who will rally around me and my swollen ovaries, who’ll dry any irrational tears that may fall, and who’ll hug me til I can’t breathe.
I got this. But I’ve also got some major butterflies, and I’m again reminded that even “normal” feelings can be scary.