What I’d really love to do is make an infographic so that we could all see visually what a crazy journey we’ve been on so far. Until then, here’s the skinny (and I do mean skinny… for I could write for hours on the last 11 years).
2000 Gina and Regina meet. Fall in love. Oh, la-la.
2001 Party. Drugs. Sex. In general getting acquainted.
2002 Wow. We really wanna spend our lives together. Let’s get our shit together. Move to Portland, Oregon and set up camp.
2003 Buy first home. Regina says, “I wanna have kids. If you do too, let’s get married.” Gina says, “Give me one year to consider this proposal.” Regina waits patiently (the first of many small miracles to come).
2004 April. One month shy of the “one year mark” in the midst of a HUGE fight, Gina says, “I love you! I want to spend my life with you. I’ll do one kid and then we’ll see. Let’s be married.” Regina jumps for joy! Engagement proceeds.
2005 Married in front of 120 of our lovely family and friends at the gorgeous Bridal Veil Lakes in Oregon overlooking the Columbia Gorge at sunset. It was a misty day in July until we said our vows. The clouds parted and the sun shone down upon us.
We honeymoon and enjoy the year. We are clear that next year is for baby making. Regina wants to be pregnant, Gina does not. Easy peasy. Off we go.
2006 We get cracking on the baby making agenda. After lots of thought and careful consideration, we ask Donor #1 if he will be our baby-daddy. He says yes and we jump for joy! Later in the year as we make plans with said baby daddy it becomes clear that we want different things from this arrangement. With big, heavy, sad hearts, we say good-bye to donor daddy #1.
2007 Dear, dear (married, straight) friends (with one kid already) hint to us that they would be willing to “help us” make a baby. We get nervous it’s so exciting. Don’t want our hearts broken again. Nor do we want to break hearts. We ask, they say yes. This time we are uber, ultra clear on expectations. We are so aligned it’s spooky. We pay $1000 to the best lawyer in town (Beth Allen, thank you very much) to get our contract together and sorted. We all read. We sign. We start “trying”.
Cross country? Not a problem. We search online to find the latest and greatest formulas that will help us deliver our sperm right to our door.
Regina gets every book on lesbian conception (and straight conception for that matter… turns out despite the obvious difference, it’s all the same when you get right down to it).
We track cycles, insert baby-juice on various occasions and pray.
For the next two years we try “on and off” at home and do not concieve.
2007-2008 Highlights: Fed-ex looses our sperm in the mail telling us that “next day delivery” is just a marketing ploy. We change to (then) Airborn Wxpress and they lose our sperm too. Is this a message?
Our donor family says, “Hey, we’d like to get on with our life here. Vascectomy and other things… whattup?”
We aren’t ready yet so we ask them to bank their sperm at an east coast cryo-bank. They go to heroic and extraordinary efforts to do this. We are so grateful we cry.
Months later when have the frozen sperm shipped to our local reproductive center, our reproductive doc tell us that the sperm is not functional: it has less than 5% chance of getting us pregnant. What? Turns out that their cryo bank should have done a “freeze-thaw” test at the very first “donation” from our donor family. But they didn’t. And $12K later, we have nothing but broken hearts, lost time and money. We are back to square one.
2009 A rough year, indeed. In January, our beloved Idgie passes away. In February Regina was laid off. In March Gina’s father passes away. In April our tenants tell us they are moving out (recession related) so we’ve now got two mortgages to cover. Two dear friends get cancer. We grieved. Got angry. Grieved some more and when we surfaced, we took back our lives and our health.
After a fairly simple trip to our therapist, we made the choice to use a sperm donor from a sperm bank. Something we never thought we’d do. In the end, we felt excited, clear and ready. Even though the donor is anonymous to us, we chose an “open” donor so that when our child is 18, she/he may make his/her own choice about looking up her donor.
In May of 2009 we did our first insemination (IUI) with our doctor in his office. Our hopes were so high because I was only 36 and the women in my family get pregnant with a light male breeze blowing by- at any age! And we’re right! I was pregnant! For a matter of days. We learned the hard way what a biochemical pregnancy is. Also categorized as an “early miscarriage”, this will be the first of many.
June we try again. Not pregnant. July we try again, pregnant! Five days later, blood. Not pregnant.
We begin the first of many test and procedures. After the second early miscarriage, we get a slew of tests in particular, one called a hysterosalpingogram. Say that ten times fast, eh? They find a small polyp in my uterus. In August I have surgery, get it removed. We were so relieved to have finally figured out what the problem (likely) was.
September, I have a small surgery in my mouth totally unrelated to fertility. I get a small lump in my breast and have my first mammogram. It’s benign. Phew.
We skip TTC (trying to conceive) in September and by October we are trying again.
Meanwhile, we are working with an amazing health care team. By now, I have found an incredibly ND and acupuncturist I see just about weekly, energetic network chiropractor, fertility massage therapist and more.
October we conceive again but I get stomach flu and still aren’t sure if I lose the early pregnancy because of that or something else.
November no pregnancy. Medical bills are HUGE given my insurance did not cover the anesthesiologist at the hospital and by the end of the year, we’ve shelled out over $15K for all our medical stuff. We take a few months off.
2010 “This is the year we will be pregnant and have a family!” , we declare at the New Year. We are optimistic and upbeat despite the fact that this is year 4 of making this pronouncement.
Regina will start a new business and Gina will work her butt off. We’ll sell our rental in spring or summer and we’ll steer this course, dammit!
Unfortunately, it didn’t all go the way we wanted. Sparing details, suffice to say we had our fourth early miscarriage and by the October of 2010 we had a total of 10 IUI’s (2 of which we used Femara- a fertility drug and somewhere in there we changed donors as well). Previously, I’d had a 50% hit rate of getting pregnant, but now, the last three tries, nothing. Seemed things were getting worse, not better.
Things were tough all around by this point. In the midst of the greatest recession since the Great Depression, we had way less income but way increased expenses. In the end? No baby.
By November 2010 we felt at the end of our rope. Even if we were to adopt at this point, we didn’t know how we’d afford the $20K. And we certainly couldn’t afford to spend any more on making a baby. We were exhausted mentally, emotionally and financially. Defeated even; in tears and perhaps resigned.
Then, everything changed.
I (Regina) called a clairvoyant friend and asked for a reading. In the reading, I’m told right off the bat, “IVF, IVF, IVF”. Even when I asked another question off topic she’d just come back and say, “Wow. They REALLY want me to let you know that IVF is the way you are going to go…they kinda won’t let go f it. It just requires you to open yourself to receiving, being willing to allow others to support you, and a change in your mindset. I see them moving your head from facing one way to facing another. You need to look at this another way.”
Yeah, no shit. Five, ten years ago there was NO WAY I would think of doing IVF. In the last year I may have considered it but ruled it out given there was no way we could afford it. So, I ask this smarty-pants Reader about that. Great, IVF, but how is that suppose to happen?
“Does your mom have money?” She asks just as matter a fact as “Do you drink milk?” I’m sort of gob smacked. Not even sure how to answer that. My mom is retired and on a fixed income. Not suffering by any means but…before I can answer her she ways, “I see your mom handing you a check for the amount of the IVF. I see her wanting to contribute to her own legacy. I see your family surrounding and supporting you. You just need to let them. The holdback is not with the baby or them or your body, it’s with you. You need to open your heart to this. You WILL be pregnant. I DO see you pregnant. Big, carrying out in front. I see you a little bit worried during your pregnancy, but in the end all will be well. I see a girl. But you need to open your heart first.”
So, said reader-friend gave me a bit of spiritual, meditative homework. She told me to go into a lovely space in my mind and see my mom across from me. She told me connect with my mom with white light. To give thanks- from my heart to hers. “Tell her you are readying yourself to receive this gift she is about to give. Tell her that you are ready for both your hearts to give and receive openly and freely. No strings or history attached. Send her love and gratitude. Do this once a day until she calls.”
I was in shock. That is NOT what I expected at all! IVF? Mom giving us money? No way! Never on both counts! For one, I had never considered IVF (it’s not natural, too medical, blah, blah, blah… and two, I certainly hadn’t discussed it with my mom and would never think of having her “buy my baby” (that’s how it lived for me back then, evidence of how closed I was to the idea). But, as I shared the conversation with Gina I could feel in my bones that something rang true.
That night, as I went to sleep, I did the meditation practice my reader-friend told me to do. It was strange but honest. At the very least I was interested in white light, love and healing with my mom. So, I did it twice more after that.
Three days later, on a Sunday and out of the blue, my mother called me and announced that she was gifting Gina and I $12-14K for the purpose of invitro fertilization. Her exact words? “I’m gifting this money to you and Gina with an open heart, no strings attached. This is not a loan, this is a gift, given freely and openly. I want you to have your child.”
I burst into tears. Even now as I write, I cry. There are no words to describe this intimate, powerful and magical moment.
And so, two days later, we said yes. We allowed ourselves to open our own hearts to receive such an enormous gift.
We spent the next couple of months (over the holidays) really, truly taking a break. We really replenished. This break was so different from those of the past. This break we knew that when we came back, we’d have a very real, very good chance at having our baby.
And so my friends… this is where the blog begins. I’ve meant to blog for the last 5 years with all the funny bits, heartaches and stories of our journey thus far, but I never did.
Now, with this outrageously generous gift from my mom, and knowing we are so close, it became time to start.
My hope is that this blog heals, brings joy, laughter, learning, connectedness… most of all, I hope that someday, it serves as evidence to our child(ren) of how very much she/they were wanted and loved not just from Gina and I – but from ALL of his or her family… long, long before s/he even got here.