Girls “lucky” enough to have periods like clockwork and a basal body temperature that indicates exactly when their little eggs spurt into their system can inseminate at home. The sperm bank will send the cryo tank to your doorstep with thawing instructions and a syringe-like apparatus to deliver the goods.
That all sounds very romantic and fun to me, but it was not something we could afford to try. A runner since elementary school, I’ve almost always been a skinny thing, and my periods have never been regular. My basal body temperature chart matched nothing you’d find in the examples on the internet and I wasn’t even sure I was ovulating. When you’re paying $800 for a squirt of sperm, you want a good chance at conception.
The sperm bank recommended the fertility drug Clomid. My doctor recommended working with a fertility expert. My expert, Carol (bless her, but sorry ladies she has retired), recommended that I do four thing.
- stop running
- gain weight
- take thyroid medicine
- take birth control pills until my thyroid was where she wanted it so they could control my hormone levels
So yes, I was the one in the Big Wild Lesbian t-shirt buying birth control pills so I could try and get pregnant…
Gaining weight was fun.
I got to indulge my sweet tooth and eat all the ice cream I wanted. It surprised me, though, how much I identified as a slender person. As my pant size went up, I missed my old body, my pre pre-baby body as I called it – because I wasn’t even pregnant yet.
I didn’t stop running. I couldn’t. Running is my release, my meditation. I did ease up on my training and let go (mostly) of my elite runner status and competitive ways. It took so long to get pregnant that we now have friends who don’t even know I’m a serious runner and people in the racing community who probably think I moved to California. I look at winning times and think, I could do that. I could win that race. But then I stop myself. I could have won that race, four years ago, when I was in shape, when I was training hard.
I have new priorities now.
Struggling to get pregnant was such good preparation for parenthood. We had lessons on finance, identity, letting go, scheduling, and changes to our bodies.
Once we got my thyroid where we wanted it to be, we started the insemination cycles. I took Clomid for five days (I hope I never have to take that drug again. The migraines were horrible and got worse each time we used it.). Then I had an ultrasound to see how my eggs were doing and when the insemination would be. Thirty-six hours before the insemination, I gave myself a shot of HcG in the abdomen to help release the egg.
We did the insemination (intra-uterine insemination or IUI for those that like acronyms) at the clinic, and it was pretty fun. The nurse let us see the sperm under the microscope – they look just like cartoon sperm but without the eyes. My partner held my hand during the procedure. As I rested on the table afterward we’d sing, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
For two weeks after the insemination, we’d wait (sometimes more patiently than other times). I was supposed to take it easy and pretend that I was pregnant (no drinking or heavy exercise). One time I went for a jog and got a cramp so bad I knew I had lost whatever had been started. I only walked after that.
After two weeks, if my period had not yet come, I would take a pregnancy test. I had all the visions and dreams of surprising my partner with the positive stick, but that little blue line never appeared.
We were going to have to find another way to have a baby.
About the author: Laura is a writer, runner, wife, mother, lesbian and Alaskan. She and her partner live in a small house in Anchorage with their daughter, who is the light of their lives even when she is spitting up on them at 3 am.