BY ELIZABETH, MOTHER OF 2-YEAR-OLD SON
I grew up thinking that getting pregnant was something that just happened, sometime after a big, fancy wedding. The details were a little sketchy for awhile, but even after I learned the basics about reproduction, I assumed it was as easy as what my gym teacher told us in ninth grade, and that somewhere in the vicinity of 100% of unprotected sexual encounters would end in a pregnancy. Turns out, that’s not exactly the case, and sometimes, no matter how young and healthy you think you are, it just doesn’t happen that way.
So at 30, I found myself in the waiting room of an expensive-looking doctor’s office to figure out how we could have the baby we’d always wanted. There were lots of options, and like the décor suggested, they were very expensive. IVF was out of our price range, but there was another option that we could afford, called IUI. I’d take some drugs to stimulate my body to make more eggs, the doctor would monitor their growth, I’d trigger my ovulation with a shot to my butt and then head into the office and have my husband’s sperm inserted into me with a syringe. You know, the way I always dreamed of becoming pregnant.
We decided to do it, but I didn’t want anyone to know. Not that we had been trying, and not that we were seeing a doctor to conceive. In some places, this is really common. For example, my friends in New York City all got pregnant this way and wouldn’t think anything of it. But in the quiet, private Midwest, I felt like it was better not to mention it.
But then, it worked. And I realized that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you get your child from a crazy night of passion or from laying on your back in a medical office while an egg timer ticks away, or from lovingly adopting. When you’re a parent, you’re a parent. And nothing else – not the journey it took to get there or what anybody else may think of it – matters at all.
So I started telling people. Quietly, at first, to close friends and family. And then publicly, on Facebook. And a funny thing happened: women came to me to ask about my experience, to share their own struggles with conceiving, to ask for the kind of support I didn’t have when we started this process. I wasn’t nearly as alone as I thought I was. I should have known that the moment I stepped foot in that big, expensive waiting room filled with women my age, but we were all too afraid to look at one another.
So yeah, first came love. Then came marriage. And then came doctors and nurses and eventually, a happy, healthy little guy to call our own. It’s not exactly the way the nursery rhyme went, but it’s a song I’m happy to sing any day.