Ever since I realized I was a lesbian, I’ve spent much of my life trying to be “normal”. For the most part, I think I achieved it, which is a paramount success for anyone who has a coming out story. The problem was that I was so good at it, it was sometimes easy to forget that some things would have to be different. This was especially palpable because I’ve always wanted children. I got married, got a stable job, bought a house, and was following the general road to adulthood, but there wasn’t any chance that we were going to have any “happy accident” babies. Unfortunately, this would take some planning.
Maybe every child should be planned for to some extent, but I idealize the heterosexual way of being able to “not not be trying” or “pulling the goalie” in hopes that you can get pregnant without the added stress or intent purpose. There’s still an allowance for intimacy while you play the odds and see where divine intervention takes you.
From the very beginning, our path was one of conventionality. I’ve heard many stories of getting pregnant in a cheaper, more intimate, DIY way, but I couldn’t wrap my head around all of that planning and the process already felt clinical enough that it made sense to us to continue it in a clinic.
We started with a trip to the doctor to figure out how this even works. Katie was sent to take a few tests after which we were informed that, together, we are infertile. I want to pause here to say that the process wasn’t as ignorant or blind as this comment makes it seem. The doctors and nurses were all wonderful, smart and completely open. But they have certain rules to play by, and those rules are made by insurance companies. Because of that, we weren’t allowed to act from a common assumption that two eggs don’t make a baby. There still have to be six “tries” before any of this would be covered and even then we were lucky Katie was in the over 35 bracket to help with costs if it got to that point.
The things is, I wasn’t surprised that this wouldn’t be covered because we never expected it to be. In some states nothing is covered, straight or gay, but it struck me as backwards that for people who plan responsibly there are so many hurdles and financial burdens to overcome. I’ve heard of couples who save their money and plan to keep trying until it runs out. I thought this set a tight limitation, but I can see how people could drive themselves into debt over trying to get pregnant, especially if there’s no clear-cut medical reason why it’s not working. You save money to buy a house, maybe a well-deserved vacation, but you don’t usually consider that you’re saving for the chance to get pregnant.
I have lobbied for the idea that we should have a baby shower before we were pregnant and people could give money towards sperm the same way they might give money towards a couple’s honeymoon as a wedding present. I was never outwardly vetoed and now Katie’s pregnant, so I can’t help but feel that I was being purposefully ignored for some reason.
Besides money, there are some other issues I found to be hidden headaches. The first was a mandatory trip to see a social worker. I’ve heard since that not all doctor’s offices do this, but at ours it was required. At first, I thought it was a strange test to see if we were fit parents, something I’m told is proven by the fact that I constantly question it. It was explained to us that this was a requirement for “all” couples, but it was clear it was a policy designed for straight couples dealing with the emotional ramifications of entering into the infertility process. But try as we might, Katie and I always knew we weren’t having children the old fashioned way.
The other oddity we encountered was that we had to get a form notarized to have sperm thawed. This had to be done not just once, but every two months, which we quickly realized feels like it comes up all the time. The frequency of this didn’t make sense to me so I can only guess that they have access to a closed-loop security camera of these awkward interactions, which are always punctuated by people taking out their glasses to make sure they read every word of a form that’s heavily populated by the word “Sperm”.
Speaking of sperm, (I just love to start sentences that way) that was another decision we would have to make and more money we’d have to spend.