I am infertile. Though my arms ache for a baby, my body does not know how to make one. My husband is infertile. Though the desire for children to love always motivated his hard work, his body cannot bring those children forth. In my crueler, darker moments, the word "broken" seems more apt, like cracked, useless toys set aside or thrown away. When I'm really feeling evil, I'll toss around the word "barren," mostly because I enjoy the wince I see in other people's eyes. Oh, it's so deliciously NOT P.C., the word "barren," as it connotes a desert wasteland, empty, unloving, dry. But, it's only fair. "Fertile" brings to mind greenery, moist earth, flowering plants, a rainbow of life and colors. "Infertile" is hardly the inverse, with its clinical, distant tone. "Barren" seems more appropriate, the true opposite of fertility. It is more akin to the reality I carry around in my heart.
For those who are curious as to how something like this happens, I'll delve into the sordid details. If such things make you squeamish, skip ahead to the next paragraph. I have endometriosis, a condition in which the lining of my uterus grows where it shouldn't, all over my pelvic wall and adjoining organs. In addition to causing chronic pain, this environment is hostile to poor little eggs and sperm. I like to imagine a nerdy 5th grader walking through the rough and tumble halls of an inner-city high school. Not good. Additionally, I have the eggs of someone much older than myself, that is to say fewer and of poorer quality. The good news is, I'll probably stop having back-breaking menstrual cramps much earlier than expected. The bad news is, we need to be quick and aggressive with our infertility treatments. I'm nearly 30 on the outside, but closer to 38 in my ovaries. My husbands sperm is painfully "special," both slow moving and deformed. That means that, should they brave the deadly halls of Endometriosis High School, they're unlikely to make it to an egg before they die, and the few that arrive, albeit huffing and puffing, will be so ugly and awkward, puncturing the egg wall will be too hard. Poor spermies.
Doctors looking over our case have given us .3% chance of conceiving on our own. POINT 3. As in, one third of one percent. Pretty dim outlook. Furthermore, we were informed that the cheaper approaches to infertility treatments, such as IUI (intra-uterine insemination, aka the turkey baster method) would be a total waste of our time and money. Only the mack-daddy of treatments, IVF (in vitro fertilization) in conjunction with ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) would ever get us knocked up. This treatment costs nearly $12,000 per attempt, and is only about 30-50% likely to work for a woman with my age and egg problems. With hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of law school debt, it's not realistic any time soon. However, as stated above, my eggs are tapping their toes and pointing at their watches.
Enter INCIID, the InterNational Council for Infertility Information Dissemination. They award IVF scholarships to couples in need. After submitting our tax information from the last two years, a personal statement, and letters from Reproductive Endocrinologists working on our case, we were accepted as finalists! The next step is to spread the word. Over 6 million other American couples out there are suffering just as we have, most of them in painful silence. Infertility is often embarrassing and shameful, and INCIID seeks to ease the pain of infertility, pregnancy loss, and adoption woes with community support, information, and a network of compassionate health care professionals. INCIID has asked us to reach out to our family and friends and educate them about the plight of the infertile. All finalists are charged with raising $3,500 for INCIID's basic operating expenses through public events and fundraisers meant to build understanding of this problem. Once we complete the fundraising, INCIID will match us with doctors and pharmacies that will donate their time and services to us.
We have been expressly asked NOT to pay the donation ourselves, as it would defeat the purpose of public outreach. It would be so much easier if we could. It would be so much easier if we could just quietly pay for all of IVF ourselves and keep our defunct reproductive organs private. Heck, it would be WAY easier if we could just get pregnant when we wanted to like most of our family and friends. However, that is not our current lot. So, here we are, exposing our frailty and flaws, reaching out to you and yours, asking your compassion and generosity, not just for us, but for the millions of hurting men and women INCIID serves. Help this organization continue to do the amazing work that it does. Help those who really want to love a child do so.
Stay tuned for the story of our IVF journey...