In the spring of 2006 we finally met our fertility doctor, whom we grew to adore. But he was the one who broke the news that in vitro fertilization (IVF) was our only option for conceiving. He would be able to extract the sperm that Shelton was creating (but unable to ejaculate), extract eggs from me, and fertilize them in the lab. Two of the resulting embryos would be transferred to my womb.
But we were heartbroken, devastated, and lost. We knew we’d never be able to afford the treatment. The base fee of $10,000 for IVF was going to swell to about $20,000 with the additional costs for sperm retrieval surgery and the intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure. Our insurance wouldn’t cover these astounding costs.
We were in our early 20s and working at entry-level positions. Our companies were great, but we didn’t have 20 grand lying around.
As heavy as my heart was leaving that appointment, I wasn’t ready to give up. During the ride home the wheels in my head started turning. I told Shelton I had an idea. He sighed. Then I suggested we start a website to share our infertility story, and in return ask readers to leave a $1 donation. If we got 20,000 visitors to donate, we’d raise the funds needed for the procedure. Shelton was immediately enthusiastic.
With the help of a very dear and generous friend who runs a web development company, we launched BabyOrBust.com on July 1, 2006. It was the first IVF fundraiser blog, and we enjoyed a media blitz that included a CBS Early Show appearance, national newspaper coverage, and radio show interviews. We were overwhelmed by the attention, and right away we started receiving donations from around the globe.
On our site people could learn about us and see how we were different. Shelton and I rarely take anything more seriously than is necessary. As our inbox exploded with e-mails from couples facing our same reality, we heard from many who were bitter, depressed, and angry. We understood that this journey takes people to “that place,” but it wasn’t a place we would go. We remained hopeful and positive about where this road would lead us. A healthy dose of humor helped us keep our sanity and focus on our goal in spite of this setback.
Funds raised via the site, combined with years of saving, finally made it possible for us to pay the fertility clinic. In the summer of 2009, Shelton had surgery to retrieve viable sperm. Then on August 5 we transferred two of our 10 embryos, hopeful that at least one would take. After years of trying, waiting, and watching everyone around us start families, we felt like our turn was so close, and yet still impossibly out of reach.
Two weeks later, on August 17, our incredible nurse called to say that we were “absolutely, positively pregnant!” I will never forget those three words and the way they hung in the air. I cried, and Shelton and I hugged and stared starry-eyed at each other in disbelief that it actually worked. One try, literally all of our eggs in one basket, and we were pregnant.
That sense of surrealism continued throughout my pregnancy. We anxiously waited to cross into the coveted second trimester, cruised through the third, and then counted down to our due date. I delivered our little girl, Paisley Joon, on April 27, 2010, a birthday she shares with her daddy. In the moment she was born I saw a real-life miracle and our dreams made tangible in the form of a beautiful, healthy baby.
We took our struggle with a grain of salt, yet let every moment be a lesson to learn more about ourselves, patience, and gratitude. Instead of drowning our sorrows we beat them out of our chests with laughter. We did and still do believe that positivity, hope, and humor are what made our baby a reality. And Paisley Joon has proven that every minute of our six-year wait was worthwhile.
This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Conceive.
Baby or Bust|
Aug 23, 2010
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