When I spotted the two storks with their spindly legs awkwardly plodding through the marsh grass at my friend Lillianna’s house the month before my IVF was to take place, I knew it was a good sign.
Lillianna and I met through a TTC (trying to conceive) listserv for single women, most of whom were doing so through the use of anonymous donors. The problem with this route to motherhood, or at least in my case and Lillianna’s, is that by the time you conclude that you can’t kiss another frog in search of a father for your children and by the time that you’re mature enough to accept that you need to move to plan B, your fertility is ebbing… fast, and fertility treatments, good reader, do not come cheap. And while the love of my life had been elusive, so too had cash.
I had a crappy insurance plan that covered 70 percent of fertility treatments up to $15,000, except for those expenditures in the fine print, and those weren’t covered at all. Lillianna had a crappy insurance plan that didn’t cover fertility treatments at all. While I was making trips back and forth to the RE (reproductive endocrinologist, a fancy term for fertility doc), Lillianna was having tanks of frozen swimmers [read: sperm] preserved in liquid nitrogen delivered to her door by the UPS man so that she could do at-home inseminations.
When I found myself unmarried at 30, I started to become concerned, but then I told myself that I would give myself until 35 to make any unconventional moves. Thirty-five came and went. At 37, I was really nervous and went to see my gynecologist who ordered some blood work and referred me to the RE. I got nervous again and decided not to think about it again for a little while. And then a strange thing happened. My paternal parent, the parent, who, according to my mother is responsible for the crazy gene reverberating through my DNA and that of my sisters, got a divorce from his second wife and arrived on my doorstep with bags in tow, a neurotic rat terrier and a cute little mutt whom his former wife would later reclaim.
Grateful that long ago he had the foresight to reproduce and thus have a doorstep to land almost 38 years later, he imparted some advice. “Jenny, you need to have a baby,” the crazy parent said.
The next day, coincidentally, was my annual trip to the gynecologist. “Are you still thinking about having a baby?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Get moving then. Time is not on your side.”
And so a month later I’d chosen a donor and undergone a series to tests to determine my fertility. When Lillianna and I began our first email exchange several months later, I was on my fourth IUI (intrauterine insemination) and another calendar year had arrived. Before I gave up on IUIs and moved on, I had succumbed to seven of them, exhausting most of my fertility coverage with one company and maxing out two credit cards. In anticipation of taking the giant step in the fertility world—in vitro fertilization—I switched insurance companies (one of few small luxuries we state employees have).
In the following year, 2006, Lillianna gave up the tanks and started investigating the UPS man’s potential, and I moved on to IVF and miraculously got pregnant and gave birth to Jax. A month after he was born, I turned 40, and one of the storks had paid me a visit.