For more than 5 weeks now we’ve been waiting anxiously to hear back from our insurance so we can have an idea of what treatment will cost. Our current coverage is through Kyle’s graduate school and despite paying an obscene amount each year for it, past experience has taught us not to expect much from them. But, if our financial counselor is right, this time we might actually receive some help. Unfortunately, that also means that we have very little time to fit in treatment before graduation in May (and perhaps they know this, which is why they’ve kept us stalled for over a month now). The latest news is that our case was sent for review yesterday and it could take yet another week before we hear back. I’m hoping we don’t waste another cycle waiting.
Aside from the insurance hassle, there’s a lot we have to do before my first injection. After sitting down with the new doctor, we had almost a month before I could schedule my next diagnostic blood work and ultrasound, giving us time to tackle as much of the “surrogacy checklist” as possible– something we need to repeat prior to each and every treatment cycle. No matter how much time you have to devote to the process, it’s overwhelming at best and still doesn’t include any of the agency, matching, or legal aspects of surrogacy. For the most part we’re having a lot of blood work and screening done to prove that we don’t have any communicable diseases that could be passed on to a gestational carrier through our embryo(s), as well as an assessment of risk factors. Eventually we will move on to involve lawyers and a social worker so we can do an embryo transfer, but for now we’re able leave out some of the more time-consuming steps.
There were a few things we were able to skip this time around– most notably, we did not have to gain acceptance into the gestational surrogacy program at the clinic again. I’ve talked about this experience in another post, but a few years ago we had to prove medical necessity (because you can’t just decide to do surrogacy) before our case was presented to a panel of about 32 doctors who agreed on our acceptance. This time it was much easier: we simply got to meet with the doctor for a normal consultation.
With more than two years of trying to get started on our second journey behind us, it feels like we should be further along than we are, but every time I start to feel like we’re finally getting somewhere, I am reminded of how very long the road is in front of us. All it takes is a few years to pass to forget how many steps there are, even though I did my best to keep track of everything at the time.
In the surrogacy world, it feels like we have already fallen behind; it’s not unusual to begin the process for a second child while your first is still a few months old. Everything just takes so long that some Intended Parents don’t even wait for their first to be born to start again. For Jimmy Fallon to have two daughters born via surrogacy within 18 months of each other (July 2013 & December 2014), they would’ve had to start the process right after they initially became parents at the very latest. Sibling journeys especially (gestational surrogacy with the same carrier for more than one pregnancy) are almost always done close together, in part due to the fact that everyone’s lives are kind of on hold throughout the process.
I’ve gotten used to being stuck in this place where no one gets to simply decide to have a child. It has actually become weird to think that most people don’t need intervention to get pregnant, but it’s almost impossible to forget that we are the outliers even among those undergoing IVF. For one, we are sorted out from the other patients into a part of the donor program with our clinic, along with everyone needing donor eggs, sperm, or surrogacy to achieve a pregnancy. There are so few of us that there isn’t even separate paperwork for us to fill out prior to consultation, which means that several of the questions either don’t apply to us or are impossible to answer without further explanation. It’s a silly thing– a minor inconvenience in the scheme of things– but still a stinging reminder that I am not expecting (or even hoping) to be pregnant at the end of treatment. In addition, when meeting new staff there is always the assumption that you are part of the majority, and worse, the necessary correction. As in, Oh no, I’m actually not able to carry the baby. Rinse, repeat.
It’s been four years since we started the surrogacy process for a child and two years since that child was born. Still, I never stop wishing that we were able to go through IVF like a normal couple. Every time we sit in the waiting room with couples who have that option, I am envious of how much easier they have it– and they don’t even know. I try to remember that the women who are working towards surrogacy and also need to use donor eggs likely feel the same way about me, someone who still has the ability to use my own eggs however problematic they may be. I try not to lose perspective… but it will never stop being painful that the ability to carry my child is gone.