Friday, August 27, 2010

Decision Time

Last week, 8 months into this process of trying to get pregnant, we got hit with some startling news, and must seriously evaluate how to proceed.

After 10 years of undetectable viral loads, my husband's viral load is now creeping up, and CD4's are decreasing.

I wonder if this is God's way of telling us He never intended for us to have children. I mean, every door and every possibility has been a dead the discouraging lab results...if this IS what God is trying to tell us, then I am so bitterly angry with Him, for stringing me along and raising hopes only to dash them down.

Everywhere I turn, there is a reminder that we are not getting pregnant. Former Playboy Playmates and reality stars are broadcasting their babies birth on national television. iPhone commercials that feature a woman telling her partner they are finally pregnant. My insurance website features babies and children on every web page that loads, and there is even a movie all about "Babies." It's such a bitter pill to swallow that I'm practically choking. (I'm having a pity party, can you tell?)

We won't be having unprotected sex anymore until his viral load is undetectable and stable. This will probably mean changing his meds, and who knows how long it will take until we feel safe to continue. I'll be 36 in April. The opinions vary, but some books say any woman over 35 has an "acute geriatric uterus." Nice. (Since when does being 35 equal geriatric anything?)

We are wrestling with whether we should call it quits for good. I mean, we gave it a good try. And even though at first, we felt a distance between us, we are now closer than ever.

But the irony of having this dream within my grasp, now slip through my fingers is suffocating.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Calling all Serodiscordant Couples!!!

I was recently contacted by a woman who works for a national magazine. She is interested in profiling an HIV-negative woman who is married to a positive man and either recently gave birth, is currently pregnant, or is trying to conceive.

She hopes to write a story about rights to motherhood and the limited options available to serodiscordant couples. She hopes to speak with couples who have had a variety of experiences conceiving...from timed unprotected sex to IVF with sperm washing.

The magazine requires that all persons contributing to the story must be willing to use their true, full names.

If you are interested, please contact Sushma by emailing her:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four Months Down

We are in our fourth month of having planned unprotected sex to try to conceive, and I'm beginning to fear it may not happen for us. We decided we would try this way for 6 months.

I have discovered a host of women out there..on website forums, who are struggling with infertility and desperately trying to get pregnant like my husband and I. I don't know if any of them have a partner who is HIV+, but no matter the circumstance...infertility is devastating. There are a lot of acronyms and medical language dedicated to trying to conceive, and I'm trying to maneuver my way through learning it all. Yesterday, I had a moment of self-pity as I was trying to learn about hormones, ovulation, fertility aids, and acronyms. I got frustrated thinking about spending all this time and effort into being educated about my body and our chances for successful conception, and I didn't want to be learning anything about it anymore. I get tired of learning and researching about HIV and AIDS. Now I'm tired of learning about infertility. These are two subjects I want to be ignorant about. I know its selfish, but I just get overwhelmed with the amount of information that's out there. I'll never be able to wade through it all.

I educate myself because its my way of coming to terms with reality, and I feel more assured if I know what to expect, what's normal, and what's significant. But sometimes, what I learn is things may not work out. Things may take a turn for the worst. Or things may stay the same.

I've spent 8 years hoping that we will find the opportunity or method to safely get pregnant just around the bend...but so far nothing has gone in our favor. And I've fought this fight for a while now but I'm just tired of hoping, and wanting, and pursuing, and praying.

I don't want to be disappointed when I get my period. I don't want to take a special medication and get tested every month. And I don't want to think about conceiving, or unprotected sex, or worst case scenarios anymore.

I simply want a moment in time...the moment when I read a positive pregnancy test. Its just that simple...and that complicated.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An Old Man

My husband and I live a very normal life, but we are constantly balancing our fears of his sickness and dying of AIDS, against hopes of a long lifetime together. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. I am usually more optimistic about a long lifetime together than my husband is because of an experience he shared with me.

Many years ago, when he was newly diagnosed with HIV, he went on a religious retreat with some friends, that did not know of his HIV status. There was a speaker, and several workshop sessions over the two weekend days. On the last night of the retreat, my husband had a dream where he saw himself as an old man, sitting in the front row of a small church. He didn't think much of the dream, didn't talk about it with anyone, and went about preparing for the final day of the retreat. During the final session of the retreat, the speaker unexpectedly singled my husband out from the crowd of nearly 200 people, and told him the dream he had the night before was intended to "silence his greatest fear". Instantly my husband realized the significance of his being an old man in the dream. His fear of dying a young man, an early HIV related death was his greatest fear then....and still is today.

Just this morning I reminded him about that dream when he woke me up at 5am wanting me to examine his right hand. He had redness and slight swelling, probably from a spider bite, but he was convinced it was the beginning of the end of his life. Seriously.

I am constantly "talking him down" from these irrational and paranoid fears, and trying to convince him the swelling, or irritation, or pain, or bruise does not mean he is dying. It breaks my heart to see him so afraid of HIV. After fifteen years of living with HIV, he is still in denial about anything except that it can kill him. I understand it though. If I let my mind wander, I have to fight my own fears about his illness, and our future together. When it gets to be too much, and too worrisome, I cling to the hope of that dream he had. It may not be very scientific, or even realistic, but one thing I do husband ages very well. And sometimes, knowing that gets me through and keeps me from losing all hope.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I was notified by a staff member at BAPAC (Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center) of an online survey that is available for HIV negative women who have HIV+ male partners, and desire children. The purpose of this survey is to study patient preferences surrounding potential treatments to decrease HIV transmission when trying to have a baby.

If this description fits you, please take a moment to take this survey. It takes about 30 min, and you will be compensated for your time.

The survey is seeking women who are:
HIV negative with an HIV+ male partner
Ages 18-50
Desire children

To take the survey, click on the link below:

If you have questions, please contact BAPAC staff member, Dr. Deborah Cohan 415-206-3658

I know there are many women out there who are like me....wanting to have children with an HIV+ male partner and mitigate risk of HIV transmission. Make your voice heard!!! Take the survey!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sex without a Condom

After nearly a decade of protected sex with my husband, I forgot how messy sex can be.

Last month, we had scheduled unprotected sex to try to conceive a child, and for some reason....there has been a tangible wedge between us ever since. We briefly talked about it, and neither of us feel that the emotional and physical distance is from fear that I've contracted HIV. I don't think we were ready for how "un-sexy" the whole attempt would be. Over the course of our marriage, having a condom between us during sex was a necessary evil and we adjusted our expectations to include them. Using condoms hasn't dampened our sex life, but we were looking forward to the experience of condom-less sex, and the intimate experience of conceiving a child.

But, unfortunately, it wasn't an enjoyable experience. We were was awkward, messy, and embarrassing. And since then, we've hardly touched each other. I am puzzled by our reaction. I can't quite put my finger on why I'm feeling this way. Am I ashamed? Am I upset? disappointed? confused? angry?

Maybe the awful truth is, I'm a little grossed out by the "bodily fluids" involved with normal sex. After years of using a condom, I forgot what normal sex is like. I certainly liked the feeling of condom-less sex, but in all the years I've thought about it, I didn't think about these details.

Maybe I'm worried he didn't enjoy the feeling of condom-less sex with me...

Either way, what's apparent is we were both expecting to feel something very different, and reality was just a rude awakening.

I hope we can get over it soon, we have to try getting pregnant again later this month!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hearing Voices

I've been hearing a faint voice in my head for about a week now. I finally figured out what it was.....

When I started the journey of marriage, I had no way of knowing my primal need to have children would engulf me the way that it did. I was surprised by the things my body and mind were telling me..shouting to me to have a baby. At one point it got so bad, I practically hallucinated a young boy in my arms, who threw his arms around my neck and kissed me with his sticky lollipop lips. And feeling as if a voice, a child, was calling to me from deep in the center of the earth. I felt like if I couldn't have a child, I would literally die.

Eventually these feelings led me to search out any possible ways my HIV+ husband and I could bring a child into our home. Adoption, in-vitro fertilization, insemination, sperm donor....I looked into everything.

It was an 8 year journey of considering our options, but we finally decided on having scheduled unprotected sex to conceive. Because it is a controversial method, we have worked closely with an amazing team of doctors, and have told only a handful of people of our plans.

We decided that I would take pre-and post- exposure treatment and hope for the best. (I should tell you that my husband is a very healthy man with 10 years of an undetectable viral load)

We anticipated having arousing, passionate, condom-less sex. When we were finally ready to attempt it...we both got nervous. It was the worst two days of sex we ever had. It felt like I was undergoing a medical procedure. Placing pillows under my hips for half an hour...not very sexy.

So, right now, its only been 6 days since "the attempt" and I am driving myself crazy wondering if the very breath I take is a sign that I'm pregnant. And I've been feeling a voice calling to me. Its very faint. Its not the voice of a child. Its the voice of his HIV...

I am trying to drown it out with activities and busy work, I just can't think about the possibility that I may have contracted HIV during this process. But its constantly there...the voice. Like a ghost, or a phantom. If I stop my busy-ness for too long, I fear the voice will catch up with me and possess me.

So, I'm just going to stay busy for a while.