Friday, August 17, 2012

It's finally happened...WE'RE PREGNANT!

Well friends, after many years of trying...we have finally succeeded!  I found out earlier this week that I am pregnant!  It has been a journey of valleys....and now finally the mountaintop.

Since my husband is HIV+ and I am negative, we have been considering our options for pregnancy for over a decade now.  We finally decided that our best option was to have planned unprotected intercourse during the times I was ovulating.  I am lucky to have a team of doctors and specialists who were supportive and encouraging, and after many discussions, consultations, and lots of research I was fortunate to have a doctor that prescribed me Truvada, an HIV medication that can be prescribed to HIV negative people who are at high-risk of infection.  Truvada was just recently approved by the FDA to be used for Pre-Exposure Prophlaxis (PrEP).  (Read more about that here)

We've been announcing it to friends and once again, I am reminded that I must give people room to react, and not take their reactions personally.  Everyone we have shared the exciting news with has immediately asked..."How did you guys do that?!" before congratulating or celebrating with us...and it is something we expected people to do.  In fact, we made the decision early on to simply say "We worked very closely with a great team of doctors and specialists to make it happen and we are thrilled that we were successful, " and leave it at that.  But somehow, when the question was asked, and the moment came to say the line we had practiced so many times....we just couldn't do it.  I don't know how to explain it...we just both felt that the little miracle baby inside of me deserved our complete confidence and honesty.  So, even though we didn't plan it that way, we just simply said, "We got pregnant naturally, and we worked very closely with a great team of doctors and specialists to make it happen and we are thrilled that we were successful, and we feel confident that both mom and baby are healthy as can be."

We were both surprised by our impromptu decision to be upfront and honest with people after years of planning to be ambiguous, but somehow, its what is right for us and for the new little miracle baby.  We found that the confidence in our response set the tone for people's reactions....we simply stated the truth and something about our tone let people know that the issue wasn't up for debate or questioning, and that our expectation was that they be excited for us. 

It is a great lesson for me...we have explored every option in our attempts to get pregnant, and now that we have been successful, there is no reason to feel less than confident, nothing to apologize for, and no reason to go into details about how it happened because the most exciting part is that we were successful! 

I could tell that our parents wanted more details, but initially, we simply didn't "go there."  However, I talked to my mom a couple days later and had an in-depth conversation about our decision.  She was definitely uneasy with the fact that I risked exposure to myself, and she told me that until I am officially pronounced "negative" she cannot enjoy or celebrate the news.  I am totally fine with that.  As I've learned, people need room to react.  It is a lot to take in and accept.  (If you knew my mom you'd know its WAAAAYY out of her comfort zone to be calm about something like this...she didn't talk to me for 5 years after I told her that my husband was HIV positive, but that's a topic for another day)

I told her that I could certainly understand her hesitancy to be excited given the circumstances, but if she didn't feel she could celebrate our miracle, we would continue the celebration and she could join us whenever she felt she could.  The fact is, I know she is trying to manipulate me into engaging with her on "How could you have been so careless" and "What if this" "What if that" but I know how the  journey went for me.  I don't need to provide answers to anyone about any part of this journey.  I just want to surround my little miracle baby with love, comfort, peace, and goodness.  If someone wants to bring a negative attitude or energy to this, I feel a responsibility to protect myself and little one against those negative vibes and I make no apologies about that.  We have too much to do before April 18th when the little miracle baby is expected to arrive to worry about whether people approve of our decisions.

Now, about those baby names......

Monday, April 23, 2012


After nearly a year of being separated, my husband and I have decided to get back together. It has been good for us to be separated because it made each of us look at our own issues. For me, those issues were about codependency. For him, they were about addiction. A very common theme in households with people who struggle with substance abuse.

When I first learned that my husband was HIV+, I was very intrigued. He was the first person I had ever met that was HIV+. To be honest, my intrigue was probably my codependent tendencies getting riled up. We started dating, and after I did a lot of research on HIV/AIDS, I made the decision to marry him. But I did not marry him because I loved him, I married him because I felt that no one else would and he would die alone. He was too great of a person to die alone, and in a twisted contorted kind of way, I mistook those feeling and thoughts for love. I honestly didn't think we would be married for longer than 5 years. I thought he would die of AIDS before our 5 year wedding anniversary.

Now, of course, over these past ten years of marriage, my feelings have evolved and I love him for all the right reasons (and some wrong reasons too), but it was good for me to untangle those feelings with my therapist over these past months.

My weekly sessions with my therapist helped me to get to the bottom of my codependent issues. I knew that my decision to marry him stemmed from my codependent tendencies. I loved him too, but mostly I married him because I needed to be needed. And I think he married me because he needed to be taken care of....most addicts do.

We knew that our marriage would be over if only one of us changed, or if neither changed. The only way our marriage could survive was if we both changed in equal and sometimes opposite ways. I had to stop "caring" (controlling) him, and he had to start taking full responsibility for himself. It was the only way we would survive, and I am happy to say we both made the decision to work hard on ourselves to keep the marriage alive.

Now that I am past the "crisis" of stabilizing our marriage, I am able to think back to the friends and family who offered advice or support to me during that difficult time. There were a few friends and family members who were amazingly supportive and let me go through each phase without interjecting their opinions or imposing their advice. But others, mainly my therapist, were not so caring and it has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I have been seeing this therapist for at least 5 years. My husband and I would often go see her together. She helped us work through the decision to try to conceive naturally. So I was surprised at her reaction when she began to realize that I would make the decision to stay with my husband. One day she asked how I was feeling and when I told her that I just didn't think I could get divorced, she seemed frustrated and asked how could she best support me to make that decision. I told her that I felt as if I was on a high diving board, and I had to decide if I was going to jump off into the pool (divorce), or go back down from the diving board and not make the jump (stay together). I told her that I needed her help to determine my decision. Her response was that I needed to be pushed off the diving board. She was pressuring me to get divorced! And I felt this way from a few other friends as well....this pressure to divorce.

I got the sense that my therapist, and these friends, thought that I had "married beneath myself" and if I could escape from my marriage, I would be better off. Their thoughts were relevant, and I even felt the same way at times, but feeling their pressure was very off-putting.

I've learned over these ten years that people have their own issues and fears around HIV/AIDS, and I have to give people room to react to my circumstances with my husband. As I mentioned before, many friends severed their friendships with me when I made the decision to marry him, and I know it was out of their own fears and lack of education...but instead of forcing them to see things from my perspective, I had to just give them room to deal with their stuff. I am back at that point with some friends now...

Most of them have been supportive of me over the years and I am very surprised by the pressure I feel from them to end my marriage and start over with someone else. Someone who does not have as many "issues"....someone who does not have HIV.

Being a co-dependent person, it has been difficult to stand up for myself, because I want to please everyone. I wanted them to feel as if I was listening and valuing their advice...but I soon realized that this can't be how I relate to people anymore.

It became clear to me that I needed to give myself room to react to my friends and therapist. I want to consider their perspectives and analyze why I'm feeling pressured by them. Is their reaction truly about the HIV or is it about something else?

Either way, it feels good to be self-reflective and self-aware...and that's the way I need to stay for a while.