Saturday, August 30, 2014

Time to Heal

Flashback to August 14, 2012 where I'm in the bathroom looking at a positive pregnancy test, and surprised by the first emotions that are welling up inside of me. Not joy. Not elation.  Not excitement. But BITTERNESS. SADNESS. REGRET. A sense of deep regret that it took 14 years to end up where the journey first started...with the idea of taking a pill to reduce risk associated with exposure to HIV. I felt (and still feel) that the medical community failed us. And said failure was caused to some extent by the stigma of HIV and by people being scared to put themselves in my situation and do so without their own expectations or ideas being projected onto us.

When I began seeking information about how we were going to have a baby of our own...I did not think it was going to take 14 years until we had the answer.  In that first meeting with my boyfriend's (now husband) doctor, she told me to research something called "sperm washing" as the only way to safely conceive a baby of our very own. I recall asking her if I we could try unprotected sex to conceive, and then have her prescribe the medications that medical professionals take after an exposure to HIV (It is called Post Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP).  She told me she didn't think she could prescribe it to me because the exposure had to be accidental in nature....and it was usually only prescribed to the medical or law enforcement community, in case they were accidentally exposed to HIV as an outcome of working in their fields.

I recall thinking that if I could advocate for people in my situation to have access to PEP, it would be a good place to start...and it seemed hopeful and logical that it could be available to the general public someday.

I am eternally grateful for all those who helped us have a baby...but can't help but feel sad...deep deep sadness that it took so long, so many doors closed in our face...and so much suffering to end up where we started.  With me in a doctor's office, asking about a pill that could be taken in the event of exposure to HIV.  Why did it have to take 14 years?  14 years!  Over a decade!

I've been reading and re-reading the book Positively Negative by Heather Boerner, and find that it has caused me to think and re-think about some of the aspects of my journey.  I also find that I've been getting emotional and crying because I realize the struggle is finally over.

It is finally over.

No more brainstorming about how I could get my insurance company to pay for sperm washing, or how I could get the CDC to hurry their timeline in developing guidelines for IUI with HIV washed sperm, or how I could get $30,000 to afford 2 rounds of IVF.  No more wondering who I could talk to, which websites to visit for more information. No more looking for a support group or forum with other women and families in our same situation. No more aching and feeling actual physical pain from the lack of holding a baby in my arms.

No, the journey is over.  The seeking is over. That chapter has been written.  The trauma of feeling that deep yearning, with no solution in sight is all in the past.  I have to heal now. And I guess that's what the crying is about.  Time to stop warrior-ing, time to stop fighting.

Time to close my eyes, smell my daughter's sweet sticky cheeks, smile....and heal.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You just caused me to shed a tear with you....so happy for you!!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for never giving up, and for sharing your experiences. I literally just had a similar conversation with an OB/GYN this past Thursday. I shared - "my husband and I are planning to try to start a family - he is HIV+ - what are our options?" She presented sperm washing and IUI as the only option. I kept asking questions about alternatives, because we had heard about timed intercourse/PrEP from our infectious disease doctor and also from the STI clinic at the health dept. where my husband was first diagnosed. I've been on PrEP for several months now, and my husband's viral load is undetectable - from those prior conversations our first choice was to try to conceive naturally but while doing everything possible to reduce the risk of transmission. In fact, we had unprotected sex regularly for about a year before we even knew my husband's diagnosis. We have used condoms every. single. time. since receiving that news last October. So, in my mind, I'm thinking - "my risk will NEVER be as high as it was that entire year - that level of risk I'm willing to take." As you write about - it is a choice that should be made by the individual, by the couple. Nope - this practitioner was staunch - all her patients do sperm washing. End of conversation. That night we searched for more information - we found The HIVE, watched all the videos, read everything we could get our hands on (including Positively Negative) and it was tremendously helpful. Now our next challenge is to try to find a supportive OB/GYN. Sorry to write so much in a comment post but I've been feeling so lost and alone and I just want you to know how much you sharing your experience has meant to me and to my husband.