Our first fertility consultation was in January 2020 to discuss our options for starting a family. We got the tests done, filled out the forms, did everything right away and were hoping to have our first try in April. This was something my wife and I had been dreaming of since the beginning of our relationship, so it was exciting to finally be here. Our biggest concern at that time was picking a donor, and of course we also had normal nerves about this huge life step. But, we were ready.
Then, the world stopped. And, so did fertility treatments.
I remember feeling grateful almost immediately that we hadn’t already had our first try. I think it would have been excruciating to have been in the middle of fertility and have had everything put on hold. My heart goes out to the countless families who have been in that position. We obviously understood the reasoning behind it and appreciated the precautions, but with my 35th birthday looming later this year, we were really antsy to get started.
During COVID shutdown, we took our time deciding on a donor. I vastly underestimated how hard that was going to be, but will save that story for another post. We finally settled on our donor in early July, which happened to line up perfectly with the reopening of the U of M Center for Reproductive Medicine. So, we suddenly went from what felt like endless waiting to everything happening all at once. It was, and is, both exciting and absolutely terrifying.
COVID-19 and the Fertility Process
We have been really lucky that, so far, we have had no major barriers during our IUI journey. I’ve had minimal need for medical appointments because all of my tests have come back totally healthy and normal. I’m glad for that for the obvious reasons, but also because it’s meant fewer trips to a doctor’s office during a pandemic. I never would have imagined being in a situation where one of my primary concerns with starting a family would be avoiding a scary virus and having to be screened every time I step into a medical facility to make sure I don’t have a fever or concerning symptoms. What a wild time this is for all of us.
The biggest hurdle that COVID has caused for us has been the four-month delay in starting our fertility treatments, but that’s certainly not it. It’s just plain scary to be intentionally starting a family and going to the lengths required for us to do so in the midst of a literal pandemic. It’s scary not really knowing what the next year may look like. It’s scary not knowing what this virus could do to an unborn baby…or to a baby who is earthside.
I know it is always a bit overwhelming to choose to bring a child into the world. There are so many unknowns about what the world might be like for a new human: what new obstacles and struggles they may experience; what the state of our planet may be 20 years from now or 50 years from now. And so on. Adding this new threat on top of it is a layer that I never saw coming and couldn’t have possibly mentally prepared for. Yet, here we are, trying to work through it.
The First Try
Recently, we had our first IUI procedure. I had some big feelings the week leading up to it—a mix of excitement and all sorts of anxiety. It’s overwhelming to finally be taking big steps toward something you’ve always dreamed of, but there are also so many thoughts and decisions to navigate. This process is emotionally taxing. It is also VERY expensive, so, we don’t have unlimited ability to try to make this baby, which adds another layer of stress.
One thing I was unprepared for was that my wife wasn’t able to be in the room for the procedure. We found out the day before that this was the case. Of course it makes sense, but not being able to have your partner present for the potential conception of your child is certainly a strange experience. I think it was harder on her than it was on me (understandably), but it definitely made us both extra nervous and emotional.
The procedure itself was super fast and easy. And now…we wait!
One Minute at a Time
We have adopted a mantra of “one minute at a time” through this fertility journey. Not just because of COVID, but because of how many unknowns there are for this whole process altogether. How long will it take? Will we be able to afford this if it takes longer than expected? Will our baby be healthy? What if pregnancy is difficult? This one-step-at-a-time approach has helped us to not get overwhelmed through each turn, and, also to navigate the COVID piece. One minute at a time. We figure out each obstacle, each step, one minute at a time. There will be plenty of time to plan and worry as we go, but for now, we are trusting the process and taking everything as it comes.
To all the other families navigating fertility or pregnancy or trying to conceive in the midst of a pandemic, I see you and my heart is with you. We’ve got this. One minute at a time.