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;s) 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.
This article previously appeared on Poppy's own blog on HIV Negative Spouses here.