During an IVF cycle, the follicles in my ovaries grow so big it's hard to stand up straight. Picture: Pexels
During an IVF cycle, the follicles in my ovaries grow so big it's hard to stand up straight. Picture: Pexels

What it's like to date while trying to get pregnant

By Kelli Auerbach Time of article published Mar 6, 2018

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Washington - I was single, doing IVF and dating. Many women freeze their eggs, hoping to find Mr. Right later so they don't have to stress about finding Mr. Right Now. But I was beyond those Misters. By my late 30s, I was ready to be a mom, even if solo. I was trying to get knocked up with anonymous donor sperm.

But just because I'd found Mr. Right in a Vial and was no longer dating to find the biological father for my future child, I didn't have to stop dating.

Let's imagine the date isn't a dud. Let's imagine it's going swell. If I pick a cafe a short walk from my apartment, my welcoming bed is mere blocks away. If I were to bring my date home, there might be lusty groping up the stairs, lips meeting at the landing, stumbling through the door over said cat, shirts unbuttoning, until, "Wait on the couch. I won't be long." He sits down. 

I enter the kitchen and turn the lights bright, because it's hard to fill syringes otherwise. Once the meds are mixed and ready, I hunch over to get a hefty roll of stomach fat, wipe my skin with rubbing alcohol, pick up each needle, take a breath, hope I don't hit any capillaries and stab myself. When I'm finished, about 15 minutes later, I saunter sexily to the couch with a grandma-style hot water bottle over my belly to ensure the meds absorb. "Hey, there, handsome ..."

If I'm feeling real sassy, I could let him do the honors, this man I just met. Sidle up to him on the couch with needles in hand, provocatively lift my shirt and say in a low, breathy voice: "Poke me."

READ: The struggle to conceive with frozen eggs

Either scenario equals a very hot first date. Obviously.

But neither of these scenarios will happen. Because during an IVF cycle, the follicles in my ovaries grow so big it's hard to stand up straight. My bloated stomach makes me look early-stage pregnant. I'll find it challenging to walk without discomfort, and a strange, deep, aching heaviness will take over my loins. I must do everything slowly. No twisting or jerking. Making out on a couch is impossible.

So I won't bring anyone home during an IVF cycle. But even if I do go on a date during this time, what does that conversation look like?

Me: "What are you up to tomorrow?"

Him: "Just work. The usual. You?"

Me: "Oh, just the usual, too. After an anesthesiologist knocks me out, my eggs will be extracted from my body and put in a petri dish with an anonymous dude's sperm. You want to go out again next week?"

I didn't think I'd have to navigate dating-while-doing-IVF for very long. I assumed I'd take a brief break from dating, get knocked up quickly, and then be in the land of dating-while-pregnant, a beast all its own.

Doctors have finally determined that, for reasons unknown, my uterus won't let my embryos implant. I still have frozen embryos left over from the IVF cycles, but I can't get pregnant. 

Now as I begin pursuing surrogacy, a new set of complicated questions will soon be hovering over the experience of dating while another woman is pregnant with my kid. I don't know if those questions will be more like gnats or like unexpected butterflies. Regardless, I'm ready.

The Washington Post

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