Monday, September 06, 2010

A Labor of Love -- by Jamie Levine

Today, the first Monday in September, is Labor Day, which is a holiday intended to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. Most of us acknowledge this day simply as a sign of summer’s end, and enjoy it as a paid day off of work. But for me, Labor Day is quite significant—and it’s about a different type of labor: On this day four years ago, I took a blood test and learned that I was pregnant with my daughter, Jayda.

As a single mother by choice, I put quite a bit of thought and planning into getting pregnant. When I decided that motherhood was definitely the route I wanted to take (despite the fact that I’d have to do things backwards by becoming a mother first and a wife second, since I didn’t want to settle for just any guy so I could have a baby), a lot of research, doctor’s appointments, and emotionally-charged events ensued.

First, I started surfing the Internet for sperm banks. In the past, I’d spent plenty of time perusing online dating sites, and this process was similar. As I scanned dozens of profiles in a quest for the perfect sperm, I went with my gut, just as I had with online dating. And, ultimately, I picked a donor who simply felt “right” to me. Yes, he was handsome and healthy, of course. But in his questionnaire, he also appeared to be a really nice, “good” guy—and that’s what ultimately won me over. Finally, he was an “open donor”—which meant that my child had permission to contact him when she turned 18, if she so desired, and that was important to me.

After weeks of prepping and injecting drugs, I had my first IUI (intrauterine insemination) and barely made it through my two-week wait before I got my period…on Mother’s Day. Another round of drugs was prescribed shortly after that, followed by my second IUI…as well as my period yet again, which arrived this time, on Father’s Day. Oh, the irony! I could barely imagine the emotional turmoil that women suffering from infertility issues must undergo, because just two failed cycles nearly tore me apart. I couldn’t bear the roller-coaster of emotions that several more IUIs might put me through, and asked my doctor if we could just fast-forward to an IVF cycle so I could “get more bang for my buck” (since I was already spending thousands of dollars on drugs out-of-pocket); he agreed.

The result of my IVF cycle was disappointing: only two of my eggs fertilized, which gave me fewer odds than I’d expected for getting pregnant. And again, I had that horrible two-week wait to tolerate. But scientifically, all I needed was one good egg—and that egg turned out to be Jayda. I took my pregnancy test—and received my positive results—on Labor Day, a day that forever changed my life.

As we all know, motherhood certainly isn’t easy—it takes a lot of unconditional love and plenty of hard work. So, in that sense, Labor Day is an aptly named holiday for me. But most of all, it’s a day that celebrates all that’s right in my life—a positive test that created a positive future for me by producing a positively amazing child. Of course motherhood has its stresses, and plenty of ups and downs, but I couldn’t imagine my life as a childless woman…and thanks to Jayda, I’ll never have to.


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