In March, I underwent gastric sleeve surgery, removing about 70% of my stomach and helping me to finally conquer my lifelong battle with obesity. Due to the sensitivity of the stomach lining and the healing time, I was told that I should not take any vitamins or supplements in the two weeks leading up to surgery, and I would also be unable to take anything that isn't either chewable or liquid for 2 weeks after.
I was eager to lay out my plan for starting hormone replacement therapy, but knew that it would make no sense to start prior to surgery if I would be unable to take my daily regimen of pills for a month. After discussing everything with my primary care physician as well as my therapist, I decided it might be a good idea to make an appointment with an endocrinologist prior to surgery, in order to get all the intake requirements completed with the hope that I could return two weeks post-op and get my prescriptions.
I made my first appointment for early February and the office mailed me a prescription to get my bloodwork done prior to my first appointment. When I met with Dr. P. she made Kat and I feel comfortable right from the start. She explained the processes of HRT in simple terms, detailed the different choices of medications, and excitedly told me that my bloodwork looked great. My testosterone level was on the low side of normal and my estrogen was on the high side of normal for a cisgender male, putting me in a perfect place for starting treatment. I was excited about all the information I had received and made my next appointment for the end of April, exactly one month after surgery, and best of all, on my birthday. I was going to celebrate my birth this year by officially starting my journey to becoming the real me.
" I WAS TERRIFIED HOWEVER, FEARING THAT I WOULD BE TOLD THAT IN ORDER TO HAVE A BIOLOGICAL CHILD, I WOULD BE REQUIRED TO TAKE TESTOSTERONE, AND I WAS UNWILLING TO PUT MY BODY THROUGH THAT."
When my birthday came around, I was nervous but eager at the same time. It was also a bit of an emotional time as Kat and I had been long trying to have a child since even before I came out as transgender. We had taken some minor steps to find out why we had been unsuccessful, and the closest we had come without seeing a fertility specialist (which we knew would be expensive) was that my low testosterone would likely be the issue. However, without going for an in-depth semen analysis, there would be no way of knowing for sure. I was terrified however, fearing that I would be told that in order to have a biological child, I would be required to take testosterone, and I was unwilling to put my body through that.
So, with a mix of stubbornness and, I'll admit, selfishness, I chose to not even see what could be done in order to help Kat get pregnant and made my way to the endo to get my first prescription for hormones. I was euphoric that evening when I opened up the two little bottles from CVS that read Estradiol and Spironolactone. This was the moment I had been waiting for my entire life, but at the same time, somewhere in the back of my mind, there was a little voice that tried to speak up, telling me that this was not the time; but of course, I ignored that voice… for now.
The next few weeks went by in a flash, I was feeling great, I had dropped 100lbs since I started my pre-op diet in January, Kat and I were doing better emotionally together then we had in a long time. There wasn’t a negative feeling to be had; however that little voice still kept trying to speak to me, to tell me that something that I refused to hear. Then suddenly in the first week of June, that voice refused to be ignored any longer.
I was at work on Monday morning, when a customer walked in with her 3 year old daughter. I had come to know both the customer and the adorable little girl quite well over time and would always enjoy watching her explore the small area of our office while her mother took care of business. Today however felt a little different, and for some reason, her cuteness just seemed extra special to me as she climbed up to sit on the small couch in our lobby. Suddenly, I felt a tear rolling down my cheek, and the thought came crashing to my mind like the Kool-Aid Man. I was watching this little girl and falling into a daydream about the daughter I could have had, a child who Kat and I would love unconditionally and who would make our lives complete.
As soon as I could, I excused myself from the area and retreated to the bathroom, barely locking the door before the waterworks really came falling. I sat on the toilet seat, trying to get a handle on my feelings, not sure where this mixed bag of love, sadness, longing and even emptiness had come from. I knew right then that I had to explore the options that I had stupidly ignored leading up to my last appointment with Dr. P.
"WE WOULD OBVIOUSLY HAVE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WHEN I GOT HOME THAT NIGHT, BUT HOW DO I BEGIN?"
I left the bathroom and retreated to my desk and emailed Kat, not sure what to say to her about this new development. I wanted to keep it brief, not going into too much detail about these new emotions, but I also felt like spilling every thought on my mind to her. We would obviously have to have a conversation when I got home that night, but how do I begin?
After emailing her, I took advantage of the slow nature of my office and started researching fertility specialists in our area. I found a listing for an office about 15 minutes from home, read the biographies of their doctors, read about their success stories, their treatment options, and even their financial assistance programs. I knew that if we tried to follow this path, it could potentially be costly, but thankfully this practice offered many packages. They advertised their belief that nobody should go bankrupt trying to start a family. I felt relief begin to take hold.
Next, I decided that my general research wasn't enough. I needed to know more about our options, so I logged in to my benefits website and started looking up providers and financial estimates. My search brought me few results, so I decided to take a chance and clicked the "Contact Us" link on the bottom corner of the site. I found the link for my request type, and typed out a quick message to the benefits center, giving a brief synopsis of my situation, and asking what my package might include for such an office.
An hour later, my email buzzed with a response; and I took a deep breath. I was fully expecting to have my proverbial bubble burst by learning that I had no coverage for fertility. Instead, I was shocked to learn that under my current package, not only did this local practice take part in my exact plan, but that testing and treatment for infertility was fully covered and advanced services would be covered up to $30,000.
I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my chest. There was a light at the end of the tunnel and all of a sudden, and the idea of being a parent no longer felt like a mere fantasy that could never be realized. That evening, after a long talk with Kat, we decided to make an appointment for a consultation, and I placed my hormones away to restart at a later date.