"We Can't Get Pregnant and It's Driving Us Apart"
"I never dreamed I'd have trouble getting pregnant," said Carolyn, 38, a fund-raiser who's been married for four years. "Barry and I have spent three years trying to conceive -- first naturally and then with assisted reproductive technology. But it's always the same sad story: We're optimistic when treatment begins and devastated when it fails. Recently a blood test showed that my eggs aren't healthy, so our last remaining options are in vitro fertilization (IVF) using a donor egg and Barry's sperm (with me carrying the baby) or adoption. I'm open to either, but Barry won't discuss it. Every time I broach the subject he cuts me off and says I'm a nag. We're so mad at each other that we've stopped having sex.
"I met Barry, then 29, six years ago at the indoor gym he managed in Vermont. I was visiting a friend, and as I headed to the facility's climbing wall I noticed Barry -- tall and lean with thick brown hair -- across the room. 'He's so hot!' I said, grabbing my friend's arm. I was thrilled when he approached me after my first climb. We quickly discovered that we both liked alternative rock music, so Barry invited me to hear a local band that night. The next day we climbed together at the gym.
"A day later, when I left to catch my flight back to New York, Barry said he couldn't wait to see me again. Our romance began slowly, with visits every other weekend. Our temperaments are different -- I'm outgoing but anxious; he's reserved but mellow -- but we fell in love and got married two years later.
"The adjustment period was difficult. On weekend visits we were on our best behavior, but once we began living together in New York City, our bad sides emerged. We tripped over each other in my tiny apartment. It didn't help that he missed New England and the health club job market was tight.
"Since Barry couldn't find a job, my dad asked him to manage one of his restaurants. Once he was earning a steady paycheck we moved to a larger apartment, which helped a lot. We enjoyed rock climbing and Rollerblading in Central Park, and loved going to restaurants and clubs.
"We'd been married 18 months when we decided to start a family. After a year with no luck I consulted my gynecologist, who prescribed a fertility drug and intrauterine insemination (IUI) to increase the chances of conception. We tried this treatment twice, but both cycles failed. From there, I saw a fertility specialist, who discovered that the eggs produced weren't consistently healthy. The next step was IVF, with stronger fertility drugs and a cost of $15,000. My health insurance didn't cover it, but my parents offered to contribute and we gladly accepted."