Well, when it came down to it...I couldn't do it. I couldn't have unprotected sex to try to conceive, without PrEP. My husband was always a bit apprehensive about it, but I insisted that I felt comfortable and confident that my risk was practically non-existent. (I still think my risk is practically non-existent, but that's different from entirely non-existent)
For those who don't know what PrEP is, it is a new HIV prevention strategy for HIV negative individuals, who are exposed to HIV, that reduces their risk of becoming infected. It consists of taking an anti-HIV medication called Truvada, once a day before coming into purposeful or accidental contact with HIV.
We had discussed it, and made the decision to try to get pregnant without using PrEP this month. I began tracking my cycle using an ovulation monitor. Things were progressing as planned and I began daydreaming about how I'd react to a positive pregnancy test. Thinking about how I'd tell my husband, how we'd tell our family and friends, what a sweet big sister our daughter would be, etc. But the first morning that showed an increase in hormones that trigger ovulation, I was struck with the teeniest amount of fear. Suddenly that almost non-existent risk seemed significant. And for the next two mornings, that fear grew. On the morning the monitor showed I'd be ovulating, I knew in my gut that I couldn't go through with it.
I realized I need to have the security of PrEP as a safeguard in our efforts to conceive.
For me, the smallest, teeniest and most nominal amount of risk was monumental. It felt like stepping over a crack on the sidewalk and jumping over the Grand Canyon at the same time....either way, there was no way I was going to cross over.
I started to pressure myself, knowing that I'd have to make the decision THAT day or else wait another month to try to conceive. I thought about all the data, research, studies, etc. that shows low risk. In the end, I thought about the moment I'd be looking at a positive pregnancy test again...and I decided that I only want to feel joy and elation. I don't want even the smallest, teeniest amount of uncertainty because it would cloud over the moment for me. And I've fought too hard and too long to such a moment be anything but joyful elation.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Still debating whether we should use PrEP for Baby #2. Husband says yes, I say maybe not. He has been undetectable for over 10 years (with a slight blip here and there), and I'm not sure I want to expose the baby or myself to the potent medication that is PrEP...
3 years ago I wouldn't even have thought there would be a choice between taking PrEP or not, but the more I research and learn about an undetectable viral load, the more I'm learning that the risks to me are minimal. But are they minimal enough for me to have condom-less sex in hopes of conceiving?
My parents freaked out when they learned that I used PrEP to get pregnant the first time, they felt the risk I took was careless and the decision wreckless, but they finally came around once they believed I remained negative and the baby was healthy and growing normally with no defects. (Yes, my parents sometimes think that I'm lying about my negative status and that long ago I may have contracted HIV from my husband...my mom demanded to see my HIV negative blood test before she could celebrate having her first grandchild...but hey, I give people room to react remember?)
I have to admit, even though I found a doctor to prescribe me PrEP before, I am a bit nervous about bringing it up with a new doctor--given my first experience. Read about it here. The last doctor who did prescribe it to me, was an HIV specialist. This meant I had to go to an HIV clinic every month for a check in and bloodwork....not very fun (but good for me to confront my own stigma around HIV). Its just not an ideal place for an HIV negative female to receive primary care...in fact, the internal paperwork they used to order my monthly blood work didn't have a code to order an HIV test. Why would it? Its an HIV clinic...where people who are HIV positve receive specialized care. But still, there I was, month after month, telling the lab professional that, YES, I was there to get an HIV test among other things, NO, you're not reading that wrong.
If all goes well, I'll be ovulating next week...maybe we'll try without the PrEP...maybe not.