In January, we, like many folks, take a long hard look at our budget. What the heck happened last year? How are we going to do better this year? We are looking at new strategies, new spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and tips for how to make dollars stretch so that we can be more financially successful and do the things we’d like to do. One of the things on our agenda this year is how to manage to have another baby.
As lesbian parents, our journey to having our first child was full of struggle, both financial and emotional. We went through surgery, and, similar to many heterosexual couples struggling with fertility, we went through several attempts at conceiving through ICI, IUI, IVF, miscarriage, and another miscarriage scare. They say the second child is easier, but on the conceiving end, it’s not turning out that way for us.
If you’re looking to start a family as a lesbian couple, plan early, plan ahead, save money, and be ready for the unexpected.
Here is the story of our journey:
When my wife, Theresa and I met, we started talking about having a family right away. We both knew we wanted one, and I was already in my 30s. We had a family detour in Minot, ND but when we landed in Memphis, we were able to start making our dream a reality. At the time, there were very few options for us living in Tennessee, but we did have some things going for us.
First, my body was so ready to be pregnant that it formed a giant fibroid the size of my head (I kid you not, it was like 5lbs!) that we lovingly named Egor. I had to have it removed and recover from surgery (I had a c-section scar before I had a child!) before I could even think about conceiving. And then, well then, it got real.
Next, as a lesbian couple sans sperm, we had to get some. We went with a lesbian owned and operated sperm bank out in California that was well versed in getting lesbians pregnant, so we didn’t have to explain anything. They even have an online database where we searched for and found a donor, bought a batch, and had it sent to Memphis.
We had been seeing fertility specialists in Memphis who ran all the fertility tests, performed my fibroid surgery, stored our frozen sperm, and advised us on how to go about conceiving. They told us that our best bet was to do an IUI (intrauterine insemination) with the help of Clomid, a fertility drug.
Since the clinic was associated with a hospital that had religious backing, they were forbidden from assisting us in getting pregnant. Our fertility doctor recommended a gyno that would do the IUI for us.
Here is where the conceiving gymnastics began. When it was time for the IUI, I went to the fertility clinic where they defrosted the sperm and put it in a syringe for me to transport to the gyno—5 minutes down the road—where I’d meet Theresa.
So here I was, rushing from the waiting area of the fertility clinic to the car, driving down the road, and then rushing into the waiting area of the doctor’s office with LIVE SPERM in a syringe in a baggie in my hands! AND ON FERTILITY DRUGS! Freaking out. Thinking: Is it leaking out? Getting too cold? Too warm? Then we waited, first in the waiting room, then in the exam room, and then for the doctor to actually find my cervix. At one point, he had to use gyno jaws of life to open my cervix.
Needless to say, we did not get pregnant this way.
We tried 3 times and doled out quite a bit of cash: for the fertility drugs, for the sperm, to ship the sperm, for each IUI, for each ultra sound, and even for the fertility clinic to store and defrost the sperm.
We were getting a bit desperate. I was only getting older. We weren’t made of money.
We decided to visit a local women’s health clinic that boasted helping same-sex parents conceive and was more affordable. The nurse practitioner told us that we needed to try ICI (Intracervical insemination). This seemed hopeful, not to mention easier. The sperm, unwashed, was a bit cheaper and we could do it at home, turkey baster style, only not really with a turkey baster—that’s a myth. We tracked my ovulation by temperature, ovulation kit, and microscope. By this point, not only did we feel like fertility experts, we felt like anatomy experts. We learned more than we ever thought possible about our reproductive system!
We ordered the sperm, which was delivered to our doorstep in a giant science-y looking tube thing. We bought latex gloves and used an oven mitt to take out the vials—black ice smoke curling around us, looking like something from a Science Guy episode. We followed all the instructions for defrosting. We lit candles. Had a little wine. Made love. Used a medical syringe. I stood on my head. We did this many, many times over several months. It never worked.
Three years of this, and we still could not get pregnant. So, until we could reevaluate our options, we got a dog. Meet Argo!
To be continued . . .