*This post was sponsored by Fertility Out Loud but all opinions are my own.
To be honest, I was naive when it came to my own fertility journey. Being married to a woman, I thought we just needed some sperm and boom, we’d get pregnant. We didn’t have any known fertility issues, we were young and we were healthy.
I’ve come to learn, it’s not that simple. While I didn’t have to endure years of failed tests and loss, our journey did involve surgeries, multiple IUIs, egg retrievals and transfers.
I feel very fortunate that our fertility journey was never a secret. It was obvious that we would need to use a sperm donor, so that was never a secret we felt the need to hide or shy away from. We immediately connected with other lesbians who had gone through or were going through their own journeys. It provided so much comfort and reassurance to be able to talk to others – whether it was to celebrate, commiserate or ask questions. That truly is what helped us through. I am so happy to have found Fertility Out Loud, a resource for prospective parents to find support and information.
I cannot emphasize the importance of community enough. It takes a village to raise a child – it also can take a village to create one. Many have never gone through this process, so they may need some education as to how they can best support YOU. See the Fertility Out Loud website for ways others can support you.
The plan all along was that my wife and I would each do IUI with the same donor sperm so we would each have a genetic child, but they would still share DNA. Since my wife is older, we decided she would carry first. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and as it turned out, she couldn’t carry. This was really hard on both of us, and we went to counseling together to talk out our feelings and how we could navigate this together as a couple. Therapy is something I highly recommend for anyone on a fertility journey because roadblocks come up, emotions run high, and it can be extremely nerve wracking.
Because of the connections I had made on Instagram, I knew that it was possible for me to carry using my wife’s eggs in a process called reciprocal invitro-fertilization or IVF (which to this day, I am still convinced is the most magical way for two cis women to have a baby together). She always wanted to be pregnant, so this was a way that she could still have a child genetically connected to her.
As it was time to prep my body for pregnancy, they discovered a large cyst on my ovary that needed to be removed before we could move forward.
Fortunately, it only delayed us by a month, but it was certainly devastating in the moment. The following month, my wife had her egg retrieval and we ended up with 3 viable embryos. The first transfer – a fresh transfer – was our son!
While I don’t share genetics with him, I have never felt like anything less than his mommy. Yes, we’ve been asked, “who’s the real mom” (hint: don’t ever do that), but I am confident and comfortable enough to set the record straight. Fertility Out Loud has helped other patients find answers to these uncomfortable questions on their ‘How to Deal’ page. I encourage you to check it out if you are concerned about how to handle these moments, especially leading up to the holiday season.
As we started talking about baby #2, the plan had always been that we would do IUI so I could have a genetic child – I always wanted a little blue-eyed babe that would have my athletic ability. But something changed for me. Having our son made genetics seem silly. How could I not want another perfect little baby like the one we had? We had two embryos remaining and I couldn’t help but think who they would be since we already had one of them (note: I am 100000% pro-choice)!! So, we decided to move forward with an embryo transfer. The morning of the transfer, the one embryo didn’t survive the thaw process, and then the other didn’t take. We were back to square one. No embryos. I was devastated. I just always assumed they would work.
Since I was the one carrying again, we opted to go through another egg retrieval so our kiddos would be 100% siblings. However, when my wife went in for an ultrasound, she had a fibroid that had grown so large they couldn’t find her ovaries and she ended up needing a hysterectomy. They were able to keep her ovaries so we would be able to get more eggs once she healed. While we were waiting, I did three IUIs – all unsuccessful. We even did medicated IUIs since I have PCOS. While I was disappointed, I knew that we were meant to use my wife’s eggs again.
That next egg retrieval and fresh transfer became our daughter. And I am so incredibly thankful and grateful that those other tries failed because then we wouldn’t have her.
This is why I share our story. So others can find connection and feel hopeful. If you’re in your season of waiting – I see you. Please know you don’t have to do it alone.