Patience is a Virtue

Things must happen when it is time for them to happen- Prince Lir, The Last Unicorn

We thought the two week wait was long, until we went in for a mensi check to see where Caitlin was at in her cycle after the first iui didn’t take. The tech seemed surprised that the iui wasn’t successful, but was happy see follicles forming again on her ultrasound. She recommended we wait the next cycle out to get a more accurate timeline for her cycle length. Since we mistook her very short period for implantation bleeding during the two week wait, we began tracking her new cycle from the day the bleeding occurred.

We waited for another cycle to complete. That was 32 days. During that cycle, we successfully tracked ovulation on day 17 with at-home test strips and her cycle began again 15 days later. Even though this cycle was a normal length (compared to her prior 40 day cycle), it still felt like forever.

During this cycle wait, Caitlin had an interesting interaction with one of her clients who is an endocrinologist. He seemed surprised that our first iui was unsuccessful (and unmedicated) and made a couple of recommendations for us going forward. He was kind enough to write them down so we could ask our doctor if we can proceed with medication this time.

We emailed the doctor and she agreed- the next iui will be paired with letrozole and a trigger shot. Letrozole is a drug typically used to treat inflammatory breast cancer by decreasing estrogen levels; however, when used for fertility treatments, letrozole stimulates follicle growth- more follicles gives us more eggs for fertilization, rather than just one. The trigger shot releases the egg within 24-28 hours so insemination can be planned and timed more accurately.

With the new game plan, we were given an information sheet about letrozole, how to take it and of course any and all side effects. We had to sign it and return it before we can begin using it.

We waited for the contract, the donor, the tests, the cycle, the iui and then another cycle. Now that we can try round two, Cait’s cycle has synced up perfectly with our vacation!! We planned a trip to see a show from April 23rd through the 26th. So we have to sit it out. Again. Because we can’t monitor her uterus and ovaries from 300 miles away. We just need to wait for May. Patience is a virtue.


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The IUI

IUI day, 2019

I don’t believe in the no-win scenario– James Kirk

With everything done, the last thing to do was make an IUI appointment. We had to make an appointment for an ultrasound between days 9-11 after day one of her period. So we waited. And waited. Cait’s cycles are 28-35 days long. Prior to our free ultrasound, Cait’s cycles had been quite regular. Once it was time, it decided to come 2 weeks late. So much waiting! Once it finally came, we did an ultrasound 9 days later.

When we arrived, we were seen quickly. A little lube and an ultrasound wand showed us tons of little black blobs forming in what they said was her left ovary. They said come back in 3 days and we’ll check again. The follicles were expectedly too small at this point but there were plenty. Day 12, there were fewer blobs but they were bigger. At day 14, only two dominant follicles remained (which is perfectly normal, as the body chooses ONE out of the hundreds that initially develop). At day 16, one dominant follicle remained. They measured the follicle at 24mm and the uterine lining at 11mm. All the perfect conditions for a baby to make herself at home, should she choose. They told us it was time for a trigger shot and the iui.

A trigger shot releases a hormone into the body that tells the follicle to rupture so the egg can be released. 36 hours later, the insemination would be performed and the sperm would be placed next to the mature egg for fertilization.

We picked up the trigger shot from a specialized pharmacy and did the injection about 36 hours before the scheduled insemination. Cait hyped herself up about the shot but it ended up being a piece of cake. Now we wait. And wait. And wait.

Day of insemination was actually fairly relaxing. We signed a couple documents, checked the sample vials and bam, they released the specimen into the uterus and we were done. We hung out for a few minutes and that was that. Nothing romantic. Now all we had to do was wait. They didn’t give us any restrictions. We were told to take an at home pregnancy test in 14 days and regardless of the results, to come back in for a blood test after. Ok, two weeks. All we have to do is wait.

I didn’t know about the dreaded two week wait until we were wrapped up in it. We immediately ran to ikea and began designing our home to keep distracted. But that only killed a couple hours of the wait.

Cait said she felt fine, no cramping, no discomfort. It was just another day honestly. Then the next day came, and the next day. 72 hours in and we (mostly I) began dissecting every single symptom she was having. Well she’s bloated, that must be a sign. Her boobs are big, that’s a good sign. Several days later, she was really tired and eating a lot more than usual. Obviously good signs. These symptoms built on each other and lasted for about a week after the iui. We have this in the bag! A few days later (day 12 after iui) there was bleeding. Just a little bit. Implantation bleeding, I’ll bet. Only lasted two days. Not enough for a liner. Good signs all around. She must be one of the 20% of women who get late implantation bleeding.

After reading nearly every thread of conversations about the two week wait, we were confident it worked until the bleeding came. That threw us off because that would’ve meant a week-early period. Now we were as clueless as we were on day one.

I bought the early detection pregnancy tests and some candy the day before we were supposed to test. Next morning, it was time! She peed on a stick. And we waited and waited 3 long minutes.

Negative. Big fat negative. Up until this point I had been the optimistic one and Cait was the pessimist. How quickly the tables turned. I was totally bummed. Not sad, but actually kind of mad. Must’ve been a false negative.

We tried the next day and it was negative again. Damnit.

Three days later, a third negative.

I was in such denial that I made her do the blood test in case she was part of the small percentage of women who’s levels of HcG are only detectable by blood, not urine.

A few days later, the test came back negative and an ultrasound showed she was developing follicles. A good thing as her cycle was acting normal, but bad because they were follicles, not a baby.

On to round two.


Simultaneously

Bloodwork for fertility stats, 2019

The future is the past, the past is the future, it all gives me a headache.- captain Janeway

Ever since the consultation with our fertility doctor, our minds had been racing. The meeting was actually a little off-putting. The doctor seemed rushed and that made us uncomfortable. We were referred to her by our OBGYN (whom we trust 100%) and that was good enough for us, so we went with her recommendation. We went through a few basic questions, signed a couple sheets (yes we understand we have to pay for services, yes we understand genetic testing is recommended, no we haven’t been exposed to the Tika Virus) and went over Cait’s medical history.

Short of anxiety and ADHD, Cait had a clear, healthy history with no known risks for fertility issues. Yet the doctor seemed bewildered that a 30-something year old would be taking medications that would be harmful to a pregnancy. But we weren’t pregnant yet. She ordered us to stop the medications ASAP and recommended a psychological evaluation prior to finding a donor. She also gave us a few lab slips for bloodwork. We also did an ultrasound that day- everything looked perfect. By perfect, I mean there was a black blob coming from what they said was the left ovary that would eventually become an egg.

We actually felt annoyed and judged when we walked out of the consult but we were ready to do what we had to do. Bloodwork was the easiest step and was the only thing insurance covered. It also came back perfect.

With these steps out of the way, we emailed the clinic and told them we had completed the required tests. But we got an email back requiring us to perform genetic testing and a psych evaluation even though they were optional. Ok. Onward.

The psychological evaluation was kind of fun. It was a phone session with a referred physician from the clinic. We spoke for about an hour and she was really sweet. We mostly focused on the impact our donor would have in the future of our lives and our child’s life- how we would tell them, if we would tell them and how we would answer any questions the child might have. The thing is, is we’re not parents. We don’t have a child, so how could we honestly answer these questions having not been in the situation? It was all theoretical I suppose. Anyways, she said she’d send a report to the clinic and that was that. Turns out, our mental health report also came back perfect.

The genetic testing took a couple weeks but came back mostly normal. There was a recessive gene Cait carried that related to blood clotting so we had a 30 min phone session with a geneticist to cover that. It was kind of interesting and we learned that the gene could (but likely wouldn’t) interfere with our child’s ability to clot blood properly, say, if it were a boy and needed a circumcision.

Genetic testing and phych eval all done. Another email to the clinic was sent and by this time, we had already squared away the contract with all involved parties- the clinic being the last to receive the complete, signed copy.

This is where Donor D came in and started his journey through multiple tests and ultimately giving samples to be analyzed and stored for up to three procedures.

With all the testing ordered, complete and perfect, we had a phone session with the doctor who seemed more than happy with all the results and felt it was finally time to move forward with an unmediacated (or natural) intrauterine insemination. All we had to do was wait for Cait’s period to come and make an appointment for an ultrasound somewhere between days 9-10 of her cycle. We would monitor from there.


Known or Unknown

Without freedom of choice there is no creativity—- James T. Kirk 

San Simeon, California 2018

When Cait and I decided we wanted to make a baby, we thought  that obtaining sperm would be easy. Initially, like many other lesbian couples, we checked out online sperm banks. We flipped through tons of catalogs and read through profiles and sorted through physical attributes and came up with some potential donors- surprising, because Cait’s a ginger and wanted a ginger baby. It’s a ginger thing. But It was kinda fun!

When we started digging into the  process, we discovered a few things that turned us off. The biggest being that sperm banks are not federally regulated. This means that at one bank, a donor may give 10 samples and be maxed out- yet go right to another bank and give another 10 samples and so on. The thought of our child having potentially tons of donor siblings in the future was not something I was comfortable with. 

Next, there was the consideration of whether or not the donor was to be known or unknown. A total stranger, whom even if listed as anonymous, can eventually be found given today’s DNA technology. And what if our child found their donor and the donor wasn’t someone to be admired? I wasn’t comfortable with that either. Lezbehonest, I was the uncomfortable one haha.

Lastly, a sample ran anywhere from 1k to 3k, not including shipping or storage. In addition, there were fees to unlock full donor profiles which can ultimately be embellished or incomplete. If we had questions about our child’s genetic background, we wanted the ability to find the answers.

Besides, we have a few male friends who would be perfect donors. All we have to do is ask, right?


Who’s My Baby Donor?

Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.

James T Kirk

 

Cait and I decided not to go with a sperm bank. That left us with the option of asking a known donor. So how do you ask a guy for his sperm? Logical lesbianism says ask their wives!

Our first choice (let’s call him donor A) was the husband of a good friend of ours. When we asked his wife, we just came out with it- “would Donor A be willing to donate for Cait and I to start a family?” When we asked, she readily said yes and jumped for joy at the thought. Best of all, he was a redhead. After several days our buddy reached out to us and asked a question that we honestly didn’t see coming. She apologized for the insensitivity of the question but told us her husband wanted to know what the compensation would be. They had also just had their first son recently. Since the idea of a donation was not to accept compensation, Donor A was a no.

Now, on to our second choice, Donor B. Another long time friend, who now lives in Idaho. We asked his wife and she again willingly said yes for her husband lol I see a pattern here. Not a redhead, but a good looking, healthy dude. Him and his wife mulled it over for many months and ultimately, Donor B was too concerned about his family’s opinion in the matter, and the thought of an offspring of his in the world. He actually ended up getting a vasectomy. Donor B was another no.

Third time’s a charm with Donor C? Donor C was the husband of another friend of ours. Another redhead, woohoo. Can you tell my wife wants a ginger? They live in Kentucky and after asking his wife, he ended up being more than willing to help- he had no concerns about his family, compensation or the steps he would need to complete in order to make it happen. We finally had a win!

We learned a lot through this experience. We inquired at several facilities in Kentucky for sperm analysis, bloodwork and preservation/shipping of a donor sample. All of the phone calls, emails and interactions were unprofessional, frustrating and led us in circles, getting nowhere. It was supposed to be easy-

But once I got ahold of someone who understood our circumstance, we learned that Kentucky (through its state laws) would not be able to perform the necessary FDA required analyses for blood or sperm, nor ship the sample across state lines. This meant there were state to state conflicts that would not allow donor insemination. During this time in all of our excitement for a yes, we had already met with our lawyer, Leigh, who had extensive knowledge and experience in lgbt family law. We’d had a lengthy contract drafted and ready for review and signatures, to the tune of $950.

With the state law conflicts, we bounced around the idea of flying him here and doing all the testing and samples here (in California). But the time involved with travel, the cost of flight/hotel AND testing wasn’t going to work for all of us. After thanking them for all the time and effort they put into the yes, it was sadly again, a no.

After the third setback, we realized logical lesbianism didn’t actually work. I mean, you can ask the wives, but we hadn’t actually considered or realized that the husband would say no. That their families would say no. Or that state laws would say no.

Well shit. Not as easy as we thought.

After a while of thinking, I had a realization. Maybe logical lesbianism isn’t asking the wives of potential sperm donors- maybe it meant asking a man without a wife. Maybe we could ask a guy with a husband. On to plan D. Or shall I say, Donor D.


Plan D

With the first link, the chain is forged.

Jean-Luc Picard

Cuyamaca State Park, California 2015

 

Cait and I had a consult at the San Diego Fertility center months before our search for a donor. The seminar was not as informational as we expected- the room was an eclectic group of people there for varying reasons of infertility. Not many gay couples, like us. Not a whole lot of info about donor sperm in the presentation. And we got a couple strange looks when we asked. But we walked out with a free consult and ultrasound. Cait got her ultrasound weeks later and was told she had a “textbook” perfect uterus. We had our consult with one of the fertility doctors about what our next steps were. And they seemed easy enough; find your donor, secure a contract, perform the required tests, freeze the samples and based on those results, develop a treatment plan.

Donor D popped into my mind while we were driving around running errands. I texted him out of the blue, asking if he’d be willing to donate for Caitlin and I. He replied immediately and with great excitement. Like music to our ears, “I’d be honored!” he told us. After talking to his partner, he was ready and willing to take the necessary steps. Should be smooth sailing now! Find a donor. Check.

After some initial paperwork, Donor D had several things to do before a sample could even be given. Our lawyer was nice enough to adjust our contract to include our new donor. We offered to pay for counsel, should Donor D choose to have his own lawyer look over the paperwork. After a couple months, he declined and got the contract printed, read and notarized. Once it was handed off to me, Cait and I had to do the same. Secure the contract. Check.

Next, bloodwork. A lot of it. He said it seemed like they took all of his blood. The clinic was of course checking for std’s, blood counts and ruling out drug use or any possible transmittable diseases. In addition, we paid for a psychological evaluation. This evaluation was required not only to determine whether or not he was sound of mind- but to prompt questions and analyze his answers about what the future may hold for his role in our child’s life. He told us he passed and wasn’t crazy, yay! We already knew that.

With the Contract in place, the bloodwork and psych evaluation good to go, we thought it was time for the best part! But we were then told he needed genetic background testing as well. Another visit to the clinic for him, another several week delay on the results, but all for the good of the outcome I suppose. Perform all required tests. Check.

When it was time to move on to giving his samples, he had to visit the clinic 3 times within a week. The first visit- which I assumed was only a sample drop off, ended up being more bloodwork, a urinalysis and physical. “They took all my blood, made me pee in a cup and made me take my clothes off!” he told me. Sorry Donor D! But the sample was also given. In another 2 days, a second sample would be given and 3 days later, a third and final sample. All of them were to be analyzed and then frozen until we were ready to use them.

After he gave his first sample, it kind of hit all three of us that there was a real possibility that the sperm analysis may come back less than satisfactory. He started to worry and didn’t want to let us down. We started to worry that this could be another roadblock After how far we’ve come. We waited anxiously for a couple days to see the results. When they analyze sperm they look for several factors to determine vitality- volume, motile count and mobility.

When we got the first analysis report, we were stoked! The samples were in normal range. As were samples 2 and 3. Obtain and freeze the samples. Check.

With the steps completed, it was time for another consult with the clinic doctor. She told us everything looked great and we could move ahead with a natural IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedure. No fertility meds necessary. “Email us on the first day of your next period and we’ll go from there” the doc said. Develop a treatment plan. Check. Oh crap, it’s almost time!