By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
So I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately from a wide variety of people about our process and what we’ve had to go through to get where we are now – pregnant and thrilled to pieces about it. I’d like to take this week’s blog to hopefully answer some of those questions, for those who are thinking of going down this road of unknown fertility, as well as for those who know someone who may want to also someday take a stab at it.
One of the top questions, of course, that we get asked is: When is the baby due? This leads to a long explanation with a complicated answer of: We don’t know yet. Now, let me explain. Our original due date was 11/11/11 – the COOLEST birth date of all time, right? But no, we’re not going to get our cool due date. Let’s back up to January. Remember that surgery that Erikka had to have to remove a fibroid from her uterus (I wrote about it, you remember)? During the course of THAT surgery, they made incisions in three different places, thus making it a very bad idea for her to go into any kind of active labor. So we’ve known from the first trip to the OB/GYN that a cesarean is in order, and well before the actual due date in order to avoid contractions. I was then pushing for 11/1/11 – the second coolest birth date, huh? The doctor, at last inquiry, told me that this would probably be the latest that she would deliver, but that it would most likely be during that last week of October. Hmmm. We have been going for multiple sonograms so that they can keep a close eye on how big the baby is growing, and will be picking a date to schedule the delivery in the next few weeks. Once we have it scheduled, we promise, we will share it with the world (well, with those who are interested).
I guess that the next, most-asked questions have been: Who is the dad? Do you know him? Did you use a donor? Did you use a sperm bank? Will the child be able to find him when s/he grows up? Whoa. That’s a mighty big barrage of questions! Sometimes they come all together, other times, separately. So let’s see. Our baby won’t have a “dad”, but rather a biological sperm donor, and two very loving moms. Besides, a lot of people have fathered a lot of babies over a lot of years – but being a “dad” is not the same, right? And if anyone wants to know if I am playing the role of “dad”…? Um, NO. I may joke around about being the “baby daddy”, but I am the baby’s mother – just like Erikka. We don’t know the donor that we chose, we only know the profile with his description, features, characteristics, background. We kind of used a bank, since our specimen originally came from a bank. Our fertility clinic keeps a stock of specimens that have been purchased by clients who no longer have need of them. We totally tell people that we bought the clearance sperm and are having a budget baby! And our donor is listed as “anonymous”, meaning that he does not wish to be known, even when/if the child reaches eighteen years old and wants to find him. Some donors will list themselves as “willing to be known”, and those specimens are a bit more expensive.
What else? I guess another big couple of questions have been: What is the process? Where would one begin – at a fertility doctor or at an OB/GYN? For us, the process was relatively smooth and positive. We started at a fertility clinic that came highly recommended. That was where they did initial testing on Erikka to find out what she needed to do to prepare her body for pregnancy. That initial sonogram on the first visit revealed the fibroid, and that was the surgery portion in the prep work. On her follow-up visit after the surgery, sonograms and tests revealed that all was well and she could proceed – and so we did. As I outlined in an earlier blog, we started getting ready for AI (artificial insemination) on the very first cycle after her surgery. We had gone in for our initial visit thinking that we wanted to just jump to IVF (in-vitro fertilization) because its success rate is a little higher, but were surprised to hear from the doctor that we didn’t necessarily need to take that huge step and extra cost when we didn’t need to yet, as far as she could tell. We also found out that most doctors like to at least try a few rounds of AI before moving on to IVF, so our minds were changed and our intentions became focused towards successful insemination. After several sonograms that would track ovulation (called a follicular series – tracking the follicles, aka eggs), we were almost there. She had a shot that would give her follicles a “boost” to make them release and drop, thus creating ovulation. Thirty-six hours after the booster shot, we found ourselves back at the fertility clinic, nervous and excited and about to be inseminated. Since we had purchased the specimen from the clinic, we knew that they had it already, and when we were ushered into the room of magic there it was, thawed and waiting for the magician. The whole process took about ten minutes, and then it was a very long, two-week waiting game. Once we got word that it had worked and we were pregnant, the doctor (aka magician) informed us that she would be taking care of Erikka through her 9th week, and then would turn us over to the OB/GYN of our choosing for that first, 10-week visit. Everything went so smoothly, and we will without hesitation tell anybody that we are highly blessed to have had it occur on the first try. So many that we know try over and over and over, and then move on to IVF for several rounds. We know those who have had success after a very long, hard road, and others who tried and tried and still had no success. I don’t know why we had the fortune that we did, but we are and will be eternally grateful.
So for anybody out there who wants to do this, or knows someone who does – and it doesn’t matter if you are straight, married, gay, single – I say good for you, and go for it! But know where to go first for direction: a fertility clinic (preferably one that is recommended). Make an appointment for a consultation. Once there, they can lay out a plan for you of preliminary tests, tell you what your insurance will pay for and what it will not, and direct you with their particular costs. They will have information for you for choosing donors from different banks, as well as what to do if you are using a specimen from a husband or donor that you know.
People judge us on a regular basis, just because we are two women in love. I’m sure that people will judge again and more, with the addition of our baby to the mix. But you know what? I don’t even care! The way I look at it, if those people, the ones who judge, are too stupid to realize that we’re not doing anything different than thousands and thousands of heterosexual couples who have trouble getting pregnant, then surely their opinions and judgments should mean absolutely nothing to me or my family. So if you’re wanting a baby, and you need help to do it, it doesn’t matter what your reasons are or what your challenges are – get the help you need and don’t ever worry about what anybody else thinks about it!