Since I was in 4th grade, all I wanted to be was a mom. A stay-at-home soccer mom, to be exact. However, as I got older & met my person, I became unclear as to if I wanted to “mess up” the life I had and loved SO much! Aka travel and golf when we wanted, sleep through the night, have wine and charcuterie boards for dinner (not the most kid-friendly), etc. Plus, we already cramped our care-free, blow-and-go lifestyle with a dog and cat… and for the record, we wouldn’t have it any other way now! So yes, for the longest time, we were about 50/50 on adding a little human to the mix.
Fast forward a few years and bam, I’m about to turn 36 (somehow). Now was the time to decide: Kid(s) or not. Most people say you will never be 100% ready, but, we were. It hit us. Hey, our life won’t “mess up”- it will get better. It will have even more meaning as we create new, beautiful memories with a little one. All I could think about was the relationship my sister and I have with my mom and gawd, it is the best! Why would we want to cheat ourselves out of that? (Plus, we will need some help surviving when we get old…my little sister can’t do it alone.)
In December (2019), we decided to visit a fertility clinic after the new year because we had a sneaking suspicion we couldn’t do this alone. (ha.) As it turns out, we were right! So now it’s time for the details some of you were wanting to hear: How did we pick out a sperm donor, do they know, do we know him, what process did we do to get pregnant, etc. I’m going to simply explain the steps we took, wish we had taken, and well, basically all the stuff I wish we had known prior. We really should have read a “Getting Pregnant: Lesbian Edition 101” book, but we didn’t, and now I’m tempted to write one. (Ps. Most of this info will be of help to heterosexual couples, also. I got you, too.)
Now, swimming on to the details:
Deciding on a fertility clinic
We approached this like we would a restaurant for dinner- we read reviews on Yelp & Google- that’s always my go-to. Then, we visited each website for the local clinics and decided on one in particular because the website touted their acceptance and experience with the LBGT+ community. Decision made, check!
There was no coverage for us in this process, as we don’t technically have fertility issues (we know of). However, if we had tried to get pregnant through IUI/IVF 6 times without any luck, we would then be able to apply to the Infertility Program through our insurance. If you are a heterosexual couple and have been trying to get pregnant without any luck, then apply to this right away! Any amount of cost the insurance is willing to pay will help as this isn’t a cheap process!
What procedure did we choose?
Well, this was a simple decision for us. Thankfully, after having a hysteroscopy, we discovered that I shouldn’t have fertility issues and that we could attack this process in the most natural of ways: IUI. Plus, IUI is cheaper, so, bonus! Then, with the help of your fertility doctor, you decide on how to approach this process. We had to choose 1 of 4 ways, from least aggressive to most: no medicinal help, pill boosters, pill/injection (shots) combo, or injections only. Since we wanted this to happen quickly (I mean, I am 36 now…), we chose the pill/shot combo* route. Also, note that the more aggressive you get in your treatments, the more likely you are to have multiples. Multiples DO sound fun and great until you research the additional health scares for both babies and mama when it comes to carrying and birthing multiples… singletons start to sound more ideal.
*After monitoring my numbers, our doctor said we didn’t need to use the injections, so that was GREAT news since I am known to pass out when a needle and I share the same space.
More on IUI vs. IVF here.
How did we pick a sperm bank?
First, we were given a list of 5 sperm banks by our fertility clinic. I then did some research on each clinic and found out one had a recent lawsuit that made me uncomfortable, so I eliminated it quickly. Then, we decided to go through the other four sperm banks. I wasn’t too picky on which one to use since the focus was more on the donor vs. the clinic. The location of the sperm banks was irrelevant. I recently learned ordering a vial of sperm is similar to placing an Amazon order.
How did we pick a donor?
This one might sound superficial, but we did want the baby to look like one of us since, well, we don’t have that option otherwise. Valerie has darker features, and I have lighter ones, so we narrowed it down that way, to start. For example, Red hair doesn’t run in our family, so we filtered that out. Nor does wavy hair. Nor does anybody over 6’4″ haha. We then looked for a donor with hobbies similar to ours- sports, reading, traveling, etc. You can also choose if you want your child to be able to find the donor once they turn 18, yet another filter option. Then, you want to narrow the donors down by what type of vials they have available: IUI (washed), ICI (unwashed), or IVF. You don’t want to find the perfect donor and then learn they don’t offer the type of vial you need. Lastly, there is a blood test you can have to determine if you are CMV positive or negative. If you are positive, you want a negative donor. If you are negative, either is fine because both the donor and carrier would need to be CMV+ to pose a risk during pregnancy. We also wanted to have a baby photo of the donor as an option, as not all donors provide them. We then went through these and other various filters, we were able to narrow it down to about 12. Our next steps included reading the extensive personality test each donor goes through, full family/self health history, reading their survey and/or listening to their voice clips recorded by the sperm bank, etc. It was a deep dive into these strangers that would help complete our family. You can only imagine how fun and scary it was…
What is the donor’s name?
(We have been asked this a few times) We don’t know. The good thing about sperm banks, to me, is they are anonymous and can stay that way even when the child is 18 if you choose that to be the case. (Some donors allow themselves to be contacted once the child is 18.) But to start, all donors come up with a fake name (or assigned a number), and that’s it. We don’t know where they live, where they work, went to school, anything.
Next, the fun part: Insemination Day! (Coming Soon!)