Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thank You

It's rare to find friends with whom you can trust with your most personal thoughts. The positive feedback we have received regarding this blog means more to us than you will ever know.

I just wanted to take the time to thank each of you for your love and support. Megan and I are extremely grateful to have you in our lives.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Since we were on the topic of sperm (and the fact that my best friend says I need to blog more) I figured I would tell you how we chose our donor.

It wasn't an easy decision (I hope you're sitting down...this might take a while) Originally we thought we wanted to go with a known donor (a person who we know personally) for a couple reasons. The first reason being that we (and by we, I mean Meg) read that fresh sperm works better than frozen sperm. The biggest factor influencing this decision was my personal experience.

When I was a camp counselor I had two campers. The boys were always talking about their dad (and their mom), so when their mom pulled up in the same car as an obvious lesbian (with a rainbow sticker in the window) I was completely taken back. I never would have guessed.

With that said, our idea with the known donor was to recreate the camp situation and give our child as close to a "normal" life as possible. Now, I used quotes around normal, because the word has such a negative connotation. It almost insinuates that we're doing something wrong. Obviously, raising a child in a loving family (whether it be with a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc) can never be wrong.

Meg and I know kids are cruel. We're both teachers. We've witnessed it firsthand. We know that there is going to a come a time where our child will be teased or judged or mistreated because he/she has two mom's. We thought using a known donor would limit the discrimination our child would face.

We asked one of our closest friends to be the donor, but he respectfully declined (twice...we still love him though). We then took two of our other friends out to dinner. They are a married, gay couple and we thought they might be inclined to say yes.

Our proposition was that they would be an extended version of our family. We would include them in all activities. We even agreed to make plans to see their families around the holidays (think about all the love our baby would get from 4 sets of grandparents!!!) Our intentions were great. More importantly, we were very clear that they would have to sign over their rights. They understood that while we would love them to attend Father's Day functions and be active role models in our child's life, we would be the parents.

Needless to say, it didn't work out. We eventually realized (while driving home from NY and deciding our future child should be named, joking) that we didn't want to run the risk of a custody battle down the line.

Moving forward, we started looking into sperm banks. We settled on the California Cryobank. Did you know you can search for celebrity look a likes??? Naturally, I typed in Justin Bieber (that's what my students call me). And just like that, there he was, (not our sperm donor), a picture of Justin Bieber!
But seriously, you can submit a picture and they will find you a donor look a like!

There are two choices when deciding on sperm donors. You can choose to use an anonymous donor (they're about $100 cheaper) but your child will never be able to contact his/her biological father OR you can you choose to use an open donor and allow your child to communicate with the donor at the age of 18.

If only it were that easy. You then have to decide which procedure you will perform. Did I mention you can buy the sperm online? Technology!

Our doctor told us to use IUI (intrauterine insemination) and we decided to go with an open donor. Meg's theory was that for $100 difference we owe it to our child to give him/her the choice as to whether or not he/she wants to find out who his/her father is.

The drawback of using an open donor (in addition to costing more...I can't get over it! It's so expensive) is that the choices are more limited. Meg and I were able to comprise a list of about 12 donors. We were able to view donor profiles, medical history, staff impressions, and personal essays for free. We compared their features and listed pros/cons to narrow the list down.

Once we had the list down to 2-3 donors we hit a road block. They were all good. We decided to pay $145 to upgrade to a level II subscription. This provided us with more in-depth medical histories, as well as additional essays, and wait for photos! (I should mention that you can buy documents a la carte)

I don't know how the baby pictures helped, but they did. Meg and I were able to decide on a donor. He has brown hair and brown eyes. He's 5'11 and is insanely good at Math. That's all I'm going to tell you because,well, I don't want you to steal him!

2nd Batch

He's here!!! Meg received the call from the doctors this afternoon confirming the arrival of our very expensive sperm!

For those of you who are new to the life of ordering spermies, let me just tell you, it can be very frustrating.

You see, I'm a gold-star (look it up, lol) and I'm madly in love with my wife. The problem is that I have no access to sperm (stupid biology). While I am, in no means, a man hating lesbian, it kills me that we need a man to help us get pregnant.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful we are able to even try to get pregnant, but I can't help, but wish the circumstances could be different.

Meg and I will never know what it's like to make a baby together.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

TWW (the two week wait)

I already told you I was obsessed with reading blogs, but what I didn't tell you was that I had to familiarize myself with the pregnancy lingo used on online forums. I didn't even know what the hell the two week wait was and I definitely didn't know that it would be the longest two weeks of our lives.

Though we understood the statistics (6-26% chance of getting pregnant), each "symptom" got our hopes up. We took 7 pregnancy tests (all BFN-big fat negative...don't worry you'll catch on...I did!) Our friends reassured us that sometimes the Hcg levels can be too low to detect on a test, so we clung to that idea.

We were so afraid to be intimate (it usually brings on Meg's period) that I barely even kissed Meg. Thinking about it now, this is probably another reason why it felt like the longest 2 weeks ever!

I guess I should explain that the two week wait is the 14 days from ovulation (and in our case, insemination) to the start of the next period/cycle.

We had a doctors appointment on June 22 (which I believe was Day 37 of Meg's cycle...stupid progesterone) They took a blood test and asked us if we took a home pregnancy test. When we said "yes, it was negative." The nurse replied, "oh." It was discouraging, but again I tried not to lose hope. I asked her what would happen if the test came back negative and Meg was still late for her period. She told us that they would retest her. You could tell by her tone that it wasn't a typical occurrence (despite what people write about on the internet)

Meg and I hugged and kissed goodbye and went to work. Waiting was agonizing. I must've checked my cell phone every minute. When Meg finally called me and told me it was negative I was heartbroken (as was she)

At first it was hard to even think about trying again. It's devastating. You look around and all you see are pregnant women or families and you can't help but think why the hell didn't it work? Was the timing off? Was the cycle a dud? Did the sperm not work right?

I'm still struggling with these questions, but I feel a hell of a lot more optimistic now that we've started cycle 2. I'd like to think that it will be easier this time around, but I highly doubt it.

Emotions run high

As naive as this may sound, Meg and I honestly thought we were pregnant after our first insemination. The truth is that no one can prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that is TTC (trying to conceive).

I was constantly on the computer looking at blogs trying to convince myself that the negatives on the HPTs (home pregnancy tests) were normal.

What I failed to mention in the Cycle 1 recap was that the doctors office had Megan using a progesterone gel to thicken her lining and increase the chances of implantation. Meg used the sample packets of gel for 4 days. When we found out it would cost $240 for 15 days, I had Meg call the doctors and tell them we were going to discontinue using the product. The doctor brought Meg in to check her progesterone levels. They told her that if her level was above 10 she would be safe to discontinue the gel. It came back 10.8, so we given the green light.

Needless to say, Meg felt horrible and had every symptom that indicated a pregnancy. She was craving chocolate milk, had sore nipples, bloating, cramping, but never any signs of her period. I suppose I should tell you that her cycle is very regular (30, 28, 32 days max!). Having ovulated on day 23, we were really confused as to when she was even expected to get her period.

Unfortunately, all of these symptoms were a result of the progesterone. Apparently it can delay your period and enhance period symptoms (which are very similar to pregnancy symptoms)

Cycle 1 Recap

Meg and I met with our doctor 4 days into her period (day 4 of her cycle) on May 19th. We didn't really know what to expect. The visit started out as a consult in the doctors office. She explained the process of IUI (intrauterine insemination). She answered some of our questions, but we never really discussed the details of achieving pregnancy (this will come into play later on). Meg had some blood drawn (11 about bruising!) and then we went into the room for her first internal ultrasound.

Meg was freaking out. I, on the other hand, was documenting our journey by taking pictures of the ultrasound monitor and Meg uncomfortably sitting on the table. She was a good sport though!!!

When the doctor came in, we watched her highlight the eggs, the uterine lining, the follicles and measure the diameters of everything. She then printed out pictures to put in Meg's chart! It was pretty cool!

From there we went to an office to discuss finances. This part was pretty painless for us because of my insurance. The nurse gave us an overview should Meg need to use Ovidrel (a shot injected into the belly that triggers the release of mature eggs) and told us that we would hear back from them regarding the blood work.

We left the office feeling hopeful and excited to start this adventure. The positive feelings were soon overtaken by frustration as Meg and I went back and forth to countless doctors appointments to check her blood work and chart her ovulation cycle.

Here's how it happened. On, May 28th, Meg and I went in for our 2nd ultrasound and blood work. (Day 13 of Meg's cycle). Her eggs weren't mature yet, but the results from the blood work showed a higher LH level, so on May 30th, (Day 15) the doctor suggested that Meg may have had her LH surge which would have indicated we missed the window for ovulation. The problem was that her estrogen and progesterone levels were not where they were supposed to be, so the doctor said the cycle could be a "dud" but she wanted us to come back to the doctors on June 3 (Day 19) to see if anything had changed.

On Day 19, the eggs were more developed and Meg's estrogen and progesterone levels had increased, but not enough to signify ovulation, so again we were told to wait.

This brought us to June 7 (Day 23).  Meg's egg was mature and the doctor thought Meg would take the shot of ovidrel and inseminate on June 9th, but the doctors office called later with the results from her blood work and told us that we would, in fact, inseminate on June 8th.

Meg and I couldn't believe it. We were actually going to get to try this month after all.

Cycle 2 Begins

Friday marked the start of cycle 2. Meg and I went in for the typical baseline blood work and internal ultrasound. The doctor confirmed that we will try another natural cycle and later told us that we are anomalies for lesbian patients. Turns out there are a lot of angry lesbians out there that don't take well to the idea of a male doctor!

They called with the blood results Friday afternoon. I don't have any numbers to report, but everything looks great so far. Our next appointment is July 5th.

Fingers crossed...