On the day of my positive test, I happened to have my 2x/year dentist visit. I believe she got visibly taller and a bit puffed up when she realized she finally, after nearly 20 years of seeing me, had a reason that might actually get me to floss daily: Pregnancy Gingivitis. Ok, seriously? “If you don’t floss, you could have a premature baby…” Who knew. But whatever Babykins needs. Jill is thrilled with this turn of events too, as she is a dedicated flosser. But I digress.
I’ll warn you. This post may be long. Or I may just write a few separate ones. But I want you to know how this story started. How Babykins came about.
When I turned 40 in 2011, I had a panic attack and went to a fertility clinic for a ‘fertility check.’ I learned that I had an enlarged fallopian tube, but reasonable numbers in terms of bloodwork and egg follicle count. This indicated that I’d likely respond to egg-stimulating drugs well, so I was ‘viable’ BUT – I had to get those tubes taken care of first. Which meant surgery. And I chickened out and figured we’d just enjoy a life of travel and fun vs. being moms.
Fast forward to 2012, at age 41…we’re out to dinner at The Stumbling Goat, when we start talking about kids again. Jill says “why don’t we have kids?” and somehow we ended that dinner with me ready to try again. I went to a different clinic, because I was still mad at the first one, and basically got the standard/protocol treatment: “Let’s do a few inseminations and take it from there….” I said “Um, my tubes suck.” So long story short, I ended up having to have my tubes removed surgically before anything else could happen. While I didn’t need them to conceive (IVF was the plan), enlarged tubes can drive a higher risk of miscarriage. So, out with the tubes! The infertility doc kicked me back to my usual OB/GYN to do the surgery, which was done just after Labor Day in September.
Meanwhile, she also did the same bloodwork and egg follicle count. Bad news this time. In one year, I went from viable to “well, if you believe in miracles…” She gave me about a 10% shot at a healthy live birth of a baby. With a monetary cap on my insurance, and knowing we really didn’t have zillions to throw at this project, I asked about donor eggs. Like my dentist, I watched this doctor puff up a bit, sparkles returned to her deadpan eyes and she said as she revealed a giant grin, “now you’re talkin’!” A 70% chance of a healthy live birth sounded like way better bang for our buck. I came home and talked to Jill, and it was easily decided we’d take this route.
Don’t be sad. We weren’t/aren’t. For the record, we did have Jill go in for a fertility check and she failed with flying colors as well (we’d entertained me carrying her egg). For me, having struggled for so long with my weight, and, outside of a really great set of teeth and a brain I’m fairly happy with, there wasn’t anything genetic I was tied to. Sure, a mini-me would’ve been pretty cute, but our goal was to actually bring a baby home. My eggs were unlikely to make that happen.
Since Jill and I can’t make a baby together, I think it’s different than if we were a straight couple. Oh, and we of course already knew we’d be using donor sperm for the Y portion of the equation, so we already had our brains around the “stranger” being involved in our reproduction. So where there’s room for 1, there’s room for 2….
Choosing a sperm donor can be done easily on the internet. You can curl up with a nice glass of red wine, a laptop and your favorite playlist and start hunting. The different sperm banks all have their own features and benefits, things to draw you in and spent your money with them. Using their search engines, you can select the basics – like eye and hair color – but also dig in and select what he studied in college, or his favorite color is. Within a short time, you can purchase your sperm with a credit card for between $500 – $750. Boom. And, if you want more info about your donor, you can pay more money for that.
Egg donors are different. Unlike the male who simply goes into a softly lit room riddled with “inspirational” media to make a deposit, the woman has to go through a couple weeks of medical intervention, ultimately going under anesthetic for the retrieval of the eggs. She takes shots to stimulate the mass production of eggs, her ovaries grow from walnut size to grapefruit size, she risks overstimulation which can be painful, etc. She gets a $4500 paycheck for her efforts, and we felt this was more than fair seeing the impact on her body and her life. It can take 3-6 months to get matched with an egg donor – they are in high demand!
On the day after we got back from Hawaii, on October 16th, one of the egg donors we selected agreed to match with us and do our cycle! We wanted to have our egg donor sorted out before we selected her complementary sperm donor, so on October 17th, we went online shopping and picked our sperm donor. Our IVF cycle calendar was provided and I started shots of Lupron to begin the preparation of my uterus the following week! Our egg donor started her medications the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and we planned to transfer our embryo between December 7 – 12th, and ended up doing so on December 11th. Jill took the above photo later that day while out and about. Ironic, no?
More info on our donors to come!