So, in order for this entry to make sense, I want to revisit the early days of our conception journey that newer followers might not know, and those of you who’ve been around for might have forgotten.
Just about three years ago, La and I started getting ready to make a baby. After talking through what that might look like, we had decided we would be going the ‘turkey baster’ route. La’s BFF (who I refer to as, shockingly, BFF) was our pick for donor for a number of reasons: he’s handsome (imagine Ken but a little older and more affable), fun and smart; he doesn’t want to parent children but loves us (and now, Ansel); he was willing to make himself super available for us now and in the future. We felt pretty strongly about having a known donor, so we would have chosen that route in most circumstances regardless of the fact that we had a perfect candidate right in front of us.
In January of 2013, we started actually trying to make a baby. BFF would come over during my ‘fertile’ time and do his duty in a cup, La would then inject it via needless syringe into my vag, and we’d hope for the best. We tried January, February, March, April, May and June with no luck. Round about May, I started feeling panicky and went to an OB-GYN at my GPs practice (which is a huge hospital outpatient clinic) and asked for tests. They ran a few things, although nothing very significant, and told me if I was worried, to go see the Reproductive Endocrinologist at the hospital. They ended up calling me and, when I explained the situation, told me they couldn’t help me because our donor wasn’t my partner.
By June, when we still had no results, a couple of friends who were also using a known donor mentioned to us that they had been seeing an OB-GYN who was willing to work with them on fertility stuff in spite of the known donor stuff, so we made an appointment with them for early July. La, BFF and I all went to that appointment, where the Nurse Midwife seemed 100% non-plussed by our situation and indeed said to me, “why should we care where you get your sperm?” They drew some blood from me to check a few things out, and they sent BFF to the Big Fertility Clinic to get a semen analysis because they didn’t have that capability.
This is an important turning point in our story. So BFF was sent to the clinic under MY name, because that’s how heterosexist assumptions work. Because of this tiny, unintentional act by this midwife, BFF and I were listed as husband/wife/partners in the clinic’s system.
The SA came back, and it wasn’t awesome but it wasn’t terrible. My bloodwork came back and it wasn’t awesome but it wasn’t terrible. The midwife recommended an IUI (unmedicated) and we went for it. It didn’t work. So, we went to clomid and tried again. It also didn’t work. Both of these IUIs were at the OB’s office, where they could spin the fresh semen into the sperm-only substance needed for an IUI. We did more clomid. This time, the date of the IUI ended up on a Saturday, and so we were sent to the Big Fertility Clinic as the OB wasn’t open. They performed the IUI on behalf of the OB, but again, we were in their system as linked. Again, no dice.
By this time, it’s November 2013, and we’ve been trying for almost a year with no luck. We take a few months to decide what direction we want to go. Find a new known donor? Consider using a sperm bank? Try with La’s uterus? Go for IVF? It was a rough few weeks where we didn’t agree on much. But we finally came to a decision, mostly because my parent’s very generously offered to help us pay for IVF, which made it a more realistic option than it had been previously.
So, I scheduled an appointment with the big clinic and when I did, they said, “Will your Husband BFF be there?” And I remembered the first RE who wouldn’t work with us because of the known donor, and the unintentional form that had eliminated this issue for us now. If we were willing to continue the untruth.
We looked into having BFF be a directed donor, but found that the cost would be significantly more than just buying sperm and would delay us another 6 months. We talked about it, and decided we were willing to not correct the assumption. I am a terrible liar and have a lot of feelings about it, but decided WE actually hadn’t lied, we just had gone along with the assumption. And I decided I was willing to keep doing this.
Up until a month ago, I had never referred to BFF as my partner or husband. I had simply not told the whole truth about who my partner WAS. La came to the retrieval and transfer, BFF did not. If y’all haven’t seen us, rest assured we look REALLY gay. But no one ever said a word about any of it.
Ultimately, there were consequences to this decision. While we didn’t lie, we also couldn’t be open in the way we might have normally been. (it should be noted, however, that La and I were on the front page of the Denver Post and the Boulder Daily Camera weeks before our transfer getting married ‘illegally’ at the Boulder County Clerk’s office so, we really didn’t hide anything!) La felt unseen more than she already would have. It was weird to know I was colluding in a mistruth.
But, in the end, we made a bunch of embryos with BFF’s sperm and my eggs, and we transferred one of them and it became Ansel. And it was all worth it because of that.
So, why am I telling you all of this now?
Well. As I mentioned before, we offered to donate two of our embryos to friends in Oregon who have been struggling to conceive for a while. We made the offer some time ago, and they have been going through their own process about next steps. They contacted us earlier this summer to say they wanted to pursue the embryo adoption, and so things got set into motion. We started sending off releases of information and getting things ready to go. I met with the RE and she told me how to roll things out. We were all set. They were planning on a November or December transfer.
And then I got a call from my doctor last week. “I’m so sorry, Andie. We can’t move forward with the embryo donation. I’m so sorry I didn’t remember when we met last month, but BFF tested positive for a hepatitis B antibody, which is no big deal because you are a couple, but it makes the embryos ineligible for donation. I’m so sorry.”
I knew this, too. I knew because it did come up at some point in a conversation long, long ago. But it didn’t matter. It kind of DOESN’T matter, ultimately. Because BFF doesn’t HAVE hep B, he just has an antibody. He never had an active infection, to his knowledge, and he certainly didn’t transmit anything to me or Ansel or his partner. But, the government has rules about these things. And that rule says any evidence of a communicable disease makes you ineligible to donate anything.
So that night I sent the most horrible message to our friends. We wanted to give them the news over the phone, but understandably when they saw that we had news that would impact the transfer, they asked us to just spill. So, spill we did. The knot in my gut hasn’t eased since then.
We couldn’t have foreseen any of this when we made the decision to use BFF, to forgo complete honesty. But I still feel like those decisions caused harm now that I wish they hadn’t. It’s awful to be held hostage to mistakes you never even knew you were making.