We were finally able to make an appointment with a Fertility Clinic here in Seattle to discuss the making of Gayby #2. It took so long because we needed to get BFF to sign a records release and he is 1) in Tennessee and 2) woefully technologically challenged, which meant he printed, signed and then mailed back to us. In the midst of all this, he also had appendicitis and ended up in the hospital for a few days. Just our luck, the clinic is also booked out 2-3 months . . .so we have our first appointment on December 8th. Yes, really. Three years ago this would have caused me to lose my shit. But it’s different this time around. The soul crushing, all consuming need to have a baby RIGHTFUCKINGNOW has eased a bit. THANK GOD.
But even with the appointment weeks away, and the intense pressure off, there’s still a lot to think about when it comes to this process. Here’s a recap/the complications . . .
To catch anyone new up (or remind those of you who can’t remember our particular fertility saga – don’t blame you at all, by the way . . .):
*L and I started trying to conceive using ye olde turkey baster method, with our friend (BFF) as a known donor. We did 6+ tries at home this way, using OPKs and fertility charting to time things. We maybe had one chemical pregnancy, but otherwise no luck.
*After having no luck at home, we went to see a midwife/OB practice who also did some limited fertility support. They sent BFF to get a sperm analysis and ran some tests on me (HSG, ultrasounds, labs) and determined that BFF had some morphology issues and I had PCOS. They recommended IUIs with clomid.
*We did two IUIs with clomid with the midwife/OB. No dice. They referred us to the Big Fertility Clinic. Because the Big Fertility Clinic (BFC) was the place BFF got his sperm analysis done, we were already in their system before we made an appointment. Because of the heterosexism of BFC, we were listed as a heterosexual couple. We did not correct this assumption to make life easier for ourselves, but also did not ever confirm it. This will be important later.
*We did one more IUI with femara at BFC, then moved on to IVF. We did a full frozen cycle due to my PCOS (50+ eggs, hey!) and fear of OHSS. We also had genetic screening on the embryos, and ended up with 4 “normal” embryos, plus one more that did not get tested (you can only test a total of 8, and we had a few that they grew for an extra day that didn’t meet the cut off.) We transferred one embryo, leaving 3 tested + 1 untested = 4 total. This embryo is now a super cute 19 month old named Ansel.
*Almost a year ago, our friends who had been struggling to conceive were considering IVF and received news that the success rate with their own eggs was very low due to age. We made the decision to offer 2 of our remaining 4 embryos. During this process, we learned that we could not donate the embryos because BFF had tested positive for a Hepatitis B antibody, but was non-reactive. Meaning – he couldn’t actively spread the disease but had likely been infected at some point. The FDA says that anyone with a positive Hep B antibody cannot donate genetic materials.
*The original plan for #2 was for L to carry and use BFF as the donor. We started trying at home this past winter/spring. We did 4 at home tries, unsuccessfully. Then we decided to move to Washington, then BFF got a job in Tennessee. Trying at home is not an option anymore.
So, all of this leads us to some complicated questions.
- In an ideal world, the fertility doc here will be understanding and somewhat flexible and decide that because we have tried at home with BFF, they would be willing to allow us to use him as a donor using L’s eggs, despite the fact that he has this Hep B antibody and he is not her ‘sexual’ partner. I’ve heard about clinics that go both ways on this, so it’s really a crap shoot.
- If that can’t happen, then we need to consider what we would want to do. If we can’t use BFF’s sperm and L’s eggs, we have a couple of options:
- Decide to use an anonymous donor from a bank. PRO: It’s immediately available and not all kinds of complicated, systems-wise. CON: Having a known donor is important to us; our current kid has a known donor and if we decide on #3 who I’d carry, likely with the frozen embryos, that kid would also have a known donor leaving #2 the odd kid out. Which could super suck for them.
- Decide to find a different known donor and either go back to at-home options (would have to be someone local) or do a directed donor option at a bank (pricey, time consuming, not covered by insurance) to do IUIs/IVF. PRO: The kid has a known donor like the others, even though it would be a different donor. CON: expensive, time consuming, we don’t actually have anyone local who we know who would be a good donor and don’t have many options for others who aren’t local.
- Decide to use our frozen embryos. This would likely require me being pregnant, due to the Hep B issue but even if the doc would allow L to carry the frozen embryos despite the Hep B, L isn’t super excited to be pregnant and really the priority in her being pregnant would be to deliver a baby from her eggs. She likely would veto being pregnant with my embryo. Which leaves me as the sole GP. PRO: don’t have to deal with the known/unknown donor issue. CON: we both really, really want to have a baby that is from L’s eggs. It would be a huge emotional loss for us.
Basically, unless the ideal situation presents itself (possible, but maybe not likely?) we will have a difficult decision to make. I’m not looking forward to it, honestly. Ultimately, I know (from personal experience and deep belief) that biology is not nearly as important as it can feel like it is. I know on such a deep, cellular level that Ansel is L’s son. I also know how important it feels, and how special it is, to have a biological connection to a baby and it’s something you have to grieve if it cannot happen. I very much want it to happen for L and our family. But all we can do now is wait and see . . .