Category Archives: Conception Stories

Two Lesbians Make a Baby: A Timeline

I thought it might be helpful to explain the year process that it took us to get where we are, or if we were friends, why I would spend two weeks drinking and running and then two weeks not. I’ve written before about the Two Week Wait, but what this timeline doesn’t convey is the emotional investment it takes. The wife likens it to waiting for Christmas morning, where you’re either going to get the best present ever… or punched in the face. So, yay. Here’s how it went.

November 2012 – Prelim Testing
Have OB appointment, explain we are about to start trying, doc gives me a Counsyl test and does the usual stuff. Get a DTaP vaccine (if you are considering a baby, you and your partner both need one!!!).

February 2013 – Meet the Fertility Center
Have initial appointment with fertility center. Send medical records over, get blood work screening, etc… Insurance comes back and denies fertility coverage. Close on our house.

March 2013 – Life gets in the way
Spend the month furiously renovating our kitchen.

April 2013 – Money money money
Finish our 2012 taxes and apply for the fertility center’s discount plan.

May 2013 – Start the ramp up
Get told that we are eligible for a 20% discount based on our income (that doesn’t sound like much, but consider treatments are $280 – $1600). Arrange the social worker visit to discuss conceiving through donor sperm and the implications for our bebeh to be. Do a practice round of ovulation tracking. Start looking at sperm banks and winnowing down choices. Screening says that I am CMV negative, which greatly narrows our choices.

June 2013 – IUI #1
Order donor materials and pick up and give to the fertility center a week before I am due to ovulate. Discover I am ovulating while my mother is in town (who I have not told about this process). Work in office visits around her time with us. 2 IUIs with one vial each time. Be wildly optimistic that it will work on the first try.

July 2013 – IUI #2
Discover that this round was unsuccessful. 2 IUIs, one vial each. Order cheap new ovulation tests once the last set runs out.

August 2013 – IUI #3
Nope. Start using new ovulation test. 2 IUIs, one vial each.

September 2013 – IUI #4 and some drama
Begin viewing menstruation as the enemy. Get a solid line on the ovulation kit. Notice a never before discussed sentence on the ovulation predictor instructions from the fertility center that you received 5 months ago that says do not follow instructions on ovulation kit, call when you have a faint line. Freak out. Call your nurse manager about this, asking why this was never discussed in all our interactions, get a very vague ‘sorry you misunderstood’ voicemail with recommendations for a $30 for 7 day kit made 7 times. (Recommending a brand does not avoid this issue! Also, ovulation testing is supposed to last 10 days) Wife calls, also upset, and gets similarly vague and annoying responses. 1 IUI with 1 vial, since we were apparently still in window.

October 2013 – IUI #5
Still no. Follow the ovulation instructions according to fertility center, have 1 IUI with 1 vial, since you had only 1 left.

November 2013 – Time for a New Plan
This continues not to work. Have a meeting with the doctor (who we have seen once in February, since all IUIs except for September’s have been done at a separate, non-Metro accessible office that does long term storage) the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She recommends an HCG test and moving to Clomid with 1 IUI per cycle. In between prepping for their lunch Thanksgiving party, nurse manager discusses the new protocol for the test and medication with us up to Day 11. Asks if we want to speak to financial manager, after we’ve been in the appointment for 1.5 hours, while we know Thanksgiving party is taking place. Only discussions of increased costs have been about medication, which should be small, so we say no. Skip any attempts this month so we can have Thanksgiving with family and also for an emotional break.

December 2013 – IUI w/ Clomid #1 and ALL THE DRAMA
Have HcG test, with no issues. Go in for Day 3 prelim screening to see if follicles are growing properly. They are. Front desk asks me for $350 at check out. I am astounded and say that insurance covered the February screening. They say fine, give your copay and call your financial manager. I call my financial manager, who has no idea that we have changed treatments and that we can either do a lump sum payment of $1600 ($1200ish with discount) or pay per treatment. This major change in finances had never been discussed with us before, so I am breathless with anger.

I assume that we will only have 1 additional screening on Day 11, so it makes sense to pay per. He transfers me to nurse manager who tells me I could have up to 5 screenings. I am flabbergasted at the amount that had not been discussed with us in November and very angry. Talk again to financial manager, ask why all of this is a surprise and what my options are. He essentially says that because we did not see him in November, none of these updates were made in system. He also says that we have to decide if we do lump sum or pay per before we begin treatment and I confirm that this means the Day 11 screening. He agrees. This is 2pm. At 4pm (30 minutes before their office closes for the day), I get an email from him saying I need to decide by COB. Go to the office and pay the remaining $1200 and change to the office. Take the Clomid. Have Day 11 screening – follicles have grown but not enough. Come back at Day 13 – follicles have grown maybe enough? Weekend nurse talks to us just in case about IUI plans, discussing two IUIs based off a procedure paper we have never seen befpre, when we had been told one. She goes to check with her doctor supervisor, who tells her that it’s just 1 and if we trigger that night, we get the IUI the following day. Phone call says no, come back tomorrow. Come back at Day 14 (December 22nd), get told yes, today is the day for trigger shot, come in on Tuesday (12/24) for IUI. Respond that this is utterly contrary to what we had been told the day before, what the hell? Get told to hold, get a call back 10 minutes later, saying the doc was wrong and come in on the 23rd. Wife gives trigger shot like a bad ass, IUI with 1 vial. Stay sober for Christmas and New Years. Go on progesterone suppositories.

January 2014 – IUI w/ Clomid #2
Go in for bloodwork pregnancy test. Get told by nurse manager that it “doesn’t look good.” Go off suppositories and have terrible, terrible cramps with my period. Cry. Wonder what, exactly “doesn’t look good” means and if, somehow I was actually pregnant and that was a miscarriage and she was just terrible. Fire nurse manager and get a new one. Send email listing all of the things that I wasn’t sure about from last round that previous nurse was vague and dismissive about to new nurse manager, who consults with doctor and gives us a long, involved email back answering all of our questions. Wonder why we didn’t fire other nurse manager sooner. Day 3 follicle check, all good. Begin new round of Clomid. Go for Day 11 monitoring on MLK day and am told that I have 2 follicles bigger than standard rate and that I will probably need to trigger tonight. Panic because I’d just dropped the prescription off on Friday and was waiting for insurance, thinking I had until Thursday. Pick up prescription without insurance copays. Nurse calls and says to do trigger shot, come in on Wednesday. Doctor calls 10 minutes later because he feels the need to warn us about risk of multiples, despite the fact that this is our second round of IUI with Clomid and doctor had discussed with us at November visit. Wife gives trigger shot like a bad ass. 1 IUI (#10 since June) with one vial, the last vial we had on hand. Start progesterone.

February 2014 – Good News
Start craving nachos and have difficulty sleeping, neither of which are noticed as symptoms at the time. Go in for blood work. Brace myself for another no. Just miss the nurse’s call – her instruction is to call Wife if I’m not there. Call Wife the instant I realize I miss the call in my office. She asks if I’m OK, I ask her to confirm it’s a no, she says, actually it looks good but with qualifiers. My beta levels are where they’re supposed to be (132), but I need to come back in 3 days to see if they’re even higher because it might be a false, chemically based pregnancy. Continue progesterone until they tell me to stop. Freak out. Go in for blood work 4 days later. Nurse calls and says I had a “fantastic rise” to 1000+ and that I need to go in for blood work *again* in two days. Freak out again. Go in for blood work. Chew my fingernails off waiting for the call. Am told again, yes, we’re still good but we can’t confirm if there’s anything in there, come in two weeks for an ultrasound. FREAK OUT. Ultrasound. OMG THERE IS A BABY IN THERE. They show us the heartbeat. I cry. They give us pictures and tell us to come back in 10 days. Nurse manager goes through care instructions, including weaning off the progesterone (THANK GOD, it is not fun!)

March 2014 – Still Pregnant
Wean off progesterone two days before ultrasound (I don’t know why they call it weaning, you just stop!). 8 week ultrasound. It’s still a baby! It’s bigger! It has a heartbeat! We have officially graduated from the fertility center, with prenatal care instructions and stuff to give my doctor. Dance like a crazy person and tell family.

So there you have it. The entire process took over a year from start to finish, including emotional breaks, time off to get finances together, etc… The whole process insemination process cost us just about $8,900, including $4,330 for 10 vials of donor materials. I also tallied how much it would cost us if my company had granted us infertility coverage – all total? About $4,900 with copays, a difference of $4,000. But granting same-sex couples infertility benefits would be too expensive for the institution (NO SERIOUSLY, THAT’S WHAT HR TOLD ME).

I do recommend advocating for yourself if you find yourself in this position, including excessive research. I thought our first nurse manager would do a much better job than she did keeping us informed. I know that we were probably one of the least hands-on of her patients (IUI vs. IVF), but we were also new to the experience and needed a little more hand-holding through the experience than she was wiling to give (as our December experience proved!). Instructions were also given inconsistently and at times, I felt like she had to be reminded who I was while on the phone with her. All said and done, personality is important and if you don’t click with the person who’s supposed to be working with you through the entire experience, for the love of god, get someone else. I wish we’d fired her in September, the other time I felt really let down by her.

Anyway, this is just what happened with me. You will, undoubtedly, be different.

The Baby Dilemma: Make or Buy?

Once you decide you want a baby and this is just about the right time, you have to ask yourself the important question: are you making your own or adopting someone else’s?

For us, it came down to very practical purposes: money. Even without the support of insurance, seven months of trying costs us approximately $8,000, including doctor visits and donor… materials.

Adoption fees are easily $20,000-$30,000, plus you can never be certain you’ll actually be selected. And while we did preliminary research, my crazy brain was already dealing with us being denied by agencies or mothers simply because we were lesbians. Plus, the wife is self-employed and while I have a steady income stream that can support a frugal 3, we may not look like the best bet to this panel of judges I envision standing before.

Plus… I wanted to be pregnant. I never really thought I did, but watching my boss have her first child in 2009 switched the baby hormones in me from off to on and suddenly, I wanted to be pregnant like I never had before.

I had always been one of those children who envisioned adopting all of their children and fostering the unwanted, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt the want to have a child that is biologically related to me or my wife. To see my eyes reflected back at me. Maybe I’m selfish, maybe it’s biological urges wanting to pass on my genes. But this, combined with the financial reality, made the choice simple.

I don’t regret our decision, even 9 weeks into this pregnancy. I will say that even this early, it is much harder than I thought it would be.

The Two Week Wait: A Narrative in Anxiety

When undergoing any kind of infertility treatment, after treatment, you have to wait two weeks to see if the treatment was successful. This is basically torture. Here’s a chronicle of how most of my 5 two week waits after IUIs went.

Day -6: Begin ovulation tests, knowing that this is a waste of time and money, but is required by your fertility doctor.

Day 0: After needing to go to the bathroom for three hours, go and do your ovulation test. You are, of course, at work, so you have to jury rig a way to do it in the tiny bathroom stall and then smuggle it back to your desk drawer for the 5-10 minutes it takes the results to develop. Open your drawer every two minutes. See a faint line.

Call the fertility center and schedule the IUI. The only slot they have open is at noon tomorrow and 9:30 the day after. The center is in metro unaccessible Maryland and is an hour round trip from your office.

Try to decide what excuse you’re going to use with your boss this time, friend from out of town, appointment you forgot to mention, or doctor needs some tests. You decide to go with doctor needing tests and then going over results the next day. Tell your boss. Become convinced she knows you’re trying to conceive.

Day 1: Make the call to thaw your donor… materials… 90 minutes before the appointment. Juuust make it out of the office in time for the wife to pick you up. Get caught up in endless beltway traffic. Call the office at 11:50 to let them know you’re going to be late. Get their lunch time recording, which is supposed to start at noon.

Freak out. Get to the office at 12:05. Sign in. Realize your panic about being late was, as usual, moot, as you wait half an hour for them to call your name. Chat nervously with your wife about nothing. The physician’s assistant you like with the blue eyeshadow takes you to an exam room, where you undress from the waist down. Put the scrub over your lap as you sit, nervous, doing positive visioning, holding your wife’s hand.

The doctor comes in. Awkward small talk as they confirm you are who you say you are and the sample is from the correct individual. Small talk continues as the procedure occurs, and then they leave you alone in a dark room to stare at a mobile for 5 minutes, continuing to do positive visioning, holding your wife’s hand.

She drives you back to the office. You still feel oddly sore and full inside. You have already started to guess whether this procedure works. Your 90 minute doctor’s appointment was just over 2 hours and you still have to eat lunch. You sit at the desk for the rest of the day, tilting your feet up and your pelvis down, just in case.

Day 2: Get up with just enough time to make the call, walk the dog, get dressed and get coffee before heading out the door. Nervous car chatter about nothing. Worry about commuter traffic, but manage to make it in at 9:25 for a 9:30 appointment. Sign in. Wait 20 minutes past appointment time until the physician assistant you don’t like takes you to a different room with a different mobile. Everything else is identical to the time before, except the awkward small talk is different. The wife drives you to work, you come in at 11:15, pretend like you’re on time and try to get back to your job while propping your feet up and tilting your pelvis back, just in case.

Day 3: You’re really starting to feel going down to only one cup of coffee a day and no diet coke. Become convinced that this is a pregnancy symptom. Give your stomach reiki at night as you fall asleep.

Day 4: You’ve already decided whether or not this round was successful and you have decided that this one isn’t. The super hopeful voice reminds you of other success stories where people didn’t think it worked until it did. Tell the hopeful voice that your expectations cannot be high. Hopeful voice tells you about other people with low expectations who were happily surprised. Hopeful voice is an asshole.

Day 5: Nearly fall asleep at your desk from lack of caffeine. Decide that this, too, is a pregnancy symptom.

Get bored at class and do visioning work for a successful pregnancy rather than pay attention.

Day 6: Begin to really, really chafe at the exercise restrictions they have you on. It’s bad enough to leave your weightlifting class for two weeks, but giving up jogging is even crueler. You are so close to finishing the Couch to 5K program and then starting Zombies, Run! You have plans! Console yourself with the fact that if you are pregnant, you can’t do either for 9 months. Find this poor consolation.

Day 7: Remember you are actually still gainfully employed and in grad school and try to do your work. You are only semisuccessful.

Day 8: Listen to the This American Life about how acetaminophen will kill you. Take an acetaminophen for a headache, because ibuprofen is off limits. The acetaminophen, it does nothing.

Day 9: Become obsessed with your boobs. Are they sore? Are they bigger? Are they bigger and sore? Are you just wearing your wife’s bra today?

Day 10: Start counting the days until you can take the pregnancy test. Look at a calendar for reassurance. Count again later that night. Start couching it in terms that show that hours have gone by and you are closer.

Day 11: Begin fantasizing about taking the pregnancy test in 4 mornings and how you’ll respond when you see the second line. Will you go silent? Will you cry? Will you scream and wake up your wife?

The lack of weight conditioning class is making you a cranky, tired asshole. How will you be able to lift the kid if you don’t work your arms before this? WHY did the doctors forbid Zumba, body pump and jogging? Why don’t they just ban joy while they’re at it?

Day 12: Begin spotting that night. Become convinced it is implantation bleeding and are ecstatic for an hour, until it gets heavier. Take an ‘Implantation Bleeding or Period?’ quiz online. It tells you you’re probably not pregnant. Continue to stay in denial.

Day 13: Even though you are clearly having your period, take a pregnancy test. It comes out negative. Cry. Email your case manager and begin making arrangements for next month’s testing.

Day 14: Despite the fact that you are still bleeding copiously from your crotch, become convinced that you are, in fact, pregnant. Recall every clip of ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’ you watched on the Soup. Know you are crazy. Hope anyway.

Day 15: The day you were supposed to take the pregnancy test originally. Take another one. It comes out negative. You are still hurt by it. Cry again. Stay convinced you are pregnant until day -6 rolls around the next time and you have to start ovulation testing.