Sunday, December 13, 2009

And So It Continues...

So, first of all I will say that we were able to select a donor. Once we had decided which criteria were important to us, it wasn't too hard to narrow it down to a short list. We would have been happy with any of the choices from our short list, but were able to purchase multiple samples from our #1 choice, so that was wonderful. The receptionist at the sperm bank was extremely helpful and the whole process went very smoothly.

We were hoping that we would start inseminations in September, but during some of the initial tests at the fertility clinic they detected a polup on my wife's uterus which had to be removed. The surgery was done in late September and we had to wait until she had recovered before going back for insemination attempts. So our first try wasn't until November.

I was able to leave work on my lunch hour and go down for the insemination. They took us into the ultrasound room and asked my partner to undress and put on a gown. They asked me to hold the sperm to keep it warm. (I a little bit think they were just trying to give me something to do to feel involved, but I appreciate the gesture.) When they came back in the ultrasound tech put the ultrasound wand on my partner's stomach while the doctor put the sperm into a syringe with a catheter attached to it. She inserted the catheter and injected the sperm. Because of the ultrasound, I was able to watch the sperm go in and start swimming towards the egg. It was really neat to see.

Then came the two weeks of waiting.

We both thought we would be much more patient, but really we could not wait to know if it had "worked."  We went to far as to buy a couple of home pregnancy tests to take before the official appointment at the fertility clinic. Unfortunately both the home tests and the clinic test came back negative, so we will be trying again in January. (The clinic is closed through the December holidays.)

Fingers crossed for next time. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things to Consider When Choosing a Sperm Donor

We're in-between appointments right now.

My wife is going to start cycle monitoring sometime this week and we have our psychologist appointment next week.

I wanted to take some time about some of the things we thought about when starting this whole process and also as we try to choose a donor.

First we had to decide who was going to try to conceive. We agreed that we would eventually like to try to have two children. I've known for a long time that I would like to have the experience of being pregnant and giving birth, my wife was not as sure. ("It's like having an alien inside of you!" she says.) So, it was either that I would try to conceive twice, or that we would each try once. Eventually she decided that she wanted to give it a try. Since she is nearly five years older than me, but still under 35, we decided that she would would go first. In a couple of years when we're ready to try for our second, it will be my turn to carry.

The second thing we had to decide on was whether to use a known or anonymous donor. There was only one guy we were considering as a known donor. He's a friend that I met in university. He's gay and is the single parent of a beautiful little boy that he had with a surrogate mother. He says it's the best thing he's ever done in his life and that he would be honoured to help us try to have children. We VERY seriously considered taking him up on his offer. He's kind, smart, healthy, gorgeous, and any children that we had would know who their biological father was. Logistically it was very difficult to work out though. We basically had two options. #1. Fly him out every month and use the turkey baster method. #2. Have him apply as a Designated (Known) Donor at a sperm bank... but this presented a slew of other challenges. Since he's gay we would have to fill out a special consent form and have it approved. Same because of his age (over 40). Also, his sperm would have to be quarantined for a year before we could start inseminations. Finally, using a Designated Donor is much more costly than going the anonymous route. Neither my wife or I were very comfortable with Option #1. We tend to be somewhat cautious and I think both liked the reassurance that comes with going through a clinic for cycle monitoring and insemination. Also, he's able to make that commitment to us now, but what if in a few years, when we want to have a second child, the circumstances have changed? (Not that we didn't trust that he would still be willing, more that he might not be able.) Since we are both planning on carrying a child, we would like to use the same donor, so that the children share a biological link. So we eliminated Option #1. For the reasons mentioned above, Option #2 was out as well. So that meant looking at sperm banks for an anonymous donor.

Here are some of the things we are considering now that we are trying to decide on an anonymous donor:
-personal and family heath history (a history of cancer or heart disease are concerns for us)
-appearance (height, weight, skin tone, hair and eye colour -looking for someone not too big and with similar colouring to either of us)
-interests (balanced, and if possible, somewhat in line with or complementary to our own)

Based on the research that we did we also decided that we should try to choose a donor who was CMV negative, had a reported pregnancy, and had IUI samples available.

We currently have the list narrowed down to 6 potential donors, and are hoping to decide on our top two before the end of the month. We plan on purchasing a number of samples and storing them so that they are available when we need them and there isn't question about the availability of additional samples from the same donor. (Of course, if it takes a lot of attempts, we may have to hope that there are additional samples available because we don't want to over buy either... this stuff is expensive!)

An additional FYI: According to the ReproMed website 42% of women using donor sperm conceive within 3 cycles and 67% conceive within 6 cycles (86% for women under 36 years old). The CanAm Cryoservices site lists pregnancy rates in the range of 9-20% per cycle. I'm the type of person who likes knowing the stats, even though I'm well aware that they're only stats and things can vary greatly from one person to the next.

Anyway, I know we had a ton of questions about choosing a donor, so I hope that this information helps anyone who is thinking about try to conceive using donor sperm. Maybe at some point in the future I will do a big post about the processes with the fertility clinic because I know that was another area that we really didn't know a lot about either.

Catch ya' later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Appointment #2

This morning was our second appointment.

I didn't mention this in my first post, but we were not terribly enamored with the first doctor we met at the fertility clinic. She was very, well, clinical. We also found out that she specializes in "minimally invastive [surgical] procedures related to fertility", which we don't expect to be in need of, so perhaps she wasn't terribly interested in us. Anyway, when we were booking our second appointment we found out that she's only at the clinic one day a week in the afternoon, so we asked if we could be switched to another doctor. We met with the new doctor this morning and both really like her. She was very personable. She explained things extremely well, answered all of our questions, reassured us that she will be around to guide us through the whole process. So today was a much better experience overall.

As expected, the doctor went over my wife's test results with us. Actually, all of the results weren't in yet, so she went over the ones that she had and told us that in a week we can call and she'll go over the results that haven't come in yet. As I mentioned above, she also explained the process to us again and answered a bunch of questions we had about blood types and Rh factors and IgM and IgG and all sorts of things.

We're going away on vacation next week, so we weren't able to do cycle monitoring for August and the doctor recommended that we do one month of montoring before starting IUI so we will do monotoring in September and start IUI in October. That also gives us time to get counselling, which everyone who lives in Canada and plans on using donor semen/eggs has to do before receiving treatment. We're also still trying to narrow down our list of potential donors. We've chosen which bank we're going to go with and have a short list of about 10 potential donors to further narrow down.

So, our next steps are to get counselling, go through one month of cycle monotoring and choose a donor.

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Beginning

Where to start?

I am one half of a lesbian couple who is just starting to try to have our first baby. We decided many years ago that we wanted to have children. We weren't quite sure how we were going to make it happen, but it was definitely in "The Plans". There were other things that had to happen first. Me finishing school. Us getting married. Her moving to Canada. We've accomplished these things. Now it's time for the next step: trying to have a baby.

Unfortunately, when we started this process, we didn't know any other lesbian couples who had tried to have a baby, so we started off by researching things online. Eventually we decided that we would go to a fertility clinic with the hopes of getting my wife pregnant using donor sperm.

Yesterday was our first visit at the clinic. The doctor there went over my wife's medical history with us and asked us what our plans were. She explained a little bit about the process and gave us a package with a whack of information in it.

It seems the next step is for my wife to go get a bunch of blood work done and get the results sent to the clinic. They need to check hormone levels and some other stuff. My understanding is that they are looking for anything that might show that there could be difficulties conceiving. Hopefully there isn't.

We also got information on the sperm banks that we have access to. We need to look through their catalogues and decide which donor(s) we would like to use. (It's recommended that you choose at least one "back up" in case your first choice isn't available.) I think that it is going to be a difficult decision to make.

Appointment #2 is in a month. The doctor at the clinic will go over my wife's blood work with us and, assuming we're able to pick a donor by then, set up an appointment to start cycle monotoring.

And so it begins...