Friday, June 27, 2014

"And How Many Vials of Sperm Would You Like With Your Order, Ma'am?"

For those of you that don't already know, Audrey is the result of my eggs and anonymous donor sperm. Long story short on how this came to be: Ryan and I tried for about a year to get pregnant. I was charting my cycles, using ovulation prediction kits, etc. and still nothing. It was heartbreaking, a loss we experienced every month the pregnancy test came up negative. We went in for fertility testing and found out that I was fine but that Ryan has an extremely low sperm count which was inherited from his father. The count was so low that the reproductive endocrinologist suggested we go straight to trying in-vitro fertilization bypassing some of the other less invasive and less costly techniques. So we looked into IVF options and financing. Even with the loans and programs available there was no way we could afford the monthly payments and we knew we wanted to have more than one child. And the whole IVF procedure along with the chance that we could have extra embryos leftover, felt morally wrong to me since I believe that life begins at fertilization not implantation in the uterus. I struggled with the idea of 'playing God' in that way. (I know this doesn't make sense to some people-you didn't want to do IVF but were comfortable with using a stranger's sperm??? I can't really explain it, just how I felt.) So we made the difficult decision to use donor sperm. On a side note, I am forever grateful and blessed that Ryan was willing to use another man's sperm in order to create our family. So many men would not be comfortable with that and would either say "we do IVF, adopt, or nothing!" There were a few reasons adoption was not a top choice for us: it is extremely expensive and takes a lot of time (in general) and I desperately wanted to experience being pregnant and giving birth. It didn't even matter to me that the baby be genetically related to me or Ryan; I would have been fine with using donor eggs if that had been necessary. I realize that sounds very selfish and there are some people who think creating children from donor sperm or eggs is morally wrong. Again, I don't really have a reasonable explanation for feeling this way, only that I felt a profound calling to be pregnant myself.

So, after we decided to use donor sperm, I called our reproductive endocrinologist's clinic and asked about doing a simple vaginal insemination. They only offered intra-uterine insemination (IUI) AND there was mandatory counseling whenever third party reproduction methods were used. So I got upset and angry, as this would be more money we didn't really have-of course my insurance covered nothing for infertility. So then I started researching for sperm banks who would ship sperm to private residences. I figured we could easily do a vaginal insemination at home. I found NW Cryobank and we started looking at possible donors. We looked for someone who was similar to Ryan physically and mentally (his interests, education, etc.) We also wanted an open donor versus an anonymous donor (this means that when the child turns 18 if the donor is still "open" the child can obtain the contact information) and a donor who had had a successful pregnancy. We ended with a donor whom Ryan refers to as "Frank."

While we were preparing for our first insemination I went on the cryobank's forums and asked if there were other people who had used this same donor. I really wanted to be in contact with our future child's half-siblings so she would grow up knowing them or at least of them, just like how many children are now in open adoptions versus closed. One of the families responded to my post and invited me to a facebook group just for the "family" of said donor. There were several other families in there and I was so excited to meet them! Some of them were currently pregnant or currently trying to get pregnant while others already had babies born. It was awesome to be able to connect with everyone.

Our first cycle trying was a simple vaginal insemination that did not result in pregnancy. (I will leave the process of shipping and using donor sperm for a future post!) But our second attempt, which was actually an IUI that we did in our home, was successful! We were finally pregnant after 1.5 years of desperately trying. It was an amazing and super emotional moment that we will never forget, seeing that wonderful word on the test "pregnant." Even now I get emotional thinking about it.

So that brings us to the title of the post. Some of the 'donor families,' as we refer to the families that also used our donor, bought many vials of his swimmers and stored them for future use. We could not afford to do that and just bought what we needed to use for each immediate cycle. After donating for quite awhile, he was taken off the website and we weren't sure when or if he would be back. Since Ryan and I are thinking of having 3-4 children we knew we would probably eventually have to turn to a different donor so this wasn't too concerning. However, the other 'donor families' had been paying close attention to the website along with frequently calling NW and we found out that our donor was coming back! This time Ryan and I were in a position to purchase some vials so we got 4 IUI and are storing them for future use. And NO this does not mean we will be trying to get pregnant soon!!! :) Just that we have extra money saved from our tax refund and my birth work.

They really make you sign your life away when purchasing donor sperm! I purchased online and I had to click tons of boxes saying, yes I have read and agreed to the very many terms and conditions of purchasing sperm. That took longer than the actual input of my credit card! But now we are in possession of 4 vials of IUI sperm and $1,300 poorer. And, in time, those vials will be put to good use ;)