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The Ups and Downs of Getting Pregnant with Donor Sperm

February 05, 2022

Guest Bloggers, Allie and Sam, share their experience of getting pregnant with donor sperm.

My wife and I are trying to make a baby.  

Growing up, I never imagined doing IVF. I don’t think anyone does. I spent my early 20’s putting effort into not getting pregnant, because it can happen so easily, right?  

Spoiler: wrong.  

Before we get into some of my deep thoughts on IVF, here’s a little background on our fertility journey so far: 

A few months after getting married, my wife and I decided to explore both fertility options and adoption. Ultimately, the fertility route was more accessible to us at the time, so that’s the route we chose first. 

Our first step in the process was getting the missing piece: sperm. I loved choosing our sperm donor. To date, this has been my favourite part! We spent a good month sifting through each and every donor on the Fairfax Cryobank website – it was so much fun imagining what our babies would be like with each of the donors. (10/10 recommend doing this as a date night activity!) 

After a lot (and I mean a lot) of consideration, we excitedly chose our donor – who we are both so happy with! We quickly ordered several vials and had them shipped to our clinic. 

We started out with something called TDI (therapeutic donor insemination). We tried 3 cycles of this, and sadly none worked. 

After that, we moved on to IVF. A lot of same-sex couples plan to do something called Reciprocal IVF, where one partner does the egg retrieval to create embryos, and the ther partner carries the baby.  

We’ve always thought this was such a cool idea, however, when we started IVF, I suffered from terrible health anxiety (happy to say it’s gone now!) and I didn’t think I could mentally handle the physical aspects of IVF. So, my very brave wife decided to play both parts. She took tons of needles, pills, poking and prodding, and we were blessed with 9 embryos to freeze!  

So, here we are, 3 embryo transfers, once chemical prgnany, and one miscarriage later. No baby. This road is not the one we imagined, but it’s ours. It’s unique and hard, but full of lessons. 

So, let’s talk IVF. 

Our IVF journey began with an egg retrieval. For this, Sam did about 12 days of needles in the tummy (called stims) to stimulate her ovaries to make tons of little eggs. Once they’re mature, the egg retrieval process extracts the eggs, which are then fertilized by the embryologist using our donor sperm. We were lucky to get 9 embryos to freeze. 

Sam wasn’t able to do a fresh transfer because she developed something called OHSS, which made her sick for a few days. Instead, we waited for her next cycle to start so we could do a frozen embryo transfer process, or FET. 

What the heck is a FET? 

A frozen embryo transfer is just what it sounds like – a frozen embryo is thawed and placed into the uterus.  

We had no idea about the prep that went into an FET. Every clinic and every person is different but our clinic’s protocol takes about 6-8 weeks of prep before a transfer. 

First step? Starting a nasal spray called Suprefact on Da7 21 of your cycle. On the next Day 1, they start adding in meds like estrogen and antibiotics, and around Day 20, they take a look to see how the uterine lining looks. If it’s an optimal thickness, you bring progesterone in oil shots, and then schedule a transfer date. 

We did this three times. Yes, three. The first time ended in a chemical prgenancy, the second din’t implant, and the third ended in a miscarriage.  

The journey is so much harder than we ever expected. 

What’s it like being the non-bio mom? 

Whenever we talk about IVF, someone asks me this. Don’t I wan’t kids of “my own”?  

And the simple answer is: these ARE kids of my own! The embryos are just as much mine as they are Sam’s, in the eyes of the law here, and in our eyes. Love makes a family, not genetics! 

I think it’s such a beautiful thing that science and donors exist. Without both, we wouldn’t be able to even try to get pregnant! I’m just so excited to have little ones to love, I don’t care in the slightest if they look like me, I’m their mom. 

So, what’s next? 

We’re not giving up! 

Despite not initially planning to, we’re going to switch over to Reciprocal IVF for the time being. I have started my meds to undergo our next FET, while Sam heals from the miscarriage and get some more testing done. 

We are hopeful that this year brings us our rainbow baby!! 

-@allieandsam 

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