The Jaffe’s Journey to Motherhood with RIVF
Guest Blogger, Gena Jaffe, shares her and her family’s story to motherhood with the assistance of Reciprocal IVF
Gena Jaffe is a mom of two miracles conceived via reciprocal IVF, member of the LGBTQ+ community, mental health advocate and lover of coffee + shopping. Through her blog and Instagram, her mission is to help people going through fertility, pregnancy + postpartum FEEL their best selves and know they’re not alone in what they’re going through.
As a same sex couple, we knew from the get go that we would be working with a fertility clinic and a sperm bank. What we didn’t expect was the emotional rollercoaster of a journey it was. That said, we know we have it SO MUCH better than most. We are so blessed with our two healthy children. And all of the bumps in the road led us to them, and for that, I am grateful for each negative test, each delay, every single tear.
Back to the beginning.
The first thing we did was find a local fertility clinic. Our clinic recommended only two sperm banks and Fairfax was one. Shopping for sperm was basically like online dating. We made a list of the characteristics that we wanted, but obviously the most important thing was the health history of the donor and family.
What we loved about Fairfax is they have the toughest screening process of any donor bank in the country (here is a comparison chart so you can see Fairfax vs other banks). You can see baby + adult pictures (we found that necessary as some cute babies looked like serial killers as adults LOL), hear the donor’s voice, see extensive health history, see answers to questions from the donor and more. Another huge perk is that they will give you a partial refund for any vials that you don’t use so long as they don’t leave the bank (part of their buy-back program).
We wanted to make sure that we used the same donor for our kids, so we ended up purchasing 8 vials. That would give us each 4 attempts at IUI (our clinic had said to plan on that many). We felt better about spending so much money because we knew we had the option to sell some back if we didn’t need them.
Our search process wasn’t terribly long. We found a donor we fell in love with and lovingly refer to as “Ted” (someone named Ted just sounds like he’d be a nice guy haha). One of his important features was that he was an ID donor. This means that when our children turn 18, they can contact the sperm bank who will then reach out to Ted to see if he’d like to connect. Some donors are Non-ID, meaning they do not want to be contacted, but we felt that it should be up to our children to decide. We hope they do connect one day so we can thank him so much for the incredible gift he has given our family!!
Back to our fertility journey. Our original intention was that we would each carry by doing IUI. After starting the process, my wife experienced a lot of anxiety and wasn’t going to be able to carry. Since she was losing out on being pregnant, she didn’t want to lose out on having a biological child, so I offered to carry her egg. This obviously changed our whole protocol and now I had to go through all the testing! Once we started, we discovered that I had a large cyst on my ovary and I needed surgery before we could move forward. I was devastated as we already had a few roadblocks, but I wanted to make sure we had the best chance of getting pregnant – and it only caused a month delay!
After Jordana’s egg retrieval + fertilization, we had 3 successful embryos. The first transfer was our little Parker! We felt so incredibly blessed that it took on the first try and that we had two frozen, high-quality embryos left if we needed them in the future.
Parker was born in January 2017 and in the fall of 2018, we started prepping for baby 2. The initial plan was to do an IUI (I would carry) but after Parker was born, having a biological child really wasn’t important to me anymore. You see, once a child is placed in your arms for you to take care of, that child is yours, regardless of DNA. Parker couldn’t be any more MY child. And to me, he was perfect, and I wanted another of him! So we changed our plans (again) and we decided to use the remaining embryos. In January 2019, we went to our transfer and found out that the one didn’t survive the thaw process, so our final embryo was transferred into me. That embryo did not result in a pregnancy and we were back to square one. I was devastated. I never pictured us there. While it may have been naive, I just assumed it would work as Parker worked on the first try.
We decided Jordana would go through another egg retrieval so she could be part of the process again, making our children 100% siblings. During her ultrasound, our doctor discovered that the fibroid she had before had grown significantly and it needed to be removed immediately. Well, that turned into a partial hysterectomy, which obviously had to delay the egg retrieval. Since we didn’t want to wait too long for another baby, we decided to try IUIs while Jordana recovered. All 3 failed, so back to prepping Jordana.
Now, if you know anything about the fertility process, you know that there are so many unknowns. You don’t know an exact egg retrieval date because they’re monitoring your follicles to see how they grow. Well, we had a whole lot going on in our lives and I forgot to ship the sperm ahead of time. It was a Friday and they planned our retrieval for that coming Monday. So I called Fairfax to ship our sperm and we found out that our clinic only receives sperm Monday – Thursdays. This would be too late. If they were to ship it, the hospital could not guarantee that it would be unboxed in time and it could end up sitting on the dock all weekend (this was the summer and the sperm needs to stay frozen). I was a mess. I placed so many calls back and forth between Fairfax and my clinic — oh, and it was also almost 3 pm when everything was closing and the shipping time would end (sperm has to be shipped overnight). Fairfax was incredible. They went above and beyond to work with my clinic and the sperm arrived in time! I’m certain I’m not the only hormonal woman who has called with a crisis lol.
So that next week, in July 2019, we transferred 1 of the 3 embryos we had from that retrieval and it was our Josie girl! The other two embryos are frozen and we still haven’t decided if we’re having any more kiddos. TBD.
So that’s our journey. 1 loss of an embryo, 1 failed FET (frozen embryo transfer), 3 failed IUIs, 2 positive fresh transfers turned to our 2 beautiful babies. And while it’s easier to say as I’m on this side, I am so grateful for each failed attempt because then we wouldn’t have Josie. Every bump in the road led us to the babies we were meant to have. This process is an emotional rollercoaster. But oh, so worth it.
To read more testimonials and stories from other #fairfaxfamilies visit our testimonial page today!