Tag Archives: questions

Planning To Start A Family

16 Jul

One of the best things about having this blog has been meeting and coming to know others who want to start a family and talk about that journey. In fact, I just got this from my ask box on tumblr:

Hey there. Through mutual fangirlness of Grey’s I started following your tumblr and twitter and from there found your blog about trying to get pregnant. Basically I am asking you for any advice that you have. Me and my fiancee are planning our wedding and we know that in the next 12-24months we are gonna wanna start trying to have a baby. We just want to know if you or your Mrs have any advice, anything we should think about before starting any preparation. Thank you.
Susie

It can be a very intimidating road and I have been asked by lesbian couples a few times where to begin. I decided to write a post with what we thought was some good advice. This is a very personal process and decision so undoubtedly your roadmap will vary but this should give you some things to think about.

Since I’m mostly asked by other lesbian couples, this is tailored to them.

Start Saving Money – It is never too soon to start a “baby fund”. Really, never.  Sit down with your partner and look at your finances and figure out how you will afford getting pregnant, doctors visits, birth, adoption, legal fees, all of the things the baby will need and even child care eventually. Don’t overwhelm yourselves, but it’s a good way to financially commit to this decision. Even if you don’t earmark the costs specifically, trust me, you will be able to find some way to use that money and the earlier you can start socking it away, the better. Starting a family is especially expensive for same-sex couples and can be even more so if you live in a state where you cannot be legally married.

Live In A Stable Environment – Is there room where you currently live for kids? If you will need to move then that’s another cost that you will have to plan for. Some people feel like they need to own a home before they are ready to have kids, but I don’t necessarily believe that. You should know that you live in a place that will work to raise a family. If you start somewhere less optimal and get stuck there for an extended amount of time, it helps to know and like the school system that you are in. Think about your own education too. If you have educational goals that you are still working on, try to finish them before you start trying to conceive that way you can focus on your family when the time comes. It also goes without saying that you should feel like your relationship is stable and your partner is someone you want to raise a child with. Talk to your partner about marriage if you haven’t already done so. If one or both of you would like to be married or have a wedding before you have kids, that’s obviously another large cost you may need to plan for.

Talk About What You Both Want…A LOT – There are a lot of decisions to be made in this process and it’s intensely personal. Talk about why you each want a baby and if they are good reasons. You have to be ready to give up a lot and put your children’s needs first. Talk about the process: ICI, IUI, or IVF? Known donor or anonymous? Would you like your children to physically resemble you? Who will carry? Would you prefer to just adopt? We spent many evenings talking these things over and revisited some of them many times. You should know what is important to you and to your partner and what you can compromise on. A lot will depend on your budget and some things may not go exactly as planned. For us, we decided that we were going to start this process with the least evasive methods possible and take more aggressive steps forward in six month increments only as needed. Other friends I knew decided that IVF was a better choice for them and they began with that. Of course, you’ll need to work with a doctor before you can determine what your best course of action will be. You should have discussed these things enough to know your general preferences as a couple before discussing it with a Physician though.

Get A Good Lawyer – We found a great family law attorney and worked with her to get our medical power of attorney, wills and living wills in place years ago. If you do not live in a state where you can be legally married, these are very important to secure your rights and wishes. You may want to find an attorney that specializes in gay rights and adoption. We also used our attorney to create legal agreements between us and our known donor. These protect him as well as us and our child legally to the best of our ability and we would not have dreamed of trying to conceive without them. It’s likely that you’ll need a good attorney to complete an adoption or second-parent adoption for you in this process as well. Some lawyers specialize in adoption only. If you know same-sex couples in your area that already have kids, they are often the best to ask for a referral.

Educate Yourself – Read books and surf the internet to try to find resources. One of the best books I read early on was The Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy for Lesbians. The book has a lot of other resources listed in it and it will give you A LOT to think about. If nothing else, it was a really good tool to get us asking ourselves those important questions about what we wanted. As we talked about our choices, my curiosity about all of the options grew deeper. Learn about artificial insemination methods, sperm donors, adoptions and pregnancy as much as you can now. You’ll be glad you took the time to become informed proactively when you have to start calling the shots.


Create A Supportive Environment – The internet became my best friend. I found comfort, support and a lot of good advice in the blogs of other couples who were going through this process. Often, I found links from there to other blogs (I’m a bad blogger and never set that up, but they are out there). Talk to others who are going through it. I also created a good little support system for myself on twitter and that has been amazing! We ended up having a community that was rooting for us and picked me up on some pretty dark days. It was nice for me to have a bit of anonymity sometimes so that I could be honest and vent. But, there’s a dark side to the community too. You will inevitably watch others reach their goals before you do and that can be hard. I liked using the internet because I could turn it off when I had to escape. Some people prefer the comfort of talking to their family and friends about the conception process instead. I would just caution you to choose your audience wisely. Not everyone may approve, understand or have positive words for you and you should trust your gut about who will listen and be supportive in a way that you need when you are fragile. Communicating how I felt at times was very cathartic and some days when I was depressed about it I just couldn’t stand friends asking me how it was going. But everyone reacts differently. I wanted to tell my Mom what I was going through but I didn’t want her to know too much so we could hopefully surprise her with news one day and I was SO glad that worked out. I guarantee you will go through so many more emotions than you can anticipate. Find those who you can come to on good days and bad alike.

Get Healthy – If you’re planning on getting pregnant, or supporting your partner through a pregnancy you should be healthy first! Your body mass index should be in an optimal range for your best chances at fertility and if you have weight to lose or gain, a year in advance is the best time to do it. Try to achieve your optimal weight (and stay there) for at least 6 months before you start trying. If you smoke, quit now. It’s one of the best adjustments you can make for your whole families’ health. If you plan to quit drinking coffee and soda while you are pregnant, wean yourself off the caffeine about six months beforehand too. The morning sickness will be enough on its own without the caffeine withdrawal.  Start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months to a year before you plan to conceive to prevent birth defects and find out if any medications that you are on are safe to take during pregnancy. If they aren’t, try to find ways to get off of them in that year prior. I also found it was helpful to find out your blood type if you aren’t sure. If you are the one trying to get pregnant it’s important to get familiar with your menstrual cycle. Track it and try to learn about your body’s ovulation signs. Maybe even buy a basal body thermometer and start taking your temperature or use ovulation strips. Anything that helps you get the hang of when you will be most fertile. I found that keeping the info in a fertility app on my phone was easiest. Getting in shape goes for your mental health too. If you have baggage or emotional issues, consider getting therapy and working through it. Be the best person that you can be before you start bringing more people into this world.

Find A Good Doctor/Practice – You have to be comfortable talking to your doctor about your relationship and your plans. If you want to get pregnant, you should make a preconception appointment with your OBGYN (or take time during your regular appointment) to talk about it. If you have irregular periods, I’d advise doing that a year out. My doctor put me on birth control as an attempt to help my endometriosis subside and give us better chances before we started trying. That was a six month process and if I hadn’t gone so far in advance, I would have felt a little disappointed by the setback. It’s also a good idea to have regular STD testing done even if you think you have nothing to worry about. Most insurance covers them anyway and they will probably be required before any type of insemination. If there is anything to find out and treat, you’ll be glad you did it early. Talking to a doctor that doesn’t specialize in same-sex families can be a bit awkward at first, but you have to be willing to speak up and you should have a good feeling about your doctor and their bedside manner before you decide if you want them to handle your pregnancy.  This all makes sure that you have your ducks in a row and it will ease that transition from TTC into pregnancy when the time comes.

Make A Baby Bucket List – This process can take a while and sometimes, there is just nothing to do while you wait. We found it helpful to make a list of things that we wanted to do before we had kids and things that we wouldn’t be able to do for a while after. Go to Vegas, jump out of a plane, stay in bed all weekend, etc. (Okay, so I chickened out on the jumping out of a plane thing.)These are just examples of things that helped me feel like we were doing something for us that didn’t directly involve, doctors, lawyers or trying to get pregnant. Enjoy your lives, have fun with your partner and bond while you check things off your list. You’ll be able to look back one day and treasure that time before you were Mommies. I promise, doing those things will give you an escape and help you feel less overwhelmed. They’ll also make you feel even more ready to start your family.

Change Your Lifestyle – There was a time when we used to spend every Friday and Saturday out drinking with friends and dancing at the club. Even though I got very bored of “going out” I felt like if I was sitting at home on a weekend, I was lame. That may not be your speed, or maybe it is right now but you may want to work on changing that before you end up pregnant. Sometimes this just happens as you get older anyway. We started making a conscience effort to stay in watching movies at home on Friday nights if we didn’t already have plans. We spent more time with our own families and friends that already had kids and things naturally calmed down. It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a culture shock for you if you adjust slowly. We felt as though we had a group of friends in our lives that focused heavily on drinking and created more drama than they were worth so we sort of intentionally drifted out of that scene. We made new friends and we know that they will be there and want to spend time with us, even when there are kids in tow. Look at who you keep around you and if it fits into what you want your life to be.

Give Yourself Time – You have to be ready for anything once you start trying, but also patient enough for it to take a long time, especially if you are dealing with reproductive issues as we were. People are having kids later and later now and some of them fear that dreaded age 35 when your fertility begins to decrease. Find the balance that works best for you and don’t rush. The bottom line is that nothing teaches you patience and to expect the unexpected like having kids. Know what you want but try not to set unrealistic expectations. It can be a hard and scary process and I learned that sometimes things that you think won’t happen to you, do. It’s also the single most rewarding thing you might ever do with your life. Try to relax and enjoy every step of the way.

We hope this helps you and send our best wishes for starting a happy, healthy family!

E, the Mrs & Sprout 🙂

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We now return you to regular blogging…

10 Apr

Sometimes this process is tough and the past few months have been no exception. I got frustrated and was dealing with some depression over the whole TTC thing and this blog definitely suffered. My apologies for the silence. I’m usually a pretty glass-half-full kinda gal but a lot of perceived rejection can bring you down a bit. I still tweeted about our experiences sporadically, but I hope to be getting back to it here more regularly from now on. It’s much easier to convey what’s going on. I’m really starting/trying to feel more positively about things again. Maybe I just hated winter. I dunno.

We have still continued to try to get pregnant with the exception of one month (more on that later). I felt at times that a break might have been important for us emotionally, so I cut back on some other stressful things to find enough balance to get by. I stopped teaching spinning classes for a while, but I’ll be returning to those later this month. It was a welcome reprieve, but I have really missed the designated exercise time in my schedule. I know I need that again. The largest project of my career launched in December and that is finally beginning to run smoothly and quiet down now as well.

One of my close friends that was pregnant had her baby and somehow, that was a relief. I think that circumstance was particularly hard because we had been friends so long and had so many mutual friends and family intertwined. It was really difficult to see their excitement focused on her pregnancy and then get asked “So how’s this going for you?” in the next breath. I’ve spoken about feelings of jealousy before and although the green-eyed monster is hard to avoid, it’s a little easier for me to stand when I get to hold my friend’s cooing daughter.

This cutie lives right down the block from us now

This cutie lives right down the block from us now

So we didn’t get any positive pregnancy results in those past few months but we certainly have had some ups and downs. Our biggest trouble has been communication with our donor and his boyfriend. We knew that at some point they were going to be doing some traveling across the country for a few weeks and we had conversations about how they might try to work that around my ovulation schedule. Basically, that didn’t happen. When it came time to leave, all of a sudden we were faced with their decision to now take a 6-8 week long trip possibly taking us out of the game for 2 months. Due to circumstances out of their control, they had to come home and we only missed one month but it still caused a lot of doubt and some “are we still doing the right thing?’ conversations between us.

I tried to look at the whole thing as an opportunity instead of a loss. I went to California during March and had a lovely few days with friends when I would have otherwise been sitting at home probably stewing and over-thinking things. It was a great time and I’m really, really grateful that I got to literally leave all of my cares behind for a short time. My wife was so understanding of my need for that distraction then and I’m incredibly appreciative of that.

When I returned from my trip, I went for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test that we had been discussing with our reproductive endocrinologist since December. Basically, it’s a test where they place a catheter through the cervix and inject contrast dye  until it fills up the uterus and fallopian tubes while performing an xray at the same time. This allows us to tell whether I have uterine deformities or fallopian blockages and was the next step the doctor recommended to make sure we are not dealing with an infertility issue on my part. The good news was that the test was completely normal. The bad news, they do it while you’re completely awake and “this may hurt a little” was a bit of an understatement. Ow. Fortunately from what I’ve read and been told, this test also serves the sub-purpose of “clearing out the cobwebs”. Even if there are no major blockages to be found, the rate of pregnancy 1-3 months after having the test is a  bit higher afterward.  So then we planned to try again a  few days later. Cue the next dip in the rollercoaster…

Our donor and his boyfriend had returned from their trip but had been invited up to a mutual friends cabin to go camping for the weekend…the same weekend I was ovulating. Luckily, they know what we’ve been up to and they invited us along so that we could continue to try that weekend. I was grateful that it was much more of a house without cable or internet in the woods than a real rustic cabin and I could be pretty relaxed and comfortable for the weekend. We realize that the guys are doing us a favor by working with us so we really try our best to be accommodating, but this whole “let’s-go-camping-AND-try-to-make-a-baby” road show is really getting old. We asked to please really not have to do it again. Nonetheless, we survived it and got a few tries in that weekend.

Not too shabby for a “cabin”, eh?

So, that was a week and a half ago and we’re closing in near the end of our two week wait to find out if it worked. Our policy is that we don’t test until I’m late, so we still have some time and I’m trying to think positive thoughts since this month is statistically a stronger one after the HSG test.

Unfortunately, we’ve hit another snag though and the guys are talking about moving away. Pretty far away, actually. They have said they are and then they say they aren’t or they aren’t sure and emotionally, that has been pretty tough for me because I am a planner and I like to know what’s going on (three months in advance, preferably). We’ve had a talk already with them about communicating their plans to us so that we can work with them, but it seems they continue to disregard that plea and in some cases, we’ve found out (and been hurt) in rather roundabout ways. The bottom line is that we’re going to need to have another talk about this soon and figure out if this the path we are really going to continue on. Tough decisions. I’ve really loved the idea of having a known donor but the hassle of making it work has grown considerably since we started.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about doing a little Q&A video in the near future about us and our journey so far. I’d love it if you would send along questions that my may have for us. Pretty, pretty please? I thought it would be a fun way to sort of get back to the blog and a bit more fun than just reading responses on a screen. Anything about us or how we’re doing this or feeling is pretty much okay and we’ll answer as many as we can. You can either ask us in comments, tweet me (@elyima) or if you’d like to ask anonymously, you can do that here (just keep it clean/appropriate please).

Hopefully, we’ll be back with news and a video next week! Thanks for sticking with us. We’re determined to become Moms one way or another!

TTC Week #1

3 May

Last week was kind of a whirlwind. We tracked my ovulation, we had a loose plan and then Wednesday night, it was our first time trying to get pregnant. Go figure, the evening went awry…Our donor’s evening had some spontaneous disruptions and we decided to make the best of it and go have dinner with my parents at their house. It ended up that he was on his way to our house with his donation and we were rushing there at the same time to meet him. My notions of a nice relaxing evening to calm my nerves were out the window. It all worked out but the first time wasn’t exactly as I had anticipated.

I think a lot of my nervousness had to do with my own perceptions about the actual semen. I’m going to be pretty honest here and say that I was down right grossed out by the “stuff”. I think for fear that I would end up pregnant as a teenager, I was given the impression at every turn that semen was “disgusting”, you could catch nasty STDs from it and just that it was generally dirty and bad. Sure, under certain circumstances some of that can be true but not in this case. I’m sure that being much more interested in women sexually didn’t help me dispel any of those impressions. We needed it and I needed to learn to respect it and the fact that it was going to help us start our family.

The exchange was a bit awkward, “So, here’s your cup of stuff. Have fun!” was basically the conversation that took place. We thanked them and gave hugs. Our donor’s partner remarked that he could hardly believe that this was actually happening. Yeah, me either. We were on our own after that.

We tried to make it as romantic as possible. Everyone kind of hopes for that, right? Mrs. E’s job was to fill the oral medication syringe (we had about 3-4mL of semen each time to work with) find my cervix and slowly deposit it in that general neighborhood. I’m not sure what I expected it to feel like, but it wasn’t what I thought. I’m going to expand on this though because I was asked to describe it. I could feel that something was entering that area and that it was a slightly different temperature than I was. At one point I did sort of feel a hot kind of flash sensation rush through me hit up through my torso and shoulders. I don’t know if this was just nerves or what but it was definitely there and I felt it each time. I had read that it couldn’t hurt to have an orgasm afterwards, since it helps the cervix “pick up” more of the semen so we made that happen. Really, I didn’t mind. Then…we just wait for about a half hour with my hips elevated.

We did that again, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Each time we did it got easier. We developed a routine, the exchange felt less and less awkward and the more we talked about it with our donors the better everyone felt. By Saturday I was actually able to relax. I used the instead softcups that I bought for the last four tries. They did seem to help keep everything in much better and I just felt cleaner.

We’re considering this month our “test run”. We got all the jitters out and now know what to expect. I feel so grateful that we were able to do it with actual product and so many times. Some couples only get to try once or twice a cycle tops. We are SO lucky. Of course we would love for it to work this time, but if it doesn’t it was just our test run. This is one of the reasons we chose to do it this way, to alleviate my stress and pressure that I would put on myself to know that my junk works.

This kind of goes without saying because Mrs E is always fabulous but she was REALLY great this past week. Just so caring, considerate and CALMING when I was all stressy and anxious. We managed to actually have some nice very tender moments and “We’re going to have a baby” whispers that I’ll be happy if they end up a part of our actual conception. It really reminded me in that moment of why I want to have kids with her. She’s going to be an amazing Mom. Are you puking from cuteness yet? No? Good….

It wasn’t all bliss and sunshine though, we did have some bumps in the road. Saturday I started feeling exhausted and stuffy. Like could-not-keep-my-eyes-open exhausted. I took two naps and slept at least 4 extra hours that day to try to stave off whatever I might be coming down with. I can’t take any cold meds now so I hoped that sleeping more would just help me fight it. I started to feel better today and I was grateful to have more energy to get through teaching my spinning class after work. For some reason the spinning studio was extra hot today. A few people left the class because of the heat and even though I tried not to over-exert myself and drink water, I ended up feeling queasy and having some scary stomach cramps. They went away after a few hours and I’m hoping I was just dehydrated. I’ve pretty much stayed in bed for the evening just to be safe and get some extra rest. I’m not going to lie, it has be a little freaked out. Tomorrow is a new day though.

Ok, so sorry I know this is kind of a book already but I also wanted to answer some questions that I got on twitter about this whole thing so here goes:

How was the first experience? – From Heidurmaria
That was pretty much what those paragraphs up there were all about. If there are details you want to know that I’ve left out, just ask! I tried to be specific. I apologize if I grossed some RL friends out in the process, sorry guys.

Do you want a boy or a girl? – From Tori6Talks
We would like to have one of each. Mrs E really doesn’t care about gender so much. I would really, really, really like to have a daughter at some point.

How did you decide who was going to have the baby? – From Tori6Talks
There’s 19 years between us and Mrs E is a bit beyond her safe childbearing years. She’s never really felt a strong urge to be pregnant and it’s always something that I’ve wanted to experience so that pretty much settled it for us.

How did you decide on a known donor? -From Heidurmaria
Our friends had seriously offered us the option several times starting a few years ago. Their desired “favorite uncle” arrangement fit with what we wanted and they were easily willing to comply with everything we threw at them. They’ve been fabulous about the legal agreement and the more real this got, the more accommodating and  excited they got. I really liked the idea of knowing the person that was the bio-father of our children.  I wanted to KNOW this was a good person with a good heart…and also have access to a full family medical history. I realize that it doesn’t work for everyone and that it can be really scary but it works for us. I’m SO grateful that we get to do it this way. It’s our ideal situation.

Did you learn anything interesting in the process? – From Araremuse
I did. I learned that this is absolutely not something to rush into. I know, duh but really. We spent about two years knowing what our timeline was, reading books, doing research and getting everything on track. I feel so much more confident that we did it that way because although it felt like this day would never get here, it is and none of our decisions were rushed. We did everything exactly the way we wanted. For those of you out there thinking about doing this, it’s NEVER too early to start the research.

…and last but CERTAINLY not least
When will you know if it worked? – From…a lot of people. Everyday.
Guess what? I SUCK at waiting. Majorly suck. If I am not patient and I take a prego test too early then it could be a false negative. There’s just not enough HCG in your urine sometimes to trip the trigger yet. Mentally, I’m not sure I can stand up to a lot of that yet so we’re going to wait as long as she can possibly contain me from buying one at a drug store and rushing home to pee on it. She’s got quite the task ahead of her. I should be able to get a positive test any time after the 8th…but I’d like to wait til I’m actually “late” which would be after the 12th and a much better chance of a good reading…So, *fingers crossed*!

Oh and really, really last this time…Did you really make it this far? Wow! Medals for everyone. Our neighbor’s baby was born yesterday around noon and they’ll be bringing her home in a few days. I can’t wait to hold little Gia. She can be my seven pounds and two whole ounces of baby fix.

Thanks for reading! Next time I plan to talk about our legal donor agreement. Tweet me or leave questions in the comments if you have them. ❤