4. The First Try

Hello and welcome to fourth installment of this journey. Heehee! Okay, but in all seriousness, I hope you have already read the other three parts before you got here, because I am not catching you up. We left off with us deciding on carrying a baby and going the ICI route. Of course, our next step was deciding a) how to get the sperm, and b) how to get it up into my fallopian tubes. We knew we were going to start as simple as possible and move into more “medical” strategies later, if need be.

I follow a lot of pregnancy stories on social media and I’ve noticed a lot of same-sex female couples who are going from 0 to 100 when it comes to trying to conceive. By this I mean using every possible medical, or otherwise, intervention out there from Day 1. For us, we had no particular reason (because I went to the doctor) why we needed to go straight to all kinds of shots and medical interventions, not even just because some random, or maybe our favorite, couple on Instagram was doing it. Often, as a same-sex couple, or any couple who has to actively plan for a child, we have a lot more “control” (actually it’s a false sense of it) over the process of getting pregnant, since it’s not going to happen by accident. And, because of this, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to control every single aspect of it. We research herbal supplements, we take shots to control when we ovulate, we go straight to IVF to attempt to increase our chances. However, the reality of it is that ultimately, both conception and pregnancy have so many unpredictable aspects to them, that trying to control it all is just going to make it that much worse if it doesn’t go your way. So, we started with the least medical way first and foremost.

Stock image of IVF

Though, I will say that our initial method was not the most inexpensive (spoiler alert: the way we ended up getting pregnant was!). It is often very expensive for same-sex couples to have a baby; even adoption isn’t necessarily free. No matter what, we have to pay out of pocket for something. As I mentioned, we decided to go with at-home intracervical insemination (ICI). This is really just a fancy way of saying we were going to just put the sperm in my vagina ourselves, at home. We figured if people can be drunk and accidentally do this all the time, surely we can do it on purpose, right? We also thought it would be more intimate and a loving experience to do it this way. Not having a medical professional do it obviously decreased the cost for us quite a bit also. Even IUI, which is when a medical professional puts the sperm directly into a person’s uterus, can cost at least $1,000 each time (not counting the cost of the sperm itself). So then there was the business of getting the sperm.

To be honest, it’s not that hard to get sperm these days; you can order it from legit places off the internet. There’s also the known donor route, where you ask someone you know if they are willing to donate sperm and there are also websites to find those. If you keep reading this story, you might find one of those. We decided to go “old school” and go to the sperm bank. We figured this was the cleanest and most clear-cut in terms of paternity. The donor would be some numbers and letter: UX93I from such and such bank.

Stock image of sperm bank visit

We did some research online, pretty extensive I might add, and the bank we chose had to do with the location and the price. We discovered that we were fortunate enough to live within 10 minutes of a sperm bank. Shipping sperm from a bank is very expensive (hundreds of dollars) and, while it would have been nice for it to work within the first few attempts, we never assumed it would, so that cost would have quickly added up. Being 10 minutes away was amazing because they also charge you to rent the tank to store it in so that it stays cold, something like $75/day; however, if we wanted to, we could have picked it up and driven it to our little studio apartment before it even fully thawed and avoided the $75 fee (we never did that…lol).

So, at this point, we’ve picked our methods and how we’re getting the sperm, so we made an appointment at the bank. At our appointment, we filled out some paperwork and a nurse explained how ovulation and pregnancy works (a very basic version that wouldn’t have been helpful had we not already been armed with this knowledge), gave us a website log-in to see the donor profiles, and a needle-less syringe that they normally charge $5 for. I will say that she also tried very hard to get us to go the IUI route. The sperm banks obviously make more money of This visit alone cost $100.

The process of picking a donor from all of those profiles was admittedly odd for me. It felt too fabricated and, in many ways, elitist for me to look at these random things about a donor and decide whether they’d create a kid we’d…what? Like? Be proud of? Want? It was all so weird. And if I were having a child with B, I would be getting all of her good along with her bad, so it’s not like she’s a guitar playing lawyer who loves her mom’s spaghetti best. We narrowed it down by race: we wanted the donor to be White to match our family makeup. Then, B did a lot of the vetting them and brought some for me to look at. We gave them nicknames, “Jim Halpert,” “Average Guy,” etc and really ended up narrowing it down based on how much they seemed like a decent human being. B has blue eyes, and, likely due to our obsession with Euro-centric ideas of beauty, a lot of people assumed (after we told them) that we had picked a donor just based on that alone, but that would have been ridiculous. What are going to do with a little blue-eyed sociopath?! Anyway, we ended up getting it down to our top 3, just in case our #1 was gone when we got ready to order it, and then it was just a matter of ovulation.

The ovulation test strip

Next, we ordered ovulation tests from Amazon in bulk. I had always used a period tracker app on my phone, because nobody likes surprise periods, but the combination of the two would help us find the ideal time to inseminate. What was ideal? Let me give you a little more than the nurse gave us: Pregnancy is when one sperm enters an egg. One egg, sometimes two, is released each month during ovulation, which is part of the menstruation cycle. This cycle, typically, but not always, lasts 28 days. Day 1 of this cycle is the first day of a person’s period, or menstrual bleeding. Then a whole bunch of other things are happening behind the scenes and usually, but not always, 14 days later, ovulation happens. This is when an egg is released from the ovary and is swept up into the fallopian tube. And this, my friend, is the zone we’re all aiming for when trying to get pregnant. If fertilization does not happen within about a day, the egg basically dissolves into the fallopian tube…it doesn’t even get to the uterus ya’ll! So, obviously, this part can be tricky…inseminating the day of and a few days before ovulation is ideal but the day after is too late. However, we only had one shot; we were only getting one tiny vile of sperm for one use on one day per month, so we kinda needed to get this right. We opted to inseminate on the day of ovulation. The test strips told us when I was supposed to ovulate the next day and I used the app to confirm.

The tiny vial we got

We picked up our first vial of sperm ever on June 24, 2016 (note that year!). It was $500 for the tiny vial in the picture. And, as I mentioned, we also had to rent the tank, since we weren’t going to use it right away. That night, we went to our favorite sushi spot, had a beer or two, thinking it might be my last. We went home and took it out of the tank, with all the smoke and theatrical flare associated with doing so (literally), and warmed it up. Then B put it in using the small needle-less syringe they gave us (not a fuckin TURKEY BASTER; that’s so big for such a tiny amount of sperm ya’ll). She found my cervix, got it as close as possible to it, and slowly pushed it out.

B taking the sperm out of the tank

The way pregnancy works, we could test about two weeks later–everything is in two week intervals when you’re trying to conceive–and it was negative. This is obviously not when, or even how, we ended up getting pregnant, lol, so stay tuned for more.

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