Lesbian mum Suzy talks about how she and her partner created and added to their family.
In 2007 I decided to have fertility treatment which involved double donation (donor egg and sperm). In itself this is not is not unusual. However, you might think it unusual when I tell you that I could have used my own eggs. This is my story of what led to this choice and what happened on my journey.
The journey started when my (female) partner and I decided to try to have a family. This decision was made over several years and after a great deal of angst and soul-searching. At that time we did not know any other lesbian couples with children and we wondered if it would be fair to any eventual child to be so “different”.
In 2001 we were ready - both of us wanted to have a child, with the same donor if possible. I was slightly older so we decided I should try first. My first natural IUI failed. My second Clomid IUI (one follicle) cycle also failed. We were then told that the donor we had used for these two attempts was no longer available. It had taken us a long time to choose this first donor and it was a huge shock to think we had to go through the process of choosing again, but we had no choice. We chose a new donor and my third drug assisted IUI (one follicle) worked. Our son was born 9 months later. Almost immediately we went back to the clinic to try for a second baby, with my partner intending to be the birth mother this time. We had been lucky enough to reserve some sibling sperm, so we could use the same donor.
We embarked on IVF this time, because my partner’s fertility tests were inconclusive as to whether IUI would work and we did not want to waste our sibling sperm. The first cycle of IVF produced four day 5 blastocysts and one was replaced. The remaining three were frozen on day 6. We only replaced one blastocyst because, at that point, our son was only 5 months old and so we did not want to risk twins. The cycle failed. Two months later a further IVF cycle produced one lonely day 5 blastocyst which was replaced. Our daughter was born 9 months later and our family was complete.
Fast forward to 2007 and we have two amazing children – a boy and girl who are now 4 and 3. They delight and infuriate us as small children do and we love them completely. My daughter is not my biological child and I did not give birth to her, but I do not feel any differently towards her. We are very lucky in that both sets of grandparents view both children equally and also make no distinction between them.
I sometimes wish I could time-travel. If I could, I would go back in time to myself. I would tell myself not to worry about whether we were doing the “right” thing because once we had children we would be too busy for any angst and soul-searching! I would tell myself that the change of donor which was so difficult at the time is a blessing to me now as I look at my children’s faces wondering about the face of that “kind man” who helped us to make them. If the first donor had worked my son and daughter would not be here and I cannot imagine that at all!
From time to time we would think about our three frozen embryos (April, May and June, we called them). It sometimes made me sad to think that these embryos could be, if we let them, wonderful children like our son and daughter. Eventually we decided to use these embryos to try for a third child and I would be the one to try to conceive. We asked our clinic if I could use my partner’s embryos. After some initial reluctance, the clinic did agree to treat us on that basis. I was so excited, I honestly had no negative feelings about carrying a child who was not biologically mine. With what now seems like supreme optimism we asked the clinic to defrost and transfer only one embryo. We had three cycles. The first embryo survived the thaw and was transferred, but it was poor quality – the cycle failed. The second embryo was good quality after thawing and we had high hopes, but the cycle failed. The third embryo sadly never survived the thaw so the cycle was abandoned. That was that.
My partner and I have now decided to try IUI with our remaining sibling sperm. I will use my own eggs this time. Ironically this now seems like a “second choice” option to me. In my ideal world I would use my partner’s eggs but that would involve her going through IVF again when there is actually no medical reason to do so.
As we move towards 2008 and I wonder what the future will bring? I know I am so lucky to have two healthy children and the chance to try for a third. I want to time travel again. I want my future self to visit me now and tell me how it all turns out. Do we have a third child or do we run out of sibling sperm? I know that we may not have a third child but I will also know that we tried. I do not want to live with regret, so I would prefer that we tried and failed than not to try. One way or another it will turn out well at the end.
Editors note in 2014: Suzy and her partner went on to have twins!